Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What's Next? Part 7

This week has been shaping up to be a rollercoaster without the nice calm ride to the summit.  I'm dreading the feeling of being out of control and the gut-wrenching plummet to the bottom.  As always there's nothing I can do about it, what will be, will be.  Que sera, sera.  (Doris Day always made it seem like such a cheerful song, didn't she?)

On Saturday afternoon, Ann came over and went skiing with me.  Carl wasn't feeling well, he's come down with a cold and was suffering with a fever and chills.  Ann and I went about three miles from home and Carl came and picked us up so we didn't have to ski back into the cold west wind.

  (Ann is the pretty, young brunette behind yours truly.)

After our skiing adventure, we had supper back at our house.  I made a big batch of popcorn and was happily munching away on it, when BAM, I chomped down on an old maid and instantly, searing pain shot through my upper jaw.  Oh, no.  After about a half hour the pain subsided a bit, but the ache never went away.  I ate the rest of my supper very cautiously.  I had a bad night of tooth pain and inhaled Ibuprofen judiciously which at least allowed me to get some rest.

Soon enough I had other things to take my mind off the pain in my tooth.  Mom started to feel worse than ever, her stomach cramps were unrelenting.  Carl was also down and out, lying flat in his Lazy Boy, so I was on my own with her care. 

Mom on Sunday February 5, 2017
It has been a year since Mom went to the hospital with congestive heart failure.  A long year, but we have had some very good times, too.  Her days had been filled with her painting, she's been hard at work on garden statuary and plaques for a friend of mine. 

Mom loves to paint and thank goodness she does, as it gives her something to look forward to through the long days of winter.


On Saturday night when I went up to give her night meds, she had already gone to bed.  I sat on her bed and we talked after I had her swallow her pills.  She had no appetite for days and no matter how I tempt her with her favorite foods, it is all for naught.

After she eats, she feels awful.  And if she doesn't eat, she feels awful too.

 After seeing how she felt on Sunday morning, I took Mom to the ER on Sunday afternoon.  She hadn't eaten much of anything for several days and her weight has now dropped to an alarming eighty-nine pounds.

She had a CT scan done and the results came back with some sign of poor circulation in her stomach.  All of her other test results came back fine.  The time crawled by slowly as we waited for test results.  Mom had to drink some liquid for the CT scan and it was all she could do to get it down.  

While I was sitting in the ER, I received a text from Ann.  "Where are you?" she asked, and I told her which hospital we were in.  In a few minutes, Ann joined us in the room.  What a nice surprise, and how much faster the time went after she arrived. 

The ER doctor sat by Mom's bed and told her she must do her best to eat even though she doesn't want to. 

"Try eating small meals, or snacking here and there throughout the day," he said.  "There's no need to eat a huge amount of food, but you have to keep up your strength. If you don't, you'll eventually end up in a nursing home with a feeding tube."

"I don't have an appetite," Mom said, "The sight of food makes me sick.  How am I supposed to eat?"

She has a point, though it is hard to imagine not ever wanting to eat.  I told her I'd give her an eighth of my appetite and she wouldn't have anything to worry about.   

The doctor asked her if she's been depressed.  

"No!  I'm not depressed!  I have my painting to do and I look forward to it every day.  I'm not sad, I just don't get hungry.   My stomach hurts all the time."

The doctor shook his head sadly.  He reiterated the snack and small meal suggestion along with any of the bottled meal replacement drinks she could tolerate and told me if she gets worse, I was to bring her back to the ER.  We were sent home at 8pm on Sunday night.  Ann had a nice warm blanket in her car and lent it to me to wrap Mom up in for the ride home. 

"Ann is such a wonderful friend," Mom said, snuggling into the blanket.

Yes, she is.

On Monday morning I called the dentist bright and early for an appointment and was able to get in later in the afternoon.   In the meantime, I had to take Mom to another doctor in Green Bay in the morning for a hearing test, arriving home at noon.

When I arrived at the dentist in the afternoon I was very happy to see the Novocaine needle; the pain had been unrelenting for the last three days.  The dentist was thinking I'd only chipped out a part of the tooth but all hope was lost when he grasped the molar and half of it came out in one piece.  

"Oh, no!  This isn't good," the dentist said, "You've broken the tooth in half all the way to the root.  You must have been in a lot of pain since this happened.  You should have called the office, we have emergency hours."

I told him I had called, but there was no answer.  He was perplexed and said he'd look into the answering machine issue.  For now, let's get this tooth outta here!

I shook my head in agreement.  I couldn't talk, there were too many hands in my mouth. The decision was made to pull the rest of the tooth and send me home for at least four months to heal.  Ever since Monday my poor tongue has been exploring the vast gap where my former tooth resided.  At least the aching agony is over anyway.

I visited Mom after my dentist appointment and found her to be just about as miserable as she was on Sunday.  I went to buy her some more meal replacement drinks and urged her to at least try to sip on them during the day.  She went to bed by 8:30pm and I watched her on the cameras from home; it looked as if she spent the entire night in bed.  However, Mom said she was up several times; so maybe the cameras haven't caught all the activity?  I'm not sure.  I checked on her several times during the night since I don't sleep well when I'm worried.  She was always in bed when I checked in.

In the morning I made an appointment with her general practitioner.  Mom wasn't happy to hear she had yet another appointment but as long as he was 'going to do something about her stomach' she was willing to go.  She can still walk very well with no assistance; it is truly amazing how strong she is.

Doctor W. said,  "How are you feeling?"

"Do you know what hell feels like?" Mom asked.

"No.  Why?  Do you hurt that badly?"

"Yes.  I feel awful.  I'm so tired of this pain," Mom said, sitting hunched in her chair.

Dr. W went over her results from the ER visit and seemed sad. 

"You're a young 96-year-old," he said.  "You walk well, your mind is sharp, and you have no other health problems to speak of, but now you've developed this stomach pain.  I can refer you to a vascular surgeon for exploratory surgery, but there are problems with this course of action, too.  Though you're young for 96, your body is still, after all, 96.  Your veins aren't as robust as they used to be, your skin is very delicate and tears easily.  I'm not a vascular surgeon, so I cannot say with any certainty what could be done for you, but you will definitely not bounce back from major surgery as quickly as a younger person.  I could arrange for you to have hospice come in if you do not want to do anything more invasive.  One thing I can tell you is that the more weight you lose, the closer you are going to be to dying.  I wish there were some way to make you feel better faster.  I can write you a prescription for some pain pills until you see the surgeon."

Mom did not want hospice.  So the course she decided on was to see a surgeon for another opinion.  

The nurse came in and tried to set us up with a referral, but the earliest appointment she could make was February 28th.  

"She'll never survive three more weeks," I protested. "She's not eating!"

So the nurse called back and tried her best to find a doctor who could see Mom sooner; but so far, no luck.  She's going to get back to me tomorrow if she's found an earlier appointment and phoned Mom's pain med prescription into the pharmacy.

I took Mom home in the gray drizzle and made sure she was comfortably settled before I left to go back to the pharmacy an hour later.  We live only three miles from town, so the drive is blessedly short.  The line at the pharmacy, however, was not.  And by the time my turn at the window came the prescription was nowhere to be found.  Nope, they had nothing there for my mother.  

Call your doctor and ask them to resend it.  Next!

Ugh.  I left the pharmacy and went out to the parking lot and called the doctor's office again; yes, they had indeed called the prescription in almost two hours ago, it should be there, go back and check again.  I knew it would be fruitless to go back in right away with all the people waiting, so I made other plans...

By this time Carl was on his way home from work and I realized my car needed an oil change.  The car dealership is right across the street from the pharmacy, so I asked Carl to pick me up at the dealership and I'd leave my car there overnight.  Carl came and picked me up and we went back home.  I sorted through the piles of mail and paperwork I've been behind on and then decided to go back to the pharmacy again at 5:30 pm to pick up Mom's prescription. 

As fate would have it, once again the pharmacy did not have the prescription.  Ummmmmmmm, really?  I stood my ground, don't get me wrong, I know the employees are very busy and have a lot of work to do, but this is ridiculous.  I remained polite, but I said they had to check again; it was called in for a second time several hours ago.  Finally after searching around, voila, they found the order but it was going to take them awhile to fill it so feel free to shop awhile in the store or take a seat, it's gonna be awhile.  

Ugh, again.

Another twenty minutes elapsed and I emerged victorious from the pharmacy, twelve little pills in hand.  I was perplexed by the amount of pills written in the prescription for the orders say to take one every four hours for pain and she only has twelve?  And we can't get an appointment until the end of the month?  Oh, well.  I'll have to call the doctor back and see if he can write a new prescription since this one has no refills.

I arrived back at Mom's at 6 pm and found her sitting wretchedly clutching her stomach.  I gave her one pill and said I'll be back later on tonight to see how she's doing.   (Checking the camera, I see she's sitting up at the kitchen table now, so maybe the pain pill did help.)

  My father-in-law has begun his chemotherapy a week ago and is doing quite well so far.  At least things are looking up for him. 

 So, if you've read all of this impossibly long post, I am amazed and you are amazing!  I don't know what I would do without my dear friends during this time.  I also do not know how to move forward with this gracefully, but writing about it eases my mind.  

And a few crying jags, help, too.

All we can do is hope for the best and for minimal suffering.  

And pray.




Anonymous said...

I'm a new reader and so, a stranger, but I'd like to offer you my sympathy and admiration.

Sue said...

Karen, your strength through all this continues to amaze me. It's a terrible thing to go through--this raising of parents (!)
I'm always sooooo certain I would never seek medical help when I'm old (96??Holy smokes!), but your mom appears to have plans, which shows one feisty gal. We should all be so tough.
Good luck. Keep hanging in there. I promise that you will NEVER regret these times later on. Our parents are precious and I have no doubt that they appreciate it all.

I'd also like to add that I can see where you get all your talent! Wow. Your mom does amazing painting.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dearest Karen ~ Your Mom is amazing at 96 years young. May she be relatively pain free at this time in her life. May you be given peace and strength as you care for her.

I hope Carl is over his cold.

Your Mom's paintings are so nice and I know they make others feel happy.

Love, hugs & continued prayers for all of you ~ FlowerLady

Peonies & Magnolias said...

Sending hugs and prayers for all of y'all. I hope your Mom is doing better and they can find what is wrong sooner rather than later. Love seeing all her paintings!! You and Carl take care.

Beth said...

Praying for your dear mother and also for you and Carl and your FIL. So much sickness. It really makes life difficult. Your mom's painting shows great talent. God bless you and your family.

Alison said...

Hugs, Karen! you're going through such a difficult time. My thoughts are with you. I do hope the pain pills help your mom and she gets her stomach issues sorted out. I went through stomach issues and lack of appetite last year caused by medication and it is wearying.

Missy, John & Ros said...

Your Mum's paintings are terrific. She's still got a steady hand. I hope her stomach problems settle. Please give her a hug from me and Missy.

Beth @ PlantPostings said...

Oh dear, I'm so sorry you have to go through all this. I hope the doctors can figure out her stomach issues so she can eat with pleasure again soon! Darn, that's so frustrating about your tooth--but at least you're done with the pain. Will you have an implant? They aren't bad at all, and they last forever.

outlawgardener said...

I'm glad that your tooth pain is gone and that FIL is doing well with his treatment. Hope the pain pills help your mom. It's great that she's doing well otherwise. Your family continues to be in my thoughts and prayers!