Down We Go Again

Well, it’s been awhile since I posted about my mother, mostly because I’ve been exhausted again, and the parade of things going wrong/dragging on and no just gets tedious. In any case, shortly after my last post on this subject, both of her therapists discharged her and she was on her own. Because her back was continuing to hurt, to the point she was no longer doing her exercises and refused to do any walking down the street or to the bookstore or even to the mailbox, her physical therapist recommended we see her primary care.

So we did, the day after she was discharged, on Friday March 25.  He examined her carefully, and wrote an order for her to get x-rays done which we did that same afternoon. The following Wednesday we heard back — nothing wrong. No broken rib, no broken scapula, no new compression fracture, lungs look fine… he even ruled out cancer based on the MRI done back in February. Instead he thinks it’s soft tissue damage sustained when she fell trying to pet the rabbit. It’s possible the bone could be bruised as well, and in both cases at her age such injuries take a long time to heal and cause the kind of pain she’s experiencing.  He suggested she take pain medication for it until it heals, and so last week she stopped taking the Tramadol she’d been taking at night and started taking Vicodin in the morning. (She has no trouble sleeping at night now).

Sometime in there (I think after the first Vicodin) she started getting indigestion. The kind where she burps and feels full and so doesn’t want to eat, and even when she does it, she only eats about half of what she was eating before she feels full again.  That went on for a week and this last Friday she really began to fall down on the drinking so I had to step up my visits and start bugging her about getting in the fluids. That’s when I realized she wasn’t eating as much either, which, given she now weighs 115.5 (up a pound from when she came home from The Forum) is not good. So today I called The PCP to ask about that. Turns out it’s a common side effect of the medications, and he prescribed Maalox.

Because of all that… and the pain continuing in her back even with the vicodin, she’s faltering on being able to prepare her meals, taking all morning to put together one of her (elaborate) vegetarian salads… and so skipping meals, etc.  Today we were supposed to do her shower, but once again she was too tired and weak to do it. Just moving from the sofa to the chair left her out of breath. If the physical therapist is right, that’s because she’s been so sedentary of late, spending more time lying down than sitting up and letting what little strength she’d regained waste away.

So. I have no idea what to do. Bible class, of course, has spoken directly to the situation I am in, since Pastor’s been teaching about the Potter’s Wheel and how God puts us on it in order to conform us to the image of His Son —  which happens only when we are broken. In fact, he’s got a whole doctrine of brokenness, that’s been totally relevant. I’m still assimilating it all, trying to put the pieces together, and make the application.  Which is probably another reason why I’ve not been doing many posts.  Too much to think about and not much to say since I don’t feel like I understand it yet, and probably won’t for some time. But that goes with the Potter’s Wheel experience, too:  you don’t understand. Only after it’s over can you look back and see how it was the best thing for you and what it did to you…

Anyway, that’s the current update. Tomorrow we’re supposed to finally see the ear doctor about getting a hearing aid. My mother suggested today we cancel but I told her it would be another three months before we’d get in so we’re going to go for it. Last week she had to go to the dentist twice, once for a cleaning and second because the hygienist found spots she thought were suspicious and wanted the dentist to look at, but he found nothing. “Her teeth are hard as marble!” he declared.

So that was weird. But not the only weird thing that’s happened by a long shot.  It would be nice if she could finally start to recover.  This just seems to be going on and on and on… So I’d appreciate your prayers in that regard. Or if it’s not His will for her to recover, then guidance as to what we’re to do. She agreed today that I cannot move in with her, so it might have to be Assisted Living…

5 thoughts on “Down We Go Again

  1. kapatt

    Hi Karen,
    I can relate to a lot of what you are writing. My 91 year old mother fell last October. She didn’t break anything but she was in a lot of pain. She went on pain meds for several months. Her appetitie went down hill and she could/would hardly move from her chair. She also became depressed. At the same time, I was going through medical problems and tests and even though my mother lived right next to me, I felt that she wasn’t getting the care that she needed because of my ill health. I put it before God about my inability to give her the care that she needed and two weeks later my sister called to say that she had decided to move back to our state. Once my sister moved back (November), my mother’s health took a sharp upturn. My sister moved in with her and was constantly making her food that she would want to eat and got her interested in doing things. We borrowed a wheel chair from the neighbors and my sister started pushing her around in the stores so that Mom could see and buy things.
    My mother is now at the point that she can take care of herself and do for herself and all I have to do is check in on her each day. In December and January, it hurt her to walk to the bathroom or to get up to eat something. She couldn’t walk over to my place without becoming exhausted. Now it is different.
    Last week, when they went to Wal Mart, my 91 year old mother walked all around the store and did not use the wheel chair. That is a big difference in the last 12 weeks.
    My health problems have been straightened out (surgery two weeks ago helped out) and I’m getting back to where I can handle things and help my mother. My sister is looking for a job and may be moving to a town that is close by. (Please put my sister’s job need situation on your prayer list.) I thought I would tell you what worked for us in case it gave you ideas of where to go from here with your mother.

    You mentioned about your mother getting an hearing aid. I wanted to give you a heads-up on what happened with us. My mother got a hearing aid about 5 years ago. When Mom got her hearing aid, she almost quit trying to use them. (She almost hated them.) Being able to hear all of the sounds around her was overwhelming for her brain. I actually saw her face turn white within 5 minutes after we walked out of the doctor’s office the first time she put the hearing aids in her ears. She also had problems with putting them into her ears because of being older and her finger tips not having the feeling in them that they have when she was younger. It took a little prodding and encouragement from us but my mother finally got use to her hearing aids. She has no problem now in putting them in but she does have problems adjusting them. I try to adjust the volume for her about twice a week.

    You and your mother are on my prayer list as you go through these adversities of pain and suffering. We know that God provided a solution in eternity past.

    1. karenhancock

      Wow! Thanks for passing this on, kapatt. It’s an answer to prayer (that God would heal her of this pain or at least give me some solid guidance as to what to do). When the nurse told me on the phone last week that my mother could be this debilitated just from soft tissue damage incurred a month ago, I had trouble believing it. And when she said, “It could even last as long as a month,” that was only slightly helpful since it it’s been that long now and my mother is showing no signs of improvement. But your story of what happened with your mom shows me that I just need to be patient. It’s given me both new hope and an endpoint of sorts — as well as reinforced my recent doubts regarding the physical therapists’ claims that she must do a bunch of exercises or she’ll never recover. Because, after all… it really doesn’t depend on us. To believe that we MUST do what the (human) experts tell us we must or all is lost just doesn’t jibe with “And so it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”

  2. louise chambers

    just a quick question and a comment. How old is your mother? There is a new drug that has been discovered to be effective for pain. It is Provigil. It causes an endorphin release which blocks the pain receptors. I started taking it, when it first came out, for daytime sleepiness and was surprised to see that my arthritis pain was less and I was able to move more freely. Later, I saw that it was recommended for pain relief. As you know, movement is the name of the game. My PCP prescribed 200 mg. Thank the Lord, I did not take a whole one. 1/4 of a pill is more than adequate for me. I started with 1/8 of a pill. This wasn’t a bad thing, since the drug is horrifically expensive and breaking it up into little pieces saves money.


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