Monday, October 24, 2011

Maggie Monday: Post Surgery

Now that my grandmother has recovered, I can tell these stories and we can laugh. But the post-surgical reality was that my grandmother was suffering from postoperative delirium. Anesthesia can cause cognitive deficits, perceptual deficits, altered sleep-wake cycle, and psychotic features such as hallucinations and delusions in the elderly. It can last for a week or so, or it can last until death. Pretty scary shit.

But my aunt, who has been dealing with the full effects, has really held up well. Of course, there isn't a store in the greater Nashua area she hasn't shopped. She even went to Michaels. She's not crafty. But I'll tell you what she is: funny! These are her daily updates on Maggie.

October 19:  She was loopy again yesterday when I went back to see her around 4. At first she was funny, then she became belligerent and combative. She told me I was in big trouble. She kept trying to pull out her catheter and IV. They were going to put her in restraints, but I said that I would stay as long as I could and make sure that she didn't hurt herself. They ended up having an LNA stand watch after I left. I asked her how she had drawn the short straw.

October 20: When I got to the hospital at a little after noon yesterday, I was very happy to see Maggie in a deep sleep. I sat there for a few hours and she never woke up. I then left to run an errand (DSW). When I got back, she was semiconscious and could remember bits and pieces of what had transpired the day before. She was not a happy camper, saying that there were too many of "them" and that they wouldn't let her do what she wanted. She's still mad at me by the way.

Cousin Frank came by to see her again. It's a break for me as we've been catching up. He usually stays awhile and then goes downstairs to eat in the cafeteria. Talk about a glutton for punishment!

When one of the nurses asked Maggie who her visitors were she pointed to Frank saying that was her nephew and that I was her sister. (!) She pointed to a couple of invisible visitors as well! Obviously she is still hallucinating. Occasionally she would look at me and ask me why I was still there. Then around 7 pm when I was getting ready to leave, she asked why I was leaving already. She still has her roommate who suffers from Alzheimer's. So between her getting up and setting off her IV alarm and Maggie trying to get out of bed to go home, it's quite a scene.

I'm hoping that when I go in this morning that Maggie will be more herself. All of this crap is setting her physical therapy back as she has only been out of bed once since Monday. She had trouble eating (couldn't find her mouth, couldn't spear he asparagus), so with a little help she finally ate a bit.

October 22: Well to say that this week was one of the longest ones in my life would be an understatement.

Thursday night, I talked to one of Maggie's doctors who said that she was suffering from delirium and that it could last for weeks. She was in such bad shape that they had positioned her at the nurses' station where she would be easy to reach. She wanted out and was determined to leave. She was seeing things and kept reaching for them. I thought she was going to propel herself out of her recliner. It was important to keep her safe and still. I went home and googled "the effects of anesthesia on the elderly" and was surprised at what I read. I don't recommend googling this particular subject as it was very depressing. I read where this condition could last several weeks, months, or go on until death.

Bottom line is that she had another restless night in spite of the calming drugs they had administered. She finally fell asleep around 5 am. They didn't bother to wake her for breakfast. The previous day, she couldn't even find her mouth when she attempted to eat anyway. And when I did manage to get something in her, she chewed and chewed like it was gum. I still don't know how much made it into her stomach.

You can imagine our surprise when we walked in on Maggie on Friday and she seemed extremely happy to see us. They served her lunch, and although she hated the offering, she actually ate on her own. I should have known that she was coming back when on Thursday as she babbled, I heard her say "these come as pedal pushers as well as capris and in many colors." I don't know if in her mind, she was watching QVC or actually acting as one of the hosts. The weird part of all of this is that she remembers doing a lot of the stuff and told me that she couldn't help herself. Needless to say we have come to the conclusion that this is the LAST surgery Maggie will ever have.

She had a visit from the hospital psychiatrist and was extremely happy to tell me that she had "passed."  I'm just glad that he hadn't seen her the day before!

Before I left last night she ate a homemade Koulourakia cookie, a hospital cookie, and some chocolates. Like I said, she's back!

October 24:: Don't ask me what she did during the night Saturday, but whatever it was resulted in her roommate giving me the evil eye Sunday morning. If looks could kill, her roommate would have done me in. Apparently Maggie had a rough night, woke up at 10:00 pm and thought it was morning, she didn't know where she was, etc. They ended up moving Maggie closer to the nurses' station to be able to keep an eye on her. I think she is becoming one of those patients that the nurses just love.

I've been trying to go in to see her at meal time to make sure that she is eating, if that's what you call what she does. The only food she finished was the banana cream pie. She told me yesterday that she is giving "them" two weeks. Guess after that, she'll make a break for it.

Stay tuned to see if my grandmother escapes.


Mindi said...

Your aunt has been an absolute saint. I almost typed out that I'm not sure if I could have done the same, but then I realized for family, yes, I'd do whatever I need to.

Lee said...

As our parents and relatives have aged, I've come to think that this hospital dementia is more the norm than the exception. It's usually temporary, right? But it's a rough road while it's happening.

Sending good wishes for your grandmother AND your aunt!

Donna said...

Both sad and funny.

Ditto on Lee's good wishes to both your grandmother and your aunt!

Siobhan said...

Awww, like it's been said, both sad and funny. Your aunt sounds like a real trooper.

Aussie Stitcher said...

I am so glad that Maggie is getting back to herself. Wishing her and your aunt all the best.