So, I make her cry before we’ve gotten to the second stoplight. Hell, she’s ready to cry before we’re even out of her driveway.
See, our car has heated seats. She likes the heated seats because they make her back feel better. I tell her to push the button at the side (before I’m in motion). She gets all pissy, opens the door and turns on the seat. Makes a really uncalled for comment about “why don’t you get a car I can get into?” (One of the considerations when we bought this was the fact that it was fairly low to the ground and roomy.) Oh, boy, did that hit me wrong and I got sharp with her. Especially since hitting that button was for her comfort. She mutters under her breath, but obviously loud enough for me to hear “this is going to be a great trip”. I told her that it wouldn’t be bad if she’d quit bitching about things. (I don’t think I’ve ever said anything like this to her before in this tone of voice; I think it’s to the point where I’m done playing along with her…I’ve done it for too long and look where she is now.) She denied bitching. I repeated to her what she said to me. And asked if that wasn’t bitching about it, what was?
She got really quiet, stopped talking to me altogether. I let the silence go on for about five minutes, then started talking. When she answered me, her voice was weird. I start thinking of Tom Hanks’ character in “A League of Their Own” (“there’s no crying in baseball!”). I ask her if she’s crying. “No!” She said. I asked her another question and she answered, but I could tell she was still on the verge of tears. As she talked it got better.
She told me that the doctor’s office had called her house yesterday asking for me. Great. I had called and requested the doctor call me at home, gave them my phone number and they call my mom’s house looking for me. I wanted to discuss my mom before we went in. She said “I guess they just wanted to remind me of the visit”.
We got to the medical center early enough that I parked right up front. She took my arm and we walked in. I double checked the directory for the location of her doctor and we got into the elevator and went up. There were two people ahead of us in line. She sat down in one of the chairs and I took my place in line. They weren’t open for business yet. My mom starts to get antsy in situations like this and she has a tendency to talk loud and make stupid inane comments to anyone who’ll listen. And I know she’s watching me to see if I’m an attentive audience. I’m not. I wait for about ten minutes and the women start to process the patients. I have my mom’s card, I pay the bill when they ask for the co-pay. It was fifteen dollars. We’re sent over to another waiting room and mom starts in with “how long is this going to be?” I ask if she has something more pressing to do? Knowing full well that her days consist of sitting on the sofa, watching television. “No.” She sits. Mom gave me twenty dollar bill and I gave her back five. She didn’t take it, said “maybe we can stop for a donut on the way home”.
We’re called in before too long and they take her blood pressure. It’s high on both ends. It was taken three times before it finally got down enough to prevent them from putting her in the hospital. 156/96 She seemed to think this was a good reading. I looked at her and shook my head. “No, mom, it’s a horrible reading. And that’s one of the reasons we’re here.” She was then weighed in. “Can I keep my shoes on?” Yes, she could. And she weighed a whopping ninety-nine pounds.
One of the questions she’s asked is about smoking. “Oh, maybe two a day.” I’m thinking to myself “I thought you said there would be no lying today”. That didn’t last long. Anyway, we’re sent into the examining room and before long, the doctor comes in. A very nice woman, very gentle. I tell her my observations. She asks mom questions and mom starts hemming and hawing and not being forthright. I tell this to the doctor. That mom will say whatever she needs to so that she can stay out of situations that are uncomfortable for her.
The doctor tells mom she’s malnourished and that she needs to eat. She tells mom about taking vitamins. I tell the doctor that mom has always been resistant to supplements because she “already sounds like a bottle of pills, because of all the pills she takes”. The doctor says again, that mom should take a daily multi-vitamin, she suggests Centrum Silver. I go down the list of the complaints mom has had about her stomach. Queasy, painful, diarrhea, constipation…. The doctor tells mom that these signs all can happen because she’s not eating. She tells mom again that she’s got to eat.
I told the doctor that one of the scary things for my mom is the loss of her independence. That she doesn’t want to go into a home or have someone come live with her. The doctor told my mom that since mom doesn’t seem to be taking care of herself, that maybe she should consider having someone in her home. I wonder if any of this is making any impact on mom. My mom, being sarcastic to the doctor says “well, maybe I should get some baby food and she can spoon feed me”. The doctor, ignoring any sarcasm, replies to my mother with complete honesty “maybe that would be a good idea.” When my mom complains about the role reversal, of me taking care of her, of me being the parent and she being the child, the doctor tells my mom “it’s her turn; you took care of her when she couldn’t take care of herself, now it’s her turn to take care of you”. This is all new thinking to my mother. I can tell she’s not completely comfortable with it.
And then she tells my mother that I’m doing this because I care for her. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be there, I wouldn’t be doing this. My mom is at a loss for words at this time.
Then we start discussing the pills mom takes. And that she drinks beer. This alarmed the doctor. See, almost all of the medications my mom is taking, say right on the bottle “don’t take while drinking alcohol”. She told my mom that it’s quite possible the reason the blood pressure medications she’s on don’t work is because the beer is interfering with them and that this could be very, very dangerous. Hopefully, this will get through to my mother. And the doctor stressed that many of the problems mom is having right now, is because she’s not eating. And the doctor doesn’t feel the beer helps.
Anyway, the doctor refilled all of mom’s medications (four) with the exception of the cancer meds. And she added three more. When we went to the nurse’s station, mom got her flu shot and I got all of the paperwork. Today’s diagnosis? “Depression, major, recurrent”.
We went down to the pharmacy and I gave them the paperwork from upstairs and mom’s medical card. He said since there were so many to be filled, that it would be around a half hour before they were ready. I said “okay” and sat next to mom. I asked her if she had a pill thingy, where the days of the week are listed and you’ve got a week’s worth ready to go. She said she thought maybe she had a couple, but didn’t know for sure. I started looking around the pharmacy/quasi drugstore and I found some and there were four different colors. I brought them over to mom, asked her which color she liked best. She chose the green one. I put the others back and saw that they also have the Centrum Silver for sale there. I knew I could get it cheaper at CostCo, but we were there and I figured might as well get it now and I can start the pill thing as soon as we get to her house.
We talked a little and she pointed at a woman in line. “I look better than she does.” I look at her to see if she’s serious. “Uh, no, mom, you don’t look better than her. She looks great compared to you. If you looked that good, you’d be celebrating.” The woman had at least twenty to twenty-five pounds on mom. This took mom aback somewhat. I’m starting to realize she really doesn’t know how bad she’s gotten. This woman who I always considered the vainest woman I knew. I think my fleeting idea of taking a videocam to her house might be a good idea.
A little after a half hour later, her name showed up on the board. I got up, waited in line and paid for the pills and the pill keeper. We were ready to go home. This time, she pushed that heat button on her own and started making happy noises as it heated up. On the way home, I asked her if she truly wanted to do this. If she’d rather just sit in front of the television and starve to death to please let me know (sometimes people just do not want to live; Brian’s father was like that). She said she really wanted to try, no, she really wanted to do this. I told her it would take a while, things wouldn’t get better overnight. But that I’d be there for her as long as she was willing.
We got to her house and I started dividing up the pills. When I realized there was none from her oncologist, I asked where those might be. She brings me out a bunch of bottles that she had in the medicine chest. I look at them, surprised. I check them out and they’re duplicates of the pills she just bought. And none are from her oncologist. She finds that one and brings it to me. I take seven pills from that and add one to each day of the week.
Then, curious about the other pills, I put the new ones in alphabetical order and line the others up behind those. For the blood pressure, there is one duplicate of one med, two duplicates of another pill, and no duplicates of the other two. So, she’s been taking three pills (one of one kind and two of another kind) for her blood pressure when she should be taking four pills (all different). This right here might be one of the problems with her BP.
I made her take the pills and asked for her best friend’s phone number. I wanted to speak with her. Mom found the numbers and I wrote them down. Then I sat with her for a while, letting her talk about the past and her neighbors. This seemed to relax her somewhat. I offered to scramble her some eggs, but she said food wasn’t really something she wanted right now, she just wanted to rest and relax. I can understand that, she had a very rough morning. I asked if it was okay if I left, or did she want me to stay around a while longer. She said she’d be okay, I could leave (I think she was glad once I was gone…*lol*)
Once I got home, I called her neighbor and left a long winded message. So long that my time ran out. She called me back later this afternoon and we spoke of my mom. I mentioned to Joan my mom’s depression, and that I thought it started when Thelma left, then Joan (the neighbor) got married. And how it’s just gotten worse over time. That she was at a point now where she couldn’t get out of it by herself. I told Joan about the meds and the anti-depressant that mom was now taking, would Joan please check in on my mom during the day until it’s clear that she won’t be one of those who has suicidal thoughts when taking AD? She said she’d be glad to. And she asked if my mom’s leg pain was real or was it just an excuse to get out of things. Joan is the one who had the New Year’s Eve party that mom didn’t go to. I answered that the doctor told me this pain was very real. But hopefully it would get better if mom started doing what she needs to do to help heal herself.
I did find out some surprising things. Mom had a couple of barstools in her small kitchen, at the counter. Brian remarked on this when we’d gotten home from Christmas Eve. I asked her why she had them there. She said “when company comes over, they sit up there.” I asked her when the last time she had company was. She didn’t remember. I moved the chairs. Anyway, I mentioned mom’s housekeeping to Joan and she said “hmmm….that’s interesting.” When I pressed her on this, she said that mom never let her in the house anymore. When Joan would bring food over, mom never invited her in. Now she knows why. And another little tidbit I got from Joan is that mom hides her beer in the dryer. Nice, huh? This came out after I told Joan about the no alcohol rule with the meds. She told me not to let my mom know where I heard this (I still don’t know what I’m going to do about it; on the one hand I want to go over there and pour it all down the sink, on the other hand, I feel if mom really wants to do this, she should be the one to get rid of it).
I’m taking her in tomorrow for blood tests. I’ve called her a couple of times today and she seems to be doing alright, she just sounded very tired. I understand.