Colleen's Journey

Recovery is a Process

Friday night was more than difficult for our mom.   She was in so much pain and it was not under control. She did not sleep that night because the pain was so intense.   She also spiked a fever of 101 so there was a slight concern she had developed an infection.

When I arrived at the hospital on Saturday morning, it was clear she needed her pain meds increased and she was not likely to ask for it on her own. I found her nurse and told her that our mom has a ridiculously high pain tolerance so she will error on the side of taking less medication than more. Essentially, I explained that if my mom says, “I’m uncomfortable,” interpret that as, “I’m in serious pain.”   If she says, “I’m in pain,” interpret that as “I’m in excruciating pain which would be intolerable to most human beings.”   The nurse got the point when she followed me back in the room and my mom confessed she had a 7-9 pain level all night long, but then she hesitated when the nurse offered to increase her pump and get a few more narcotics on board.   I insisted and a short time later she was getting twice the narcotics.   Even still, it took several hours for her to feel any significant of relief.  The rest of the day was spent trying to keep her comfortable so she could try to sleep, this was only marginally successful and for the most part, she was miserable.

Today is looking up. Our mom still has more than her share of pain, but it is finally under control. She is also very fatigued and uncomfortable, but the improvement she has made cannot be understated. When they took her down for a x-ray, they saw her chest tube was kinked – they were able to straighten it out so there should be no further problems keeping her right lung drained.   Also, her blood was low so she is receiving a transfusion right now.   We are confident she will have more energy for recovery once the transfusion is complete.  Also, the cultures have not yet come back, but there does not appear to be any infection in her lung!   Yay!

It looks like tomorrow they will stop the suction on her chest tube and Tuesday they plan to remove it.  Keep your fingers crossed that everything progresses as planned.

We anticipate that every day we will continue to see a noticeable improvement in her recovery.   It will be a slow process, but it is a process nonetheless, so we must let it run its course and not push it.   For that reason, she is still not accepting visitors.   We are hopeful in the next day or two she may feel up to a few visitors, but we can’t even guarantee that.

At some point soon, she will need to decide whether she wants to undergo the pleuralodesis on the left lung, or take temporary measures to drain the fluid since it continues to fill.   It is a problem that will not go away, and will continue to get worse, if the procedure is not done.   However, at this stage in her disease process and with the amount of pain she has endured, and still has ahead of her, we all understand why it is a difficult decision for her to make.  We are praying each day she is provided with enough accurate and reliable information so she can make her choices with clarity and conviction, and most importantly, maintain control over her own journey.

I was able to recover a few photos I thought Blake had deleted from our trip to Kauai and our adventure home.   Enjoy.

Arriving in Kauai – January 10, 2013
Finally able to take a little stroll after having her left lung drained.
Still smiling, cuddling with her baby and grandbabies.
Sweet medical transport to the airport.
Even sweeter medical transport home.
This is the single greatest gift our family has ever received.
John, Blake and Pete – passing the time with a puzzle.

With love and gratitude,


  • Alexis Van Vleet

    I’ve been checking daily to see how things are going. I have been thinking of you all everyday and praying for all of the strength, comfort, and understanding that you need.
    My heart is with you all, your mom, and the doctors as she continues to fight!