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Alzheimer’s & Dementia – Through The Eyes of a Caregiver – Part V

Getting Ready for Surgery

As mom’s surgery day is approaching, my anxiety level is rising.  It is obvious that I am a lot more nervous about this surgery than mom is.  Mom doesn’t seem to be bothered by it. When I ask her about it, she just says that she forgot about it.  However, I guess it’s best she’s not nervous like I am. One of us being a basketcase is plenty!

As we were watching tv the evening before mom’s surgery, mom seemed carefree.  On the other hand, I was a nervous wreck. You would have thought I was the one fixing to have major surgery.  The surgeon advised us that the surgery would take around 6 to 7 hours. It will be a much longer day for me then it will for mom.  At least she will be asleep.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

Even though we needed to get to bed early since we had to get up early, I knew I would not sleep.  We needed to get up around 4:30 a.m. because I had to have mom at the hospital by 5:30 a.m. Trying to get mom to bed early was not easy.  She liked staying up watching tv. I kept telling her how early she had to get up, so she finally got herself ready and into bed.

I tossed and turned with worry most of the night.  It seemed like the second I finally fell asleep, my alarm went off.  A long day, and no sleep. What a combination. Time to get up and wake mom and get her moving.

Heading to the Hospital for Surgery

The time had come to head to the hospital.  Mom would be spending the next week or so in the hospital after the surgery.  That would be a good 45-minute drive back and forth for me every day. But first, we have to get through this surgery.

I was so scared and nervous for mom.  She really didn’t seem to realize or remember what was going on today.  Her demeanor seemed almost like she was on her way to go shopping. Nothing like she was fixing to have major surgery.  I know this surgery is necessary, but I sure hate the thought of her being under anesthesia for so long now.

The Longest Day

We arrived at the hospital in plenty of time.  Mom got all checked in and not long after, she was called back to start getting prepped for her surgery.  I was told by the nurse that I needed to wait in the waiting area for a little while. They were going to do some prepping with mom and then I could come back and sit with her until they take her to surgery.

Fortunately, I brought a bag with some things to keep my mind occupied.  The question is, will I be able to get my mind off of mom? I brought a couple of books, a crochet project I had been working on, and some snacks.

The Major Surgery Begins

The nurse called me back to sit with mom until it was time for mom to go back for surgery.  When I asked mom if she was nervous. She said maybe a little. She said they were just going to fix the sore on her heel.  My first thought was, should I tell her what the surgery really was going to entail? They are not doing this just to fix the sore on her heel.  I just left it alone.  

The nurse came to put some “happy juice” in mom’s IV.  If I could only have some of that right now! I hugged mom and told her to behave and to not give the doctors and nurses any trouble!  Afterward, I caught the nurse and let her know that mom also had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Just in case she says anything off the wall.

The nurse told me where the surgery waiting area was that I could go to do my day long waiting.  She also told me that they would update me periodically as time allowed. They also had my cell phone number so if I needed to go grab something to eat, they could call me if they needed to.


What a Miserable, Long Day

Meanwhile, my long day of sitting and waiting had begun.  Reading to pass time wasn’t working for me. My mind was wandering outside of the book I was trying to read.  There was no way I could get my mind off of mom. All I could do is sit there and worry about her.

A nurse did periodically come out and gave updates.  The update consisted of a vague statement of only that she’s doing fine.  That was pretty much all I got. But, I guess that was a lot better than getting bad news!

The End of A Long Long Day, Finally!

At last, and I think it was almost 9 hours later, the doctor appeared in the waiting room.  He told me that he had finished with mom’s surgery and she was being taken to ICU for the night.  He said that was standard procedure after arterial bypass surgery.

The doctor told me that everything went ok.  He had a little trouble finding a good vein in the other leg to use for the bypass.  That’s why it had taken a little longer than expected. He said as soon as they have her settled in ICU, they would come to get me to go see her.

Is Mom Going to Know Me?

When I was finally allowed to see mom, I was so nervous about seeing her.  I didn’t know what to expect. That was such a long and stressful surgery for an older person to have to go through.  All these things were running through my head. Is mom going to know me? Is she going to be totally different?

When I got to the ICU to her room, she was still sleeping.  They had not taken the breathing tube out yet. That made me feel so uncomfortable.  That made her look so frail. The nurse said they were waiting for her to wake up a little more before they took it out.  Something about her having a little trouble breathing on her own when they tried to take it out earlier.

Well, that didn’t sound good to me at all.  The nurse said that sometimes when they have trouble coming out of the anesthetics, that happens.  At this point, my stomach was doing flips. I was feeling very uneasy. Until mom wakes up and I hear her talking to me, I’m not going to be comfortable.

Definite Changes

As mom finally started to come around, she obviously started fighting the breathing tube.  Again, my stomach started turning flips. The nurse came in and the doctor was right behind her.  They told her to relax and they were going to remove the breathing tube.

I didn’t know if my stomach could handle staying in the room.  At that moment mom looked over at me with such a frightened look on her face.  I melted like a snowball in a volcano. There was no way I could leave her side now.  My mom needed me, and I wasn’t going to leave her.


New Challenges

The breathing tube was removed and I comforted mom during the process.  She appeared very confused and lost. Mom asked me where she was? Oh no!  This is not a good sign. So I asked her if she remembered that she was going to have surgery on her leg?  Her reply was that she didn’t know she was going to have surgery.

Oh my God!  This isn’t good!  Maybe she’s just still out of it from the anesthesia.  She’ll be better when that wears off. After all, she had just gone through 9 hours of surgery and being under anesthesia.  She’s still just woosy. I’m sure she will be better tomorrow.

Praying For a Better Tomorrow

It was getting late and I was worn out.  I really needed to go home and get some sleep, then come back tomorrow.  I checked with the nurse to make sure everything was okay with mom for the evening.  She said that they would be keeping her comfortable with pain medications overnight. So she will be most probably sleeping well all night.

I made sure they have my phone number in case they needed to call me.  As much as I hated to leave mom, I really needed some sleep. So I got mom’s attention and told her that it was late and I needed to go home and get some sleep.  Then I reassured her that I would be back in the morning, first thing. She said okay, but with hesitation. She had a tight grip on my hand, not wanting to let go.  It was so hard for me to leave, but I needed a shower and sleep!





Part VI, the continuation of

Alzheimer’s & Dementia – Through The Eyes of a Caregiver

Take care & Be well!








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