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Heads, Hearts and Prostates...oh my!


revlow

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I have been on CB pretty much all day, posting away like a maniac. More so than usual. I've been calm, and at the same time I think I needed to keep busy. Here's what happened:

The important thing is that everything is OK. Thank god. I got a call this morning from my sister who is visiting my mother. My mom had a bad fall yesterday morning. She fell from the top of a kitchen step ladder, backwards onto her head. On to concrete. At first she was unconscious and not breathing. It's a long story, but thank heavens my sister did everything right, handled the emergency well.

The head CTs yesterday showed some slight bleeding at the front of her brain. The docs weren't worried, thought everything was okay, but wanted to keep her overnight to be cautious. Also my mom is about to turn 77, so of course they are more concerned.

She got another CTScan today, and again it looked good. But, just to be sure, they are keeping her tonight as well. She is scheduled to come home tomorrow. I spoke with her this afternoon, and she sounded amazingly well.

My sister has obviously been through a great deal of stress herself dealing with this. And she is already kicking herself right and left, so I didn't add to it. But the bottom line is this whole thing should not have happened, this accident could have been prevented. Here's why:

Every Christmas, my sister comes from back east to visit my mom on the west coast, and stays about 3 weeks. Each time she comes out, she has an agenda of projects to help my mom with her house. A lot of painting, re-doing the bathroom, getting needed repairs done, etc. She's been doing this for years. She works pretty much non-stop. Which on one level is great, really helpful. She's helped tremendously toward getting my mom's house back in good shape, which had fallen into pretty bad repair.

On the other hand, she is a tyrant. She bullies and orders my mom around, and has her working just as hard as she does. Again, my mom is just shy of 77. She is also the sweetest person you'd ever meet, as well as extremely hard of hearing. So she just tries to get along, keep peace, etc.

Well yesterday, my sister had my mom up on the step ladder painting the underside of a patio overhang. *Again*...77 years old, not the greatest balance, etc. They both were painting. Today my sister told me that my mother said several times to her "I'd better be careful" (yeah, no shit). My sister asked her if she were dizzy? Did she feel unsteady? My mom replied no, so onward they went with painting. Till somehow my mom went flying off the step-ladder.

Believe me, my sister does feel horrible. I'm sure this will never happen again. It should have never happened in the 1st place. And that I am pissed about. I've been trying to get this through my sister's thick head for years, that my mom was not up to that level of activity. But she wouldn't hear of it. When I'd be there, I would do my best to protect my mom, and it would always end up in enormous battles.

Frankly, I'm sure my sis has some form of MI, but because she can hold a job and do well in that way, I doubt she'll ever get any real help. Plus she has one of those "psych drugs are evil" mentalities. Oh, well.

At least where my mom is concerned, I can't imagine this could be anything but a wake-up call to my sister. I do think it will change how she treats my mom. She was very upset. I felt very bad for her -- shit, for the first few seconds, she thought our mother was dead!

I probably will be going down there shortly. Waiting to see what we find out about follow-up care, etc. Probably will make more sense for me to go down there shortly before my sister leaves.

Of course this brings up all those questions about when I will need to be there with my mom on a longer-term basis, or vice versa. For the moment, I am counting my blessings. It could have been so much worse.

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revlow:

I'm glad she's on the mend and has a child who has her best interests at heart.

When she's up and about, maybe she should learn a little lip-reading?  If the hearing aids don't cut it, she needs another way to figure out what people are saying.

Also, some community colleges offer classes in signing for the deaf and their families.  Signing is a much more peaceful way to communicate than shouting. Even if she just learned a few simple ones like:  "The pain is here." or "Call my daughter."  Most hospitals have a sign language person on call who will come in and communicate with a patient.

You sister has very strange priorities, and that's all I'll say about that!!

olga

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Thanks, AM and Olga...

One of the things that was initially adding to the problem in the ER was that my mom's glasses had broken in the fall. So she couldn't pick up on any visual cues. And once they cleared her at the local ER, she had to be tranferred to another hospital because of her insurance (Kaiser). So it was the whole megillah all over again. I think in between hospitals my sister went back to the house and got another pair of glasses, though.

That's a good idea, Olga. I have a feeling that my mom is not going to be very amenable to it. Unfortunately. This actually might be an area where I could solicit my sister's help. She works with the deaf; she's a job trainer/supervisor for deaf people at an occupational center, and of course she signs. Like you say, it might be a good idea if we could at least teach her a few phrases.

Of course, I will certainly go down there now if it is warranted. Unfortunately, it is really awful being there when my sister is there too. On one hand, I want to protect my mom; on the other hand, I think it just adds to her stress. (Although, in this case???)

Yes, I do think my sister has very strange priorities. She has always been very controlling. When she is visiting my mom, it doesn't matter if it is a home repair project or a scenic drive, it has to be done her way, by her agenda. Sad.

The last time we were all together was several years ago, and we were off on a window washing project, which was a good thing; the windows really needed it, hadn't been done in god knows how long (and I made sure it was my sister and I who'd be doing the work). But what I remember most about that was my sister freaking out in a home supply store, yelling at mom because she had picked up the "wrong" window cleaner. I mean, it was really bad -- like one of those awful scenes of an asshole parent screaming at their kid in the supermarket. Of course I stepped in and did what I could to calm her down, but it just broke my heart to see.

Same trip, she completely freaked out because I'd wanted my stepdaughter, who lived about 40 minutes away, to come visit me at my mom's house. I can't describe how fucking much my sister completely flipped out, following me from room to room screaming at me. Essentially, it was her visit to my mother's and she had to have it exactly the way she wanted it. She had to controll it. And I, and anyone else, was just in the way.

That night, I just gave up. I was on the phone with friend in another state. My friend, after hearing my sister come into the room over and over again, still screaming at me, said "Hell, I'll buy you a ticket. Come visit me." And I did.

I'm praying my sister has learned something from this near miss with my mom.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

revlow

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Damn my posts have been long! Quick update:

1) My mom is home. When I spoke with my sister earlier today, my mom had gotten settled in and was sleeping.

2) She is still somewhat confused and disoriented. In talking with my sister today, it sounds like this was worse than I'd first understood. But my mom had also not slept well in the last two days at the hospital, so hopefully good rest at home will aid in her recovery.

3) The main concern of the docs is to watch for any signs of a chronic subdural hematoma. *

4) Of course, bedrest. And she can't drive for a month.

5) Her follow-up appt. with the neurologist is Jan. 24th.

I think my sister and I are communicating well on this, so we're going to be working out the details of what needs to be done, when I'll go down there, and so forth over the next several days. My sister was scheduled to fly home on Jan. 9th, but has sick-time accumulated, so she may stay an extra week. I'm confident we'll work everything out.

Thanks for listening.

revlow

* I read the following at two different sites:

"Subdural hematomas can also occur spontaneously or after a very minor head injury, especially in the elderly. These go unnoticed for many days to many weeks, and are referred to as 'chronic' subdural hematomas."

"The average time between head trauma and chronic SDH diagnosis is 4-5 weeks. Clinical presentation often is insidious, with symptoms of decreased level of consciousness, balance problems, cognitive dysfunction and memory loss, motor deficit (such as a hemiparesis), headache, or aphasia. Acute presentation also is possible, as in the case of a patient who presents with a seizure."

So, that's what we're dealing with.

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Heya revlow,

Very relieved to hear mom's at least stable.

You're on track with the signs of SDH to watch for.

I wonder if there's some kind or community support like respite care in your mom's community?  I'm thinking of the kind of service that supports caregivers -- takes over from family members for x number of hours a week or whatever.

This might at least reduce some of the caregiver stress on you and your sister while mom needs this kind of supervision.

You're probably right that your sister has MI problems of some description, but not much you can do about it I guess, except as you have been, try to mitigate the damage.

I hope mom continues to improve.

--ncc--

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I won't be as diplomatic as ncc1701:  your sister sounds like an unmedicated whack job.  But that's not your fault or your responsibility, so there isn't much you can do about it.

Sounds like she's acting responsibly enough now, so I hope this continues through your Mom's recovery.  I think having a relief person come in from time to time is a good suggestion.  24-hour care can be a strain on the family member.

Yeah, some people resist sign language, and that's too bad.  I've worked with people of various disabilities over the years, and one of my favorites was a lady with MS.  I lived in Manhatttan, and she wanted to go out to Jones Beach on Long Island.  I don't like salt water and crowded beaches, but I agreed because she needed help with the trains, walking, etc.

When we got there, she led the way to the "deaf" section of the beach.  This is a portion of the beach that had been appropriated by deaf people and their families----and it was SO QUIET!!  No loud radios, no screaming children, no adults arguing about whatever.......just a bunch of people lying on their blankets, speaking in sign language.  It was the most restful Sunday I had had in months!

It's on my to-do list for when I retire. (Learning to sign.)

Revlow, good luck and thanks for keeping us posted on your mother.  You're doing a good job!

olga

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Thank you both.

Yeah, Olga...I do think she's an unmedicated nut job. So's my dad. The thing is they both manage to deal effectively enough in the real world that neither will ever do anything about it.

ncc: Thanks, good to get the confirmation on the signs of SDH. I'd emailed this info I'd cut n' pasted to my sister, along with the links to the articles, and she has read it. It didn't sound like the hospital did a great job of explaining this, and she didn't realize till she got home that the papers they'd handed her with all the info were basically illegible. You know...done in quadruplicate, so the bottom page was too light to read.

Last night was really rough on me. The possible reality is starting to catch up. I couldn't sleep. Finally took an Ambien and still couldn't sleep. Added a Vicodin (my neck was hurting) and finally could sleep, but not long enough.

I think it's very likely I'll need to move in with my mom. I love my mom, and she isn't really the problem; she is very sweet and pretty easy to live with. I just don't want to move there. I get ultra depressed living there. I love where I live (though it is extremely difficult to make a living here) and I hate where she lives. I mean HATE. (It's the smoggiest part of the L.A. basin, among other *charming* features.) Plus her house is very cramped. Long story, but moving her here isn't an option.

I wish this had happened at a different time, when I had a job and my sister, who is about to retire, would have to step up to the plate. On the other hand, the idea of my sister being there long term with my mom is not the greatest. Oy vay!

Of course I will do whatever needs to be done, but it pains me. Both my father (long divorced from my mother) and my sister have been saying for months now, due to my lack of employment, "Well, you're just going to have to move in with Mom." Of course, neither offered to help or have me move in with them! (Including my father, who has a huge house.) Not that I'd want to, but it's just the assumption that pisses me off. You know, have the depresso failure of a daughter/sister move in with the depresso/getting-a-bit-old mother. "Kill two birds with one stone....Just so it doesn't affect my life!" kind of thing.

I hate the idea of losing what autonomy I have. I'm just now beginning to get on top of my MI, only been taking Lamictal since Sept. I have an excellent doctor here who really works with me, who is a partner. And it is so beautiful and quiet here; even when I'm at my crappiest I can look outside and feel spiritual renewal.

I talked with my housemate this morning, shared how crummy I'm feeling. He gave me all that "change is good' "Southern California is beautiful" "It's all in your attitude" crap. I coulda killed him.

I hate So Cal. It was an okay place to grow up in the '50s-'70s, but then it went to hell in a handbasket as far as I'm concerned. Smoggy, noisy, overcrowded, freeways that might as well be parking lots. HATE HATE HATE it.

I know I'm being a whiner -- the most important thing right now is my mom. And I know I may be overthinking this, jumping the gun and all. But the way things look, and without a job here, I suspect this may be inevitable.

Middle age. Ain't it great? ;)

PS - Rilke is one of my favs (from back in the days when I could actually manage reading a book).

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Hi, Rev,

I'm sorry to hear about your mom and am glad that she's doing as well as she is. I am the sibling who lives closest to my mom, too. She's 74 and though she is healthy for her age, her balance and eyesight and immune system aren't what they used to be. She's frail. And I just know that I'm the one who's going to be expected to take care of her when she can't live alone anymore.

It's good that your sister has had a serious wakeup call about your mom. At this point, it's probably going to be easy to reinforce the "no physical labor" policy with both mom and sis.

Gah. Family. I still feel like an alien implant in my family.

Greeny

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Update on my mother. Two incidents: one ultimately good, the other very odd and infuriating.

INCIDENT #1:

On Saturday morning, my sister had to take my mom back to the ER. That morning, my mom had seemed more out of it, a little slower, dizzier and in more pain. So of course, off to the hospital.

Mainly, two things occurred:

1) They repeated all the CTScans. Apparently there are a few different areas that have had slight bleeding. One of these areas has gotten better since the previous CTScans; the others have stayed the same, in other words they are no worse. So that is excellent news!

2) They realized that the Vicodin they'd given Mom is just not cutting it. They gave her another pain med, and she nearly instantly felt better and seemed much more coherent. So they sent her home with some Dilaudid to use as an adjunct to Vicodin, when needed.

We're thinking the new pain control is helping a great deal with everything. She definitely seems brighter with it, and I'm sure that controlling the pain more effectively will help her to heal more rapidly. So, in the long run, this latest trip to the ER was both productive and reassuring.

INCIDENT #2:

On Monday, there was a plumbing problem; my sister had to call in a plumbing company, one which she has dealt with many times when she's been at Mom's. Nice people, always done a good job, been fair, etc. In fact, my sister has an email relationship with the family who owns it. (I've dealt with them too -- they are good people.)

Two guys come. They do the job, then leave. Shortly after that, my sister goes to get my mom her scheduled pain medication. There's a lot of details involved with this, but bottom line: one of the plumbers had stolen not only my mom's entire bottle of Vicodin, but most of what my sister brought with her as well. (She still uses it on rare occasions for problems resulting from a bad knee surgery. The guy left seven tabs.) So, a LARGE amount of meds stolen. On top of everything, he'd switched my mom's bottles in a way that almost caused my sister to give my mom the wrong medication (a very old bottle of Paxil from the medicine cabinet that he's swapped for the Vicodin, which was kept with all my mom's current meds in a zipper pouch on the counter). Prince of a fellow, eh?!

There is no question the guy did it. Again, long story, but the wife (co-owner with her husband) of this company was clearly able to determine that this guy had stolen the meds -- shit, they found my mom's empty Vicodin bottle in the guy's car! I'll spare you the details, but it's also certain the other plumber had nothing to do with it.

Of course, the plumbling company fired the asshole immediately. The woman who owns the company is furious at what this heartless bastard did. She is extremely apologetic, wants to make good, and says she'll support my sister in prosecuting the guy if that's what she wants to do.

Fortunately, the seven tabs left in my sister's bottle were enough Vicodin to get my mom through the night. She does still have the Dilaudid, but that doesn't provide very long lasting pain relief in itself for my mom.

My sister spent the all of today on the phone with Kaiser, trying to get them to believe that, no, she is not some drug-seeking junkie, and to get them to replace the rest of my mom's prescription -- they wouldn't. They said she'd have to wait till my mom's doc returns on Thurs. In the meantime, I've sent off the Vicodin I had left over from my last surgery. Did it by next-day air UPS, but because the pick-ups are so few in my baby mountain town, it actually won't get there till Thursday morning.

If need be, my sister is prepared to take my mom to the ER again to get more Vicodin. Obviously, we are both trying to avoid that; my Mom has gone through enough. So we are exploring other avenues, if necessary.

Ain't life grand? Just when you think you are dealing with enough stress and trauma, life throws you a bizarre and cruel curve ball!

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Guest billycat

Hi Rev, I missed your posts earlier.  sorry to hear about the incedent.But I'm glad your mom is ok, your sister sounds like she has alot of issues that she will some day have to deal with. I too am left to care for everyone in my family...sister and cousins all left..so Iknow how difficult it can be at times.    Is there some way that you could get your mom into assisted living or some type of group home in your area so you could stay where you are and your mom wouldn't be alone or at your sister's command either.      Asshole plumber!!!!!    I hope your mom (and you) continue to do better.

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Thanks, billycat.

I don't think it's at the point of assisted living yet, but it is something we need to think about. The future gets here all too quickly, you know. ;)

I just got a call from my sister. She spoke with one of the doctors who treated my mom during her 2-day hospital stay, and the doc said she'd phone in another prescription for Vicodin. Whew! I was very fearful for what today was going to be like for my mom. She's in a lot of pain.

My sister did file a police report. Nothing will probably come of it, but at least it will be on record.

Thanks for all the support!

revlow

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Guest FrannyNZooey

Revlow~ I am so sorry for replying so late with my regrets with all that happen with Mom and sister also.

Then upon reading this, just anger me so. It is why after I know my childhood from Hell, I still care, and try to look out for my parents the best I can.

My Mother is still so self centered, she has started to get much iller with her Lupus but she is stubborn and still works, to get out of house away from Dad. She was no Gem, but got to admit he is depressing as hell he is just such an alcoholic now, does nothing else, but talk in past and drink, all good about brothers, and dumbest shit about me.

He would be so robbed by anyone, so I go try to do with before ex, then self, that really made me nuts, now hubby to paint, handy man jobs, been lucky always had hubby's that could do all, and very well.

There are very sick people out there, and guess being raised a career cops Dad being told always about the worse scum, it did stick with my brain, good old OCD.

I really hope something does come out of police report, our elderly deserve to be protected right up there with our children, they are so vulnerable.

Again I am so sorry, but please don't let it slip thru cracks, get the report # and reporting officer, call him daily, make something happen, if just giving him a headache!

PS. You are right with movies etc. we must be twins!

Aly

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  • 3 weeks later...

Okay, now I am really pissed. My mother had her follow-up appt. with the neurologist this morning. I'd asked my sister (and my mother, but hey...she's not accountable here) to call me as soon as they got home, to tell me how it went. It's now 6:17 PM where we both are, and I haven't heard a thing.

Been trying to call my mom's house, but the phone is busy. Both my mom and sister have cell phones, but they always leave them turned off (don't ask, too goofy to explain). Have left messages on them anyway. And have emailed my sister.

This is just so F***ing inconsiderate of her, I could scream. But then, what did I expect???

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Okay, now I am really pissed. My mother had her follow-up appt. with the neurologist this morning. I'd asked my sister (and my mother, but hey...she's not accountable here) to call me as soon as they got home, to tell me how it went. It's now 6:17 PM where we both are, and I haven't heard a thing.

Been trying to call my mom's house, but the phone is busy. Both my mom and sister have cell phones, but they always leave them turned off (don't ask, too goofy to explain). Have left messages on them anyway. And have emailed my sister.

This is just so F***ing inconsiderate of her, I could scream. But then, what did I expect???

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Oh, rev, is it something in the air? Family stuff sucks.

Let me know if you needavent. I'm here, for awhile..sigh...

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Thanks. I'm just so steamed. Been trying and trying to call.

Just seeing red at the moment. So completely uncalled for inconsiderate. I guess I can assume everything is fine? But...

Both our families of origin can go take a hike. (Okay, not my mom. She's one of us.)

Thanks so much for your concern. Been wondering how you've been today.

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I could kill her.

Left another message on the cell (what's the point? it's off and they don't check it) and sent another email.

I could just strangle her. What an asshole. She'd promised to call. What, does she not think that I'd be worried?

By now, I'm pretty sure there is something wrong with the landline, that it's out of order. But, again, that's still no excuse. She was supposed to call me.

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