Mom update 4.

Where was update #3? Right here.

As I write this, it's 1930 hours UTC-4 on 2 October 2021.

I am exhausted, fried, kind of in shock, and numb. My short term memory is shot to shit so I'm going to do the best I can to reconstruct the day.

I'm writing it a day ahead of time because I don't have the slightest idea what tomorrow will bring. The last couple of days have been a roller coaster of turns for the better and then the worse. I need to start from the beginning (as today reckons it) and go from there.

On Friday night my mom had a rough one. She started throwing up again and barely got any sleep. When I got in on Saturday afternoon they'd just taken a chest x-ray. Computerized x-ray machines being what they are, I took a quick look at the images. My handle to the contrary, I am not a medical doctor or a radiologist, so the only things that made sense to me were the infusaport, the central line, the EKG leads... the hardware, in other words. I do recall thinking that the bottom third of the x-ray image looked unusually convex and pushed upward. I don't know what it was but I've never seen that before on any of her images.

I spent almost an hour with her, and she looked terrible. She wasn't on O2 anymore (wtf), her EKG pod was disconnected (also wtf), and she was very tired and trying to sleep. She also had potassium chloride and magnesium sulfate going into her IV, whereas she didn't yesterday. When she dozed off I stayed with her for a while and then left to get lunch at the hospital cafeteria. I decided to make an effort to pretend to eat something healthy. Upon heading back upstairs to her room, they were going to perform another procedure on her and asked me if I could give them a few minutes. The nature of the procedure being what it was (remember what I said about cancer stealing your dignity?) I decided to take a walk around the floor.

When I got back to her room I noticed immediately that it was extremely warm in there; she'd asked a nurse to turn the heat up because she was feeling so cold. She was also shivering violently, so much so that I was worried her dentures would shake loose. Her breathing was agonal and the eye on her non-dominant side had gone lazy (something that I've come to associate with Very Bad Things). When I touched her forehead she was burning up. She was clicking the call button as fast as she could and my mom asked me to run to the nurse's station and get someone.

So I did. As a nurse went into her room I stole a quick look at the displays behind the counter. The hospital has displays on the walls that show the EKG telemetry of all the patients on the floor, but I never found hers. She wasn't on the displays hidden behind the nurse's station, either. The nurse quickly took my mom's vital signs and hit the condition c button on the wall. Within a minute three more personnel (I didn't bother keeping track of what their roles actually were) came into the room. Her blood pressure had fallen to dangerous levels, her temperature had spiked to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Centigrade), O2 saturation plummeted to 72% (normal is >= 95%) and her pulse was racing around 150 beats per minute. The attending physician of the crash team tried several times to take her blood pressure but the readout kept shooting terribly high (so much so that it could not possibly have been a valid reading) and then tanking to dangerously low levels. So, low enough that the microcomputer in the vital signs monitor didn't know what to make of it.

I don't know how new "condition c" is in the medical community, but if you didn't hit the last hyperlink it means that the patient is in distress and might go code blue very shortly.

All I could really do is tell her that I loved her, and then I got the fuck out of the room. As it happened, that was when the rest of the crash team rolled up with all their gear. At that point, I started contacting people who needed to know. Wheels are turning, additional CPUs are firing up, and people are moving.

I had a subprocess listening in on what was happening in my mom's hospital room. Pneumonia was detected on the chest x-ray, possibly due to aspiration while throwing up earlier this week. Judging by how rapidly her temperature spiked (quite literally within two hours) they suspect that she'd gone septic. That chemotherapy had crushed her immune system probably had something to do with it.

Mom didn't code. They got to her in time to get her blood pressure up and pure oxygen into her lungs. The added a few more infusion pumps to the works loaded down with bags upon bags of lactated Ringer's solution, electrolytes, and drugs.

I've never seen so much vancomycin pumped into someone before. In the couple of hours I was with my mom after they stabilized her, she went through roughly one 200 mL IV bag (1g of vancomycin dissolved therein) every sixty minutes. By the time I'd left her temperature had gone down to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Centigrade), O2 sat was up to 95%, pulse down to around 100 beats per minute, and lactate levels were down to 3.2 from 5 (note: this is what the physician told me; I don't actually understand what it means but a few of you out there might want to know). Unfortunately, she's also having trouble hearing and understanding what people are saying to her, which is not a good sign.

On the way out I stopped in the bathroom and came across a urine sample that had been forgotten in the excitement. Urine is not supposed to be that color. Nor is it supposed to smell that badly. No, I'm not going into details.

I'm out of things to say. But I think you know what I'd be saying.

I'm really glad I showed her the pictures from my last vacation a few days ago.