Ahhh....the magic of Kaiser physicians yet again.
I have not seen my mother most of this week. Well, that's not true. I've seen her twice, once on Monday, when I got there at 1 and found her sound asleep and just dropped off her laundry and left, and once on Wednesday when I went for lunch, got there at 11, stayed for an hour and then left because she was still sleeping. I figured if she was deeply asleep, given how many nights of insomnia she has had over the past months, I should let her sleep.
Her stepson Ed went to see her while I was working at Logos and texted that he wanted to talk with me, so I called last night. He said he arrived at Atria at 11 and she was asleep. He also said that it looked like it was last night's dinner that was cold on the counter in the kitchen (which meant that (a) she did not eat last night, and (b) nobody checked on her in the morning.) He reported that she says she can't eat anything because it makes her vomit, though he could not see any sign of that.
I sent off a text to Melissa at Atria and received this response:
we are taking Mildred to meals as she allows us. This week though she has refused to go to eat and is requesting trays. When the trays arrive she will look at it and push it away. Mildred is wanting to sleep more and her back is in pain. The walker she refuses to use most of the time. I have not heard anything regarding vomit or nausea only the back pain. I have noticed it is more difficult to walk as she says she is in extreme pain. Are you opposed to discussing a smaller environment like our LG neighborhood? (memory care)?
(I told Melissa that i was open to discussing moving her to the memory care unit, but I didn't think she is at that point yet. She agreed with me.)
I called Kaiser and found out her doctor had no available appointments on Friday, but they managed to get her an appointment with another doctor. It was a 10:40 appointment and that meant I would have to wake her up, which I did. She did not want to go to the doctor, but under duress agreed. She even agreed to my pushing her in a wheelchair out to the car so she didn't have to walk the hall.
She asked me every five minutes what we were going to tell the doctor. When the doctor came in and asked my other what the problem is, she turned to me and said "I don't know. What is it?" When asked if she had back pain she neither had back pain nor did she remember ever having it. She ultimately said that oh sure, sometimes her back hurts, but it's not bad. Arrrggggghhhhhh.
Fortunately the doctor asked her to lie down on the exam table and when lying down she grimaced and said it hurt. She pointed out to the doctor (at my insistence) where it was hurting. Then when she went to sit up again, the pain doubled her over. FINALLY!!!! I don't want my mother to hurt, of course, but finally a doctor has gotten a taste of the real pain she is suffering.
She suggested physical therapy which I would have suggested weeks ago, but her regular doctor never brought it up. I also asked about a pain patch (which Melissa at Atria had suggested). She agreed that also might be a good idea (also nothing her regular doctor recommended). So we have a first appointment for physical therapy later this month and we went to the pharmacy to get her "patch" only it turned out to be a cream, not a patch...and not a cream that needed a prescription. While we were leaving the exam room, my mother told me that the pain was running up and down her leg. I repeat ... ARRRGGGHHHHH!
At least we have something new to try.
I took her to iHOP for lunch and while her over-55 menu item (scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns) looked to her too big to eat (she complained over and over again), she ate it all and said it tasted good. . Who knows when the last real meal she ate was.
I took her home the long way so we could drive by a lot of places with trees, since they give her such pleasure. She loved it and when we returned to Atria (which she did not recognize), she told me it had been a lovely drive.
When we headed back to her apartment, she was in great pain and she was kind of holding onto the railing on the left side of the hall and I pointed out that if she kind of leaned on it, it could take the pressure off of her back and she would have less pain. She agreed and immediately let go of the railing and walked in the middle of the aisle. She really, REALLY doesn't want to think she needs assistance!!!
I keep trying to think what it must be like to be inside her head. When we got back today, she sat in her chair and asked where we were going next. I told her I was going home and that she was going to stay there. "Is this my home?" she asked I told her it was. She looked around and said she didn't recognize anything, but when I pointed out the flowers she always tells me she loves many times while I'm visiting, she thought she remembered them. I can't imagine how terrifying it must be to never be sure where you are, to never recognize anything around you. My heart aches for her.
This evening, we received e-mail from Marta asking about Thanksgiving plans. I hadn't thought of that holiday looming (plus Christmas) and I realized that I am so depressed about what is going on with my mother that I can't even begin to think about the holidays. My mother won't realize it is a holiday, but if we do nothing with/for her, she will get her feelings hurt, but I am remembering our attempt to bring her Thanksgiving last year and the whole idea of having us there for the holiday made her sick to her stomach, so we ended up having an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner here instead. I just want someone else to decide what, if anything, we are going to do. I can't even begin to think about planning a holiday right now.
Thanksgiving 2010. How I wish the mother in this picture were still around to enjoy a holiday. She doesn't smile like this, she doesn't know she has a great granddaughter (let alone two of them), and she has never seen the sweatshirt she is wearing in this picture. (After she tried to throw it away and I showed her pictures of herself wearing it, she didn't throw it away, but it is hidden in the back of her closet and I know she will never wear it again). I miss her.