Mom is recovering. It’s been a long slog, but because of a compassionate gastroenterologist and a caring pain doctor, she’s doing much, much better.
The tummy doc (sorry, but my term for “gastroenterologist” is not only easier to type, but I think it’s much more appealing) gave up a morning of his day off in order to discover why Mom was so dreadfully nauseated. She couldn’t eat. She couldn’t even comfortably drink water. Desperately worried and frustrated because the stomach med he’d given her was having no effect, and because the soonest the doc could do the upper GI endoscopy was a month away, I called his office and left him a message that said, “If you don’t do this now, there won’t be anything left of her to scope!” I used those very words. Mom was losing weight fast. She was so weak she could barely walk. She was disoriented and confused. She couldn’t remember from moment to moment what was wrong with her or why, only that she felt awful.
She was slowly starving to death before my eyes.
That good doctor responded to my concern by arranging for the procedure the very next day (last Friday). Fortunately, he discovered no terrible diseases. What he did find was a stomach that was producing way too much acid, and places near her esophagus and in the lining of the stomach where the acid had caused injury. He took some tissue samples for biopsy, just in case, but his diagnosis was a severely acidic tummy. He also said that the narcotic pain killer she’s been taking for the last month and a half was causing further upset in there, even though she was now taking very little of it.
His solution? A new form of strong acid-reducing medication, taken in the morning. Her recovery began the following day, as the nausea lessened and she was able to eat. She even got hungry. And now, a week later, it seems like she’s hungry all the time! She can only eat a little at a time, but she eats frequently. The change in her general health, both physical and mental, is profound.
Stomach acid. How amazing that too much of it could bring an elderly woman to the brink of starvation. And that once neutralized, her recovery could take place so quickly.
It’s a huge relief, believe me.
The sciatica, while greatly improved, was still causing her some pain. At rest it was bearable, generally no more than a dull ache. But if Mom tried to walk around for more than a couple of minutes, it would wake up and shoot pain down her right leg. She’d have to stop. Combined with the lack of water and nutrition, it was still serious. And though she didn’t take more than a tablet or two a day, she still needed the narcotic pain med.
She saw the pain doc again a few days ago. He gave her another steroid injection. She was quite sore afterward, but by the end of the following day, she felt great. Yesterday, she wanted to go out and buy some new jeans—her old ones had gotten way too big. So off we went.
She shopped for a full hour and a half before tiring. Got her new jeans. And then, hungry as a horse, directed me to Panda Express for Chinese take-home. When we got home, she ate well. She had very little sciatic pain—certainly not enough to cut her shopping short. And through it all she was mentally sharp, oriented, and totally enjoying herself.
I cannot tell you how relieved I am.
As for me? The last steroid injections a month or so ago failed again. I’m still waiting for my physical therapy appointment, during which I hope to learn exercises that might relieve the bursitis pain in my hips. That appointment was originally scheduled for last Friday, but I had to cancel it so I could get Mom to the tummy doc—far more important, at the time.
So, I have a new appointment coming up on March 7. My hips still ache constantly, but the intensity of the pain varies. Sometimes they hurt a lot, sometimes only a little. And so far, they haven’t affected my ability to move or walk. I count my blessings.
I’ve had the occasional rheuma pain in my right hip as well, though that seems to be transient. And of course, my hands are always stiff and achy. Tramadol helps though, taking the sharp edge off the pain in both my hands and my hips.
We’re having a lovely rainstorm here in Northern California today. Twenty-five miles up the mountain at my house in Camino, it’s snowing. They got about two feet of new snow up there about a week ago, and the forecast now is for about the same amount between now and tomorrow afternoon. I’ve talked with Mr. Wren, with my daughter Cary and her fiancé, Matt. They’re all doing just fine. The woodstove is blazing, they’re nice and warm, and they’re stocked up for the weekend. Shadow and Finny are having a ball playing in the snow.
I miss seeing them, and I miss the snow, but I have to admit I don’t miss having to shovel paths through it so I can carry in firewood. I’m pretty spoiled down here in the low foothills with Mom—we have central heat, no need for a wood stove and nothing more serious than a little wind and rain.
I think we can handle it.