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Monday, July 22, 2013

22 - Imagination running wild

For anyone "just tuning in" this post may leave you wondering what the heck I am rambling about, I hope you take the time to go back and review my earlier posts so you can catch up with our story. For anyone who has been along for the whole wild ride - Thank you!
Imagination running wild

It had been a long night and an excruciating day, I was exhausted.  Between being told that mom needed Hospice and trying to decide if we should continue our search for a doctor that might look at mom as a "whole" person, I couldn't sleep.  I knew I should sleep while I could.  Mom would only sleep for a little while, I was sure, but my over active imagination had shifted in to overdrive.  Before I could shut it off mom was awake.  I figured she needed pain pills, but she didn't think she hurt.  She explained that the "workers" had woke her up.  "How much longer are they going to be?", she wanted to know, "and, how much am I going to owe them"?  It was nearly 1:00AM, what was she talking about?  Talk about someones imagination running wild!

I was bleary eyed from crying so much, I was pretty sure the lack of sleep wasn't helping either.  I couldn't hardly read my spreadsheet as I was preparing her morning pills.  "No wonder she's gone crazy", I muttered to myself.  I didn't know how anyone could take that many pills and not be a zombie.  I was lost in my thoughts as I checked each bottle before dispensing the pills.

My mind almost didn't register the increased dosage on the bottle of Neurontin.  How had I missed that last night?!  It was three times the dose she had been getting in the hospital!  "Oh. My. GOD.", I hadn't checked the dosage last night, I had only checked the name of the medication when I returned from the pharmacy.  How could I be so stupid, I ALWAYS checked.  Why didn't I CHECK?!  Wasn't I the one always telling everybody how important it was to be absolutely certain before giving ANY medications?  It was a Saturday morning, so the doctor was out.  A trip to the ER would likely take hours.  Who should I call?  I was shaking when I dialed the number for Home Health.  I needed to talk to someone NOW.

I was connected to the nurse assigned to mom and started babbling.  I don't even know what I said, but she was "on her way".  I was amazed when she was at the door just a few minutes later.  Turns out she was so fast because she thought I had said mom had a "triple dose of morphine", that would be really BAD.  Mom was at the table, seeming perfectly normal when the doorbell rang.  The nurse probably thought I was the crazy one.  At least that's probably what she thought until mom stopped talking in mid-sentence and asked "Why is that man looking in the window"?  This was getting spooky.

"I should have noticed it was the wrong dose", I shrieked.   I was a freak about checking and double checking medications.  How could this have happened?

After checking moms vital signs and calming me down, the nurse called the doctors office and explained the mix up in the prescription and moms symptoms.  She then ordered oxygen to be delivered ASAP.  "They will also need portable tanks for traveling", I heard her say in to the phone.  Turning back to me, "Her lungs are crackly" (she always has some crackle due to Rheumatoid Lung), the nurse said.  As she handed me a list of instructions and symptoms I should watch for, she continued, "I just hope you can get her over the mountains."

The nurse also felt that I should get mom to those specialists "if there is any way possible".   Was it even still a remote possibility?  I really didn't think so, but I was hopeful - I'm a "glass half full" kind of girl.

I think that may have been one of the longest days of my life.  The night would prove to be even longer.

For hours I laid next to mom as she fidgeted.  Over and over I told her there were "no men" working on the patio, in the yard or anywhere else.  When she asked again when we would leave I almost cried.  I was sure now that we would not be able to make the 5 hour drive to see doctors that we had hoped would be able to help her.  "I don't think we're going to make it mom", I couldn't hold back the tears.  She didn't seem to notice my distress. "What will we tell them", she wanted to know, "who will deliver the papers"?  I had no idea what she was talking about.  It seemed to be urgent to mom that I either go deliver the papers in a town 50 miles away or let someone know why we wouldn't be there.  It would have probably been funny if it wasn't so bizarre.  Mom was becoming more and more insistent.  She told me to call one of the Elders from our church, not in the morning - "Now".

She was fixated on me calling this man that I didn't know to ask him about some paper that needed to be delivered in another town that neither of us has been to in at least a year and a half.  I was sure she wasn't going to quit talking about it until I did something, "OK", I finally agreed, "I'll call him in the morning".  Mom glanced at the clock, "What time is it?".  It was 2:30AM.  Then, she wanted to know, "who can we call?".  At 2:45AM, "What time is it?", then, "Who can we call".  Every 10 to 15 minutes she asked the same two questions, she had begun using a sing-song voice and giggling every time she asked.  Maybe that nurse was right, maybe mom really was developing dementia.  Maybe mom really was ready for Hospice.

I finally convinced mom that we should turn off the light & try to get a little sleep, we would make our phone calls AFTER the sun came up!  We needed sleep.  "OK", and then she giggled when she told me she couldn't reach the light.

Exhausted and slightly irritable, I walked around the bed and turned off the light that was right by her head.  She turned it off all the time, why was she doing this?  It almost seemed like she was taunting me; testing me, like she wanted to see how much I was willing to do.  Hadn't the last 8+ months already convinced her of how much I was willing to do?  I would do anything in my power for my mother, I thought she knew that.

I didn't even get the covers pulled up before mom started yelling and squirming around, "Brenda", she yelled,  "It's coming out, turn the light on - HURRY".  I did hurry - I was scared.  What was she talking about?  I had no idea, but she looked terrified.  "Did you see it?!", she wanted to know "It was coming out".  Then she seemed to relax.  "What was it mom", I was still wondering if maybe I needed to grab a bat or something - what was coming out?  What was she talking about.  "Can we please leave the light on"?, she asked as she closed her eyes and seemed to drift off to sleep.  After making sure she was still breathing and didn't seem to be in distress, I checked her oxygen before I laid down again.  I think I may have dozed off while wondering what horrible thing my mother had thought she had seen, or if she really had seen something that I had missed.

"It's 4:30 AM.  Who can we call", the sing song voice jarred me awake a few minutes later.  I again began gently trying to convince her to get some sleep, it was too early to call anyone.  She wanted to know what time my husband got up so we could call him (I didn't tell her I had been texting him with a blow by blow of what was going on for hours).  Then she was back to wanting me to call a man I didn't know for reasons that completely eluded me.  "You can find his number in the Church directory", she explained after I had told her I didn't have his number so I couldn't call him.  "In the morning mom." I nearly begged.  "Well, we better call somebody", she said.  I was too tired to even respond.

I woke with a start to mom staring at me.  She calmly told me I should call for the ambulance.  Not 12 hours ago she had told me she never wanted to go back there.  Remembering the instructions from the Nurse Practitioner to call Hospice, as well as how bizarre things can get at "the end", I asked, "Are you sure, mom.  They will probably put you back in the hospital, is that where you want to be"?  She was sure, "Well, I can't get up and I have to pee so we have to do something".  Then the sing-song voice filled the room with questions so fast I couldn't even process them.

My husband arrived just after the paramedics.  The paramedics wanted to know if mom could stand up, and use her walker to get to the living room and on to the stretcher.  I wasn't sure, "She could last night".  Mom was busy chatting them up.  She couldn't be bothered to even answer them when they asked if she was able to get up.  She was much more interested in explaining "why all the men were working outside" and the "mule would stay in the closet" if the light was on (ah-ha!).  I listened as a couple of the paramedics discussed how they were going to get her out of her room, around the corner and on to the stretcher.  They didn't want to hurt her and she obviously wasn't going to be able to walk.  I had an idea.

I slipped through moms bedroom doorway and passed the paramedics.  As I untucked the corners of her sheet, I told them what I was thinking.  "Are you sure?", they probably thought "crazy" was running rampant in our family (and it might be!), "You may not get it back".  I didn't care.

"She's worth it, it's only a sheet" I told them as they swaddled my mother like a baby and carried her toward the stretcher.  With only her face and one finger visible, she smiled big as she was brought around the corner.  She wiggled her finger at me and in her sing-song voice said, "They're pretty good at this", referring to the paramedics and the way she was being carried.  Then her mind shifted.  "You did call him", she trilled as she smiled at my husband and wagged her finger.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, I drove toward the hospital I counted how many times I had followed my mother in an ambulance in the past almost 9 months.

1, 2, 3, 4, ................., 13, 14, 15.  I think that't it.  I may have missed one or two, but I thought that was how many doctors had seen mom in the past 9 months.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,10.  Just counting to ten.......That's what you're suppose to do when you are losing your temper.


Susan said...

I'm one of your 'just tuning in' visitors, Brenda, but, having gone back to the beginning and reading your first post, I just want to encourage you to keep going. I, too, am a caregiver to an elderly (and disabled) parent, and I, too, have been amazed at the careless apathy with which the elderly are treated by those in the medical profession - not all of them, of course, but certainly some of them.

healthcare hostages said...

Susan, thank you for "tuning in" and thank you for your encouragement! While I am sorry you (most likely) have had your share of pitfalls in caring for your parent, I am pleased to know I am not alone in my thinking that there needs to be a change in attitude toward the issues many seniors are facing when it comes to the medical profession! As you said, not ALL of them.....there really are some wonderful doctors & nurses out there, I just haven't met a LOT of them!

Thank you for taking the time to read & comment on my post!

Emelie said...

Wow. That's all I can really think to say. Just wow. Keep breathing and remembering that there's nothing you can't handle!!

healthcare hostages said...

Wow! I have said that a LOT over the past year and a half! I will keep breathing (I hope) and I hope I can handle it!

Thanks for taking the time to read & comment on my post!