Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Four Days at Mom's

I told you about the crazy month up to Easter. We had a lovely dinner with friends and family. On the Tuesday after Easter, we had to rush the kids out by 11:00 so we could get to Mom’s by 3:00. We had an appointment with her attorney to do her taxes. She’s always had them done at the Senior Center by AARP, but with my step dad’s death last year, her advisor thought he should do them this year. We made it to town by 3:00 for our 4:00 appointment. Looks like she won’t have to pay, and will even get her little piece of the economic stimulus refund.

The next day we had an appointment with her primary care doc. Mom has been sick since before Christmas. She had a viral infection that turned into walking pneumonia. When she first got it, all she had was a tight, burning in her back. No other symptoms. She assumed it was pleurisy and was ignoring it, but I was concerned about pneumonia. The first time she went to the doctor it was just a bacterial infection. He gave her antibiotics. When she went back a few weeks later, she had walking pneumonia. He gave her prednisone and an anti-depressant. She also had a bad case of laryngitis, making it impossible for her to talk for more than a few minutes. This has continued. Her doc had run some lab work and now thinks she has polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), diagnosed by a high sed rate. I guess this is a fairly common diagnosis for seniors, but I had never heard of it. The symptoms seem to fit, however. More prednisone at a higher dosage. (However, since taking it she now has a rash, so he’s stopped it until we see him next week.)

The next day we had an appointment with her hematologist who is following some odd blood protein disorder, which he thinks is MGUS (Monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance), which apparently isn’t very significant unless it turns into multiple myoloma. Of course, she calls him her cancer doctor, already having determined that it’s lethal.

While there, I sorted and shredded a lot of old financial records. I’m blessed that Mom isn’t in denial. She knows her time is limited and she suggested that we get started sorting through stuff she doesn’t need to keep. We drove home on Friday, pretty tired.

I’m finding that spending that long with her is very wearing on me. Everything is a catastrophe. Everything is more serious that it is. She is a terrible worrier, as if that were going to add a minute to her life.

I’ve spent the past week just trying to get caught up here. After my busy month there were the usual bills to pay, mail to open, and work to try to get caught up with. I spent far too long looking for things I remember putting somewhere…. I worked too hard and too long, and now am sick. I had been fighting it all month with lots of Wellness Formula, an amazing immune system booster which has kept me healthy for the past two years. But, yesterday I felt myself losing the battle. Today I’m resting, juicing, and trying to not let it sink into a full-blown cold. We’re supposed to go back to Mom’s on Wednesday to celebrate her birthday and be with her for the anniversary of step dad’s death. As fragile as she is, there’s no way I can go if I’m sick. So today I’m resting in my recliner doing what I can from here and dozing.

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3 comment(s):

My heart feels heavy just reading this! You are handling a difficult job very well. Be sure to take time to sit or walk outdoors, even if it's just for a few minutes at a time, and try to calm your mind. That's what I try to do, and it helps! I've even got a little note stuck on my bathroom mirror that says "I am feeling more peaceful each day"! It's so easy to become overwhelmed, I have to fight to stay on top of my own life and my own well being, instead of becoming totally absorbed in the ills of the ones I care for. You're doing a fab job, Pat. Keep your chin up!

By Blogger Sandy D., at 5:57 AM  

Sandy, thanks so much for your kind thoughts. I like your idea of the daily reminder. I really am learning to take better care of myself. I'm still pretty sick, but have given myself permission to take it easy. Tomorrow is the day I'm supposed to leave. Based on how I'm feeling today, I'll probably have to cancel. But I have the rest of today...

By Blogger Pat, at 12:30 PM  

Good for you, taking a rest. Like the stewardess says, you should put your own mask on first. Then you'll be in shape to help your child or your elderly parent. A friend of mine, Barbara McVicker, has just published a book about caregiving called "Stuck In The Middle." It's full of caregiver stories and advice, and I've found it useful as I balance responsibilities with my 90-year-old mom, long-term diabetic husband and highly allergic daughter. Also, if you need an occasional laugh, I write a humor column about the challenges of balancing it all. Good luck!!

By Blogger Pat Snyder, at 8:32 PM  

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