Medical update — 041011

Mom was sitting in a big hospital armchair when I arrived at 9am.  She’d been there since 5, and was lovin’ the beautiful view from her windows.  But the shaking caused by Parkinson’s Disease was wearing her out, so we carefully transitioned back to her bed — a real physical struggle.

She was alert, though, in strong contrast to yesterday.  She was chatty when she wasn’t napping.  A heart specialist came in to report that Mom was doing just fine, but that the results of an ultrasound taken Saturday wouldn’t be known until Monday.

Mom hasn’t been given any liquids other than that being pumped into her through the IV.  This is by design.  Today, she was allowed to drink; and today she was given her first meal – lunch – which was hot and tasty.  The problem was that Mom’s general weakness made it impossible for her to hold a fork.  Had she succeeded in that, her shaking might have poked her eyes out.

It’s been quite some time since I fed someone and I had to relearn this skill.  Mom, on the other hand, wasn’t accustomed to being fed.  So, between us, it was quite a comedy of errors to get little bites into her.  Our makeshift bib was quickly spattered with the evidence of our combined clumsiness.  On the menu: baked chicken, baked beans, shredded cabbage, bread pudding and iced tea.  Who says hospital food is never good?

Considering the almost dire tone of yesterday’s conditions, I dialed up Michael and Elizabeth and Lisa and George & Sally, all of whom really wanted to hear Mom’s voice; all of whom were impressed by how very weak she sounded…almost inaudible.  Mom’s close friend Dixie also came by for a much-appreciated visit.

The hospitalist (a doctor) came by to report that things were going swimmingly as far as he was concerned; this despite her still-out-of-the-park blood pressure readings.  He was ready to have Mom transferred out of ICU and into the general population of the facility.  This would include removal of the Foley catheter.  I chatted with him in the hallway after the visit and objected to his catheter strategy.  She was too weak and unstable, I said, to be going between her bed and the bathroom several times each day.  She’s a falling risk on the best of days, and this was a ticket to disaster.  He agreed.  The Foley stays in.

This is why an advocate is so necessary for an elderly patient.

The medication for Parkinson’s will be reintroduced into Mom’s regimen on Monday.  This will relieve some of the shaking and, therefore, some of the exhaustion.  The simple act of chewing food, or of sitting up to take a drink, or of moving on the bed to accommodate a nurse’s stethoscope…all of these things necessitated long periods of recovery.

By mid-afternoon, Mom was sufficiently rested to become chatty, though still difficult to hear.  She reminisced about some of the landmarks of her favorite city: Vienna.  She said that Salzburg was spared the bombing during World War II, and that this was the setting for the movie, The Sound of Music.  She spoke with reverence of her visits to New York’s Metropolitan Opera House and St.Patrick’s Cathedral.

So I, being the resourceful guy I am, pulled up images on my smartphone, and we spent most of an hour ooing and aahing over these magnificent structures.  Mom was able to point out specific features of these edifices, and spoke with joy of the special place each held in her heart.

[Mouse-over each picture for additional text.  Click to enlarge.]

The sanctuary of St.Stephens Cathedral, Vienna

Salzburg Austria, untouched by the ravages of WWII

Metropolitan Opera House, NYC

A bird's-eye view: St. Patrick's Cathedral, NYC

Our pictorial world tour ended just before dinner when Mom was moved from the third floor to the fifth.  The view isn’t quite as good there, but the super-friendly nurses more than make up for it.

Doctor’s rounds at 7am.  Gotta advocate…


About FredMarx

Old enough to have wisdom; young enough to learn.
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