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Saturday, August 24, 2013

What else Could I Do? 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! I very much appreciate your thoughts and comments

What Could I Do?

I was thrilled at the progress my mother was making in therapy.  She worked hard every day.  They helped mom learn new ways to do as much as she could by herself without bending or twisting her spine. The therapists were great with her and accommodated her other limitations as best they could.  Everybody seemed to be impressed with moms’ progress; her motivation was inspiring.  As moms’ anticipated release date drew near I was, once again, approached by the social worker.

We went through the whole song and dance about moms’ placement AGAIN.  It didn't take long to convince the social worker no matter what she said, mom was NOT going to a Skilled Nursing Facility; we would manage at home with help from family and Home Health.  “She’ll need to be seen by her primary care doctor within……..” She hadn't finished the sentence when moms’ mouth dropped open and I offered a snide laugh.

“That’s never going to happen” I tried to explain to her the problems we had getting appointments with moms’ PC.  She insisted it “wouldn't be a problem” that they “had to reserve” so many appointments for hospital follow up visits.  “Well, they've never done it before”, I told her about waiting 3-4 weeks for past “hospital follow up visits”.  She made a remark about “just changing doctors” if we were really that unhappy – She said it as if she thought we hadn't considered that; hadn't been trying for years.  With a demeanor that suggested she questioned my abilities; thought I was a trouble maker, or just a drama queen, she told us she would make the appointment for us.  She later confided in mom how difficult it had been just to schedule that one appointment (I’ll have to tell you that story later).

After convincing the social worker that I was equipped to care for mom, she was discharged on March 21, 2013; one month after the first of two major spine surgeries and just two weeks after entering rehab.  Of course, mom had a long way to go and there were still a number of obstacles to overcome.

Her twenty five+/- year old prosthetic knee had not been in great condition before the spine problems; it was much worse since the overdose of neurontin she had received in October of 2012.  Before the gabapentin mom was still walking with her walker and was doing quite well, considering where she had been just a few months prior.  Since then mom could not put any weight on her right leg without the knee nearly buckling; I could hear the crunching with each step she attempted.  I still don’t know what happened and she doesn't remember; I only know that one morning she was able to walk the halls in the hospital with her walker and by afternoon (after the neurontin) mom could barely stand up.  I immediately called these changes to the attention of the medical personnel caring for mom; my concerns were dismissed.  Unfortunately, that was an obstacle that would have to wait.

Mom also needed to be weaned from the massive amounts of morphine she had required just to tolerate her constant pain.  With the pain in her spine all but eliminated, she no longer required 500-700mg of morphine a day.  The titration had begun in the hospital and mom had been doing quite well on 300-500mg a day for several days now.  The Palliative care team had assured us they would be with us through the reductions just as they had been during the increases of the medication.  This obstacle would be a work in progress for some time yet.  Our next worry was more immediate, but more of a bother than an obstacle.

My vehicle had been the easiest and one of the only cars my mother could get in to.  It was also the only car I currently had at my disposal.  With the restrictions mom had on stretching her back, she wasn't able to get in without something to push herself up with.  Fortunately, I only panicked for a second before mom came up with a plan for our immediate need.  Mom told me to pull her walker closer to her, “I can put my foot on the wheel and hoist myself”.  I did what she said and hoped she didn't pull her back.  Within a few minutes we were on the road and ready for our next obstacle.

Have I mentioned our terrible luck with winter driving?  Well, this trip was to be no exception.  We left the hospital with light snow falling.  It was actually very pretty outside and mom was thrilled to be heading for home.  She chattered as we drove across the city towards the mountains we would have to travel to reach our destination.

Mom fell silent as we started up the mountain.  The road was treacherous.  The snow was coming down so heavy I couldn't see the hood of my own car, much less any cars around me.  I didn't dare pull to the side of the road; I couldn't see the edge.  Even as slow as we were traveling, when I tapped my brakes the car began to slide.  I wasn't as worried about wrecking as I was about being stuck in a snow storm with mom.  I had to either make it home or turn around, I didn't have another choice.  Actually, I didn't have any choice; I couldn't see the exit ramps any better than I could see the road.  Besides, they had closed the road behind us.

I had to keep driving.

What else could I do?

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