I’m a wreck

I want to note for the record that I’ve been on anti-anxiety meds since August 1st because of the wedding stress of having to deal with my father, brother and father’s wife. I’ve been on muscle relaxers since August 27th. The muscle relaxers are because my bulging disks in my neck have started to act up again, definitely due to stress (and possibly also due to my job). When I worked for the computer industry, my neck/shoulders would go out four times a year from all the anxiety I endured. So I know anxiety sets it off.

On Friday I called my brother and found out that ma has a hernia. She called me the next day to describe it to me; said it’s in the crease where the leg meets the pubic area. She said it only hurts if she stands for long periods of time, so her work has been affected. She said she got the hernia from coughing too hard because she got sick from a co-worker (a bug is going around, everyone I’ve talked to in Michigan has a cough right now, tis the season). I can’t remember how long she said she’d had the hernia for. Could be a couple of weeks AFAIK.

This morning ma called to say she’d been to a surgeon, who had diagnosed her with what sounded to me like a strangulated inguinal hernia, and so she has to go for emergency surgery this Thursday. I say ‘what sounded like’ because ma couldn’t tell me the actual lingo. I had to go on where the location of the hernia is, her pain level and the urgent instructions from her doctor to come up with this diagnosis. A friend helped me pin ‘inguinal’ as the type of hernia.

Mayo Clinic says that “A strangulated hernia is life-threatening and requires immediate surgery.”
Under “Risk factors”, Mayo Clinic says “A chronic cough, such as occurs from smoking, increases your risk of inguinal hernia.”

Wikipedia says, “As the hernia progresses, contents of the abdominal cavity, such as the intestines, can descend into the hernia and run the risk of being pinched within the hernia, causing an intestinal obstruction. If the blood supply of the portion of the intestine caught in the hernia is compromised, the hernia is deemed “strangulated,” and gut ischemia and gangrene can result, with potentially fatal consequences. The timing of complications is not predictable; some hernias remain static for years, others progress rapidly from the time of onset. Provided there are no serious co-existing medical problems, patients are advised to get the hernia repaired surgically at the earliest convenience after a diagnosis is made. Emergency surgery for complications such as incarceration and strangulation carry much higher risk than planned, “elective” procedures.” (boldface mine)

My ma has been a pack-a-day smoker for at least 40 years, and began smoking when she was about 12 years old. Two of my ma’s siblings have Emphysema, with one of her siblings at end stage disease, on an oxygen tank, AND STILL SMOKING. My ma calls smoking her recreation and like her siblings, laughs when people try to tell her the risks of smoking.

Ma says she will meet with the anesthesiologist before surgery to go over how the surgery will be done. She couldn’t tell me if it would be local or if she’d be knocked out. I have no idea – I ASSUME she’ll be knocked out for this.

My question is, because she is an emphysemia candidate, would she be refused gas anesthetic? Would the surgery be refused altogether?

And because she is an emphysemia candidate, and because of her family history*, and this surgery is deemed more risky anyway, how likely is it that my ma might not make it through this?

*Her own mother died of Chronic Heart Failure (CHF) due to old age, she was not a smoker. Her father died of heart failure also, but I do not have documentation as to the actual diagnosis. He was not a smoker from the time I ever knew him.

I was of the mind to fly home ASAP to be with my mother, but spent the day talking with my father, my sister-in-law, my fiancé, my chosen sister, and a bunch of friends on the Internet…trying to figure out my head.

This evening when ma woke up, I called and was able to get her to tell me her doctor’s number, so I’ll be calling her doc in the morning. I found out that my ma drove herself to the appointment with the surgeon today – my brother did not accompany her as previously thought. As a matter of fact, he may not even be able to take her to surgery on Thursday – ma is thinking of taking a cab!?!@##$%

I asked ma again all the questions I asked her this morning. She told me that she has a ‘groin hernia’ (so yes, it is an inguinal) but that the bulging area is not discoloured (so no, it’s probably not strangulated). She said her surgeon gave her a booklet and said if she has any nausea, to go to E.R. (cuz that means strangulation). I asked my ma if she was told to get emergency surgery and she said no. This differs from what I was told between Friday and this morning. So I think she’s just softening the news for me to not worry about her.

I talked with my sister-in-law, who told me they wanted ma to come stay with them after surgery, but she refused, because she doesn’t want to leave her cats unattended!
My sister-in-law also told me that she can’t stay with ma cuz she works 12-hour days at another hospital and then has two sons who HAVE to go to football practice. And my brother can’t stay with ma cuz after 4 hours in that house of hers, he damned near gets an asthma attack from all the cat dander, dust and 25 years of chain-smoke in an ill-ventilated home. Ma keeps her windows closed and the air conditioner running ‘to clean the air’ inside the house. She also has HEPA filter fans but she’s never changed the filters on that or the air conditioner. You might just picture the ‘sloth’ house from the movie Se7en and that’s similar enough to the house I grew up in.
Needless to say, ma is a bit mental. I’m a bit protective of her for this reason.

Oh, and after the whole ‘sorry can’t help’ crap from my sister-in-law, and radio silence from my brother all damned day, I get a text message this evening from my SIL telling me not to worry, that my brother and his wife will take care of ma, and that my brother will call me tomorrow.

How will they take care of her? They live nearly two hours away with their 12+ hour days and two boys who NEED to get to football practice. …

And he’ll call me TOMORROW? After not a word all day today? His job clearly takes precedence over our mother. And you know what, our mother takes this stance as well. She DEFENDED him when I bitched about not hearing from him all day today. Dad was waiting on him as well because of the whole ‘have to book plane tickets for the wedding’ – apparently my brother promised my dad he would go with ma to the surgeon’s appointment to get the official lowdown on her condition, then update our dad so he could determine whether or not to include ma on the flight out for the wedding.

While the wedding and travel plans for said wedding don’t matter to me at the moment, I can understand why dad would be pissed off. Another verbal promise broken by another fellow family member. It’s the norm in our family.

I talked with my chosen sister, who said she would be able to look in on the cats if I can convince ma to go stay with my brother after surgery. But my chosen sister also has a family crisis of her own – her husband’s grandfather is also in the hospital – he’s critical – and her relatives are likely coming to stay this weekend. It’s all such bad shit right now.

If ma does not want to leave her house, then there’s no one to take care of her in the 48 hours after surgery. My ma is a hermit – she does not have any friends to come look in on her. Not even neighbors. She doesn’t trust the house key to anyone. She never leaves her house outside of going to work at the grocery store. She works the midnight shift and sleeps during the day.

Long story short:
I’ve decided that I’m going to go to work tomorrow.

I’m going to call ma’s surgeon from work and get the lowdown.

The only thing that will prevent me from getting to work tomorrow is if girl do0m comes for me or if ma’s condition worsens.

Depending on what the surgeon tells me, and whether or not my spidey sense is still tingling, I may hop on a plane by Wednesday night. That means I run the risk of not being there til after ma gets home from surgery. But at least I’d be there for aftercare. I don’t care at this point that I will also be in great pain from the girl do0m, which, if it doesn’t arrive Wednesday, will arrive by Friday. I have my drugs and heating pads, and I’m not afraid to call for backup assistance if it comes to me having to lift my mother. Whereas ma just doesn’t let people know how bad things are for her. I still know two neighbors in the area. I may even still have their numbers and if I don’t, I’m sure ma does. Of course, I’ll be knocking on their doors to give them a heads-up anyway…

So that is the plan.

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