Monday, July 28, 2008

sure she can nag, but you really do want mom in on the 411

Awhile back, I wrote about my brother's sudden and scary issues with bursting veins.  As he's over the age of 18 and has decided to stay down in Alabama, doctors there don't consult with my mom about what's going on with his care like the ones here did all these years. I'm all for independence, but if your mom is a nurse who in the past has caught healthcare professionals in potential mistakes and alerted them to important factors that laypeople wouldn't know enough about to point out, I'd want that mom in the loop at all times. I'm just saying.

So we got a call on Thursday saying he'd be having surgery on his left leg veins on Friday. That's all the information we got: He was going in at 9 am, and he'd call when it was over. I guess it all happened really fast after the consultation, during which the doctor was like, That vein-popping thing with blood spewing all over the place? Yeah, I can fix that, no problem. So he signed up.

Of course my mother was sick with worry. She's been unfailingly at his side for every little test and procedure for nearly 26 years (with all of us often waiting on him, hand and foot). And even though a kind friend would be there with him and even take my brother to her home after he was discharged, going through surgery really isn't the same without your mom. So this was going to be hard. Especially on my mom. 

To make it worse, while my brother was home in May for his graduation party he had an appointment with a chiropractor about back pain he's had pretty much his whole life. They found that he has scoliosis (possibly aggravated from being sawed open and pinned that way for dozens of hours at a time). They also found some other situation with his left hip. My brother has never had good luck with that left leg; it's the one with the bursty vessels, and the one he has an especially hard time bending over—he can barely put on his left sock/shoe. (But God save you if you ever offer to help him.) We thought it was because they always enter the camera for cardiac catheterization into that big vessel where his leg meets his pelvis and the immobility was probably due to all the scar tissue, but apparently there was also something going on with the bone all this time. 

Initially they thought the head of his femur was too big for the socket, which is why he's had pain walking since he started walking (he says he's never really known any different), but then a CAT scan showed there's actually a tumor there; they weren't sure it was benign, and there was a chance he had bone cancer. Yeah, as if the kid needs any more issues. Those couple of days were kind of crazy. My mom was losing it, and didn't even tell us until she got more concrete information, so she was losing it practically by herself.

But again, because she is a nurse, my mother compartmentalized her breakdown to find out if results only came back like that because of his pre-existing condition. After the doctor took a look at his complete medical history, she concluded that it's probably not a malignant tumor after all, and that my brother should just be aware of any pain he feels in that hip when he's not moving it. If that starts, then we have to look at it again.

So that was in May. The surgery last Friday seemed to have gone well. My brother called while he was high as a kite on pain medication and said he told the nurses that he was a pimp, but that no one believed him. Someone called him out on it and he said, "You're right, I'm not a pimp. I don't believe in beating on women and treating them bad." When I asked if he hit on anyone who worked there this time, he said (in what he must have thought was a whisper) "No way! None of these nurses are very good-looking." And as usual, he had no recollection of this the next day. I guess what the surgeons did was tie off one of the leg vessels at the groin and laser some other ones. Hopefully that will stop the random bleeding. My brother has been in a lot of pain (none of the painkillers they gave him have been working; he's got a high tolerance by now) but is at work today. 

I've been calling/texting to check in on him all weekend, and it sounded like things were going all right, except for the pain. But this morning I got a call from my mom that he casually called, asking what he should take because his entire body has broken out in red, itchy hives, a lot like it did after last year's bad surgery recovery when he had a severe drug allergy. After that episode last year he got very sick and it took a very long time for him to get back to normal. Later, they thought he was allergic to the tape they used on his IVs and dressings. So this time they used paper tape, and the result is upsettingly similar. I just hope it doesn't get as bad. 

Of course, when I call to check on him he says everything is fine and that he's at the office. Stubborn kid. But I am happy to know that even though she worries, he's smart enough to tell my mom what's going on. She's been ready to get on a plane within the hour all week, but my brother has another proposition:

"Mom, what will you do if you come down here? You'll just be hanging out at my house while I'm at work. Why don't you do this: If the Cubs make it to the World Series, you can fly me back home for a game."


Anonymous said...

Well now that your brother seems to have survived on his own, maybe next time your Mom won't worry as much.

I'm just saying.

SupaCoo said...

Oh man. THIS is a good reason not to have kids, because if they're half as stubborn as me, I'm screwed.

Lia said...

Moms really are the best. Even when you know that at some point you might not want to have given them all that worry and all that information, at the time, it really helps. So it *is* worth it.

Eclectic Bride said...

Seriously, I still can't believe he did she not start laughing when he asked about the cubs game?

Happy to hear he's pulling through... He is a wonderkid.

willowtree said...

Your whole family deserves gold medals- actually more than that of course. I think sometimes people forget that it is the whole family (sometimes anyway) who goes through all of the health concerns. Im now the always a new thing happening healthwise person in my family, and they have been so helpful to me. I dont know what I would do without them. Your brother probably feels just the same. You guys rock and we will be eternally grateful!
Oh and you defintely got the bonus points for Skeletor!! There is a youtube channel now that has minisodes of He-man, and She-Ra, The Facts of Life, Silverspoons, Voltron- just old time shows hehe it's called the Minisode Network.