Friday, April 06, 2012
Oh Gosh, I seem not to come here unless my world is falling apart.
Two weeks ago this coming Tuesday, my older sister, Rosa..the precious one I blogged about a while back, had what we thought was a bad case of heartburn. She is being treated for GERD. She called my sister Kathy who went over and gave her more meds. She called Kathy later and said she hurt so bad she couldn't stand it any more.
So, Kathy took her to the ER. They ran a million test, found nothing wrong and wanted to do a CAT scan. The tech had to be called in, so kathy ran home, she had worked all day and had to work the next morning, and this was about 1 am. She dropped me an email to tell me where Rosa was.
I went to bed, to be awakened by my son to call Kathy right away. I was groggy, and had a hard time operating my cell phone. I got up, looked at the clock, and it was 2 am. I knew immediately something was wrong.
I called, when Kathy answered, I just said "what's going on". she started crying and could not talk. I started screaming "NO, NO, don't even tell me, NO." Finally Kathy said "she's alive, but just barely".
This was 3 months after the baby sister had died. When i got there, kathy kept crying, saying "I can't live if I lose another sister".
They had taken Rosa for the CT, and the tech said as soon as she finished pushing in the contrast dye, Rosa stopped breathing. So, for days, it was a question of if she had a heart attack or if she had an anaphalytic reaction to the contrast medium. Later that same day, the doctors took us aside and told us we needed to make a decision within 24 hours, and they recommended pulling the plug. They said she would not be breathing at all if not for the vent, and only the meds to force a blood pressure were allowing her to have one. In other words, without the life support, she was dead.
Kathy has POA. I told her if she decided to pull the life support, to let me know immediately, I wanted to stay with her until the end. Kathy said we would make the decision together.
She went to work and I came home and slept a couple hours. When I woke up, my head was much clearer.
I called Kathy, I told her my nurse had awakened, and the doctor had offered us no evidence to support what he was saying. They had not done an echo or heart cath, so had no clue what kind of damage was or was not there. Rosa was responding to pain, so she was not brain dead, brain dead folks don't respond to anything. I told her that she and I know Rosa, where those doctors don't. We know she is slow to respond mentally and physically, and needed more time than most. So, for my part, I elected to put off making such a drastic decision.
When I went to see her at the ICU visiting hour, I took her hand, asked her to squeeze mine, and she did! I asked her a question, she shook her head yes. once she tried to open an eye and look at me.
By the next day, she was responding more, her pulmonologist had come in and her treatment was getting more aggressive. By Sat, they wanted to remove the vent, not to let her die, but because she was ready!
She was so excited to have that out. They had her on c-pap, as she had developed congestive heart failure, common after a heart attack. She tried to talk, but it was impossible to hear her, she spoke just below a whisper, if you can imagine that. She made the motions of writing, so we got her a pen and paper and she wrote us notes.
The first thing she asked was if we were going to let her go home. Since our mom died, Rosa wanted to stay alone in their apt. I was afraid to let her, but, sometimes my younger sister is wiser and she wanted to give Rosa a chance. And Rosa has risen to the occasion. She has been so very happy, living her own life, being her own boss. Of course, she needs help, Kathy takes her grocery shopping and we pick up her meds and often pick up a meal for her. But, she has involved herself completely in the activities in the apt complex. She goes to Bible studies twice a week, exercise classes twice a week, she's joined some ladies playing rook, goes to "fun club", goes to the Tues am chapel service, plays bingo, and attends any singing they have. In fact, she asked Kathy not to come by on Monday, she (Rosa) just didn't have time for her that day!
We told her of course she could go home. I asked her if I could come stay with her a few days while she recooperated. Bless her, she said "you're welcome, any time you need a place to stay. Besides, I need somebody to answer the door".
The trouble was, she wanted me to wait on her hand and foot. She would not so much as get herself a drink of water. WE kept talking to her, trying to tell her she needed to build up her strength so she would be strong for the surgery. She'd say "okay, would you get me a glass of water?"
After about 8 days of this, Kathy and I talked it over and decided if I wasn't there, she would try to do more. So, last Friday I told her I was going home. she got very upset with me, and told me if I left, we would find her dead the next day and it would be all my fault!
I did stay on that night, but not to keep her from dying of spite. Her AC had been out, and we had been sleeping with the front door open. I wasn't comfortable leaving her alone with the door open. Away from home, a dust mite landing will wake me, so I knew I'd hear if anything happened. They got it fixed late Friday. I came home Sat. She told me not to call her, she wouldn't answer the phone or talk to me. (But, I was to come Tues Am to go to chapel with her). I did call her, and she did talk to me, but she tried to guilt me into coming back. She tried that a couple of days.
Now, her by-pass surgery is scheduled at Duke University, on Monday at 7 am. They wanted to do it there so they could do an "off the pump" proceduce, which can not be done locally. Evidentally, on the pump, people havesome memory loss and lose some cognitive ability lost. Since Rosa is retarded, they don't want to chance that. This procedure is supposed to have a faster recovery rate, but I read that in the long run, results are not as good as when the heart is put on a pump. But, we want her to have as near-normal life as possible, so I bow to their expertise. This was not my venue of nursing. I have always believe quality outweighted quantity. I pray for the best.
I am afraid, you betcha. Rosa and I were so close as children. I had to get fairly old to recognize the difference in her, and even then, she was my Rosie. We grew up together, we survived an abusive father together. Even though she got the worst from him, she tried to protect me. She has always been my most loving and devoted sister. I don't think I could bear to lose her. I don't know if losing her would be the last straw for Kathy, and that scares me. I just have to put my faith In God and know that whatever He does, is for the best, and He knows we can handle it.
If you're incline do pray, remember us, please. And, I don't care who you choose to pray to!