September 26, 2009

Momzerduck's Memorial Service

The memorial service for Momzerduck was this afternoon.  There were about 200 people there, maybe 10% of whom I actually knew.  Thankfully, one of those 10% was The Librarian.  I'm glad the two of you got to meet, finally...

A big thank you needs to go out to you folks, too.  It's only fitting that the post a few days ago about her passing has the most comments in the history of The Pond.

It's gonna be tough around here for a while, but y'all will make it a little easier.

Mahabaleshwar, India, 1988
'Bye, Mom.  I miss you.

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September 21, 2009

Sunday, 918am

Judy Engblom, better known to readers of The Pond as "Momzerduck", passed away at 918am on Sunday, September 20th.

The doctors had stayed encouraged regarding a liver transplant on Saturday.  Everything was progressing as they expected, though the dialysis that day hadn't pulled out as much fluid as they had hoped.  It wasn't a problem, per se, just added another day or two to the wait for being put on The List.

I had spent the entire day with her in the ICU ward, then Ph.Duck and I went back to his apartment to get some sleep.  We got there around 1030pm, and fell asleep almost immediately thereafter.

At 1130pm, we got a phone call from the ICU, asking us to come back immediately.  When we got there, we found her room filled with doctors and nurses, all of whom were moving quickly and talking in clipped, professional tones.  Two of the doctors took us into a conference room to explain what had happened.

When the nurses began to turn her (so as to prevent bedsores), her heart went into Ventricular Tachycardia, which was very much like what I had during The Cardiac Incident, except that where my heart sped up to about 250bpm, hers had stopped beating and started quivering uncontrollably.  They shocked her with the paddles, which did regain a pulse.  Just a minute or so later, however, her heart stopped again.  This time, shocking her didn't help, so they began chest compression and various drugs.  After 10 minutes or so of this, her heart restarted.

When we asked the doctors what this would do to her chances for a liver transplant, they replied frankly and honestly: "We won't know for sure until the Liver team comes in, but it probably will prevent her from being considered a viable candidate."

When the Liver team leader confirmed that, we made the decision to withdraw life support, for that was, in fact, what she was on at this time.  She had been essentially comatose for the previous three days as a result of an encephalopathy attack, aided by some light sedation to prevent her from tearing at her feeding tube and the ventilation hose (she had managed to remove the feeding tube during the onset of the encephalopathy). 

Unfortunately, during the resuscitation attempts, they had to withdraw the sedation, as it would interfere with bringing up her blood pressure to minimum levels... and it was obvious during the time she was without it that she was in some serious discomfort from the hoses, needles and wires.  As this was all being done to get her to a new liver, which now was never going to arrive, we knew that she wouldn't... didn't... want to suffer any more.

The ventilation hose and the final drugs were removed at 915am.  At 918am on Sunday morning, September 20th, 2009, the woman that I was honored to call my mother, Judy Engblom, Momzerduck, passed away. 

She was so much more than I deserved.

She loved this picture... had a copy of it on the wall next to her computer at home.

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September 19, 2009

Where's Wonderduck Now?

In Chicago, at the Hospital, at Momzerduck's bedside.

I'm unsure when I'll be back, as things will probably be progressing VERY quickly over the next few days.  My computer access will be limited to a visitor-access system that only has IE on it, so no other posting after this one... my uncle JoeDuck is loaning me his macbook for a few minutes.

Ironically, I wound up as a patient here for a few minutes.  I'm afraid I went into shock when I saw Momzerduck for the first time in a week... sedated, ventilator and feeding tubes, dialysis shunts and a christmas tree worth of IV bottles. 

I'm fine now, but a classic case of shock.

So, I'll try to keep everybody updated as much as I can, but for now, everybody, send good wishes this way, as many as you can spare.  We're needing them.

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September 13, 2009

A Momzerduck Update

This has been a terrible weekend, to say the least.  I got to the hospital around 730pm on Friday night, and the first impression was... well, actually pretty good!

The swelling in her legs had gone down substantially.  In fact, they looked pretty normal, all in all, though some still persisted.  Even better, the rash/infection was much reduced.  When I last saw her on Monday night, pretty much from her knees down was a bright, fierce red.  Now it looks like a fading sunburn and is obviously going away.

Unfortunately, that infection is the one thing keeping her from going on the transplant list at the moment.  Doctors won't perform ANY surgery if the patient has an active infection going, let alone something as major as a transplant.  I know someone who needed to have a tooth pulled once, and they made her wait a week while a minor infection went away.

The bad news is that, because her liver isn't doing its job, her kidneys are being pummeled by the crap it isn't filtering out.  As a result, now they're beginning to go south.  Now, normally that's a worry, but really not all that much of one.  A liver transplant will fix the filtering problem and the kidneys usually just bounce right back.  The docs, though, are concerned that they've been damaged enough that the belief is that they won't come back.

Okay, well, the "good" news in that case is that a dual liver/kidney transplant is pretty much the most common dual transplant there is... and if there's a liver available, a kidney is usually there, too.  Another bit of "good" news from this is that all of this will put her even higher on The List once she gets on it.  Maybe not at the very top, but close enough that she'll be able to see it from where she'll be.

But all is not wine and roses.  Because her kidneys are like a boxer that's taken one too many shots to the head at the moment, they're not doing much in the way of ANYthing.  Even being cathed didn't help matters... and by Saturday night, the docs were hearing fluid buildup in the lungs.  So her liver is going south, her kidneys are going south, and now she's got all the symptoms of pneumonia (without actually having pneumonia, if you get what I mean). 

Monday, they're going to start her on dialysis to take the strain off her overtaxed kidneys.  This is a GOOD thing, as she should be feeling better almost immediately, but it's still a traumatic thing to think about.

Finally, her neck is starting to suffer from the effects of having been flat on her back for the past month.  The docs have had her lie down with her feet elevated, and while you might not notice at first, that position does put a strain on the neck and shoulders.  Now try it for a month straight.  If her hospital bed is flat, it really begins to hurt... and then she begins to scream; it's that bad.  The only position truly comfortable is sitting up in a chair... which doesn't do the swelling in her legs any good. 

From an emotional standpoint, that's what got to me the most.  They've got her on a good painkiller, but even that doesn't take away all the pain (they can't give her morphine; too hard on the liver and kidneys).  I know what real pain is like... 13 kidneystones and falling off a loading dock and dislocating your ankle badly enough that the foot ends up pointing backwards will do that... but I can deal with my own pain. 

I spent 14 hours with her on Saturday, about 4 hours on Friday, and about the same Sunday before I had to come home, and I'm exhausted.  So exhausted that I burned the hell out of my right arm on a pizza pan making dinner.  And I feel guilty that I'm not there with her right now.

She's in the right place, with the right doctors and nurses, doing the right things for her.  I know all that.  But a part of me thinks... knows... that I've failed, somehow. 

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