That should have been the end of the story, but would I be blogging about it if that was the case?
To begin with, Mom is pretty dang athletic for being 80, so there isn’t a lot of excess padding where a surgeon can hide a pacemaker. So they just stuck it under her skin, making a nice little lump but otherwise not interfering much. My youngest brother Solar lives near her, so he made sure things like laundry and heavy lifting got taken care of until she was off restrictions.
That should have been the end of the story. Again. But…
Whether it was a matter of the pacemaker being too close to the surface, or one of those airborne things getting into the mix during surgery, an infection set in. One of those nasty antibiotic-resistant hospital infections. Of course, this happened right before Christmas, when we planned to come down. Solar ran out of chill and advised us to cancel our hotel and just stay home. Meanwhile, they yanked the pacemaker and put on (on, not in) a temporary, then started shotgunning the antibiotics.
Wife suggested I go down myself, day after Christmas, and Solar was good with that. He had been taking care of his business and Mom’s, and was going into negative-chill over the hospital wanting to send her home despite never having done that when a patient has a temporary pacemaker. Still, Mom wanted to be in her place, and I suspect the hospital wanted to prevent a possible secondary infection. So I came down, and Solar got to have a break for a while.
Mom looked a lot better than Solar was describing—definitely not 100%, but able to dress herself, fix her own food, and so on. A home nurse came in daily to help keep up with her medications and do blood tests. So here she was: pacemaker taped to her shoulder, a pump pulling the crud out of the infected area, a PICC line in her arm—tubes and machines everywhere. Cyborg-Mom! Her primary complaint was “I only got to play tennis twice before this happened!”
I thought Solar was worrying way too much. Sure, he was comparing Mom to herself at 100%, but she was able to handle the basic tasks of life. We went to the grocery store, she made coffee, and helped me fix a meal or two. I was comparing her to my father-in-law, who only gets out of his chair when he needs to use the can or eat. He completely depends on the wife (mine) to get his meals, arrange his meds, and bathe him. Compared to that, Mom seemed hardly affected… besides being unable to play tennis, of course. I even got to take a couple walks on the beach, where I saw six people using a four-person inflatable float and a melting snowman (sandman). Had to look up the float; I might get one for our week at the timeshare.
|Put me in summer and I'll be a… HAPPY SNOWMAN!|
So back to Mom. Once they identified the infection (a cousin of tuberculosis), they knocked off the shotgun antibiotics and gave her one or two that had the most effect against the bad buggly. (Good thing, all those drugs were starting to bang on her kidneys a little too hard.) So the infection started clearing up, and they took the pump off. Mom really bounced back after that; she always had to remember to pick up the bag with the pump and make sure the lines weren’t going to snag on something. I kind of missed it; it made a soft fart sound every ten minutes or so, which thoroughly delighted my inner 12-year-old. (“Yeah, Mom, blame it on the pump!”)
So I went home on New Years Eve, and she went into the hospital on the 3rd to get the new pacemaker put in. This time, they put it into a muscle so there wouldn’t be a repeat problem.
That should have been the end of the story. But… are we starting to see a pattern here?
She came home on the 4th, and the very next day she was right back in for a mild heart attack. They ran a catheter in, and found no blockage, so they concluded it was stress-related. (Stress? Now why would she be stressed?)
She got to come home a few days later, and everything is finally more or less on an even keel. We rescheduled our vacation for spring break, I got reservations at the cottages we often stay at, and she should be back to playing tennis by the time we come down in early April.
Not even 2016 could do for Mom. Nobody messes with Mom.