for Pat Adair, and the people who love her...

Our beloved Pat got some shocking news recently, and we're off and running on a mysterious medical adventure. Not an adventure we would have picked, but we're off just the same... (If you're new to the blog, start here.)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Four weeks, two days, and we're no longer counting

For the last three weeks or so Mom has had the neighbor from across the street, Alice, helping her weekdays from about 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. Mike and I have been coming on the weekends. Things have been going swimmingly, without the swimming, and Mom's biggest problem has been the pain in her hip. A few days ago she got another cortisone/lidocaine shot that was so effective last time. It's taking longer this time to work and we're not sure it's doing the trick.

I got up this morning and Mom wasn't in in her front room, which isn't unusual. When I peeked into her room, I had the same feeling I do virtually every time I peek into her room: I hope she's OK and hasn't fallen or anything. My heart sank when I couldn't see her in her bed. She was sitting on the floor, leaning against the bed, looking comfortable, at least, but totally disoriented. She can't get up off the floor because her knees won't bend, and when I asked what happened or how she got there, she didn't know. She wears a medi-alert button around her neck, but as usual doesn't know to press it when she gets in this state. She couldn't even hazard a guess at to what year it was. I had the thought to take her temperature, which was the problem the prior two times I had to call an ambulance. Sure enough, it was elevated, so I called 911. Like last time, she was coherent enough to know that she didn't want to go to the hospital.

There wasn't much drama at the hospital, really. All of her vitals are good except she had a fever and elevated white blood cells, indicative of an infection. She spent about five hours in the emergency room before being transferred to a regular room, but shared with one other person. She gradually got more coherent as the day went on. At one point, I said, "Do you know what year it is?" She answered confidently, "Oh, yeah." She said it with such certainty that I thought it was dumb to pursue it, but when I said, "OK, what year is it?" she replied, "1986." About two minutes later she pulled off that little gizmo that clips to your finger, and I said, "Mom! You have to leave that on." She looked puzzled and said, "Why?!" And I had to admit that I didn't really know and it probably did something that was probably important.

She's taking antibiotics, and it could easily go the way it did on her last visit. She'll feel much better when the infection gets treated, and be ready to come home in a couple of days. Not that I know - anything. Saturday, the day before she got sick, we had a really nice day, going out for breakfast, taking a long drive through the hills, going out for dinner, and watching a movie about a parent getting dementia and dying - OK, that wasn't a great choice. But she'd been feeling well enough that I was trying to talk her into going to a family reunion in Star Valley, Wyoming, that she'd really like to go to. And she felt well enough to have some enthusiasm about it, too. But that was Saturday...

My practice these days is to be vigilant, on a day-to-day basis, about the nature of Mom's condition. Her spells of good health and her visits to the hospital have the same characteristic - they're temporary. There's no benefit from wishing it was other than it is just now, but there's a great cost to clinging to a condition that will, inevitably, change. That's not something that I can just learn and be done with it - I have to be vigilant. I'm trying. What else can I do?



At June 9, 2008 11:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am 100% behind the motion to move the Johnson Fam reunion to the Bay Area. I think California (at least that part of California) is every bit as pretty as Star Valley. I'm sure we can find a sanitary river to do our 2nd annual Johnson Family Reunion Float too!! In any case, I guess my first vote is for my Auntie to feel better, seconde vote for relocation of reunion. We still have over a month to make the changes. I love you, Aunt Pat.


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