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Monday, May 13, 2013

Surgery, Dementia, at 92

This past week has been a tough one, especially for my mom and Baba (her mom, my grandmother).  This past Wednesday, Baba went to walk across her room to use the bathroom, and not using her walker as she is supposed to, she fell and broke her hip.  It wasn't the easy type of break where a doctor could set the bone, place her in a cast, and send her on her way.  Rather, the entire hip joint separated from the bone leaving her leg shorter and kicked to the side, leaving the only real option for fixing it to be surgery.  The surgery that was performed was an ordeal in and of itself.  Despite all the nurses' and doctor's efforts, the only person who could calm her down in the hospital was my mom.  Nothing is easy when it comes to dealing with a patient in her 90's who has dementia and thinks she fell because she tripped over a rock.  Couple that with the all to frequent occurrence of not even knowing who my mother is, this past week was not easy for my mom or Baba.  I know that Baba is a trooper and that despite her failing mind, her body is still functioning quite well for her age.  Despite the fact that her body is doing well, despite being old, surgery on someone in their 90's is never an easy surgery.  Anything can happen at that age despite the doctor's best efforts and my biggest worry was that something would happen during surgery.  Leading up to it, no one was even sure that she would be able to go through the surgery.  At that age, all patients must be put through a full medical exam to ensure that surgery is a viable option and that they are healthy enough to endure anesthesia and come out the other side with little side effects.  Well, she passed her medical exam, and the surgery that was supposed to happen on Thursday finally happened on Friday due to other emergency surgery's elsewhere in the hospital that needed to be performed.   She went into surgery, the doctor's did their work installing a fake hip ball joint, and everything went as well as could be expected.  She did come out of her anesthesia, one of my biggest worries, and right off the bat persisted in giving the nurses a hard time about the oxygen they were giving her.  Yet without the oxygen, she was short of breath, so life went right back to where it was before the surgery. 
My next biggest worry is that the anesthesia will have a lasting effect on Baba's mind.  I am hoping that it doesn't as her mind is drifting away as it is, but only time will tell at this point.  When my mom went to go visit her on Saturday, Baba had no idea who my mother was, a depressing moment I am sure.  While she has had that issue before, not knowing who my mom was, from what I gathered it seemed worse than usual.  The one person who could calm her down was a complete stranger to her.  I only hope that when my mom went to go visit her yesterday after our mother's day dinner that she remembered who she was.  I fear that the road to recovery for Baba will be a long and arduous one, not because of the surgery she went through, but more because of the dementia she is dealing with.  With her memory spotty at best, I imagine it will be hard for her to go through the necessary steps of therapy that she has to in order to be able to walk again.  If she can't even remember to use her walker on a regular basis, how is she supposed to remember to use it in the future or even do the necessary exercises to recover?  I hope that recovery goes smoothly for her and the first chance I get I will head down there to visit.  I also hope that her mind gets back to where it was before the surgery, not perfect, but containing at least some memories.  I know that before her surgery, she always remembered my son, his name, and that he was her little shining star.  In a way its amazing to me that even though he has only seen her a few times, he seems to know her better than he does my other grandparents, Babci and Dziadziu.  Its odd to me, but special in a way as well.  Its almost as if there is a connection between the two of them that is beyond our understanding. If she can at least hold on to that memory of him, I will be happy.  It is what it is, but it is not easy regardless.  The next few weeks shall be interesting in the saga that is Baba's life.  For now, I am happy that her surgery went well and that she lived through it. 

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