We did last night as we have done every night this week--King Ralph and I went to the ICU to be with his mom.
Monday was a nothing-has-changed-day. Tuesday was significant progress. Wednesday was a step back day. Thursday I didn't go but King Ralph snuck down there during the day, it was a good day. Yesterday, last night, well my heart sang and I told my mother-in-law just that, that she was making my heart sing.
She is alert. Still disoriented. Not sure why she is in the hospital and needs to be reminded that she has had brain surgery. On Thursday she tore her feeding tube out. So, with doctor's orders they put that darn thing back in. She is unrestrained, as she has been tied down since the first night when her agitation was crazy out-of-control. Trade off to getting to stretch her arms (and to assure she doesn't rip that feeding tube out again) padded hand covers.
When we entered her room last night we made light of it to her, "mom check you out, you have on boxing gloves, you're a boxer." She raised her hands high in the air pulled her son close to her and bopped him on his head. Then she smiled. We smiled back. Then the game began. She would raise those padded hand covers up and shake her hands, first at me then to King Ralph...over and over. She finally got to the point where she said "Kevin (first time I heard her say his name since surgery, making me ever so happy) take these things off me." He told her he couldn't and I told her if he did they would stick him in time out. Her intermittent smiles turned to a grimace, a grimace of disappointment. As our nightly visit rolled on she spent quite a bit of time staring at those padded hands trying to figure out how she is going to get them off. I constantly said "mom quit trying to think of how you are going to pull off a Houdini" and the hands then rested. She also kept tapping her cheeks with her "boxing gloves" looking up at King Ralph. "Babe, she wants you to kiss her cheek." When he did, she smiled. Then looked at me tapped her cheek and I kissed her cheek. She smiled again. She also raises her boxing gloves to her head rubbing on that large incision.
Next was the HUGE moment...the moment that made my heart sing. She passed a swallow test that morning so they ordered her a liquid tray. When it came the nurse asked if I would feed her. So I did. I fed my mother-in-law like she once fed my children. She ate as much cream of chicken soup as her weakened body would allow, which wasn't a whole lot but good enough for a starting point.
Throughout the evening she would ask "where is George?" and I would answer in the same way, "he went to get some dinner and to take a nap." Time is something she doesn't have a grip on...night, day, all running together, but the love of her life is something she does not forget. The hospital staff says when George arrives in the morning she perks up. The evidence of his love for her has always been present and obvious throughout this whole difficult journey.
She asks for drinks of water-- which I gave to her on a soft sponge on a stick and she sucks the water from the sponge. She kept wanting to get out of bed, telling us she "needs to get up and move around." King Ralph explained to her if she got up and fell, hurting herself, she would only be in the hospital longer. She would then relax her body back down into the bed. She did this a number of times. She was on a mission impossible. I looked at her at one point and suggested maybe King Ralph was a spit fire in his childhood from her genes, she shrugged her shoulders and said "maybe so." The male nurse came in and turned on her bed alarm, just in case.
Oh here is the best part of the day...well that soup was best part so here's the second best part. Her sister came by to visit and before she fell asleep Aunt Janet held out two bottles of nail polish telling her to pick a color. My mother-in-law creeped her toes out from the sheets and twinkled toe nails of bright florescent pink. I had to text Princess A, M and D to tell them. They were so excited to know there grandma has her toe nails painted again. The painted toes were as much a surprise for my mother-in-law as they were to me. Aunt Janet painted those toes while my mother-in-law slept. She painted them because she had promised her that the morning of her surgery. Being allowed to have painted toe nails in the ICU is a sign, I am sure, that there must be a room waiting for her past those secured doors.
I told my mother-in-law she is running a marathon. She is around the twelfth mile and has fourteen more to go. She is running slow but picking up pace. As soon as she can eat more, gain an acceptable appetite, the feeding tube can come out. She has some optic nerve damage from the brain surgery which isn't an uncommon occurrence with brain stem aneurysm surgery. Hopefully it will correct itself in three months time and also her eye will open once all the swelling dissipates. If not the doctor says her can fix that. She can see out of the eye so that is really good news. She is weak in body but seems to have a spirit to move. That spirit is exactly what she needs to fully heal. While that spirit is fueled we must constantly remind her why she is in the hospital (since she can't seem to remember that).
The caged bird wants to sing. Amen!