I've been so fogged in by fear, grief, and suspense over my mom's health that I can't come up with a proper metaphor and/or clinical term to convey the situation and have been on radio silence. Although I did, during my mom's first ICU stay, acquire the term mentating. As in: Your mother is mentating so well!
I have not been mentating well.
quick update: Since August 12, when my mother fell and fractured her pelvis, she has been:
- in Evanston Hospital ER
- in Evanston Hospital CCC (cardiac care)
- in Evanston nursing home for rehab
- back to Evanston Hospital ER
- Evanston ICU
- back to Evanston CCC
- in Highland Park skilled nursing care facility
- in Highland Park Hospital ER
- in Highland Park Hospital
- back to Highland Park skilled nursing facility
Has it been 56 days?
I'm grateful I have 3 siblings to help me deal with all this. I just wish C. had 3 (typical) siblings, too.
My mom has heart failure.*
She didn't start out with heart failure; she started out with a weight problem, which apparently led to high blood pressure. In middle age she developed Type 2 diabetes, and then, three years ago, she had a heart attack. After that, heart failure.
In short, she seems to be a classic case of what is now called metabolic syndrome.
Of course we kids are horrified not just by the prospect of losing our mother but by the possibility of going through what she is going through ourselves -- and of putting our kids through this, too.
Hence: scared straight.
Which seems to mean becoming a vegan.
When I told a friend that the vegans appear to be right, she said Anthony Bourdain called them a "Hezbollah-like splinter faction" of vegetarians.
* update 7.3.2011: My mom didn't have heart failure. Her PCP thought she did, but she didn't. A year before she died, I went with her to see her cardiologist, who gave us a blank look when we brought up her heart failure and told us she didn't have it. The only reason this exchange took place was that I'd read an article about left ventricular assist devices, and I wanted to know whether my mom could have one. Turned out she wasn't a candidate for a left ventricular assist device because she didn't have heart failure.
I'll probably never know why we all lived with a fatal diagnosis hanging over our heads for -- how many years? I don't remember. Also, I'm pretty sure the fact that everyone thought my mother had heart failure led to everyone mistaking symptoms of kidney failure for symptoms of heart failure. The extreme pain she was experiencing from kidney failure severely constricted her life and caused the fall that ultimately killed her.
I know this will sound obvious, but it bears saying: when you're dealing with a parent's health issues, make sure you understand the diagnosis. As I understand it now (and please correct me if I'm wrong), there are two forms of congestive heart failure: chronic and acute. It's entirely possible that both my mother and we kids were told that she had the acute form and no one explained the difference.
It's also possible she was misdiagnosed -- or that she was correctly diagnosed by her original cardiologist, who left town, but there was some kind of miscommunication with the PCP.