Monday, April 15, 2013


...I C U.

Just about the time I put up yesterdays' post, I got a call from my mom.  She complained of being short of breath.  We had just rented and started watching 'Lincoln.'  I confess that this made me want to pretend she was fine, just fine.

"Take a couple of extra Lasix and call me back in half an hour if you don't pee."

I mean, seriously.  I just spent the entire day with her, packing and moving stuff and balancing her checkbook.  I have her dirty dishes filling my dishwasher.  I'm tired, I've had a frozen rum cream with pineapple juice and there are brownies in the oven.  And 'Lincoln,' dammit.

Five minutes later I get a call from my sister-in-law on my mom's phone, asking for clarification of instructions.  It seems that mom was unable to open her pill bottle for the extra pills.  And maybe she's not having THAT much trouble breathing.

Half an hour later she calls.  She's produced some urine but she's still SOB (it's a medical abbreviation, okay?).  I tell her to give it another twenty minutes and try to concentrate on Mary Todd Lincoln.  Sally Field doesn't have to work too  hard to get that accent right, right?

Twenty minutes and one brownie later she calls, no better.  Or maybe better.  She can't tell.  I finally give up and tell her to get ready for me to pick her up and go to the ER.  When I was 2/3 of the way there she called to tell me not to come, she's okay really. 

When I got there she was breathing between words.  She was clearly not breathing great when I was there earlier, but this is definitely worse.  While she's struggling to stuff her swollen feet into a pair of clogs, I glance at her pill sorter.  The morning's pills are still in there.  And I know for sure I called her to remind her to take them because I also told her that I was coming over.  I just didn't think to confirm while I was there earlier that she had actually TAKEN them.  A quick glance at last weeks' pill sorter showed that she had missed five of fourteen doses.  And I call her twice a day.  Every day.

The ER waiting room was jammed.  We skipped to the front of the line.  A blood pressure of 229/89 with an oxygen saturation of only 73% (we're working on a 70 - 100 scale here folks) really gets folks hopping.  We arrived at 10 and by 11:30 she was officially admitted and awaiting a bed in the ICU. 

When we arrived in the ICU I pulled the 'do-you-know-who-I-am' card and refused to leave, explaining that she has dementia and that if they want the real story they'd better keep me nearby.  Wouldn't you know that THIS would be the time that Mom knows the correct date and day of the week?  I'm not sure that I knew these things for sure at that point since it was nearly 3 AM. 

I arrived home after 4 AM, and my first patient is at 8.  I guess I'd best get moving.  And given that I have something going on every evening this week, I guess I'm not going to finish watching 'Lincoln.'



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