Mom’s Recovery

Typical Disclaimer:  This page is being hosted, separately, of course, on the hvfc website.  This page is on no way affiliated with the Heislerville Vol Fire Co.  Being that I am the admin of the Heislerville Vol Fire Co website and with permission of the Chief, I am able to provide these updates.  Please do not contact the Heislerville Vol Fire Co regarding this page or the information provided here.  Thank You

This page has been temporarily set up (by me, Mike Ardrey) to provide information on the recovery of my mom, Loretta Ardrey who is 86.  I will do my best to update this page daily as to keep everyone updated as best as possible.  It’s difficult to remember every detail about her recovery and to whom each detail was told.  So I came up with this idea so that anyone and everyone can get daily updates to my moms recovery progress.

Since this page is being setup 1 month into her recovery, I will do my best to recap everything that has happened thus far.  I am hoping I don’t forget anything.  After that, I will post the daily updates to the bottom of this page.

Typical Disclaimer:  This page is being hosted, separately, of course, on the hvfc website.  This page is on no way affiliated with the Heislerville Vol Fire Co.  Being that I am the admin of the Heislerville Vol Fire Co website and with permission of the Chief, I am able to provide these updates.  Please do not contact the Heislerville Vol Fire Co regarding this page or the information provided here.  Thank You

On November 24, 2019, my mom went to Elmer Hospital for rectal bleeding.  She was promptly transported to Inspira in Vineland since Elmer doesn’t have GI doctors.  They admitted her, began running tests and started giving her blood.  The doctors were able to determine that she had diverticulitis which is bleeding in the areas of the digestive tract.  The initial plan was to see if it would stop on its own, as it normally does.  After a few days and multiple bags of blood, it was apparent it was not stopping.  The next step was surgery to determine the location of the bleed and remove some or all of her large intestine.  The surgery happened on the afternoon of Thanksgiving.  Once the doctor got her open, he discovered too much blood to determine where it was coming from.  So he had to remove her entire large intestine.  Her small intestine empties into a bag outside of her body.  She recovered well.  Continued to receive blood to get her numbers back on track and to help her body replenish the lost blood.  After 5 days in the ICU, she was deemed healthy enough to be sent to rehab.  She was still weak but continuing to make progress.

On December 3, she was transferred to Bishop McCarthy Rehab in Vineland.  We chose this facility as she had been there a few times already after other surgeries/illnesses so we didn’t have any reason not to send her there again.  Over the next 2 weeks, she was getting physical therapy and was making slow progress.  She was still weak and not eating very much.  But since she seemed like she was progressing, we didn’t worry.

On the evening of December 17th, my sister noticed on her visit that my mom seemed out of it and very weak.  But she attributed it to the PT, not eating much yet etc.  The was completely different from the fact that only a day or 2 earlier, she had walked a long distance using a walker all on her own.  Now she could barely move complaining of back and stomach pain.  When I cam in the next morning, I noticed right away that something was wrong.  She could barely talk if at all, she wasn’t eating.  Wasn’t making much sense speaking.  I called my sister who told me that she was that way when she was there the night before.  This got our attending.  Later that day, we decided to let things be as she was scheduled to go see the surgeon the next afternoon.  The nurses told us that she was doing very well and that she needed to get out of the bed.  Whenever she was out of bed, she complained about wanting back in.  Plus they said she needed to try to eat more as well.

The next afternoon, she was taken to the surgeon for her previously scheduled appointment.  The surgeon looked at the incision, said it was infected and wanted her in the ER to be admitted right away.  (I won’t be listing any details as to how this could have happened if the facility was doing it’s job looking after my mom as they stated.  There may be legal action at a later date.  but this isn’t a priority at this time)  But I am sure you see what I see.

When I arrived at the ER, she looked completely exhausted.  Wasn’t able to speak or hardly move.  They verified the incision was infected and began running tests while giving her IV and antibiotics.  With just a short time on the IV, she began to perk up and talk.  But still really weak.  They ran a bunch of tests and scans.  They showed infection just below the surface of the skin around the incision and a 3.5″ infection inside.  I don’t remember the location of this infection.  They moved her upstairs to a room and waited for the doctor.  He said the next step was surgery the next afternoon.

December 20:  Apparently, they had a schedule opening Friday morning so they took her in for surgery early.  We weren’t able to get there in time to see her off.  After several hours of waiting the surgeon came to find us.  She did great again through the surgery.  He said he felt bad to have to cut her open again since the muscle was healing so good.  But every option he tried to use to avoid cutting her open failed.  He was able to flush the infection out as best he could.  He also had to remove a small portion of the small intestine as well.  But this didn’t affect the portion of the intestine that emptied into the external plastic bag.  She was stable and in recovery.  Since she had bad affects of with the anesthesia last time, we decided not to stay to see her so we didn’t get her upset like we did before.  The surgeon stated she was not out the woods yet.  And when asked about the infection, he agreed that the infection like that could not happen overnight.  I’ll leave that there for now.

Over the next few days, there wasn’t much going on.  She was on IV and antibiotics.  She would speak every now and then but wasn’t making any sense.  We were able to get a few good questions/comments  for her but most of the time, she isn’t making much sense.  Very disoriented, confused and possibly scared.  She had a nose tube going down into her stomach pumping out anything that managed to get there.  We had to wait for her ‘gut’ to wake up and begin processing the nutrients again so they could remove the tube.  Things can go either way at this point still.

On December 24, I spent some time with her.  She was not making sense most of the time.  She kept reaching up like she was reaching out to someone.  She wouldn’t take my hand.  She seemed to be having a conversation with someone or multiple someones.  I told her if she wanted to go be with my dad and sister, she could go and not to try to stay for us kids.  But her response was ‘who was going to be there’ for us kids.  Even now, she’s still worrying and fighting to be here for the kids.  Once she fell off to sleep, I left.

December 25:  My sister and I went to see her in the morning but she was asleep after getting a round of meds so we didn’t stay.  I returned later that evening to check on her.  She was agitated and wanted out.  She was determined to get out of the bed and out of the hospital.  I called the nurse who said she was getting ready to come change her dressing and check on her bag plus give her more meds.  She also stated that they ran a test on her stomach and it turned out well.  The nose tube would probably be removed soon and they started to see some stuff in her bag to.  But very little.  I told her when she came back to do that, I would slip out as to not continue to upset her.

December 26:  I arrived to find mom sitting in a chair eating (drinking) food – chicken broth and jello.  The nose tube was removed.  They were giving her a bag of blood just to settle her numbers.  Side note: my mom has been given upwards of 8-10 bags of blood of the last few weeks.  Without donating blood, she would probably not be here today.  Anyways, she was still mostly confused but my sister and I were able to spend a few hours with her.  She didn’t want us to leave.  So when she fell asleep after receiving meds, we slipped out.

December 27:  She was extremely agitated today when I arrived.  She swears something was going on.  Swears they were trying to get rid of her.  Kept telling me to call the doctor over and over as she wanted to know what was going on.  I managed to get her calmed down enough to go talk to her nurse.  I told her what was happening and asked if there was anything that could be given to her to calm her down.  She came to give her more pain meds, blood pressure meds and meds for her nerves.  Within minutes, she was asleep.  I opted to leave so that I wouldn’t possibly get her worked up again if when she woke back up.  It also looks that she will be discharged to rehab on Monday.  We are hoping that as she progresses through PT and gets her strength back, that she is able to shake the confusion and get her mind back.  Time will tell.  Even with how far she has come, given her age, this still can go either way.

December 28:  She has been moved to another ‘step-down’ room until Monday.  The plan is to discharge her Monday to rehab/PT.  Two of my cousins came from central PA today for a visit.  Mom was completely surprised and enjoyed the visit.  I went to go see her after my cousins left to go back to PA.  Mom is a completely different person.  Her mind is basically back.  We think that now that she’s off IV meds (except antibiotics for the infection) that that played a part in her confusion.  Had a nice long conversation with her.  She is eating (well, drinking since its a liquid only diet for now).  Basically in good spirits.  She was originally upset about being discharged thinking she was going back to Bishop.  Once we got through to her that she was going to Geneses instead, she was fine.  She is tired of sleeping.  Tired of being in bed.  Tired of being alone most of the time except for visits and nurses coming in for meds etc.  Hoping once she gets to rehab on Monday that she will start to get past this.  In all honesty, I think the worst is behind her.  Should be all good from here on out.  We shall see.

December 29: Mom was groggy most of the day. Had all but 1 thing still hooked up to IV. Looked like a gallon bag of skim milk. But apparently it’s a bunch of nutrients she needs. Gently pushing her to keep drinking water so she doesn’t get dehydrated like before. She is eating little bits a time. She eat more as time goes. Just want to keep the water going in. She was happy to see my brother in law for a while. Tomorrow is the big day. Scheduled to be transferred to Genesis in Millville for rehab/PT tomorrow at some point. She’s still a little scared/worried about the move as expected due to the issues that occurred at Bishop McCarthy. But al in all she’s hanging in there.

December 30: The move to Genesis was successful. She got a little worried as time got closer. But my sister and I were able keep her relaxed. Getting settled in here at Genesis. Definitely seems like a better place than Bishop McCarthy ever could be. We know none of them are perfect but I doubt this place can be worse. Fingers crosses. She’s calm, relaxed and in seemingly better spirits which is good moving forward.

December 31: She was up sitting in a wheel chair when I arrived. We talked for a while. Still in good spirits. Ready to get PT going so she can get home. She loved the visit from her grandson and great grand daughter as well. Made her day. Continuing on the liquid only diet with IV backup for now. She’s eating a little more each time. So continuing to make progress there. She said she was ready to get back into the bed but knows that’s not going to help her to get back on her feet. I ended saying bye as she was getting ready to be taken for PT.

January 1: Mom’s still in good spirits. Getting tired of the liquid diet. Understandably. I can’t blame her since I couldn’t keep drinking chicken/beef broth for several days either. They are going to try to get her switched over to somewhat solid foods but trying a few ‘tests’. Other than that, she seems to be making continued progress. Still no date set when she will be able to come home. But as long as she continues on this path, I don’t think it will be too long. She had 2 PT appointments scheduled for today. Thinking that will be the norm for her. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon. They are not doing too much yet. Just a few exercises. But she is getting more strength each day which is a good thing.

January 2: Came in to see mom eating a tuna fish sandwich and some cucumber/onion salad thing. Said she liked them both. Mixed herself her own hot tea too. Brought her in 2 brand new pillows as the site ones don’t seem to hold up. She’s happy with them. Only needs 1 now instead of 2.  Did have a scheduled meeting as per the site with mom and myself to discuss goals and treatment.  Basically we told them she was completely independent from needing assistance to get around with her day to day activities.  Signed off on a few papers and that was it.  She’s ready to continue treatment and is pushing herself to stay motivated to get better so she can come home.

January 3:  Unfortunately, I had to work in north Jersey today and when I came back through town, she was in PT so I didn’t get to make a visit today.

January 4:  Came in to see mom not feeling well at all.  Had nurses make sure she wasn’t running a fever and that her vitals were stable.  All of that was fine.  They have been checking and changing her incision bandages and all of that looks good as well.  She just feels nauseous.  She is trying to eat but as she does, the nausea gets worse.  Waiting to get meds for stomach while sipping on Ginger Ale.  Ended up leaving after a few hours.  She was feeling a little better but not much.  Brenda will be in later and will she how she feels then.  For now she is going to try to rest.

January 5:  Mom has been upset about missing church all of these weeks.  The church I go to streams all of their services live on their website and Facebook.  So I decided to take her iPad in to her and let her watch the church service live from her bed.  She was happy and grateful she was able to do that.  She stills feels nauseous.  Not constantly but the feeling is usually always there.  I verified she was getting her meds which she is.  They brought in lunch and she didn’t feel like eating.  She did eat breakfast even tho I wasn’t there for that.  I told her she didn’t have to eat if she was feeling sick.  She is still getting the big bag of nutrients via IV so I am not concerned about her body not getting what it needs get better.  She did eat 3-5 bites and drank some hot tea along with the ginger ale.  Told me she has to try to eat so she can get back home.  She is also scared of being put back on the liquid only diet if she doesn’t eat.  So that’s getting her upset.  She was on the verge of crying saying ‘It’s so hard.’ in reference of trying to force herself to eat over top of the nausea.  She hates the liquid diet.  Again, I told her she didn’t have to eat anymore.  They brought in meds for her nerves/anxiety, and are hoping they will help her to relax a little.  She agreed to try to take a nap as she didn’t sleep well last night.  I told her I was going to leave and Brenda would be up later to see her.  Brenda text me later and said she was still a little nauseous but they were getting ready to give her more meds for her stomach.  Hoping she is able to have a decent night.

January 6-9:  Sorry for the break in the updates.  Between working Wednesday and my computer being down Thursday afternoon through Friday night, I didn’t get to post the updates.  Anyways, mom is doing well.  She battled nausea all week.  Possibly to her ulcers acting up which usually happens when she worries or gets upset.  She’s been fighting the nausea especially when trying to eat.  The issue is most of the time her food is cold or luke warm.  Due to the site being short staffed, they are not able to reheat it for her.  If myself or sisters are there, we can do it for her but we cant be there for every meal.  When we approached the site about this, we were told they are required by the state to serve food no hotter than a certain temperature (they didn’t say what that was) in order to prevent people from getting injured from eating hot food.  This makes it extremely difficult for her to eat since she loves hot food and fights gagging when eating it cold.  I am sure this is making her not to eat as much as she wants.  She starts to eat, goes so far and says she’s done.  She is still eating, just not as much as I would like.  But she never ate that much before all of this happened, so there’s that.  Plus, she drank ensure on top of what she ate at home which helped her.  Brenda is going to bring some ensure in from home for her.  The site says they will label it for her and keep it in the fridge until she is ready to drink it.  They have been weaning her off the IV nutrient bag.  She only gets it a few times a day and only for a certain amount of time.  She’s been worrying about that too.  She knows shes not eating that much and doesn’t want to get weaker or sick.  but they are closely monitoring her.  I brought in 8oz cans of ginger all for her to drink and she sips on that almost all of the time.  I am planning on giving her candied ginger itself that she can eat to fight the nausea better than the soda can.  Will see what happens.  She’s been doing PT everyday.  Making slow progress but progress nonetheless.  She keeps saying how much she is not doing.  Brenda and I keep telling her to look at what she has done so far and not what she has left to do.  She was only able to stand for a few seconds on her own at the beginning of the week.  Then she was able to take a few steps.  So she is trying and making progress.

January 10:  Arrived yesterday to my other sister, Linda, visiting while Brenda was in a meeting with the site.  They were going over all of the discharge options that will happen when the time comes.  She has been there for almost 2 weeks.  Not sure how long the insurance will allow her to stay so they want to have a plan in place for when the time comes.  While mom was waiting for Brenda to come back from the meeting, the site came in to take her to PT.  She told them she dind’t want to go because she was upset and worried about what was going on in the meeting.  So they left.  Came back a second time to try to talk her into going to PT.  She turned it down again almost crying stating she was too upset and wanted to know about the meting.  Finally, the lady Brenda was meeting with came in and spoke to mom.  She wasn’t having anything the lady said until she brought up the insurance.  The lady said the more therapy she goes to the longer the insurance will allow her to stay.  So she went.  When she returned, they said she stood up on her own and went about 20 steps thins time by her self.  We visited for a while when she returned and made sure she was doing well before heading home.

January 11:  Came in today as, of course, she was asleep.  When she woke up, I asked her if she had been out of the bed today and she said not yet but was hoping to.  So I asked her if she wanted to get in the wheel chair and go for a walk.  Of course she wanted to go.  So called the nurse in the get her in the wheel chair.  Then Brenda comes in.  Mom, for the most part, was able to get over and out of the bed and then swivel and sit in the chair with some support/help from the nurse.  We walked all of the halls and ended up sitting in the lobby waiting area for a while since there was a big bay window for her to look out into the driveway.  She said it felt good to see people coming and going.  She loves to watch people doing their own thing.  Keeps her mind occupied.  We talked/visited for a while.  She keeps her TV on 24/7 for company but doesn’t really watch it.  She wants to read her Bible or play her handheld poker video game or even do her puzzle books.  But she doesn’t know what she wants plus doesn’t have the motivation to get into them yet.  When she was ready, we took her back and got her back into the bed.  We knew she would fall asleep, so we said our goodbyes.  I’ll be heading back there in the morning so she can watch church again on the iPad like last week.  She really enjoyed that.

January 12-22:  Due to work, getting sick and some personal medical issues, I did not get to her for over a week.  But she still has been going to therapy.  Continuing to do better each day.  She does have her days as far as how she feels.  It varies from being really overwhelmed at everything that’s been going on, irritable about people continuing to bug her about how much she’s eating to having good days.  But moves closer to coming home each day.

January 23:  She was in very good spirits today.  Even had her smiling.  We talked for a couple hours before she had to go to therapy.  Shes been eating good or as good as she was before all of this happened.  She didn’t eat very much before this started, so where she is now with how much she is eating, we are about where she needs to be.  Eats what she can and then follows up with Ensure later.  Still week but getting stronger on her legs each day.

January 24:  Had a long day at work so I didn’t get to stay long as i had to get home.  She was still in good spirits.  She told me she walked 45 feet on the walker with little help from the staff.  Plus, with help, was able to help wash up a little.  Still eating what she can along with the Ensure drinks.  Found out she will be evaluated on Tuesday.  This could be good or bad.  She’s no where ready to come home yet.  And we don’t have much say in the matter.  But we will cross that bridge if/when we come to it.

January 25 – February 5:  It has been an extremely busy few weeks for myself.  Going from no work to too much work.  Anyways, mom is still doing better each day.  She is walking farther and farther with her walker each day.  She is eating more and is being weened off the IV nutrition bag as well.  My sisters will be learning how to change her incision bandage as well as her colostomy bag.  There is a possibility that she may be sent home this weekend.  Nothing definitive as of yet.  She seems to be ok with the possibility of being sent home.  A little nervous but taking it in stride.  I told her that it may be better for her to finish rehab at home.  In her own house, own TV, own chair/couch, own bathroom.  Plus my sister Brenda is taking family leave to finish helping her get back on her feet 100%.  She is still not completely able to get up and do things on her own but she can do most things with just a little help – for balance/weakness reasons.  This is the 11th week since this all began.  None of us never thought it would have been drawn out this long but are thankful we have made it to this point.  Will post another update for 2/6 later tonight once I get back from visiting her for a while.  Haven’t really been able to do that for the last few days.

February 6 – 10:  Didn’t get to see her Thursday or Friday due to work but did speak to her on the phone for a little.  Found out she will be sent home in the near future.  We didn’t tell her at first knowing that she would get upset.  Even told the staff not to tell her.  Then one of the nurses let it slip the other day.  And sure enough, she got upset.  She feels as though she should be stronger before going home.  But it’s the insurance decision.  Took the iPad to her again Sunday so she could watch my church service live online.  See really enjoys it.  Says it’s the only church she’s been to since this all started back in November.  We were finally informed that she will be sent home this Thursday, 2/13.  I feel she should be there for a little while longer but the insurance won’t pay.  On the other hand, I feel she may do better being back at home.  No house and surroundings.  No staff bugging her for pills and vitals.  Able to eat what she wants, when she wants and as hot as she wants.  My sister, Brenda, is taking leave from work under NJ’s Family Leave Act.  So she will be there taking care of her as well.  Mom was overwhelmed yesterday afternoon.  The thoughts of going home, how much work/recovery she still has yet to do etc was getting her down.  But when I spoke to her late last night, she seemed to be better.  Brenda and Linda have everything set for her for when she comes home.

February 11:  Mom was in pretty good spirits when I was there.  She’s been having issues falling asleep the last few nights as her mind is getting the best of her.  She’s nervous about coming home not knowing what to expect and losing the ‘security blanket’ of the rehab facility.  I can’t say she’s looking forward to coming home but she’s not against it either.  She’s been eating about normal – which isn’t very much.  But with the snacks she has, the Ensure drinks to go along with her meals, we’re not worried about her not getting enough to eat.  She’s down to 95 lbs.  But she’s not losing or gaining weight.  Once she gets home and can eat whatever she wants whenever she wants, she should be able to put a few pounds back on.

February 12:  Again, she was in good spirits.  Still having a hard time falling asleep at night.  She says her mind keeps going.  Still eating the same.  Still eating her snacks.  Still ok with coming home but still nervous about it.  Brenda and I will be picking her up tomorrow morning and taking her home.  Not sure, exactly, what the plans for her will be after shes home as of yet.  Brenda and Linda have been the ones getting everything lined up for her to come home.  I will post a final update tomorrow at some point.  After that, this page will not be updated again.  Mom will be able to take visitors and talk on the phone – as is the case while in rehab.  Eventually, she may be able to get back to driving and possibly back to the senior center.  One day and one step at a time.

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