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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

NOT A Good Time! If you're "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. I very much appreciate your thoughts and comments.
For anyone who has been along for the whole wild ride - Thank you!

Not A Good Time.......

On June 4th, 2013 as we began our 5+/- hour drive home, mom seemed to be experiencing some pretty severe withdrawal symptoms from eliminating the morphine.  We had been decreasing in 15mg increments for the past couple of months, with mom experiencing some minor withdrawal symptoms with each reduction.  It wasn't until the final 15mg was eliminated that the symptoms became what I would term as “severe”.  In case you are wondering, this is NOT a good time!

With each prior reduction mom had been weepy and fairly fatigued, but had not experienced much more.  Also, with each prior reduction, the withdrawal symptoms had not been noticeable for 2-3 days following the reduction and had generally lasted 2-3 days once they were evident.  Drawing from those earlier experiences of titration I had mistakenly believed that final reduction (which constituted elimination) of MS Contin would be a similar experience.  Boy was I wrong!

An hour in to our trip I was still wondering if I had done the right thing in allowing mom to travel without her back brace.  She didn't seem to be in pain (at least from her back), but I was concerned about what might happen.  What if we got in to an accident?  What if someone else got in to an accident causing our trip to be much longer?  What if…………….  By the second hour of our trip I was thanking God that we had forgone the brace for the day.

Our drive usually consisted of one carefully planned bathroom stop just over half way.  During our many adventures we had determined that particular stop to be the best of the many options.  Unfortunately, this trip we would discover many less desirable stops – I think we may have stopped at every bathroom on that 250-mile stretch of highway.  Moms’ nausea and diarrhea seemed unstoppable and I was getting worried.  I know it seems unlikely, but I was also getting hungry!

Nearly three hours in to our trip mom seemed to be feeling some better; we hadn't had to stop in nearly 50 miles!  With her dozing peacefully in the passenger seat I took the opportunity to drive thru a popular burger joint and grabbed a hamburger and some fries.  Mom didn't feel like eating, but assured me she didn't mind if I did.  I pulled to the back of the building, unwrapped my yummy smelling burger and took a big bite just as mom swung the door open and began vomiting.  My burger did not seem quite as appetizing anymore.  With mom apologizing and me assuring her everything was fine I managed to finish the burger before going around the car to see how much of a mess I had to clean up before we could continue.

I was astounded when I got to the passenger side of the car that mom had managed to hang far enough out of the car that there was no mess – again I thanked God that she wasn't wearing the brace.  I was terrified at the amount of emesis puddled on the ground.  “Aren't you glad I didn't wear the brace?” mom asked through glazed eyes.  I managed to find something to scoop dirt with and covered the mess to make sure no one stepped in it.  I secured moms seat-belt and we got back on the highway with mom seeming better, but very tired.  We managed to only have to stop twice more before reaching home.

Not only had the withdrawal symptoms been much more severe with the elimination of the morphine, they also lasted much longer.  For nearly a week and a half after returning home mom continued to experience many unpleasant symptoms.  Mom felt hopeless; I felt helpless; we were both exhausted.

The house became eerily quiet during those ten days.  It seemed there was no topic we could discuss without mom being near tears.  Simple things like telling her I was going to make myself a sandwich and asking her what she would like to eat would elicit a tearful response of, “I don’t care, but I DON’T want a sandwich” (as if she didn’t know that I would fix her anything she wanted).  Consequently our conversations were kept to a minimum of necessary topics.  Mom busied herself with any and every puzzle she was able to get her hands on and I had plenty to do with the enormous amounts of laundry that was being created; cooking meals; scheduling appointments; and preparing for our next trip – we would be home just under two weeks before we had to return for moms pre-op appointments.  Unfortunately, even the lack of conversation seemed to unnerve mom.

With a crack in her voice mom would say “I wish I could help you”.  It broke my heart to see her like this.  I was pretty sure it was depression as a result of withdrawal, but I constantly worried that my mother would fall in to a deep depression that she wouldn't recover from; that she would lose her will to live.  Her depression was consuming ME.  The few hours of sleep I was getting each night were invaded by nightmares and my days were spent wasting a lot of energy being angry as I recounted each injustice I felt my mother had suffered at the hands of doctors she had trusted.  The anger wasn't getting me anywhere except for in prison when I went to sleep.

Although I will never forget the horror of the past year, I began making a conscious effort to forgive.  I realize forgiveness will not change the past, but it may help me be better equipped to deal with the future.  Unfortunately, I had to test this theory before we had to make the return trip for moms’ pre-op appointments.

Although I wasn't happy about having to take mom for her appointment with her primary care doctor who had basically written my mother off when all this started, I was looking forward to NOT having to beg him for the correct dosages of morphine for mom.  I guess the forgiveness thing must have helped because I didn't feel anxious and I didn't spend the entire appointment having to convince myself that ripping his face off was not a good idea.  In fact, maybe because I had quit depending on him to do right by mom, I felt strangely at ease.  I didn't even bother to correct him when he, once again, asked mom about her diabetes WHICH SHE DOES NOT HAVE!  I also didn't bother to point out that we had successfully (without his help) managed to wean mom off all the narcotics and, maybe because I had lowered my expectations of him, I wasn't even annoyed that he didn't asked about her recent back surgery.  I did, however, almost lose it completely when he told us (not for the first time) how lucky mom was to be alive and acted like he thought he was a hero – luckily the thought in my head did not escape my mouth!

It was absolutely NO thanks to moms’ primary care doctor or her RA doctor that she had managed to live through the horror of the prior year.  In fact, in my humble opinion, much of what mom had to endure could have been avoided.  Fortunately for them, mom had lived and my focus was on her and regaining some quality of life for her.

Had mom not lived, I am quite certain, those two doctors would have been my focus and I am positive it would not have been what they would call a “good time”.