Katie came through the tendon release surgery successfully, returning to the nursing home two days later. Both her left ankle and right leg remained in casts. She continued to be significantly impacted by her pain medications, and now residual anesthesia played into the mix.
When Judene and I visited the following week, we were able to determine that Katie was aware that we were there and knew who we were. But then we left the room for a while when the aides came in to get Katie up and dressed. When we came back in she was sitting in her wheelchair—eyes wide open with makeup applied—and totally devoid of expression. The experience was surreal.
The treatment regimen seemed to have set her back so much. Katie’s emerging personality was all locked up again behind an emotionless “flat affect.”
Finding the balance between minimizing pain and achieving alertness is difficult. Katie no longer has the filters to cope with pain that she had before her brain surgery. But seeing her take so many steps back into an almost “coma-like” state was both disconcerting and disheartening.
But then, I came across the following quote in another blog:
“An optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s more like a CHA-CHA. – I like that! So I just have to dance a little before I can go on. Fine.” By Robert Brault
Sounds like our Katie!
Now waiting for approval of the plan was not necessarily a bad thing. Katie was scheduled to go through a complicated “tendon release” procedure to try to straighten and relax her contracted limbs. It would not be feasible to care for her at home during this time.
Sam had to have Katie transported to a larger city, about 2 hours away, to receive the treatment–which was not available locally, even at the teaching hospital in our area. Over a period of several weeks, Katie’s limbs were stretched and casted a number of times in preparation for tendon release surgery.
The procedure resulted in escalating pain, which was especially difficult during transportation to and from the treatment facility. Because Katie began to cry out continually, her narcotic medications were increased.
On September 12th, while I was away on a trip to visit my daughter’s family and while Sam was away on a long-planned and much-needed fishing getaway, I received an e-mail from Katie’s care manager from the Area Agency on Aging. The care plan had been approved!
Sam was not checking his e-mail, and I decided not to try to phone him while he was on his trip. After a few anxious days, I was finally able to talk to Sam. But my good news was tempered by his disturbing news. When Sam went to visit Katie upon returning from his trip, he was unable to awaken her—she was unresponsive.
And, tendon release surgery was scheduled for the following week…