Friday, March 25, 2011

Getting Back to My Old Normal?

One Crisis Over, Waiting for The Next

I used to say my life was like living in a lower apartment and waiting for the next shoe to drop and my upstairs neighbor had a bigger shoe obsession than Imelda Marcos (I guess you have to be my age to understand THAT joke).  One problem gets solved, three more jump up to get in line to be next.  Big Sigh!

I haven't been blogging much this month because my Mom has been taking a lot of my attention and energy.  She had her gallbladder removed laproscopically a week ago today.  Seven huge gallstones were stuck in it AND it had adhered itself by all its edges to her liver because of adhesions from her colon resection a few years ago.  One other issue solved by the operation - her constant runny nose seems to be gone.  Wonder if gallstones can make your nose run??

Mom is 81 years old, and did not bounce back from this operation very quickly.  Her blood pressure was too low for her to receive pain medication for hours after the surgery so she and I stayed the night at the hospital.  I told the nurse at about 6:30 PM that I was uncomfortable taking her home in too much pain and so far away from the hospital.  Mom was feeling better about one or two in the morning, and I was feeling worse.  I am way past the age where I can comfortably sleep on two chairs pushed together!   The Legs and The Belly and The Headache were determined to keep me awake, in addition my back needed a right angle in the middle of it to make me fit in those chairs!  I stayed with Mom, determined to keep her oriented as to where she was and what was happening, and helping with technology like call lights and cell phones.

We made it home Friday afternoon, and it took Mom until Wednesday morning to feel close to normal again.  I finally had to make her walk walk walk to get all her innards to work again.  Even with pain medication I am sure it hurt, and I hated to do it, but things were not progressing because she just wanted to sleep and not move.  After walking and drinking lots of liquids she started feeling better.  Today she was as grumpy as could be, a sure sign of improvement.  Unfortunately she was also grumpy Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday and Wednesday!!!  But grumpy is improving both in the frequency of the complaints and the substance of what she is complaining about, so I am glad she is grumpy.  Next week we return to see the surgeon and then on another day go to see the vascular surgeon about the aortic aneurysm.

More ill health has hit members of the family since I last wrote.  We have absolutely no luck in health related issues.  I am wishing the tide is turning and better health and more energy are coming our way!

I saw my PCP today, and he is increasing my fentanyl patch from 12 mcg/hr to 25 mcg/hr.  This is because I am still having significant pelvic, leg, lower back, and abdominal pain not to mention break through pain from The Headache.  I was asked what parts of my body are working OK, and I put my hands at my eyebrow level and said from here up I'm at 100%, everything else is toast.  Got a laugh but I really wasn't kidding!

I was able to wander into work today, and actually felt useful.  I was able to help several co-workers with some problems and work with a client on what they need to do to set up and bill for new services at their location.  Healthcare is never easy.  Something you would think is simple is extremely complicated, and something normally complicated in any other type of business is generally almost insurmountably terrible and mixed up with state and federal regulations that are unbelievable. 

Other countries do not have this hopelessly convoluted system we have developed here in order to capture cost and get reimbursement for services.  I don't think healthcare reform will ever touch this either, as there are entire industries devoted to special areas of healthcare management and reimbursement.  I guess its good that my company is very flexible - an advantage to being small, it is very nimble and able to make large changes very quickly.  It is one of the things I truly love about how they/we work!

Thinking of work, I am praying that the increased duragesic (fentanyl) dosage will allow me more pain free hours and increased functionality.  My PCP said today what I had already figured out - pain relief is not going to change the physical problems like weakness and leg cramps and foot cramps (I didn't know how far my feet could curl downwards until I started having these about a year ago - OUCH!) and inability to stand/walk for long distances or periods of times.  Big Sigh again.

I go on April 9th to see Dr. House at Washington University in St. Louis to see if there is any unknown metabolic or other bizarre lurking illness to blame for my leg problems.  I told my PCP I am not quite sure what I am going to see Dr. House for because all I can get is bad news or worse news, there is no possiblity left in my mind for good news.  Just another shoe dropping from my overhead neighbor to anticipate!

Hoping you have all had good days since I last looked.  I will try to get caught up on my reading in the next couple of days - I feel so disconnected.  I have just not had the energy or the will to do much in the last week.  Hoping for better things next week and the week after!


  1. Wow dear you must be exhausted. Thought about you and your mum while you were absent. Glad positive news you had to report. Your mum sounds very resilient. Hoping you will be able to have those more pain free hours in order to function at work much better.

    Glad for your return Winny. You were missed!

    Blessings to you both!

  2. Missed ya too JBR! I'm about as resiliant as a half flat basketball, but Mom has bounced back suprisingly well!!!

  3. Don't fight your boss's offer to work from home if that's still a possibility. It may give you the chance to save yourself physically while still doing what you love. I'm happy to hear from you but I figured taking care of your mom was taking a lot out of you both. I'm excited for the 9th. I think answers are a good thing and going into it with a positive attitude like you do can only be good as well.

  4. Wow, sounds like you have really had your hands full - even more than usual. I'm glad to hear that your mom is getting better, even if the progress has been slowish. Good luck with all the upcoming appointments.

  5. DEJ: I still can work from home, but with GRUMPY there it has been nice to get out and interact at work. Her patience is frazzled and mine is definitely at its limit! :) I did buy a better quality headphone/microphone and a web camera for Skyping for work!!! WooHoo - love new toys!

    Migrainista: Thanks - I'm thinking of staying overnight in St. Louis and maybe doing something fun when going to see Dr. House. Used to go there quite frequently when I worked for the Big Bad Corporation Health Insurance company.

  6. I missed you!

    Glad mom is improving. Does she have an aortic aneurysm???

  7. So glad to see a update! I too figured you were taking cars of your Mom. Glad she is feeling better. I know it's hard on you dealing with grumpiness. That's hard!
    I have surgery on Wednesday and not looking forward to it. 3 surgeries in a yr. UGH!!!I hope the increase in the fentanyl helps. I imagine you will be more sleepy. Uping mine usually makes me that way.
    Have a great weekend!!!

    God Bless~

  8. Jessica: The nurse described it as a triple A aneurysim - I am guessing Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. It has grown to 4.5 cm long and is getting wider, so it's time to have it monitored by a vascular surgeon. I was told that most often they don't do any repairs until it reaches 5 cm??

    Debbie Jean: Hoping the surgery makes you feel better after the recovery period. 3 surgeries is a lot for your body to handle in one year. I am more sleepy from the increased fentanyl. So far so good tho. My doc says this is generally his starting dose for people, but I have had so many issues with meds we started as low as possible and are creeping upwards! You will be in my prayers next Wednesday my internet twin!!! Wanting great outcomes!

  9. Do not wait! Go immediately to have her checked.

    Not to scare you...but if that ruptures, there is NO treatment. One of my laboring mother's had a dissecting aortic aneurysm & died instantly, regardless of the 3 hrs we coded her. Luckily we were able to cut the baby out in time and she survived. It was devastating...and a complete fluke. No one knew she had an aneurysm until autopsy.

  10. Jessica: Thanks!! We see the vascular surgeon this Thursday. Mom wouldn't let them admit her when we were at the ER earlier this month. The ER doc told her how serious it was, but she just wanted to "go home and sleep in her own bed". I am afraid she just does not understand how bad it can be so this is as quick as we can get her in w/o a direct admit. The gallbladder was urgent becuase her liver enzymes were not good, so hopefully we will get to the doctor on Thursday without her refusing to go!!!

    Thanks JBR!