Thursday, September 23, 2004

Well...since you asked

The other day, Jordana asked how Mrs. A's Mom was doing.

Mom has been at our house for 12 days now. I think our expectation was that she was going to be much weakened when she arrived, but with the TLC and round-the-clock care provided by Mrs. A, she would steadily show some improvement and regain her strength.

We're still waiting for that to happen.

I'd say over all, that she's not much better than when she arrived. A little maybe, but not much.

Before this recent round of hospitalization, Mom had her share of health issues: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, diverticulitis, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, high blood pressure, etc. Not to mention the broken hip she had last year. So even when she was "well", it was a relative thing. She took handfuls of pills every day. And saw three or more different doctors. Which is all part of the problem. Each doctor had her on a different pill regimen and didn't really try to look at the overall picture. Another part of the problem was that Mom didn't tell each doctor what was going on with the others. Whether that was on purpose or not is hard to tell.

So, she'd take one round of pills for her pain and then another round of pills for the nausea caused by the first round of pills and then another round of pills to deal with the side effects of both of the first two rounds. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

She has always been a picky eater and claims that she cannot eat bird of any kind, refusing to eat things if she even suspects a chicken or turkey walked close to it. In the last few years, she has steadily eaten less and less healthy food and relied more on crackers and candy as the staples of her diet. A couple of weeks ago, she was experiencing a bout of severe nausea and hadn't been able to keep anything down for several days. Which left her dehydrated. Upon visiting yet another doctor for her stomach problems, he prescribed Phenergan, which she dutifully took. Turns out she's allergic to Phenergan. So between the allergic reaction, the lack of nourishment and the dehydration, she wound up passing out and hitting her head. She managed to get to the phone sometime later and call 911. It's not certain how long it was between when she passed out and when she called 911, but our best guess is two days. Needless to say, this has left her weaker than ever. When the body is dehydrated and lays in one place for an extended length of time, the muscles deteriorate rapidly. So, to say she is weak is an understatement.

To round out the picture, though, you have to know that Mom loves to play the martyr and guilt and manipulation have always been part of her arsenal. Add to that a large dollop of depression and self-pity (all completely normal considering the circumstances) and you begin to see what Mrs. A has been dealing with. Not to mention the passive-aggressive ploy of just ignoring things you don't want to hear. Did I mention she's hard-headed and strong-willed too? She wants to go home and resents not being able to, but hasn't seem too interested in doing what she needs to do to get better.

Mom still won't eat much, though Mrs. A has fixed her everything she's even hinted at wanting. Probably less than a cup a day of solid food. And she won't drink enough fluid either, though not because Mrs. A hasn't tried. Mom uses a walker to get around, and is slow getting up and down, but once up seems to move ok. The trouble is she won't get up. One day you're convinced she could do more if she wanted to and the next you're convinced that she's doing the best she can. And all the time there's a nagging suspicion that in some twisted way, she's thriving on the extra attention and might not want to get better too fast lest it end.

Yesterday was a particularly bad day, ending with a bout of nausea and this morning looks like it took up right from where it left off. An added difficulty is that Mom's insurance is with a regional HMO and we are out of the designated territory, so getting her to the doctor up here is next to impossible. This morning, Mrs. A was talking about driving her back down to Houston so she could see one of her doctors there. She was going to call her brother to talk it over.

Mrs. A is about at the end of her sanity, so any prayers you may want to lift up on her behalf would be appreciated.

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