Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Update On My Mother

The Squeeze and I stopped by my parents' place Sunday evening after visiting the kids in Hooterville. Two of my brothers and their wives were there when we arrived but were getting ready to head out. My mother was sitting on the sofa, not quite looking herself as has been the case for the past couple of months. She also wasn't saying anything.

I had to step outside to move my car so my brother could get out and when I parked again, my other brother and his wife were coming out the door. He gave me the update of what's been going on with my mother. Late Friday afternoon she had her appointment with the geriontologist, so my brother stopped by earlier that day to go over some of the things they need to ask the doctor. My mother was having a very bad day that day. She was very unsteady on her feet, even with her newly acquired walker. They decided to take her to the hospital to be looked at. From there they took her by ambulance to another hospital about half an hour away and performed a CAT scan and did some bloodwork. The scan showed a number of dark spots on her brain. Scarring, apparently. There is one larger spot about 2 cm x 3 cm. They think this may be an indication of a stroke or mini-strokes. This could explain her blacking out episodes.

Later that day she saw the geriontologist, and he put her through a number of tests. He asked her to write her name, and she managed to crudely do that. He asked her to write a sentence, and it looked like she was trying to draw something. When the test was done, she scored 15 out of 30. Not too bad apparently. The doctor doesn't think she has Alzheimers. He feels that she's going through a severe depression which is quite common after a stroke. My brother thinks it could all be building up...losing a son nearly nine years ago which devastated her, another son seriously injured in an industrial accident, another son's depression and suicide attempt, estrangement from some of her grandchildred (divorce, fighting and all the crap involved in that). Hard to imagine that I'd ever be the one that didn't cause her grief!

Saturday she started a low-dose course of Ritalin and an anti-depressant. If she doesn't perk up a bit in the first few days, they're going to slightly up the dose. The anti-depressants won't really take effect for about two weeks though.

So anyway....after my brother and sister-in-law left, I went inside and joined my father and The Squeeze who were sitting and talking at the dining room table. My mother was laying down on the sofa. My father said she sleeps about 15 hours a day or so. She used to never be able to sleep through the night. She would often complain about being so tired but not being able to sleep. My mother hasn't been eating or drinking much either. My sister-in-law bought her some Ensure to drink so she gets some nourishment, but a can of that would last her three days. Just crazy. My father said she did have a bowl of soup he made her for lunch. He cut up some sausage and put it in the soup, and when she finished eating the soup, she spit all the sausage into a napkin. She had been storing it in her mouth instead of swallowing it.

My father said it's been tough because he's had to learn how to do everything. My mother just sits on the sofa and looks at the TV or sleeps. He's doing laundry, cooking, cleaning. In all my time I haven't seen him do any of this, except for barbecuing a steak here and there. He's even been bathing her, and he's not getting any younger either. After our chat, we told him to give us a call if there was anything we could do to help. I gave my mother a hug and kiss and told her I love her and that we'd be back next weekend. She mustered up the energy to say "I love you" back, but she just didn't sound like her.

I was a bit choked up on the way home. I felt so bad for what both my parents are going through, and the love and dedication I see in action. "You know," I said to The Squeeze, "my father doesn't really cook. I hope he's not just having a can of soup and a sandwich for every meal." That's when I got the idea that I would cook and package up some meals for them to have at their house.

Monday I spent the day preparing some food that my mother often cooked. Rouladen, potatoes and red cabbage. I thought my father would really enjoy it, and maybe my mother would even eat some. I packaged up a few containers and included some split pea & ham soup I made, and some peaches in simple syrup that we made in the fall. I arranged with my baby-mama, Weezie, to meet at the day care and she would take the food to Hooterville with her since she lives just a few blocks from my parents.

This weekend I think I'll do up a crockpot of stew and take some more containers over on Sunday. It's the least I can do. They have to eat and they've provided pretty well (hmm...maybe TOO well) for me as a kid. After the drop off, my father called to say thanks. My brother and sister-in-law have taken some food over there too, so I know they're being looked after. I asked him how my mother was doing, and he said she was doing a bit better. He said "she was sitting up here", which I think he meant at the dining room table. I could hear another of my brothers and his wife chatting in the background. I'm glad they have company.

When we go by next weekend I'll see how she's doing, and I'm going to bring up the idea of getting home health care for both of their benefits. Maybe even have Meals On Wheels bring them food. It's hard to see parents aging. I have this fantasy in my mind that I'll go there one day and see my mother doing what she loved, entertaining, cooking, walking, talking and laughing with the family. I'd be happy with the last three.

March 12, 6:00pm
Got a call from my father. My mother is getting worse and he has taken her to the hospital. The doctor on duty wanted to send her home, but my 76 year old father simply can't look after her in this condition. Luckily my brother was there with them and he made sure she stayed there. She'll be there for the next few days anyway. I don't get this, but her doctor is away until Monday and apparently nobody else in that fucking place knows what the hell they're doing and aren't able to run any tests. WTF?

I'll keep your mother and father in my prayers. I hope the anti-depressants help.
I just followed you from your post at Crazy Aunt Purl's site. I'm so sorry about your mother's situation. I think you and your family might want to take her to another doctor. I'm chronically ill and I know that another doctor could find something else, or correct her diagnosis. A second opinion is always something helpful.

I'm sending prayers for you and your family.
Thanks so much. I hope your grandmother is doing well too. This whole aging thing just sucks, doesn't it?

Welcome, and thanks. My mother's doctor returned on Monday and has arranged an MRI. I'm going to the hospital to visit tonight and hopefully I'll get some info from my father & sibs. That will be the first opinion. I guess we'll go from there.
Dave, Have you tried to have a one-on-one talk with your mom? How does she interpret what is happening?
Thinking of you today. You stay strong, my friend. You will get through this.
She's not communicative, so that's not going to happen. I have no idea what she's thinking.

Thanks. I'm just glad that my whole family is there for one another, and I really appreciate all the warm thoughts from everyone here too.
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