I am happy to report that today was a better day overall. There is still a lot going on with Mom in terms of progressing and healing, but the Dr. said that her labs look good so it is time to start getting her off of IV medications and transitioning her to pill form. While the IV medications are convenient, the Dr. said the risks and side effects are worse than the benefits of it at this point. Because the liquid form of the medication is more potent and goes directly into her veins, it has more of an immediate effect, but it also has more of an immediate drop-off in effect once it wears off. In contrast, the pain pills will provide her with more of a steady dose throughout the dosing period, which will allow for her comfort level to remain more consistent throughout the day. She should also experience less ups and downs in terms of pain level and emotional reactions to the pain.
Today is the day that I've felt most helpless so far because her main
ailment is still her stomach and there is nothing I can do to help her at this
point. Dr. Kim said that she has the "perfect storm" going on with her belly right now because she has Sjogrens, her stomach was actually stretched during the surgery because there is now more room for it again, the narcotics are doing a number on it, she has acid reflux and nothing is really moving around in there. This obviously creates a lot of discomfort (her stomach is very distended) and unfortunately it is just a matter of time before she will feel better. The nurses and doctors are doing everything they can at this point to try to relieve the pain and get things moving again, but her body seems to be taking it's own sweet time to adjust to and recover from all it has been through in the past week. Unfortunately, I think this may be something that has to resolve itself :(.
Mom got completely "unhooked" from all of the remaining lines she was connected to. They removed her IV fluids and medicine in addition to the drain in her back. The drain was collecting more fluid than blood, which was a good thing, so Dr. Pashman removed it (it was sutured in) and redressed her wound. He also ripped off about half of the Steri-strips from her incision - Mom didn't like this at all (I can't blame her) and she still had some residual burning later in the day from where he removed the Steri-strips.
The best part of the day (in terms of progress) was that Mom was able to get up out of bed to brush her teeth, walk around and sit in a chair. She got up a total of three times to walk, which is absolutely fantastic. She was particularly motivated and determined on her third walk of the day. I kept asking her what her goal was and she kept picking longer goals along the way. First it was to the first exit sign, then it was around to the other side (the floor is set up in somewhat of a circle with nursing stations in the middle), then it was one exit sign after another until we finally completed a whole loop around the floor. To say I was impressed is an understatement! Mom continues to surprise me with her strength and determination. I knew she would be able to do it, but I didn't expect to see her this strong this soon after her surgery. While this is really great progress, she is trying to get into the rehab program at the hospital that will provide three hours of inpatient physical therapy every day for seven to ten days. This physical therapy should expedite the healing process and will literally get her up and going much sooner. Obviously, this program would be a great benefit to her, but she has to qualify and the pain management doctor said that if she is doing too well, then she won't qualify for the program through the insurance company. She basically suggested that Mom should do the bare minimum so that the physical therapists reports don't show her doing too well for the program, so that is our plan from now on.
It was also a better day because Mom got to Skype with Wes, Jenn, Zack, Carson & Levi (their new dog) and Blake and Nicole came to visit. It was nice to have visitors from near and far. Mom's mood was quite upbeat and I loved to see her beautiful smile return to her face. I was lucky enough to have the evening off (thanks for covering Dad :)), so I went to see Moneyball with Blake and Nicole and then we had a nice dinner out. This was a nice break for me, but my thoughts were still with Mom and I checked in with Dad as soon as the movie was over. Mom was doing well in the evening, so I had Blake drop me back off at my hotel where I have just finished packing up (my time at the hotel has come to an end - next I will be commuting from Pasadena) and will hopefully get a good night sleep.
Please continue to keep Mom in your thoughts and prayers as each day still seems to have plenty of ups and downs.