An update on my Mom

First, I want to thank everyone for their prayers for my mother.  With family, friends, church family, friends of friends, kind strangers, and untold others, I think there were a good three hundred people praying for her, at least.  I really, truly, deep in my heart do not think the results would have been as spectacular without all of that prayer, covering a dear and needy woman, guiding and perfecting the movements of the surgeons’ hands, sustaining and inspiring everyone involved.

Her spinal surgery ended up being a 14 hour ordeal… 30 pins, an unknown amount of rods… she has extreme — EXTREME — scoliosis.  Her upper back was hunched over, her whole upper body was tilted to the right, most of her lumbar are fused into a lump, her entire trunk had collapsed so thoroughly that the bones of her ribcage were resting ON her pelvis — her waist was entirely gone.


Dr. John Ehteshami of Phoenix Orthopaedic Consultants

Dr. John Ehteshami was her main surgeon, and man! I want to hug him.  I didn’t, but maybe I should have.  After he came out of surgery at 10:15 last night to update those waiting (four family members and four people from her church), he was almost giddy, the fruit of a successful job, I suppose.  🙂  He was also excited about making a real difference in her life, and talked with the family for a good 20 or 25 minutes, answering questions, detailing the improvements he was able to bring to my mother, and discussing difficulties, including the road ahead.

Dr. Ehteshami said that everything went as well or better than expected, and that peripherally — everything outside of her back, like lungs, heart, and arteries and veins (she has extremely weak veins and arteries from Marfan Syndrome, and has already had three major aneurysm surgeries) — was great.  He straightened her thorax nearly completely — no more hunch.  The fused lumbar, he couldn’t do anything with.  But, he was able to bring her into vertical alignment;  she won’t lean over anymore.  He was able to reconstruct and raise her whole trunk so that it isn’t sitting on her hips any longer.  Once she can stand, she will be numerous inches taller — height regained.

That is fabulous.  As recently as Friday, one of her doctors (there are a good six or seven involved in her care) was adamant that she not have the surgery.  He told her flat out — mincing no words — that she would die on the operating table.  Bless God, though that was a possibility, she did not!!  My Mom just did not think that her path was to sit back and just exist as best she could (“two years, at most” was this doctor’s estimation), simply seeking palliative care, waiting for death, when there was something she could DO, even if it was risky.  Though the real risk of losing her in surgery loomed over the heads of all of her family, we just knew that she was right — she had to try.  We had to let her do all she could.  And, she was feisty enough to prove that negative pronouncement wrong.

She has a long road to recovery;  she is still in ICU, intubated, right now, and will likely be in the hospital for about six weeks.  It’s still a serious business.  But, she is over at least one HUGE hurdle that some said she shouldn’t even try.

My stepdad, sister, and myself were finally able to see her close to 11:30 last night.  Our visit was brief, and my mom was completely unaware.  But, it was reassuring just to see her face (VERY swollen from being face-down for 14 hours), kiss her brow, and see her frail frame — thin and STRAIGHT and appearing very long under the sheet, with her feet bumping up the covers in a line entirely perpendicular with the rest of her body.  It was surreal.

I am very relieved, very pleased, very happy.

Bless God.


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on September 1, 2011, in Family, Medical Stuff. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. How is your mom’s recovery going?

    • Thank you for asking, Daja. She is supposed to be transferred to a rehab hospital tomorrow morning. We know that it’s the hospital’s “job”, once the critical issue has more or less passed, to discharge the patient… however, none of us, including my mom, thinks she is ready. Oh, well. 😦 We keep praying, and she really has had some stellar care from some really good doctors and some really caring nurses, and she has already come MUCH further than anyone had expected, including we, her family. So, that’s good. She was telling me last night that we all thought that her back (of course) and her lungs were going to be the Big Issues, but there have been a number of unexpected and comparatively smaller issues that have plagued her… pain that may be from nerve damage, blood clots, getting the pain meds right (enough to make her not miserable, but not so much that it totally depresses her system and makes her hallucinate)…. And even small things are very, very hard for her. But, just seeing her determination has been inspiring to me. And, we’ve had some really good times in the hospital. 🙂 So, over all, her recovery is going well. If you pray for her, her biggest concern right now is her mind. She has been an exceptionally sharp woman, and she is really struggling with forming thoughts, communicating them, recalling words, memory loss… Some of that might just be from all the meds she’s on right now, but we definitely want her mind to recover, as well as her body.

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