An Update

As many of you are aware, I didn’t post much through the end of last year, my goal of four times a week falling off to once every two weeks or so. I had a lot of things happening, and that intensified through the end of the year with Christmas and then New Year’s.

We put up a real Christmas tree for the first time in something like ten years, had an early Christmas with our son and DIL (Daughter-in-Law) and then exchanged presents on Christmas day itself just with my mother and sister. After that we took off for five days in LA.

Our plans took a shift right off when we encountered a freeway sign not far out of Tucson that advised of major delays west of Phoenix and told all CA traffic to use I-8 through San Diego. It was a bit longer that way, plus we had no maps, and no idea where to stop for food, both of which added time to the trip. We got in around 10:30pm, considerably later than we’d hoped.

We came back the same way, spent some time with Adam and Kim again as we passed through San Diego, and got back around 11:30pm New Year’s Eve — to discover a phone message from my sister, who’d been in town with my mother while we were away. I called her immediately: she’d just left the hospital where Mother had been admitted two days before for confusion, fatigue and fainting, possibly as a result of dehydration. Saturday morning, instead of sleeping in, I was up early and heading for the hospital, where my sister had already arrived. We were there pretty much all day and into the night.

The doctors had done all sorts of tests on my mother’s heart and head and so forth, but could find nothing wrong except dehydration, a low white blood cell count and a really low red blood cell count — anemia brought on by chemotherapy, compounded by lack of eating and drinking. It took two days and multiple bags of fluids and still she wasn’t recovering so late Saturday morning the doctor’s recommended a  transfusion of “packed red blood cells” which is blood with the plasma and platelets removed. At first she was resistant, but upon reflection and discussion decided to go for it. The results were dramatic, as had been promised.

One doctor (the on-call oncologist)  thought she might also have a heart problem or a neurological problem and advised consultation with a cardiologist or neurologist. Another doctor (the emergency room attending physician) thought it all a result of the dehydration and anemia. We still have to follow-up with the primary care and her regular cancer doc (actually his Physician’s Assistant since he’s on vacation).

We saw the primary care today, and he really hammered her with the importance of staying hydrated and eating nutritious food. He said the chemo causes her to not be able to taste anything but what the tongue tastes (sweet, salt, sour, bitter) and thus all the food tastes pretty much the same. But she needs to eat regardless, and especially to drink.

Dehydration not only causes confusion and fainting, but also makes you sick to your stomach and not wanting to eat, contributes to bladder infections, makes you drowsy and foggy, and destabilizes blood pressure.

Anyway, they let her out on Sunday in another orchestration of bureaucratic absurdity where we had to wait around for hours because no one seemed to know that we were supposed to be leaving.

First we waited for the final doctor to see us, only to learn he’d already come in and wouldn’t be seeing us.

Then we waited for a case worker to arrive and tell us there really weren’t any home health care services of value that her insurance would cover, and probably we didn’t need them anyway.  Then we had to wait for another nurse to return from her supposed 30 minute lunch break — which ended up being closer to an hour… I didn’t get home until almost 5 on Sunday.

So. I’ve hardly had time to breathe sine we’ve gotten back…. and yet… I’ve somehow managed to do three blog posts. Amazing.

Okay, time to go eat dinner. V is on tonight! Looking forward to that.

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