I broke my coffee cup and my mom spent a week in the hospital, not necessarily in that order

Well. Last week was an adventure.

On Thursday the 5th, my mom – who lives in my house – wasn’t feeling well. My brother – who moved in about a year ago to help me with mom, who isn’t as mobile as she used to be – and I, thought she had a cold. She was coughing a lot, vomiting, couldn’t keep anything down. So, we gave her cold medicine, gatorade, water, chicken broth, etc.

On Sunday the 8th, if she weren’t feeling any better, I intended to take her to the ER. Mostly because she simply couldn’t keep anything down and I was worried she’d get dehydrated – which has happened before when she refuses to eat or drink. But Sunday came and she got up, moved to the couch and watched football. She also ate several meals, was drinking water and gatorade, and appeared to be on the uptick. So I didn’t take her to the ER.

My Mobile Office

My Mobile Office

Sunday night, she was miserable again. Coughing, couldn’t keep anything down, couldn’t rest. Monday dawned and, she said she felt better. Again. Monday night, not so much, so I took her to the ER. They admitted her to the hospital sometime around 1 am after giving her an IV to keep her hydrated and running a bunch of tests and not being able to find out what was wrong.

This started a week of mom being miserable in the hospital. My brother and I spent all our time there with her. I barely slept. I worked from the uncomfy chairs they populate hospitals with using my laptop. I drank a lot of coffee.

Side note: I work for awesome, caring people, who allowed me to spend all that time in the hospital. I am very lucky.

Eventually, after running just about every test they could possibly run, the doctors decided it was mom’s gallbladder. But they wanted to know for sure. So, one doctor ordered a HIDA scan.

Stolen from the Internet is this convenient description:

A HIDA scan, which stands for hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid scan, creates pictures of your liver, gallbladder, biliary tract and small intestine. A HIDA scan can also be called cholescintigraphy, hepatobiliary scintigraphy or hepatobiliary scan. A HIDA scan is a type of imaging study called a nuclear medicine scan.

Now, what that doesn’t tell you is this: they first did another test in the morning. I’m still unclear as to what test they did. It required mom to not eat or drink anything. They took her the night before for a test, too. They said they wanted an ultrasound and something else. Whatever the something else was, happened before I got there in the morning, and they ordered the HIDA test. Which required she still not eat or drink anything, but also not have any pain medications in her system. At this point, she was miserable and writhing in bed. They told us the HIDA scan wouldn’t happen until 2 pm because they wanted to give her system time to absorb all the pain meds.


The actual machine

Mom was in a lot of pain. 2 pm came around and no test. at 2:30, she was begging for something. I tell you this because my mom never asks for pain meds. Ever. For her to ask meant her pain was horrible. We talked with the nurse and learned the test wouldn’t be done now until 4:30!! I told them that’s too long – they need to either do the test now or get her pain meds. They chose to do the test now.

After all of that, no one explained to us what the scan would entail. They wheeled mom out. We thought she’d be gone 10-20 minutes like all the other tests. Oh, no – they planned to keep her 2 hours! Possibly more!

What. The. Fuck.

The nurse came back and asked my brother and I to please come help her, that mom was refusing the test. That’s when we found out what the freaking thing is and what it involves.

Mom had to lay on a her back wedged between a padded bed/bench and a metal surface. She couldn’t move. They also wanted her to drink an Ensure shake with contrast in it, which is why it would take 2 hours because they had to let her body digest it or whatever. She was refusing the test and I couldn’t blame her.

But we needed her to take the test so they could find out what was wrong. My brother and I talked her into it once I found out you could cut the time to 30 minutes with an IV injection (WHY THE HELL WOULDN’T THEY OFFER THAT UP FRONT?). I asked for that. I asked for music (country, which they obliged with). I asked for something to cover her eyes so she could shut them and not be distracted by anything. I then sat there with her and sang the songs that came up on the playlist. I pulled up Google News on my phone and went through headlines, clicking through and reading stories she was interested in. I took her mind off of it all.

The test confirmed her gallbladder was the problem. They scheduled surgery for her the next day.

I broke my favorite cup

I broke my favorite cup

We sat with mom the next day in the pre-op area, holding her hands because she was so nervous. They wheeled her off and everything went great. She was able to eat again, and drink, and everything stayed down. The pain was nearly gone, replaced by post-surgery pain. She spent another day in the hospital, and they released her home on Friday the 13th.

Her diet for the next two weeks needs to be low fat – nothing fried. Being southern, she is not happy with that at all. But, she is quite happy to be home again.

Due to all of this, I had to cancel one podcast recording, and completely miss recording the Functional Nerds. Anealio had all the guests booked and I didn’t want to force all of them to reschedule, so I insisted he record without me. This means there’ll be a month-ish of episodes without me, which will be interesting.

I also missed a Kirkus post, wrote zero fiction, and, alas, broke my favorite cup…


  • J.T. Evans Posted November 17, 2015 3:25 pm

    That was a world of suck for you. Sorry to hear about the pain and suffering your mom went through, but you’re a good son for sticking by her side (especially during that test) and being there.

    Sorry to hear about the cup as well, but that’s probably a decent trade-off for having your mom on the road to recovery.

  • partlowspool Posted November 17, 2015 3:30 pm

    What an awful week. I’m just glad she’s on the mend!

  • birdonabird Posted November 17, 2015 5:22 pm

    Yikes! I’m sorry to hear all that! Hospitals are often a frustrating experience (as my c-section earlier this year can attest to), but I’m glad you all got a solution.

    And Gorilla glue will fix that mug right up!

  • Lyn Posted November 18, 2015 6:38 pm

    Patrick, first let me say I’m sorry your mom had such a hard time. Second, let me say what an awesome son you are.

    My mom had her gallbladder out a few years ago, and when you posted your mom’s symptoms, well… you know.

    Gotta say, Mom had a slightly different situation. Her gallbladder had ruptured and eaten a hole in her gut. She was in the hospital on IV feeding for about 2.5 weeks after the surgery. Your mom is so lucky to be home already!

    Doctor story: After the surgery, the surgeon came in and told us Mom had had a gall stone “the size of a Titleist golf ball.” Stereotype, much? Doctors and golf?

    A couple of months later, when Mom was home from hospital and nursing home/rehab, a visiting doctor (different one) came to the house. I said, offhandedly, “Of course, I don’t know if Titleist balls are bigger or smaller than others.”
    Without missing a beat, the doctor said, “Just the same.” Another doctor, another stereotype about golf.

    You’re an awesome son, Patrick. Any mother would be proud of you.

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