It has been a month since my mother, Florence Littauer, had a stroke. (Photo is from the day before the stroke.) I wanted to give family and friends an update on Florence Littauer’s health. She is now into week five of a hoped-for recovery and is in a third facility.
When we called 911 on May 18, she was taken to University Medical Center (UMC) here in Lubbock, Texas. When she arrived, she couldn’t put words together and seemed very fragile—shrieking “no, no, no,” when they tried to move her. It was there that a CT scan determined she’d had a stroke. After a week there, she had made remarkable progress. She was quite conversant—though not always on point. They had her up and walking around the nurse’s station. It was time to move her to the rehabilitation facility. The day she was to be transferred, she had the nurse call me. When I answered, Mom told me: “You have got to come and get me out of this place.” Gratefully, I was able to tell her I’d be there shortly and that I was getting her out of there.
While the move to South Plains Rehabilitation Hospital (SPRH) was uneventful, it did tire her. Yet, she ate well and slept well that first night. Then some medications got changed. UMC had put her on Keppra. SPRH added Prozac, saying that is what they do with their stroke recovery patients and have found it to be very effective. They also switched her Gabapentin (which she takes for nerve damage from a bad bout with shingles about 10 years ago) from night to mornings. After just a few of days there, she’d declined so dramatically that on June 2, the doctor, on a conference call with my sister Lauren, suggested that if she didn’t improve we needed to consider bringing in hospice. I showed him a video I’d recorded just before she let UMC. He was shocked at how alert and animated she was. He pledged to go back over her charts and see what medications had been added—that is when I found out about the Prozac. Additionally, an xray indicated some pneumonia—likely from food getting into her lungs. Keppra, Prozac and Gabapentin, and almost all her medications, where all removed. Antibiotics and fluids were added. The next day she was markedly better. Improvement continued for a couple of days followed by some decline. They then gathered a urine sample and on Sunday night the culture came back: Fungal UTI. New meds, once again, did their magic. All the therapists who’d worked with her exclaimed over her sudden progress. Later in the week, her condition slipped again. On Sunday June 14, she was given an anti-anxiety drug. Early Monday, she was nauseous and threw up again on Monday after lunch. She was weak and tired. Clearly no therapy was going to take place. Tuesday she was still nauseous and didn’t want to eat—or do anything. SPRH and I agreed that she needed to move to Covenant Specialty Hospital (CSH) to get her health stabilized. Assuming that happens, she can, then, go back to SPRH for rehab. At that point the Medicare clock starts over again.
My mother was scheduled to be moved from SPRH to CSH on Wednesday afternoon. When I arrived at SPRH on Wednesday morning, she wouldn’t eat. Her verbal communication was very limited and her affect was flat. She asked me to just let her die. While we sat in her room waiting for the transport folks, her speech became unintelligible. I sat in front of her, looked in her eyes and cried and cried. Her therapists came in to tell her good-bye and the care team had a brief meeting in her room.
Once the uneventful transfer took place, and she was settled in her new room, she did become more verbal. At one point, she woke up and said: “Marita, I’ve got to do something.” A bit later, she declared: “I’ve got to get better.” So, she seemed to be on an upswing. Today, she has mostly slept but was lucid when she did wake up. It will take a few days and more testing to try to determine the next steps. It could go either way.
My sister Lauren, my brother Fred and I, and our spouses and children, thank you for your prayers on my mother’s behalf. Most days, I’ve been spending 5-7 hours at the hospital. Lauren was able to come see her over the weekend of June 6th when Mom recognized her and was thrilled to see her. We’ve been able to have video calls with Fred and his family.
This is a difficult phase of life. She has had a great one and should the Good Lord choose to take her home at this time, we know her legacy will live on.