RheumaBlog

Same dragon, different day.

Mom is home, discharged yesterday afternoon from the hospital with instructions to see her GP by the end of this week and her new cardiologist next week.

While no cause for the nausea or the slow heartbeat has so far been found (except for advancing age), she’s feeling a hundred percent better: the miserable sick stomach is gone. The slow pulse? Well, since she’s not wearing a heart monitor, I don’t know. I’m guessing it’s not; that it continues to drop into the basement periodically and then climb back up. Mom has a treadmill stress test coming up soon because of that scary pattern. Maybe it will uncover some clues. In the meantime, it seems that the whispers about an impending pacemaker were just that: whispers. We’ll wait and see.

So, she’s feeling good, if a bit weak from three full days and nights down, half of the time spent without nutrition and water (she wouldn’t take either). They rehydrated her intravenously at the hospital. Here at home again, she ate well today, and she’s reluctantly promised me she won’t climb or descend the stairs without telling me so I can be on hand. Just in case. Naturally, she thinks I’m being annoyingly overcautious. “I’m just fine, you know!” I smile and reiterate how much easier it’ll be for her to go along with me than it will to recover from a broken hip—or neck—should she become suddenly dizzy and take a header down the stairs.

It’s odd, this subtle flip-flop of the parent-child relationship.  Neither of us is comfortable with it, yet there it is. I find myself taking huge pains to be respectful, couching my words in gentleness and lacing them with humor. When she responds with a sarcastic “Yes, Boss,” I bite my lip and take a deep breath, trying not to let it hurt, to let it go, to remember how hard it is for her to relinquish tight control over her life. After all, it would (and perhaps will, one day) be equally hard for me.

And I know that often, she’s honestly puzzled by my concern. She was talking on the phone to her brother in Washington, DC today, and told him that I made her go to the hospital because of her sick stomach, and they made her stay. Then her stomach got better so they let her go—and she wasn’t sure why a stay in the hospital had been necessary in the first place. After all, she’d had a tricky tummy all her life…

I couldn’t help but overhear this astonishing conversation, so I said, “Mom, they admitted you because your heart was beating too slow, not because your stomach was sick.”

“Oh,  yes!” she laughed. “My heart! That’s right…” and she told him a truncated version of the Rest of the Story.

Did I say OMG?

I didn’t have much discomfort during the day today, and no outright pain from either the RA or the bursitis. It was rather nice. Tonight, though, the RA dragon is gnawing playfully at my fingers, thumbs, and my great toe on my right foot. He’s not biting down hard. Instead, he’s just giving me a prolonged sample of what he’s capable of should I get too complacent. I wish there was a way to tell him that I’m not.  In fact, I’m too often just the opposite of complacent—I’m anxious.

In a too-calm way, though. I try hard not to worry, to keep myself upbeat and positive. I try not to think too much about my rheuma and the insidious damage it’s doing in my body. But I’m not complacent.

Enough. It’s time to call it a day. Thanks for dropping by.

13 thoughts on “Like nothing happened at all…

  1. Polly says:

    Anxious in a too calm way? That’s … erm … complicated. 🙂

    REALLY glad your mum’s feeling better though! I hope the cardiology appointment goes well and is helpful.

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    1. Wren says:

      Perhaps the phrase “forced calm” would work better, Polly. You’re familiar with it, I’m sure–that small voice in the back of the mind that says “Oh, just cool it! You’re doing everything you can to make the damned RA stay mild-ish. Worrying won’t help. Um… Be Calm and Carry On.” I acknowledge the voice even as I notice, with quick attention, the sudden sharp twinge in my knee or my toe or my thumb, the one that suggests a possible oncoming flare of awful proportions…

      I think I need a day off. Hugs for you, Polly. 😉

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  2. Jules says:

    I just want you to know that I am reading each of your blog posts and your devotion to your mom is so inspiring. I am “taking notes” for when I have to care for my parents because you are doing a beautiful job.

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    1. Wren says:

      Thank you, Jules. Caring for an elderly parent is both similar to and totally different to caring for a small child. In some ways it’s very much easier–Mom is, after all, not disabled and, for the most part, mentally sharp. But it’s much harder, too, in less obvious ways. As her child I was conditioned from birth to obey her and defer to her superior judgement and wisdom. Today, that conditioning holds sway just when I need to disregard it and assert myself. We’re both adults now, but each of us is struggling a bit to fit the new roles we find ourselves playing.

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  3. carlascorner says:

    I am glad your mother is feeling better, but I understand your concern about whether things are really alright. Hopefully her upcoming medical visits will be able to shed some more light on the situation. Please be good to yourself. Sometimes when we’re taking care of others it’s hard to remember to take care of ourselves. Hugs.

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    1. Wren says:

      I’m doing my best to take care of myself, too, Carla. The rheuma and bursitis both act as “governors” for me, not allowing me to over-do too much before forcing me to slow down or stop. Thanks for your kindness and concern.

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  4. It will be a roller coaster ride…your Mom’s health that is. I am not saying this to make you worried or frustrated just a heads up to what lies ahead. I am not sure if it is an aging thing, the inability of our doctors to “get it” diagnosed and fixed, or maybe because we as a society expect everything to be fixed now. And most of all, do take some me time for yourself. Can you get in someone to give you a day away from Mom every once in awhile. Heck, I bet she would enjoy a change of pace also 🙂 You are truly a kind soul.

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    1. Wren says:

      Thanks for the kind advice and the sweet compliment, Deb. I actually HAVE been thinking of taking a couple of de-frag days pretty soon. Mom will probably enjoy getting me out of her hair, too. I do realize that these last nine months have been only the start of my journey as Mom’s caretaker. While it is often frustrating–I want her to feel better and get back to her “old self”–I do realize that when dealing with the problems and illnesses of the elderly, such an outcome might not be possible. Instead, we just have to be patient and stay focused on the gifts that come our way today.

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  5. rouchswalwe says:

    Oh, meine liebe Zaunkönigen! This roller coaster ride is exhausting. With my Mama, I would put myself in a “helpless” condition from time to time, just to make her feel that she could still take care of me even though we both knew the roles were changing. Little things. Like “Mama, how long do I have to stir this?” Then I would get, “ei jei jei, du brauchst die alte Mutter doch noch!” And we’d smile at each other. Worked wonders some days. I’m thinking of you both!

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    1. Wren says:

      What a wonderful suggestion, Rouchwalwe! Thank you so very much! Mom often tells me she feels guilty because I do so much for her, but of course to me, doing things like dishing up her dinner and bringing it to her, where she’s comfortable and warm on the sofa, watching her favorite show, is easy. But you’re right. We all need to be needed, and that’s particularly true right now, as Mom and I find our roles flip-flopping.
      Take care, my friend. I can’t wait to hear about how your most recent brew turns out.

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  6. Chelsea says:

    It’s not a holter monitor, but you can try one of those sports monitors that tracks heart rate and pulse. Perhaps GP or cardio guy will order a holter monitor.

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    1. Wren says:

      Hi Chelsea! Mom has an appointment with the cardiologist (she says he looks like he’s about 14, but has four kids!) next week. Gossip is that he’ll put her on a monitor for a while, and then decide if anything needs to be done about the slow heartbeat. A sports monitor would probably work, too, but frankly I don’t know if I want to watch as her heartrate dips into the low 30s and back up to the high 40s over and over… Scary. Since they sent her home from the hospital, I’m guessing she’s not in any immediate danger, but jeez.
      Thanks for the suggestion. Hope all is well with you.

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  7. Terry says:

    Wren, I would be ok with her thinking I was overcautious, stairs are dangerous. My wife’s grandfather fell yesterday, thankfully not down the stairs. I am seeing my parents starting to slip some towards the flip-flop that you speak of and it bothers me. They have been so strong and so self sufficient all of my life. Glad you can enjoy a day here and there without much pain. I wish you many more days like that my friend.

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