Yay Gifts!

With Mama G in the hospital, we had to delay Christmas this year. So, we finally got to open our gifts tonight. It was pretty cool, actually. We were able to enjoy a nice family dinner, with surprisingly pleasant conversation (Republican Brother and I managed to joke about politics without it degenerating into a screaming match!), and the gifts were pretty much an after thought. Well, until dinner was over, and then the greedy bitch in me totally took over!

Anyway, here's my Christmas haul:

So...what did y'all get?

annamaria at 10:14 PM

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Mama G

A few people have asked about Mama G, and I figured it would be easier to reply in one blog post than countless emails and phone calls; since I am fundamentally a lazy girl, this seemed the obvious solution.

On Christmas morning, Mama G was taken to the hospital because she appeared to be having a stroke. She had been on the phone with one of my cousins in Italy, when her speech suddenly became slurred and she was having trouble forming words. She handed the phone to my father, and I asked her if she was feeling all right. Her speech was still slurred and halting, and I noticed that the left side of her face was drooping. I called for an ambulance, and by the time they arrived (approximately five minutes later), her face was back to normal but her speech still slightly impaired.

She was taken to the emergency room, where an EKG and chest X-ray were performed. At this point, while we were convinced she had suffered a stroke, we were still optimistic about her returning home in time for Christmas dinner. Unfounded optimism is a family trait. She spent about an hour in the ER before they took her for a CT Scan, which confirmed that there was a "spot" on the left side of her brain. She was admitted that night for observation and further testing.

Since my siblings had all intended to have dinner together for Christmas, we ended meeting at the hospital and having a small Christmas celebration in her room. The kids opened a few gifts, and gave their Nonna some presents but, needless to say, Mama G was deeply depressed at the prospect of spending Christmas in the hospital.

On Tuesday, she was given an echocardiogram and ultrasound of the carotid arteries. She was also scheduled for an MRI, but for some reason that is beyond my comprehension, the local hospital does not perform MRIs on Tuesdays. Her doctor wisely delegated the responsibility of informing Mama G that she would have to spend another night in the hospital to me. Obviously, as her child, she was less likely to maim me for delivering the bad news. Her doctor, on the other hand, was fair game. She took the news in stride, and told the doctor he had one more day to diagnose her, because she was going home Wednesday no matter what. If you've ever been on the receiving end of the determined glare of an Italian woman, you'll understand her doctor's inclination not to delay her homecoming any longer than absolutely necessary.

The MRI was performed on Wednesday morning (I'm pretty sure there were people with brain cancer that were passed up in favor of Mama G that morning!), and a comparison to prior MRIs and CT Scans showed the presence of a new "spot." She was finally officially diagnosed with Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), or ministroke. The cause was a blockage in the carotid artery that is currently being treated with medication. Due to the rather minor blockage (though, apparently, not minor enough), medication was prescribed rather than surgical measures. Which is good, because as much as I want my mommy healthy, I just can't wrap my head around carotid artery bypass surgery.

True to his word, her doctor discharged her on Wednesday evening. She is doing very well, and seems to have enjoyed being doted on for the past few days. She attempted to load the dish washer yesterday, and I'm pretty sure I saw a knowing smirk on her face when I shooed her away and insisted that I would do it for her.

One of the benefits and disadvantages of TIA is that patients always make a full recovery. This is good when you want your mommy healthy. This is bad when mommy didn't even realize she was having a stroke because the effects were so temporary. When I asked her about her facial impairment on Christmas morning, she wasn't even aware that she was having trouble moving the left side of her face. Had no one been there to witness the physical effects of the stroke, she most likely would have chalked up the speech impairment to tiredness, and would not have sought medical attention.

So, here's my PSA:

Symptoms of Transient Ischemic Attack*
Mama G experienced all of these symptoms over the course of an hour. If you or someone in your care are experiencing these symptoms, it is imperative to call 911 (that's 999 for our British friends) immediately. My mother was very, very lucky to have two people in the house with her who were able to recognize stroke symptoms and demand that she seek medical attention. Had this been a full ischemic attack, the rate of recovery is absolutely dependent upon the length of time between the attack and the receipt of medical treatment.

As for me, I'm doing okay. I was a complete wreck on Monday; I'm surprised my siblings didn't have me sedated. Full blown panic attacks, crying spells that lasted hours, and the irrational fear that everyone would hate me for calling the ambulance that took our mommy away on Christmas. When Mama G was in the ER, we realized that she was in the exact same room where she had been in February prior to her angioplasty. She jokingly suggested that they put a plaque on the door, since she had no doubt paid to keep that room open for at least another year. She also said that since the third time's the charm, the next time she found herself in that room it would be for good. To which I replied, the next time she's in that room she'll walk out healthier than ever and I'll drop dead of a heart attack!

*Do I really have to mention that I'm not a doctor and none of this should be construed as an alternative to seeking medical advice?

annamaria at 9:14 PM

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Happy Solstikwanzanukkamas!

Props to everyone who notices the very special cameo appearance

The Decemberists - Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)

annamaria at 2:13 PM

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