what is a reverse improvement

*UPDATE #3* No Podcast This Week: An Understanding


It's a funny thing being back in Tucson. 

I didn't grow up here. I didn't spend a ton of time here and yet I'm inextricably linked to this city. My maternal Grandparents both passed away in this city. My Father passed away in this city. And, based on what her doctors are saying, my Mother will soon pass away in this city.

It's a little strange writing this. Maybe this isn't the correct forum, maybe it's the overall wrong place to relay something so private but I feel the 0Hitpoints Viewers (née listeners) deserve to know WHY we aren't able to put out a podcast this week. 

The rest of this post will be an edited version of a filtered Facebook post I made a few days back when everything kind of came to a head. The TL; DR for those who may not wish to read the wall of text is that, as I stated above, my Mother is not doing well and the doctor's prognosis is that she has a few weeks to live. 

About 2 weeks ago, my mother went in to have her gall bladder removed. The doctors were concerned about the surgery because she is an incredibly heavy smoker and always has been. A big part of that reasoning surrounding the concern is that she has a heart condition (similar to my own) which could impact how much oxygen she was receiving.
The surgery went fine, she came out of it better than expected actually. Except she was discharged too early. She went home for a day or more (not exactly sure on the details there), then had a follow up with her GP. The GP stated that she needed to be re-admitted to the hospital because her oxygen levels were very low.
They admitted her again, gave her more oxygen and sent her home again (this is how I understood it, anyhow). A very short time later, she was taken back to the hospital because she was having trouble breathing.
Fluid was building up in her lungs and heart (they’re still not sure what’s causing that) and her oxygen levels continued to dwindle. She lost a lot of oxygen. They put her on a ventilator and forced more oxygen into her bloodstream. My Uncle traveled to Arizona for a few days this past week to see her. She’d been in the hospital for about 8 days.
The lack of oxygen didn’t seem to have too many side effects, she’s been lucid and fairly aware of what’s going on. The doctors could not do any other surgery and her heart continued to weaken. They felt that with a little bit of time she would be well enough to transfer to another facility for oxygen rehab.
During that time, I was told that her oxygen needs are two times + what any rehab facility can and will provide. [NOTE: These numbers have gotten better and she actually IS in a rehab facility BUT the prognosis has not changed. Her heart is still too weak]
The doctors told my Uncle that they had spoken to my mother about her health.
They told her she was dying and has, at most, maybe a few weeks.
So I’m flying down to Arizona in a few days to see her for what will probably be final goodbyes.
My understanding is that she was, of course, upset and sad and angry but ultimately understood. I spoke with her today and while she didn’t outright tell me (I wasn’t going to tell her I already knew, she will tell me in her time or she won’t), it was very obvious that she knew.
I don’t know how long she has, the doctors don’t either. What I do know is that she has lived in pain, both mentally and physically for almost 20 years since my Dad died. And in some ways, at some point in the next few weeks, she will have the homecoming she has longed for.
— Matthew Amberg, Facebook, Apr 3 2015


I've been in Tucson now for 2 days and have seen her multiple times. While the above is still accurate, she is lucid and she was moved to a rehab center, the prognosis has not changed. The rehab center people have been great, they've provided all the information they have but their overall goal is not necessarily to "fix" the problem. Their job is to make her comfortable and HOPE they see improvement so that she can be a bit more active before the inevitable. She has not given up the fight but she is also not under the impression that she will suddenly come out of this. In the words of the Doctor "It would take a miracle or something just shy of one".

So...now you all know, dear Viewers.

There's a whole lot more to this but that's a story for another time.

Anyhow, thank you for understanding and we expect to return next week with all new 0Hitpoints podcast.


I wanted to provide an update. I wish I had more to post directly here but as you'll see from the post itself, I'm pretty wiped. I've spent a LOT of time the past three days in a rehab facility with my very ill Mom. I'm very tired, I'm emotionally spent and I really just don't have much left in me to give right now.

This is another post from my Facebook that will explain a bit more about what's going on. 

So, first of all, I want to thank all of you for the kind words and support. It means a great deal.
I’m heading back to Denver tomorrow and I’m looking forward to seeing my wife and daughter.
As it comes to my mother, here’s what’s up:
When I arrived on Tuesday, her oxygen levels had evened out a bit from the huge amount she had required in the hospital. She was requiring about 2-3 litres of oxygen as opposed to the 10 liters she needed in the hospital. This was an improvement, it allowed her to be placed in a more comfortable facility for rehab. Most of this is already known.
Later that night, after I had left, she had a lot of trouble breathing. They had to up her oxygen intake back to 10 litres. They weaned it down slowly and got her stable around 8 - 8.5 litres. They also found that the plural effusion (fluid build up around the lungs and heart) had come back (which they expected). Unfortunately, this is also a big part of the problem. Draining it only means it will come back and they are having a hard time finding the underlying cause. She is so frail (weighs less than 90lbs), her skin is like paper (slightly too much pressure and it tears) and she is slowly showing signs of forgetfulness along with constantly being tired. Her feet are insanely swollen and covered in blisters. This is all from the lack of oxygen and the effusion.
Her heart is incredibly weak and is not pumping nearly enough blood. Her lungs are completely shot. The prognosis remains the same. She has a few weeks MAYBE a little over a month.
Last night, they felt they had made some good progress with her oxygen but this morning it had to be bumped back up to 10 litres. This is the maximum amount of oxygen that can be pumped into a human (or this human anyhow). What this means is if she, at any point, begins to deteriorate further and requires more oxygen, they’d have to intubate. The doctors believe that if intubation becomes a requirement she would likely not survive the procedure.
On top of all of this, after a long heart to heart with me, discussion with me and the doctor, discussion with the doctor by herself, she made what was probably the most difficult decision of her life. She signed a DNR. So even if intubation was required, she won’t allow it to happen.
This afternoon, she remained on the 10 liters of oxygen. She actually looked better, had a bit more color and was a bit more “active”. I spoke with her nurse practitioner for a bit and she told me that she’d been kind of hinting at really understanding where she’s at. We think she’s kind of accepted the outcome and is just doing her best to bide her time. She’s got some wonderful people at the hospital, some great friends in the area and a group of terrific women who were hired to help her with anything she needs a few times a week. They even brought her dog to the facility so she could spend time with her and they’ll do that one - two times a week as time permits until she’s gone.
As of right now, she’s relatively comfortable. I’m kind of “on-call” for the next few weeks with the expectation that I’ll probably be back down here sooner than later.
I know I’m missing stuff and there’s definitely more going on but I’m knackered, both physically and emotionally.
The time spent here was good. For both of us. It is very likely the last time I’ll see her in a condition which allows us to speak.
The last time I saw my Father, I was 14 and we got into a stupid fucking fight. I was still at an age where I thought my parents were invincible and immortal. The last time I saw him he was a few hours away from the angiogram that would ultimately kill him.
This time, *knowing* what I know, I made sure not to fuck it up. I made sure to tell her I love her and I made damn sure to not pick a fucking fight. I made sure that she knew she would missed.
And that’s all any of us can really hope for at that point.
— Matthew Amberg, Facebook, Apr 9 2015


I received a brief update on my Mom which I thought I'd share here. This is the first time we've gotten any *new* information and specifically regarding her heart. We knew it was weak and so did the doctors, but I don't think they knew it was as weak as it is. In any case, here's the info that I've been provided for anybody who is interested.

I just received a brief update on my Mom.
She has gotten “better” in the sense that her spirits are up and she’s made some strides with the therapies she’s required to engage in. She’s felt well enough to participate in the facilities church functions (really just mass) but nothing has truly changed.
The prognosis remains the same. Her cardiologist did let her know that surgery *is* possible on her heart, which is only functioning at 20% right now, but that it’s very invasive and she almost certainly would not survive. There was also no guarantee that the surgery would even help if she did survive.
She still, very much, requires round-the-clock care and while she wants to go home she also understands that she just can’t. There were some lovely people who were hired to help her around the house and they’ve continued helping by just going to the facility and spending time with her because her family, unfortunately, just can’t (which is in itself very difficult for everybody). They’re great, though. They bring her dog to visit once a week, they hang out with her and chat for a few hours and make sure she’s got anything she needs from the store (she doesn’t have any real dietary requirements other than to eat, so she can have all the Subway and Arby’s she wants).
Overall, the news is bittersweet. It’s good that she’s finally gotten comfortable and that the acceptance regarding where she is and the reality of the situation is slowly taking hold. You can’t ask for that to happen overnight nor can you expect it or push for it. She’s dying. She doesn’t have much time left and I don’t think she wants to be miserable until she passes. For the first time since my Father died, I think she’s almost making her way to being content.
That in itself is a minor miracle.
— Matthew Amberg, Facebook, Apr 21 2015