Mother's Day with a Medical Miracle Mom

May 14, 2015

I celebrated Mother's Day in a transitional care facility.

A week is an eternity in medicine, as so much can go wrong in that time. For a patient in what appears to be a state of steady decline, a bad week could prove fatal.

That was the amount of time my mom had to wait for an appointment with her cardiothoracic surgeon for what I was sure would lead to a chest X-ray, hospital admission, and subsequent surgical evacuation of fluid from her pleura and lungs, based on what her hospitalist had told me.

I celebrated Mother's Day in a transitional care facility. Mom wanted real pizza, so for what I felt was possibly going to be her last Mother's Day, I bought her 2.

That evening, the dark cloud hanging over Mom started to break up a little. I was informed her last chest X-ray showed some improvement.

Maybe the news wasn't going to be as bad as Mom and I thought. Actually, it could not have gone better.

Upon a cardiothoracic soup-to-nuts examination from nurse practitioner Anne Gallagher, and confirmation from surgeon Clark Hargrove, it was determined that my mom was no longer in atrial fibrillation or congestive heart failure, had a pulse of 68, and had air in her lungs all the way to the bottom of them. A heart murmur she had since she was 4 had also disappeared, and she showed no signs of edema. I have never been so happily stunned in my life.

It took 12 full weeks for my mom to round the bend, but she did it. She had arguably the 2 worst complications you can develop from cardiac surgery (pleural effusion and pneumonia), and it appears they will be telling the tale for the foreseeable future.

On the drive home from Penn Presbyterian, Mom and I stopped for dinner at a down-home restaurant with a sizable country store attached to it. While I go there strictly to eat, Mom was browsing around the floor for a good 30 minutes.

During her skilled nursing stint, she couldn't stay on her feet for 30 seconds. Now, I have every confidence in the world she can resume an independent lifestyle.

On the drive home, Mom and I admitted to each other that we thought she wasn't going to make it. If you saw her a week ago, you would have thought the same thing. Her body was pushed to its medical limit, and she survived. I guess she just didn't think she was done yet.

One can argue the case for medical science, spiritual healing, or a combination of the 2 leading to my mom's recovery, but the bottom line is she got another shot.

All Mom wanted to do was become Judy Sochoka again. It appears she got the chance.

Jay Sochoka, RPh, couldn't be happier.