Friday, May 07, 2010

You'll Be Alright

Mom after lunch at TTSH B1 Garden

Mom looked nervous as she sat right in front of Dr. Danny Louange in his consultation room. Mom was about to find out if she was suitable to undergo a spine correction surgery for her spondylolisthesis... the second time.

The last MRI done in Tan Tock Seng Hospital or TTSH in 2006 showed her 4th vertebrae had slipped and at times pressed against her spinal cord. She refused the recommended surgery and opted for physiotherapy instead.

It worked to relieve the pains and attacks only to certain extent. It has gotten worse as she ages.

This time around, I was there with Elder Sis instead of our late Dad. Equally anxious, the three of us waited as the result of the MRI Mom had taken on Monday, 3rd May 2010 was being revealed by the doctor.

"I'll pull out your Mom's MRI scan on the screen here." Dr. Danny typed away on his computer and several of Mom's MRI photos were displayed.

The orthopedic surgeon then began to explain all that we needed to know on Mom's present condition after his many questions on Mom.

As he pointed on the screen, we saw that Mom's 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae had deteriorated much, together with the 3rd since the last MRI. At one point, the spinal canal was so small that it pinched spinal cord badly.

"We are talking about high risk operation here." Dr. Danny continued.

That set the tone throughout the whole consultation. That answered the question and stopped the need to contemplate further on whether to operate or not.

Mom & Elder Sis at TTSH Garden

Mom would undergo a four-hour operation to fix all three of the lumbar vertebrae with four metal braces that would be screwed into the three bones.

The doctor sighted two compelling reasons for the high risk...

One, was due to her age. At 77 this year, she is too old to undergo such an extensive operation. Dr. Danny explained that he would normally recommend the operation for people below the age of early 70s.

Two, the most risky one, was that Mom had a stroke before.

She had a stroke in 2008. Combined with her other medical conditions like hypertension, marginally functional kidneys and diabetes, the odds of her getting another stroke became increasingly high due to the general anesthesia.

"Her major organs are already being stressed because of her medical condition and age," Dr. Danny explained, "she may have a heart attack or kidney failure during or even well after the operation."

The reality of that struck me badly. I was really hoping that Mom would be fit enough for the operation since she had controlled her medical condition stable for many months now.

I pictured her able to walk again and able to go outings with her children or grandchildren without the need for a wheelchair, just like before. She would be able to walk again and do all the house chores she always wanted to keep doing as "it gives me the exercise."

Mom has always been house proud. She loves cleaning and especially cooking... her first love, and we love her cooking!

Elder Sis & Mom at TTSH Crane Fountain Garden

"Her risk of organ failure during or post operation has increased to 10% and maybe even more." Dr. Danny continued. "I cannot give you any percentage of success rate or the worse will not happen in her case."

I had to explain to Mom what the doctor had said. Her expression was of mixed feelings...

On one hand she was relieved she did not have to undergo any operation. Yet she already psyched herself to go for it because she wanted "to go Umrah" with us and our niece who stays with her since Dad's passing.

A lot of questions came from me. I wanted to be very sure that Mom was not suitable. All the options discussed. Dr. Danny was very patient to answer and further explained all my doubts and concerns.

He recommended Mom to undergo "intervention medicine" at Pain Management Clinic or PMC as a replacement of the surgery. Dr. Danny also prescribed Mom with pain relieve medications and strong dosage of vitamins specifically for repairing damaged nerves that may happen for every attack that she may get...

We found ourselves at the hospital cafeteria having our lunch.

Elder Sis and I got to explain to Mom about the outcome of the MRI. She listened intently the whys and whats the doctor had told us and his recommendation going forward.

I was a little surprised that Mom took it calmly and was not much affected after the outcome of visit.

I sent Elder Sis home and then Mom. Elder Sis had 600 cupcakes to make before Sunday morning so she could not stop over awhile at Mom's place. She is into catering, making scrumptious deserts.

Mom & I at TTSH garden

While at Mom's place, I began to start cleaning her house. So engrossed that I stayed late into the night past eleven o'clock. I was totally energetic... drawing it from somewhere unknown, I changed the drapes on all windows, cleaned the dust off anything that I could reach or grab.

I ended up sweeping the floor of the entire house, especially under and behind the large furniture much like spring cleaning. Cleared-up the store room of old and unwanted items... with her blessing of course, I got to throw them out, including the clutter found around the house.

By the time I was finished, I was drenched in sweat and very dirty. Mom's cold pineapple syrup drink she made me was such a welcomed treat.

I had a refreshing shower, wore Dad's leftover clothes I found in his cupboard. I gave Mom her monthly spending money as usual and got a big hug before I left. My niece was already home before I left, so it was comforting that Mom was not left home alone.

Mom will have her PMC appointment on Monday, 17 May 2010. I will have to take leave off work again, like I did today to attend to her first of many PMC sessions...

For the love of dear Mom.

1 comment:

  1. Since it's Mother's Day here, let me wish your mom a wonderful Mother's Day!


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