Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, cooking, make-up, travel, the joy of home ownership and the occasional rant!

Update on mom

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I’m taking a few hours this morning to deal with household things and some paperwork so for those who want to know…

Mom is doing SO much better compared to the weekend.  However she is probably going to be in the hospital for 6 months minimum – maybe longer, depending on how she progresses.

Her stroke was  RMCA – Right Middle Cerebral Artery – in fairly deep inside her parietal lobe.  Her left side is affected – she can’t use her arm at all, not much with the leg although she can shift it around a bit, the lower part of her face is slack but she can use her eyebrows and her eyes seem to move okay.

Since we caught it fast they were able to give her the Clot Buster drug.  They only have a three hour window to give this drug…

She woke me up around 4 a.m. whimpering… I got up to check and she was slumped over the side of the bed on her front with her legs crumpled on the floor… I asked her what was wrong and she said she had to go to the bathroom and didn’t want to go on the floor… So, I though initially that her hip was really bothering her (it had been) so I went to help her up but she was completely unable to use any limbs… so I carried her to the toilet… she was able to lift the lid with her right hand, I sat her down and she took care of business… then, I said I am going to call 911 and turned to get the phone from the other room after propping her against the wall… when I turned away she fell onto the floor on her left side…

I have to say that the paramedics were there in a matter of minutes, they called for a crew with the gurney… she was out of the house within about 15 minutes – they called the hospital to have the stroke team ready.

I followed in the car (after taking a swipe to soak up the slush from their boots… mom would not want her hardwood damaged!)

I got there and she was in the RESUS room in Emergency – a team of about 5 with her… they kept drilling me on when was she last normal (10:30 when we went to bed) and when were symptoms noted (when she woke me whimpering at 4 a.m.)  They advised they were giving her the clot buster.

It took three nurses to figure out the dosage over about 15 minutes… scary.

After they gave it to her she did appear to improve… after about an hour the doctor asked her to lift her left leg and she was able to lift it up and down TWICE but was unable to hold it up.  And she was able to wiggle the fingers of her left hand!

But… because she was in really bad pain with her right hip they gave her morphine with grav0l (an anti-nausea drug) which completely knocked her out as she does not handle painkillers well.

After that there was NO response on her left side at all and she was really dopey when you could wake her up.

She stayed in RESUS until about 4 p.m. when they moved her up to ICU as she had to remain under observation because of the clot buster – it can cause internal bleeding.

They installed a catheter and a feeding tube – she DID NOT like the feeding tube AT ALL.  She stayed pretty doped up from the morphine for all weekend.  They started to give her Toradol (I think) for the hip pain instead.

Also, they got the x-rays she had taken last week (suspected back injury) on the order of our family doctor and there does seem to be a problem.  Her right hip hurts her intensely and they took more x-rays of it.

Sunday night they moved her to the Acute Stroke Unit as they needed ICU for trauma patients. 

As of yesterday (Wednesday) she is able to stay awake for about an hour at a time without dozing off, she is feeding herself (she removed her feeding tube BY HERSELF around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning… the nurses were “impressed”), she is having real difficulty talking though and is divising sign language to communicate with the nurses.

She complains that the nurses won’t let her feed herself.  They are watching for choking.  If she gets food in her lungs it is not good.

Today when I go over I’m going to put the tray in front of her to see how she does – I’ve been holding the individual dishes in front of her so far and she’s doing pretty good, but she’s impatient and wants to do it herself.

Her right side is perfectly fine, her hand eye coordination from the right seems normal, she can see (she says normally), talking is a problem as the left side of her mouth doesn’t work.  She switched from trying to talk to whispering… it is clearer words but harder to hear…

She’s laughed at a couple of things – appropriately, and nothing appears to be wrong with her memory or understanding of things.

Her day nurse told mom and I that there appears to be very little swelling in mom’s brain and that the damage, visibly, is not widespread.  She said that people way worse off have made full recoveries.

Mom’s been assessed by the Speech Pathologist who allowed real food as she was able to chew and swallow on her own. 

I had a meeting with the stroke nurse or “Stroke Navigator” as it says on her card, on Tuesday for about an hour and a half – discussed what had happened specifically, discussed a few issues I had with the “family doctor” they assigned – as our own doctor does not have hospital privileges he is NOT allowed to be involved with this until she is discharged at which time they will send him her file… so when she was admitted the on call  family doctor was assigned to her. 

He is a complete jerk… he came into her room on Monday… looks at her, says “its a bad stroke, does she live alone” I said no we live together, and he says ” its a bad stroke, you’re going to have to put her in long term care because you won’t want to look after her, its a bad stroke”… This ASSHOLE had not even read her chart yet, attempted to talk to her, didn’t KNOW us at all, did not ASK if we had any other family support… nothing, just makes this statement IN FRONT OF MOM who then proceeded to CRY for an hour… I did not say anything then… but I let the nurse have an earfull when I was leaving, then my sister phoned the hospital and gave them a more, shall we say “colourful” earful, and apparently my uncle also when he visited that night made some comments… so the next morning all the staff made comments about the doctor’s “lack of beside manner”… and it was a consensus that it was not appropriate in the circumstances!

I’ve been told I can request another doctor, write a letter of complaint, etc.  I haven’t seen him since though… the Stroke nurse said, to reassure me, that as part of the stroke recovery team that he  plays a role and is a working part of the team… but that I can certainly request someone else.  I may… I’m still too concerned with other things at the moment… and I want to see him once more to express my displeasure in person and see what he says.

Physio and Occupational Therapists have met and assessed her and started getting her up yesterday afternoon.  I took over the things the OT asked me to late last night – clothes, her toiletries, etc. so that they can start getting her to do things herself.

Now that she is into the rehab and therapy stage I won’t spend all-day there – when she isn’t working she’ll be resting.  And this ward is specialized so I don’t need to worry about her laying there all alone – which has been our previous experience with hospital wards!  There are 2-3 nurses/students in and out, she gets a sponge bath seems like 4 times a day, they do a head-to-toe a few times too… and if I am there when the meals come they leave me to deal with it, but they do it if I’m not there.  The therapists, stroke nurse, etc. are in and out too.

So, she’s not just laying there thinking… which is bad.  She seems very determined to get out of there which is good.

She may be there 6 months… or longer… it will depend on how she progresses.  If she is in a chair we will have to get a ramp and the bathroom renovated… if she is using a walker or cane it should be fine as is.  She may have to change bedrooms to the one that doesn’t require turning to get in from the hall, but that will be something we figure out when she is coming home.

They were going to remove all the IVs and the catheter yesterday!  She was really pleased about that!

They are giving her heperin as a blood thinner and lipitor and baby aspirin, calcuim and other vitamins, and tylenol for the pain.  Not sure if there is anything else but I am going to get more detailed information from them today.

So… she’s doing a whole lot better than she was, she is all there mentally  it appears, and is as determined as ever.  It is going to be a long recovery but this Stroke Unit is a good one and they stay as long as it takes.

I bought a monthly parking pass yesterday – $60/month vs $7/day… no brainer that!

It is times like this that universal health care really shows how important it is!

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2 thoughts on “Update on mom

  1. So glad things seem to be looking up a little for June, Shannon. Rest asured we are all thinking of you both…. & hope & pray Junes recovery will be full and swift . God bless.

  2. Hi Shannon,
    Steve and I send <<<>> I am glad that June is starting to recover, that Doc sounds like a jerk, and you should make a formal complaint when you get some time, try and get some relaxing time for yourself. Anne xxx

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