Here’s what’s great about having a baby sister: she volunteers to stay with Mom in the hospital overnight so I can sleep in my own bed with my own wife. And Elizabeth doesn’t complain about her self-sacrifice, either.
When I arrived at the hospital this morning, Mom had finished eating a full breakfast including eggs, sausage links, juice, juice and water. Did I mention juice? It’s a good thing she’s still hooked up to a Foley catheter. As I’ve mentioned, the simple act of eating wears Mom out. She reclined in her bed and fell asleep. For seven hours.
It was hard to watch her motionless body in bed today without wondering if all the activity yesterday contributed to the exhaustion. But even if we hadn’t moved her for a third time in four days yesterday, and even if there had been no visitors, would her condition be any different? The answer is unknowable, at least to me.
George and Sally stopped by at mid-afternoon today. Mom tried hard to engage with them; two of her dearest friends. But as before, she was barely audible, and she kept fading off. I took advantage of these most trusted of friends and went to the hospital café for a bite.
Not long after that, dinner was brought in to Mom’s room. The nurses had to rouse her for something and, seeing an opportunity, I asked Mom if she’d like a little dinner. She said yes. So I cut the baked chicken into little pieces, and fed them – and some bow-tie pasta – to her. She even ate some green beans, which she hates.
If all of this seems rather dull, it is. It’s the low end of the roller-coaster ride. Yesterday’s activities were the high end. Cause and effect? Natural progression? The doctor came by after dinner. After his examination, he asked questions to help him with context, and I asked him some questions of my own. What was the outcome of the Heart Ultrasound (Echocardiagram)? The cardiologist signed off on it, meaning that the test results were unremarkable, and we could all go back to the drawing board.
So, the CT Scan, the MRI, the blood work, the ECG, the thyroid tests and more all turned up negative. Another major test will be undertaken tomorrow, but it isn’t thought, going in, that it will offer answers to the mystery of Mom’s condition.
It seems that all of this is only a mystery to me, though. None of the medical staff seem confounded by any of this. I wonder if they’re thinking that Mom has just gotten old and these things happen?
Another question for the doctor was about the initial operating theory: that Mom had suffered a drug interaction. I told him why I thought that couldn’t be: 1) because no changes had been made to Mom’s medications or dosages in two weeks, and 2) because no improvement was seen six and more hours after the falling incident that brought her to the hospital early Saturday morning.
With patience and wisdom, the doctor explained that an interaction can be caused by a slight change in the formula of a drug. The change can be perfectly within FDA standards, but still have an adverse affect on the patient. Another reason is that the body changes every several years. Such a change can cause an interaction all by itself. No FDA standards required.
The most salient point the doctor made, however, is that among elderly falling victims, fifty percent of these incidents are never found to have a cause; this despite the best efforts of the medical community to find one.
But the best question of the day was asked of Mom by Elizabeth. “What do you think the problem is, Mom? Are you tired or are you weak?” “I’m weak.”
It seems to me that this answer can give doctors a clue toward a solution (assuming they don’t already know that she’s weak).
My baby sister takes the mid-shift again tonight. I’ll try (more sincerely, this time) to take the job tomorrow night.