… And This Is Where It Stands Now

12:21 am · category: The Whole Fam Damnly

I don’t have the energy to recall and record all the details right now regarding my mother’s brain explosion. So here are the highlights as I remember them.

In short, we still don’t know exactly what happened. The tissue samples show no signs of malignancy. Best as the doctors can tell, Mama developed a benign tumor made entirely of blood that burst.

She was moved from CCU to a private room early last week. The medical professionals made that decision after she removed the device measuring the inner-cranial pressure (i.e., pressure in her brain) herself in the middle of the night. Granted, the pressure had been decreasing regularly over the past week, but she removed it herself. Guhhhhh.

Mama was in the private room for about a week, during which time her comprehension, lucidity, coherence, and general responsiveness varied greatly. Basic physical and occupational therapy routines were initiated during that time, although no real progress was made. Mama also became more and more aggravated by the various medical devices attached to/inserted into her, so she — among other things — pulled out the PIC line used for blood samples. (Amazingly, that resulted in only three small droplets of her blood outside her body — whereas, according to the medical staff, we should have expected pools. Again, she removed it herself. Guhhhhh.)

Earlier this week Mama was moved from UAMS to the residential rehab facility in White County, a mere ten miles from her home. Here she is supposed to get intensive physical and occupational therapy. The original estimate was that she would be here for several months. However, Mama is alternately (a) in intense pain; (b) uncooperative; or (c) antagonistic and/or belligerent. All this makes for the prescribed therapy treatments being very slow going, and thus far she isn’t showing much progress. She has a specialized wheelchair to help support her head and legs, in addition to being strapped into said chair; however, it’s not “meeting her needs,” so the new medical staff is trying to arrange for a more sophisticated chair.

Mama sometimes has periods of near-euphoria wherein she sings — on key and with every single word of the lyrics — at the top of her lungs with carefree abandon. We assumed this was her natural love of and aptitude for music clinging to the remaining shreds of her identity. But the doctors said that music doesn’t work that way; in fact, people who suffer from major brain injuries often don’t recall much of their former lives, but the music familiar to them is mysteriously ingrained and retained. Bummer. (Apparently, pretty much any person with significant brain damage but limited verbal skills can still sing Happy Birthday, which is just weird — and, somehow, comforting.)

Mama has yanked out her own urine catheter the two nights she’s been at the new facility. Again, she removed it herself. Guhhhhh. She’s kept her roommate awake all hours, alternately yelling, singing, moaning, and babbling; the roommate has since been moved to an alternate location, and Mama’s enjoying a “private” room. She sometimes recognizes voices and faces, although she’s recognized and directly addressed me only once. (Tonight she kept asking who the person in the corner with the big head was; it was I.) She has lost virtually all inhibitions, spending a good deal of her time trying to strip naked and/or cursing/saying things she would normally consider inappropriate. (As Daddy said, “I’ve seen more boob, butt and bush in the last twelve days than I’ve seen in the last twelve years. And I’m not sure how I feel about that.”) And yet the core of her personality seems to still be intact, even if her jokes are somewhat juvenile. The best description I can offer is that Mama has the mind of a three- to four-year-old child with extreme ADD.

Next week my sisters, daddy and I are having a family meeting with Mama’s “medical support team.” The social worker has already suggested a facility in Central Arkansas that caters specifically to brain trauma patients, since Mama is showing little progress thus far on either the cognitive or physical fronts. Since the current prognosis is a 25-50% recovery, I’m all for it.

We’ll see what happens next.

Inappropriate Things I’ve Said During This Ordeal

  • To my grandfather, Pop, who’s been bald since he was 22, concerning his wife Bobbie, who’s currently undergoing chemo and is basically hairless: “Now that Bobbie’s having such luck buying her hair off the rack, have you given it any thought?”
  • My entire discourse to the CCU nurse while giving her Mama’s medical history after mentioning Mama’s heavy menstrual flow, which devolved into a free advertisement extolling the virtues of The Keeper.
  • My lengthy discourse on my gastro-intestinal anomalies during those first critical hours wherein not only my immediate and extended family, but also my mother’s pastor, were in the waiting room. Words I may or may not have used: “poot,” “gas,” “fart,” “poop,” “fecal matter,” “turd,” and “shit.”
  • To the entire extended family in the waiting room on the night this all started: “So, this probably isn’t the best time to announce I’m marrying a gay man, huh?”

And finally, thank you for the kind words, thoughts and prayers from everyone, including and certainly not limited to my WD family. I kind of love you guys.

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