I got the call at 2:30 this morning. Mom was found on the floor beside her bed. She didn’t respond to the Piedmont Place nurses who then took her vital signs. They were much too low. Paramedics were called, and Mom was transported to the hospital. She would’ve been pleased to know that she was placed in ER Treatment Room #1.
The low numbers continued throughout the early morning hours; her Blood Pressure hovering near 137 over 45, and her heart rate at about 44. Normal BP is about 120/80, and normal pulse is between 60-80 beats per minute. You can easily see that Mom’s diastolic pressure (the lower number) was way too low, as was the heart rate. This presented a curious problem to the hospital doctors who were struggling to figure out how a patient with chronic high blood pressure (and who was medicated for it) could have numbers like these.
Mom was run through a CT Scan to see if she’d suffered another stroke; then an MRI to confirm the findings of the Scan — there had been no stroke. A urinalysis proved negative. Orders were written for tests on her thyroid and of her heart for which she has had a history.
The best guess through the night was that Mom was suffering from a severe drug interaction; a possibility I doubted. No changes had been made to Mom’s medication regimen in two weeks; why didn’t the interaction occur before now? Additionally, I reasoned, it had been at least six hours since last she was given medications. Why didn’t we see improving numbers by now as their effects wore off?
All the while, doctors and nurses were loudly asking Mom simple questions, or to squeeze their fingers, or to wiggle her toes. No response. A penlight was waved past her eyes; her pupils were minimally responsive. I thought things looked rather dicey.
At about 7:35, Mom, in a stupor, half-opened her eyes and asked me, “How’s Lisa?” Then she went back to sleep…until fifteen minutes later, when she became alert and responsive; almost her normal behavior. She ran me through what I call her “inventory:” “How’s Elizabeth – How’s Michael – How’s Jeremy – how’s…?” You get the idea. As I’ve noted in ElderBlog before, this is Mom’s way of finding out that all of the things in her world were strong, and, therefore, that she was okay.
Mom was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit seven hours after arriving at the hospital. Her medications had been thoroughly audited, revised and stuck in an IV to drip into her system. On the minus side, she began to suffer from “severe” leg cramps. On the plus side, her vital signs were perceptibly improving. By 1:30 this afternoon, Mom’s numbers were all within normal range; not Mom’s normal range…real normal range; better than Mom’s normal range.
Dr. Fred is guilty of malpractice. Again.