It was just after midnight Friday when I published the previous post. I had been scheduled for an eye exam with the VA, but the earliest appointment they could get me was in October, and it had been almost two years since my last exam. I was on the cancellation list, and at 11 o’clock Friday morning, they called and said, “Can you come at 3 PM this afternoon?” Yup. I called mom to let her know about the appointment and that once I drove home from it (after having my eyes dilated) I shouldn’t be driving any more until things settled down.
I called her again once I got back. She was on the phone with my cousin EJ, but she called me back afterward and we discussed the results of my eye exam. (Good, didn’t need my glasses changed.) We discussed the appointment she had Monday morning with the Spine Institute and when I should come pick her up.
We discussed when she should take the morphine pills they had given her in the ER that morning (one then and one at 10 pm). We discussed my coming over at 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon to do her laundry for her. She was oriented, rational, lucid, and in her usual mental state.
(Above: Brunch at IHOP after her spinal injection 7/9/2021)
At 10:30 Saturday morning, our good friend CK called me and said that she and several other people had tried to call mom earlier that morning, but had gotten neither answer nor call-back. I told her I would meet her there as I am able to get into mom’s house. We found her lying on the bed in an unresponsive state. She was ready for bed and had either just sat down on the bed or was trying to get up, and had just flopped backwards onto the bed with her legs hanging off the side. Her walker was out in the middle of the room. CK called 911.
The EMT’s said her blood pressure was very low, they could not rouse her either and they took her to the Emergency Room. Slowly over the course of the nearly 12 hours we were in the ER, she became more alert, but it was clear that something had happened.
(Not to put too fine a point on things, when I finally got home Saturday at midnight, I pulled into the driveway and discovered the battery on my garage door remote was dead.)
Now, after two days in hospital, we know she was very dehydrated. Because of the dehydration, one of her medications (a statin) caused a situation called rhabdomyolysis which was aggravating the kidney problems (from dehydration), a situation which can also also cause mental confusion. She also had some kind of infection in her blood (sepsis) (we’re still awaiting culture results), which can also cause confusion and delirium. Initially, there was some concern that the morphine she had taken (as prescribed) was also contributing to her difficulty staying awake and alert. But after two days in the hospital, the morphine has cleared out of her system, her dehydration is corrected, her blood pressure is back to normal, and she’s on IV antibiotics, but her mental state has not returned to normal. Clearly some kind of neurological event happened either Friday night or Saturday morning.
If you arouse her, she becomes awake, alert and responsive. She will engage with people, but she drifts off easily. She recognizes me, my brother, and CK, and other long-time friends when they come, but doesn’t retain the information that they visited. She has difficulty expressing herself. She either can’t find the word she wants, can’t form the word in her mouth, or she says something nonsensical or that has no relation at all to the conversation. When the ER doctor asked her why she was in the ER, she said she’d been in a car wreck (?!). The neurologist who saw her this morning asked her where she was (hospital); she said, “Ruidoso.” (Which is a town 250 miles away in New Mexico), and told the neurologist the year was 196- but couldn’t get out the last digit.
She’s had a CT of the head, which showed nothing obvious, but it was done without contrast, so the detail wasn’t great. She’s supposed to get an MRI of the brain which will give a lot more detail.
I spent most of Sunday at the hospital, although I did leave to do mom’s laundry, make her bed, take out her trash. There were dishes in the sink, and I put them in the dishwasher and ran it. The light bulb in her bedroom was burned out (?!), so I replaced the bulb. CK stayed with her while I was gone, and I went back and stayed til 10 pm.
And yes, when it rains, it does pour. This morning I heard thunder when I was getting dressed, and saw that it was raining, but not very hard. I was almost out the door when my PCP at the VA called to tell me that my biopsy results showed my lymphoma had recurred. Unfortunately, by the time I got off the phone with the VA, it was bucketing down so hard and so fast that there was water shin deep in the intersections, and there was so much water in the gutters that cars couldn’t get in that far right lane without risking drowning their engines. I practically swam to Battery Joe’s to get a new battery for my garage door remote (and I got a spare to keep in my purse!) and was at the hospital by 9 am. I spent most of the day there, but came home in the afternoon as I was exhausted.
Her mental state has improved somewhat, but it is nowhere near normal.
Right after they got her settled in her room Saturday night, she became restless. They only had her on a bed alarm and the nurses didn’t get to her until after she had pulled out her IV lines, pulled off her heart monitor leads and her hospital gown and was halfway out of the bed.
She did it again Sunday night after I left at 9:45. This is something called sundowning. It’s not a good sign. Sunday evening, they put this camera thingie (above) in her room so she can be continuously monitored during the night. (They have a special station with people whose job it is to keep watch through these cameras and alert the nurses proactively.)
This evening, I was putting clean sheets on my bed when the hospital called me at 7:30 to tell me they’ve had to put mom’s hands in soft restraints because she started trying to pull everything off again.
It’s pretty clear to everyone that mom is not going to be able to live independently anymore or to stay at her house. She is going to require round the clock monitoring. Our first priority is to get her someplace where she is safe and cared for. I’m not going to be able to address my own health concerns until that happens. The VA is supposed to schedule me for a CT scan with contrast from jaw to never-mind and I see my oncologist on the 9th. Right now I’m just taking it an hour at a time. I’m going to crash out now, and see if I can get some sleep.