Gladys Rockwood was my Mother in Law. She passed on January 17, 2002. Two days before Thanksgiving last year Gladys had a sudden headache and was nauseous. My father-in-law recognized immediately something was terribly wrong and she was rushed to the local hospital and was diagnosed in the ER as having a ruptured aneurysm. She was then airlifted to the to trauma center in Seattle at Harborview Medical Center. She was stabilized and surgery was performed the next day to clip the vessel.
We were at the hospital full time over the next three weeks as she recovered. Not knowing what to expect but hoping for the best. By all accounts her recovery was miraculous. Within several days of the surgery she was talking and eating solid food. Soon she was getting out of bed and going for short walks with assistance. Her speech was fine, her mobility seemed very good for someone who had gone through so much.
Much to our delight she was sent home before Christmas seemingly on her way to a full recovery. She had no vasospasms post surgery. The only concern was with blood clots in her legs. She was put on coumadin to thin her blood to prevent further clotting. The holidays were the best ever with her at our house for Christmas with the family. We were so grateful to have her back and on her way to recovering fully.
She was told to be careful and not strain herself. No bending over or straining on the toilet for awhile. This was very hard for someone who is normally so active. She came off the anti seizure medication a couple of weeks ago and was feeling even more like her old self. She was still fatigued but her short term memory was improving. Those seemed to be the only two areas where she still had some recovering to do.
On Saturday the 12th of January all changed. She came home after going out to run an errand complaining of fatigue and sinus congestion. She'd always had trouble with her sinuses and had seen the doctor earlier in the week about a flair up. She went to lie down and my father in law checked on her 3 times in 10-15 minutes. She indicated she was ok and just needed to rest. The third time though she was unresponsive. He immediately called 911 and was told to start CPR. Again to the hospital and on the helicopter to Harborview. She had had another bleed, this time in the layer between her brain tissue and skull. Because of the coumadin, it didn't clot and she suffered massive brain damage. The doctors said it could have been nothing more than a sneeze. I don't think anyone of us realized she was that fragile with the coumadin. She laid in a coma for several days passing away on the morning of the 17th.
This whole thing was a shock to everyone in the family. Although Gladys was 71 years old her family doctor often described her as having the body of a 40 year old. She was strong, ate well, didn't drink or smoke and exercised regularly. She basically lived a very active life caring for her family. She loved nothing more than finding a bargain, helping to clean the house or especially scrubbing up the dogs the Grandkids having become too old to give bathes to. She traveled regularly to Venezuala to visit her sister and family and to Mexico to find adventure and exercise her independence. She received her college degree in her late fifties, was a gifted painter.
Mine was not a stereotypical relationship with my mother in law. I loved her and appreciated the relationship she had with my wife and kids. Annabelle and her mom were very close, talking on the phone daily and visiting regularly. We've always called our guest room Grandma's room.
She will be missed by all of us. It was such a shock to go from almost losing her with the first bleed to having her back 100% and then suddenly she was gone. I want to thank the nurses at Harborview for their thoughtful care during both of our hospital stays. I was very impressed with the way they did their jobs with compassion and professionalism. Caroline stayed with us the last day/evening and helped my father in law bathe her body and dress her in some new clothes so she wouldn't have to wear a hospital gown anymore.
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