Monday, July 29, 2013

The voice inside



"The Voice"

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
"I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong."
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What's right for you--just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.” 



Do you ever have one of those days when it feels like a whole chain of events unfold so unbelievably, its as though you are in a dream? A nightmarish dream- that innocently begins with that quiet little inner voice.

Its nagging started almost right away.  

I was packing bags for our weekend get away.  

That voice inside me kept up a steady stream... "call your mom."

I kept putting it off.  Finding more to pack and being doggone sure I had everything ready to go early Thursday.  We were going.  We'd planned for so long, nothing was stopping me. 

"Call your mom."

As I went to put my phone on the charger before bed, finally, I called her.


Her voice answers, unusually hollow and thin.

"I have had such bad stomach cramping."  

"No, I didn't go out to dinner."

"No, I didn't feel up for the community room ice cream."

Oh, no ice cream?  This is not good.

Its late and she is sleepy.  She wishes me well on our trip and says she'll call her doctor in the morning. 
I don't sleep well, worried about the sound of her voice and the nagging of my own inner voice.

Thursday morning she has called her doctor and he has asked for a stool sample. But my inner voice of reason knows I need to check on her.

As I open the door to her apartment and lay eyes on her, I suddenly understand that nagging voice I've been trying to ignore.

Our plans change on a dime.

I tell her we're going to the ER and she doesn't even fight me on it.

The ER is quiet for aThursday morning.  

We get a young RN who proclaims this is her second week working in the ER!  

But there is something about her confidence, her enthusiasm.  She laughs easily with my mom and notices her spunky attitude, despite her obvious weakness.

The doctor sees clearly, she needs fluids.

He also orders a bunch of other tests.  

I feel unusually alert.  Keying into everything around us.

And suddenly the dream-like state of events starts to unfold.

Her first iv infiltrates and causes the biggest bump and blackest, biggest, bruise I have ever seen.

Mom is a trooper.  Clearly in pain, she smiles and reassures the young nurse that she tried her best.

The second line goes in no easier- it also stings, burns and bruises. She grimaces and rubs it. 

But the nurse sees a good blood return, so she adds in an antibiotic for the infection they have found, and leaves.  Moments later, her arm turns bright red and starts to itch.  I watch as the redness mounts and hear my inner voice tell me to act.

We press our nurse call button.  

And wait.

And then in a freakishly, horror-movie-tinged, twist of events- the power shuts off.  And the kid next door in the middle of sedation screams bloody murder.

The doors bolt close.  Its pitch black.  

Then eerily quiet.

All I can hear is my mother clawing at her itching arm.

Within a few minutes the lights flutter and everything comes back on.  But everything is on back-up generator.  Rumors of a fire emerge and people in the hallway swear they smell smoke.  Yet, nothing ever gets confirmed.

I now go seek out a nurse, grabbing one who isn't my mother's.  He sees instantly she is having an allergic reaction to her antibiotic, and goes to get meds.  I tell my mom he will most likely return with benadryl.  Her eyes widen when he does, and quickly shoots it into her iv line.  Then he hangs a new antibiotic.  I start to warn her how quickly she will feel the benadryl, but her eyes are drooping already as she fights off sleep.

He asks if I am in the medical field.  "No, at least not in the way you'd expect," I say with a smile. 

Her doctor comes back in to check on her.  Her tests show depleted levels of lots of things in her blood, infection, and maybe she has a virus.  But after some fluids, he thinks she'll be able to go home later in the afternoon. He is warm and compassionate and we liked him instantly.

I'm breathing easier, thinking we may salvage our weekend plans.

In the meantimes mother asks to use the restroom.  As she returns to her bed with help, I notice how short of breath she is- her breathing sounding odd.  I make mental notes, as our nurse rushes off again.

Then, as mom lays her head back, I see her heartrate monitor start to flash.  When it registers 130 it sounds an alarm and turns bright red.  I watch as it steadily climbs, 140, 150, 160- and tops out at 170!  Holy heart rate! 

I'm shocked nobody has come in.  My inner voice is loud and persistent.  "Get going Vicky... get help." I run to the desk and hurriedly tell them to come quick.  The male nurse from earlier sees on his desk, that its her heart monitor and exclaims- she's in tachycardia!  He rushes in and grabs her wrist.  Her heart is clearly racing.  As he stands watching the next few minutes, her heart rate slows and goes back down to a normal range.  He brings in leads and places a heart monitor on her chest.  Then he tells me to watch her carefully and come get him if it does it again.

Maybe I really am in the medical field?  

I set my eyes on her monitor and watch closely.

When mom starts shivering I go and inquire about a warm blanket.  

"Sure, the warmers over there, help yourself," the woman at the desk responds.  

I suddenly miss all the "spiffs" I seem to get at Roger Maris.  Warm blankets doled out like clock work- snacks and drinks offered continually, nurses in constant watch and communication with you.  

I say a quick prayer, "Thank you God, for showing me how lucky I have truly been in my cancer care."

I look at the clock, as my energy wanes.  We've been here since 10 am and its 3pm.

The doctor comes back in.  Considering mom's unstable nature, he'd now like to admit her and watch her for awhile.

The young nurse comes back in and announces- the hospital room should be ready in 15 minutes.  She has called and was told they have all kinds of empty beds.  As soon as mom is assigned, they'll transport her.

Who in their right mind would think it'd be nearly FIVE MORE HOURS and 6 apologies before she is settled into her room?  Clearly not any of us.  

By now Rick and the boys had come and were in the mix of it.  Clearly our plans for going out of town have changed.

And mom just remained a trooper through it all.  

She didn't complain about the wait.  She didn't complain about the bruises now running up and down her arms.  She didn't complain that they had said she could eat or drink something, but nobody brought her anything but a sprite when I went in search of it again. 

And I was out of energy, completely.  

I finally left by 9 pm, seeing how played out mom was, hoping she'd be able to sleep well.  


Over the past couple of days she has rested and received fluids, completed a battery of tests. She has gotten rid of the horrible stomach cramps.  

I've watched her win over staff person after, nurse, after dr.  They each hug her, pat her hand, or tell her what a great patient she is.  

Yet, I can only shake my head and wonder at how an environment can also harbor so much human error. 

Like the intern who brought in a script for her "pneumonia."  WHAT?  I said "how did we determine pneumonia when her lung scans were clear?"  

"OH... SORRY... wrong patient.  So sorry.  Too little sleep, lots of new patients."  

He is young, and juggling a lot, and I forgive him.  But it makes me feel hyper vigilant.  I am convinced if you have a loved one in the hospital, make sure someone stays with them to check and double check everything.

Its with relief mom passes all of her tests with flying colors when they are ready to discharge her.  As I type this, she is resting comfortably in her chair at home.  

I feel like I've traveled light years over the past few days.  

In a lot of ways I gained more empathy for what Superman goes through in taking care of me.  I tossed myself aside for a few days and poured into mom. 

I felt useful and like all that treatment I have received, taught me, how to help my mom. 

And my inside voice has quieted once again.

"In the narrow halls of the inner ear, echoed is the song of Light."
Marie Alana Stiles












40 comments:

  1. Just checking my Feedly this afternoon and come across this post. Vicky, I am shaking a little from reading all that has transpired for your dear Mom. But over all, I am so thankful that you were there for her, that you listened to that still small voice, and were able to be an advocate for your mother.

    God bless you and strengthen you after such an emotional and physical strain. And Dear Lord, be with Vicky's Mom and give her peace and strength. Amen.

    *hugs* from over here :-)

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    1. Susan- hugs right back to you- thank you for the precious prayers for my mom. She is doing pretty well and I am so grateful we have both come through fairly well. Thank you friend- from all the way over here to there!!

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  2. I'm so happy your mom is better! And that you were able to help her! I totally agree that when a loved one is in the hospital, they need to have someone who loves them there at all times. We went through 3 weeks of nightmare last year with my dad at hospital. If I hadn't had that voice telling me that we needed to be the watch care for him, I have no doubt he would have died or be in total dementia right now! Never leave a loved one alone!!! God bless you and your family. I know you've been through so much.

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    1. I am so sorry to hear about your Dad- three weeks had to have felt unbearable! Thank you for sharing your story and helping me to know this was the right path for us! Thank you for the blessings as well- blessings right back to you and extra hug to your Dad!

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  3. It's so easy to put blind faith in doctors because they're supposed to be almost god-like in their knowledge, and when they fail, it always throws me for such a loop. So glad you listened to your instinct! And I agree that not only does cancer give us a bit of an extra oomph of care, it also gives us more knowledge. So glad your mama is doing better.

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    1. Thanks Melissa- my eyes were sure opened wide through this experience. I still don't quite know what to think- but the good news is that despite everything, mom is feeling better and got the care she required.

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  4. I was so glad to read that your Mom got to go home and was feeling better. I have learned many times that we should never ignore that inner voice! I have heard many stories like yours which make me never want to leave one of my loved ones alone in the hospital ever. Your mother is very blessed that she had you right by her side. Sometimes as we feel needed in a situation we are given the strength we never even knew we possessed. Hope you have gotten rested up too!

    The Voice

    There is a voice inside of you
    That whispers all day long,
    "I feel this is right for me,
    I know that this is wrong."
    No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
    Or wise man can decide
    What's right for you--just listen to
    The voice that speaks inside.
    ― Shel Silverstein

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    Replies
    1. Eileen- I was always so nervous and uncomfortable when my Dad was in the hospital and I relied on mom mostly. Now I feel so fortunate that it doesn't bother me to be there and that I was indeed blessed with enough strength to see her through. I have rested friend- I have :) Thank you for your insightful words always :)

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  5. I am so glad your Mom is better. I read with my heart in my throat.
    YES! YES! And triple YES! to being hyper vigilant when one has someone in the hospital. Thank God for you, a loving daughter who stayed by her side and monitored her care and her progress.
    She is a beautiful lady with a lovely heart.
    My prayers are for a complete recovery for her.
    I am thankful for the tender care you receive at Roger Maris.
    Sending you and your Mom love,
    J.

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    1. Oh Jackie- I think of your own mother and I know YOU know this. I pray your own mother is doing well and I just know you are spending quality time with her and your father too :) Love to you~

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  6. This sounds just like my life lately.....four admissions for my mom in 7 weeks......shortness of breath and all of it. It's scary on so many levels. And like you, I am struggling to find my own equilibrium.
    Hang in there, I'm thinking of you.

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    1. Oh Hilary- that is a lot and for a longggg time. I pray you are getting some relief and some help perhaps too. We'll just keep thinking of each other and know we aren't alone in any of this!

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  7. I spent most of my young life caring after my grand mother and parents and kids, and worked for a while with old people.
    You hang around hospitals , you learn a lot and I did learn very early on, never to leave people alone in hospitals.You have to ask many questions and even fight with them if you think they are wrong.They make you sign papers to get off the hook if something goes wrong and you give them letters saying ok but..... no students, no in experienced anaesthesiolists, no experimenting with new procedures you know nothing about etc.... It makes them jump and when there is something they want to do they then come out and ask.
    Sometimes you are not so popular.In fact many times you are not so popular.
    With old people, they tend to hurry up on the "passing" procedure if they feel money has to be spent keeping them alive. So you fight harder so they get better and come back home and live another 10 years.
    You are a trooper Vicky. God Bless you.!!!!

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    1. Thank you Vic- I always learn so much from your experiences you share with me. I will be the advocate as much as is necessary! God's blessings to you Vic!

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  8. Thank goodness you listened to your intuition and checked on your mom! I'm sorry your weekend away had to be postponed, but it was a blessing you could be there with your mom. I hope you will be able to rest and take care of yourself this week, and hopefully you can look forward to another weekend away very soon. Thank care!

    Steph

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Steph- we are all doing better and thinking we'll have our excursion soon :)

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  9. Rest for you both this week. You are absolutely right about having someone who knows you well stay with you in the hospital. Sorry your weekend got delayed, though. But I am glad you could clear your head and find your purpose in the ER. And the cancer places we go to - they are pretty cushy compared to the rest of the hospital!

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    1. Marcy- I've always felt well- taken care of- but to truly experience the other side of it was eye-opening. We are both resting and feeling better and that is the biggest blessing. So good to hear from you!

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  10. So glad you are BOTH feeling better - now REST!

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    1. Yes ma'am, I most certainly am! In fact we both are and are feeling much better :)

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  11. As I read this all I could remember was my cousin's daughter, who is an ICU nurse in a hospital in Wisconsin, say over and over again...if you have someone in the hospital you care about make sure you stay with them all the time. For the EXACT same reasons you listed. One error after another. It saddens me the people who don't have family or friends to be with them in time of need. And yet God is in all of this and He spoke to you in the inner most depths of your heart and you did what you had to do. You poured into your mom and her care, just like the blood of Jesus, poured out for many. Rest sweet Vicky for loving your mom like Jesus loves. You are such a blessing.

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    1. Kelly- I shudder each time someone else chimes in with this same cautionary advice! I too think of all the ones who end up having to go it alone- I so badly wanted to help the woman across from my mom who spent lots of hours alone- but the whole privacy/confidentiality issue makes it kind of hard to do so. She at least seemed peaceful.

      Thank you for your sweet and affirming words Kelly! I'm so blessed to have all of you come and literally pour into me in the same way :) Blessings and love to you!

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  12. Oh Vicky... how wonderful that you and your Mom have each other. Will have to add another candle this week. Your Mom is a strong lady just like you. You both are in my prayers.

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    1. Oh thank you Katie- you pay us such honor with the lighting of candles- mom will be thrilled when I tell her! Thank you!

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  13. It's so nice to know you are close by your mother and can be with her when medical situations like this happen. What a stressful thing for you and your family Vicky. Thank heavens your mom is doing better. Please find time to rest for your own health.

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    1. We are both resting and feeling much better- thank you for your care and concern Lisa!

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  14. by default, you are in the medical field and by all accounts, you saved your mom's life. it sure seems that someone in that hospital needs to be talked to....that your mom's experience needs to be addressed. you are an amazing daughter.

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    1. Beth- I so often receive the survey's on care after I've had something done at the clinic and I think that would give me the perfect outlet to describe some of the events. I do think someone would have come for my mom- I just wasn't going to wait around and see how long it would take! I think I just did what any of us daughters would do for our moms :)

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  15. I have learned over and over to trust that 'inner' voice to check on someone or pray for someone or give someone a call. IT is real and oh so powerful. Glad you did what needed to be done for your mom.

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    1. Its a lesson I seem to be learning over and over again too! It was refreshing to notice this time that I fully embraced it and had such good results as a consequence of doing it :)

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  16. It pays to listen to that inner voice!

    We've caught several mistakes with all of Michael's recent hospital stays and have learned to speak up when it happens. I'm just glad he is finally learning more and realizing when to call them on potential errors, before they cause bigger problems.

    Glad your Mom is home and doing better!

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    1. It so helps when we can educate ourselves and help keep track- good for Michael- I just know it also makes it hard to completely "rest" sometimes. I pray the new pump for Michael is working and he is recovering well. Thinking of you!

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  17. xxoxox - and more hugs!
    thinking about you! I emailed you earlier!!

    you Rock Vicky!!

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    1. I read your email sweetie- thank you so much!! Am just sitting down in front of the computer for the first time today :) Love you sweet one!

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  18. Oh my GOSH, Vicky. Thank God for you and being able to care for her and make sure all went well and for listening to that inner voice. Hannah and I were just talking today about the appalling level of medical incompetence out there and we were wondering if it was just a regional problem. Guess not. Even at the doctor we loved I called ahead yesterday so they would have plenty of time to have Hannah's test results there from when she was at ER. I knew there wouldn't be time for the hospital to respond today so called the doc's office to request them 24 hours in advance. When we got there today? No results. No one in the office did anything and this is the NORM. EVERYWHERE. IN EVERY MEDICAL FACILITY. You are right to advise others to have an advocate there for their loved one - at all times. Please rest now, if you can, and take care of YOU. Glad you have Rick making sure YOU are taken care of. And I'm sorry about your weekend plans but I know you wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere but by your mother's side. XOXO

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  19. Hi Vicky, so glad you trust that inner feeling and went with it. glad to hear your Mom is fine now, sending love your way. think of you always. hugs.

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  20. it dawned on me today as i was thinking about you--2 days after reading this post--that your response to this was in line with your theme of the year "embrace change". you were able to set aside your highly anticipated agenda and serve your mother's needs. that, among all the other ways you saw Him during this experience, is evidence of His work in your life. he uses ALL things for His good for us!

    thanks for sharing...i love your heart, girl!

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  21. Vicky, I knew parts of this story, but not this way. Oh my! I was thinking, too, that all of your hospital stays had prepared you for this, and possibly saved your mom's life! Incredible. God really does bring good to any situation. But we need to be ready to respond to His voice; not all are. I am so proud of you for listening...

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  22. I am so glad you followed your voice Vicky and to see and know your mom is doing good. Sending you love and hugs xo

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  23. So glad you are in tune with your "inner voice." When my "voice" is talking, shouting, or I feel pushed - that it's God hitting me over the head with a need for myself or someone around me. The older I get the more I listen and respond.

    I'm so glad your mom is doing better. Hugs to you both.

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