My apologies for the tardiness of this final update on mommy…I’ve been so excited to have her home and caught up in the recovery of her treatment. I appreciate everyone’s patience!
This past Saturday morning was filled with anticipation about when mommy would be getting out. She woke up after a patchy night of sleep and exhausted from the long week of the IV Ketamine protocol. The original plan was to start weaning her off the drug on Saturday evening and leave on Sunday morning, but after Mr. Fitzgerald and her doctor spoke on the phone, they agreed it would be good for mommy to see me sooner and sleep in her own bed that night. As a result, they began weaning down off the Ketamine starting at 1:00pm on Saturday afternoon.
Marky was with her that morning, and after getting the go-ahead from Mr. Fitzgerald, he communicated with the nurses to begin winding down the treatment so Francie could go home that evening. Upon hearing the news, Francie held her hand up for a high-five, wearing a smile, and immediately fell asleep for most of the afternoon with the comfort of knowing she would soon be heading home.
Later in the afternoon as mommy’s Ketamine was being titrated down every two hours, her parents arrived and began packing up the room in the ICU. At around 8:30pm, my mommy left the hospital, physically and emotionally drained from a week which is yet to manifest positive results from a pain relief standpoint.
As mommy wrote in her blog before the treatment commenced a week ago from today, the hope of the IV Ketamine protocol was to sedate her, allow the drug to “reset” specific neurological receptors that have been inaccurately communicating with her body, and grant her some relief from the intractable pain that has plagued her for over 6 years. Going into the treatment, one of her doctors hypothesized that there were factors specific to Francie that pushed her on either side of a 50% chance of it working. To Francie and her team’s disappointment, we are now of the belief that the treatment had little positive effect on her pain levels. As she continues coming off the drug, her body has not shown the signs one would hope to see at this point to indicate a degree of success from the Ketamine. While it is still possible mommy will receive some relief in the coming weeks, the likelihood of that remains low.
With a heavy heart, I welcomed my mommy home on Saturday night with her parents and Mark. I immediately had to share additional saddening news with mommy – my sister Matilda, the Fitzgerald’s 7 year-old St. Bernard, was suffering greatly from a recurring bout of Lymphoma. Francie and her family shortly shifted focus to Matilda, taking her to the vet that night and making their way back home prayerfully hoping for a miracle on her life. That night proved difficult on many fronts, and as the phone rang at 7:00am on Sunday morning with news that Matilda had passed, our hearts sank further.
With Sunday off to a grieving start, my mommy began evaluating how to approach the remainder of the semester with her family. The likely failure of the Ketamine protocol exhausted Francie even further, and it has continued to weigh on her over the past few days as she hopes to look forward for the next step. As one might expect, however, her body has continued to go through withdrawal from the drugs and leaves her despondent, saddened, and defeated from a week gone awry.
Being with her most waking moments of the past few days has been difficult, but as we all know, her strength and the resilience of her family will help pull mommy up. The process will take time and patience, so I would ask that we all do our best to support her through thoughts and prayers. This exhaustion has made it difficult for her to communicate about how she is doing, so as we look to slowly step forward one day at a time, please consider affording her the space to do so. She has told me how much your support and care mean to her, and she is appreciative beyond explanation for how each of you continue to play a unique role in her recovery.
With the long week behind us, my mommy and her family will begin evaluating the next steps at a thoughtful and prudent pace. Francie will be taking this week off to recover and gather herself before deciding on whether to continue her semester at home or back at Notre Dame.
So here’s to two tremendously strong girls in the Fitzgerald family – Francie and my sister, Matilda.
May we turn to the comforts of family, faith, and home as sources of strength and hopefulness for better days ahead. As she always has, mommy will regain her footing with the help of family, friends, and faith – but for now, let us all hope and pray that Francie and her family recover physically and emotionally from what is certainly a difficult time.
What is also certain is the meaningful impact that her support system has had on her and her life. I see it every day, and all of you who know her are aware of her gratitude for your thoughts, prayers, and hopefulness. So here’s a thank you from me – thank you all for your well-wishes and continued support, care, and love for Francie. God knows she deserves it.
With tremendous love and appreciation,
P.S. A tribute to a great matriarch in the family, Matilda Fitzgerald —