Never Give Up Hope

When we enlarged our deck three years ago, we included two lattice pergolas...on opposite sides, to give a little definition and interest. The larger of the two has a swing and gives us shade from the hot summer afternoon sun. Last year, I planted Moon Flowers (a cousin of Morning Glory) there...and the vines and fragrant white flowers soon covered the entire pergola.

On the smaller of the two...dubbed the Mini-Me, we planted Queen Elizabeth climbing roses, one bush on either side. At least, that's what the package said they were. One of the bushes has been a wonderful climber and bloomer, producing worlds of the largest, prettiest, longest-lasting pale pink roses you could ever imagine. The other bush, however, has been a different story. Oh, don't get me wrong...it has been a prolific climber, sending thorny branches all over the lattice. The problem was...it has never produced a single bloom in the three years since we planted it. Until now, that is. I noticed this bud yesterday (photo, left) and grabbed the camera to document it...seeing is believing! And, to think how very close we came to giving up on this rose...whacking it down, digging it up, replacing it with another one.

The rose bud on the previously-non-producing rose bush reminds me to never give up hope...there's always some chance, given the right circumstances. And, I've needed to be reminded of that, after this past week. Whew. What a week it has been, too.

Last Saturday (11/3/07) morning, I found Nana/Momma/Edith in her room in obvious distress. Unfortunately, she couldn’t respond to me…didn’t seem to recognize me…didn’t seem to know who she was or where she was. My fear was that she’d had a stroke in the night, so I called 911 for help. They transported her to our new hospital here, where she spent a long, long afternoon in the Emergency Room. After a head and an abdominal CT scan (no stroke was indicated), two X-rays, evaluation by a couple of physicians, and loads of blood and other tests (West Nile? Lyme Disease?), she was admitted to the ICU with suspected meningitis. Throughout the afternoon, her temperature continued to rise until it reached 105.8 late in the evening. When finally able to get an IV to “hold,” they began bombarding a suspected infection with all manner of antibiotics, and they placed her on a cooling blanket, dialed down to the 50’s. Still, she didn’t speak or respond in any appropriate manner, so she couldn’t participate in battling whatever had hold of her…but that didn’t stop her from “battling” all who were trying to help her. (“That’s one strong little lady there.”) For the next 36 hours, we found out what it wasn’t…but we couldn’t find out what it was. To put it mildly, it was both frightening and frustrating. Although she had a high fever, her blood work never supported the infection theory. That was when they began saying she had “viral encephalitis.” Trouble was…the way to confirm this diagnosis was in doing a lumbar puncture (“spinal tap”), which was quite risky given Mom’s previous back surgeries, etc. No matter…add an antiviral drug to the brew going into the IV…which, by now, had been inserted in her groin when the veins in her arms and hands could no longer be used.

Finally, on Monday, while I had stepped out of the room and one of the nurses was turning Mom, she opened her eyes…smiled at the nurse…and began speaking (appropriately) again. Just like that! She was tremendously weak…and the fever was still between 101-103…but she knew who she was…knew where she was…knew who we were…and appeared to be on her way back. Of course, about that same time, they found pneumonia. OK…add yet another antibiotic or two. I lost count of how many they were using, but something seemed to be getting the fever under control. Then, she had a terrible reaction to something in the “brew” of medications she’d received: rash from head-to-toe, difficulty breathing, swollen body parts. What next?

It was at this point that M. said “it sounds like Nana’s in an episode of ‘House!’”

Fortunately, this episode seems to be having a happy (if still mysterious) ending. Once her temperature returned to normal, she was able to get off many of the meds and get rid of the IV’s. They released her on Friday, and even though she was weak as a kitten, she was glad to be home…in her own bed. With a little help from the Home Health nurse (who is coming to monitor the pneumonia/difficulty in breathing), we hope that she will continue to improve as much as she has in the past few days.

It’s still hard to believe that all of this happened so quickly…and it’s still frustrating to have so few answers…but it’s certainly great to have her back with us again! Prayers are answered.

And, roses do sometimes bloom when you have given up on them entirely. Lesson learned.

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