Monday, January 21, 2019

Bitter pills by Terri Hall

       My friend Terri Hall joins us today. The story she tells is important because it's so sadly familiar. It ends a little abruptly because the situation is rife with abruptness and non-endings and time spent in limbo--by both people who need care and the ones who love them. The ones who give that care. 
On Saturday, December 22, 2018, my mom called. She was crying hard and in pain. Trust me, that is not at all like her. I knew she was having  terrible pain and had just a few days ago taken her to the doctor. Why he didn't do anything at the time, I have no idea. Anyway, her pain was now much more severe, so I took her to St. Vincent's in Kokomo. They found a compressed fracture in her lumbar area, gave her meds, and sent her home. 
The next evening, I took her back. This time, they had a bed available, so they kept her. (They didn't tell me that was the reason why they sent her home the previous evening.) On Tuesday, they performed surgery. I can't pronounce or spell it, but they squirted an epoxy cement in the disc to stabilize it. It's considered an outpatient surgery; however, because of the lateness of the hour, we were to take her home the following day. Usually, people feel instant relief and can go back to work the next day. Mom had complications and would have to wait till Thursday.
Complications. That is putting it mildly. Apparently, when a person is elderly and especially if they are in the beginning stages of dementia, anesthesia can affect their brain. For several days, my mom was in agony if not dosed with pain meds. The morphine made her hallucinate, so they put her on Advil- and Tylenol-type pills. Finally, the following week, she didn't sleep as much and her pain was tolerable. Her mind was more lucid as well.
At one point, she didn't know any of us. She told my daughter Pamela she looked familiar but didn't know her. Later, she my husband Tom was her own husband. She thought I was her mother, who had been dead for over 43 years. When she first thought I was her mom, I patted her hand and went out the door crying. At the end of the hall, I quietly sobbed. I had a small and bitter taste of what the families of Alzheimer’s patients go through.
Fifteen days after she was admitted, of which I was there for 14 of them, she was taken to a nursing / physical therapy facility to finish recovering. I had already spent several hours at the hospital that day, but had to go back and take her. It was after hours and the place didn't have a vehicle that ran at night; furthermore, the hospital needed the bed.
My sister came up from Tennessee to take turns with me and to visit with mom, but after the first day she was here, she became sick with whatever is going around and has only made it twice for short periods. Pamela and I took turns at the hospital several times, but she couldn't always make it, then she, too, became sick.
Mom is now at a facility in Kokomo. I've watched some of the PT, (mom calls it kindergarten stuff.) I explained it was necessary to gauge her progress and to build her strength. I'm not sure she completely believes me. I’m not sure I completely believe myself.
We are hoping that at the end of two months I'll be able to take her home again. In the meantime, if she transition herself from the bed to the wheelchair and back again can on her own, I'll be able to take her to church and on the occasional joy ride.
I'm praying to that end, but I can't help but wonder if she'll ever be able to come home. She's depressed, hurting, and a little scared. It breaks my heart to see her like this. After doing some of the PT, she's barely able to hold her head up. I can see the despair in her eyes. She believes she'll die there.
We continue to pray for her, visit and encourage her and ourselves. I hate seeing my mom like this. It breaks my heart a little more each day.


  1. Thanks for being here and sharing today, Terri!

  2. Can I come visit her? This is Maryann’s mom. It’s not the golden years as we thought. My prayers are with her and her family.