It’s been a difficult road for Mom. Sacral fractures are known to be among the most painful things you can endure.
The high pain levels call for medications. Unfortunately, the medications come with all sorts of side effects: lethargy, nausea, taste perversion, bad dreams, etc.
Since the last post on November 19, Mom spent 10 days at Normandy slipping down the ladder of health, 100% bed bound and practically unable to do therapy. On November 30, she was rushed back to Abington Memorial Hospital for hazardous electrolyte imbalances which are typically caused by dehydration, returning to Normandy a few days later.
Still, for another 10 days, Mom continued to slip downward. With a highly suppressed appetite, Mom lost weight, strength, and drive.
On December 12, Mom made a renewal to fight. Credit Dr. Arthur Lintgen for a speech he gave that morning, a firm but caring speech urging Mom to move forward.
For another 9 days, Mom literally worked against the odds. Deciding that the medication side effects were exacting too high a cost, Mom began selectively refusing the worst offenders (the heavy hitting pain killers). The idea was to reduce them to a level that just barely managed her pain.
This was an imprecise process. Mom swung from overmedicated to undermedicated, back and forth repeatedly. Sleep was very difficult. Eating was a complete struggle – nothing tasted good, nothing stayed down. During comfortable periods, Mom started isometrics and barbell exercises in bed, and worked hard with breathing exercises.
On or around the 21st of December, the tide barely began to turn. Mom could feel an increase in mobility and her pain levels were subsiding. The primary remaining health issues were: 1) an excess of pain medications and all their side effects, 2) a bum knee, 3) and a thorough deconditioning.
Through the docs and nurses, and by refusal, Mom continued ramping off the pain meds. The doc “broke free” her frozen bad knee, and Mom has been working it herself ever since, slowly increasing its range of motion, now to about 90 degrees.
On the 24th, Mom got out of bed with assistance and into a bedside chair. The event was practically pain-free – a real sign of progress. On the 25th, Mom sat herself up unassisted on the side of the bed twice!
Today, the 27th, Mom transferred into a wheelchair, finally left her room (after 25 straight days) and rolled herself down the hall for her first session of occupational therapy in about 4 weeks, then stayed sitting up another 2 hours in the activity lounge. She entered an ongoing word game with the crowd and promptly won the game with the word “scapular.”
These are all steps in her recovery, but they are big steps and big signs of progress. We’re really proud – and we all could not be getting a better holiday present.