The good news, bad news blues

The good news: Mom’s bladder infection hasn’t heated up again. In fact, the infection is totally gone.

The bad news: The doc had no idea what caused her symptoms yesterday. No idea why she spent most of the day feeling so bloody rotten.

The good news: She’s feeling pretty good again this morning. Up with the sun and ahead of me, she fed the cats (well, she fed Mouse, who is always ravenous and not even a little finicky about her food as long as she gets a generous bowlful), got her newspaper, made herself some raisin toast, made coffee and took it all back upstairs to enjoy it. Mom loves having her first cup of coffee each morning in bed while she peruses the paper. The crackly, random sound of newspaper pages turning in the still, coffee-scented morning air is one I’ve heard for as long as I can remember, going way back to babyhood. I’ve alwaysd associate it with safety, warmth and serenity. Makes me want to pour a bowl of Captain Crunch and turn on cartoons.

The bad news: I woke up with deep, fundamental, aching pain in both hip joints and down the outsides of my thighs. My first lucid thoughts involved glum acceptance of the pain and the mundane hope for the temporary, partial relief associated with swallowing a dose of pain medication.

Here’s a question: Do narcotic analgesics make you feel high while they chase your pain off to the far edge of town? They used to have that effect on me, but that was years ago. I no longer experience that floating, grin-worthy “high.” There’s no associated euphoria. Today narcotic pain pills merely move the pain back several yards so I can get on with things a little more easily.

Of course, that’s no small accomplishment. I’m deeply grateful for the relief from pain they offer, even if it’s not as dramatic and enjoyable as it used to be. But sometimes I do miss that sweet, gentle high. It was the only good thing about a bad flare.

I left Mom’s doctor’s office yesterday evening dissatisfied, still worried about her and more than a little baffled. Like most Americans, I’ve been conditioned to expect immediate results when I seek medical care for myself or my loved ones. I expect a solid diagnosis and medications or procedures that will make the problem go away, hopefully forever. And that’s in spite of knowing—first-hand, thanks to 25 years of rheumatoid arthritis—that modern medicine, as miraculous as it can be, doesn’t always have answers and an instant cure.

So this morning, while I’m pleased that Mom is feeling better again, I’m also a little bit blue. Her pacer-stimulated heart and resulting well-oxygenated brain haven’t improved her memory or cleared up her frequent confusion—at least, not so far. And it may never do so. I have to admit I was hoping it might, because as long as she remains forgetful and scattered, I can’t go home. I can’t leave her alone for more than 12 hours at a time.

And while I’m so glad I can be here to care for her, chase away her loneliness and keep her safe, I do miss my own home. I miss Mr Wren and my daughter and her fiance’. I miss my dog, Finny McCool. I long for my gardens, the sharp, chill mountain air, the sea-sound the breeze makes rustling in the tall pines, the morning songbirds and raucous cries of the Stellar’s jays, the quick little wrens in the hedgerow and the graceful Japanese maple outside the kitchen window. I miss the quiet. I miss the colors …

For now, my home remains just out of reach, except for short visits.

Of course we’ve talked about other options. But Mom won’t move up to my house or to my sister’s house in New Mexico. Both locations are far too cold for her; she’d be miserable. And anyway, her townhouse has lost so much of its value in the crashed economy that she’d have to pay more to sell it than she’d get back from the sale—assuming it would sell at all. An assisted-living situation would probably work well for her, but such places are stunningly expensive—and she refuses to consider it right now, anyway, since she feels she’s perfectly capable of living on her own. (heh) And frankly, she’s too bright, too healthy and too independent to justify the horrible, living burial of a nursing home.

And there’s the fact that I’m able to stay here with her. She needs me. She’s my mom.

I’ll be fine. This blue funk will pass. The pain pill is starting to work, so I’m thinking about running some errands, going for an hour to the gym, and maybe even going to spend half a day at my aunt and uncle’s house, rustling up a couple of weekend meals for them. As long as Mom still feels okay, I can go out for a while without worry.

I’m thinking the change of scenery, even if it’s temporary, will do me a lot of good.



4 thoughts on “The good news, bad news blues

  1. I’ve been down a bit, too, Wren. But I keep telling myself that this too shall pass. You’re right that a change of scenery always seems to do some good. It’s a beautiful day in SoCal – so hopefully that will help!

    On a side note: I’ve just started taking Norco (basically double strength vicodin) for my herniated disc. Like you, I’m not feeling any kind of “high” from – it just takes the edge off the pain enough so that I can function (or sleep). The first few days, it made me so nauseated – I couldn’t imagine why anyone would abuse this stuff. The nausea is gone, thankfully, but I still have no desire to use this any longer than absolutely necessary.


  2. I’m glad your mom is doing better. Older people are like kids — they can scare you to death one minute and be perfectly fine the next. But I am sorry about your deeper aches and pains. I’m exactly the opposite of you and Valley Writer — I get “high”, but the pain doesn’t necessarily go away. It like I still hurt, but I don’t care as much.

    Hoping your blue funk and the aches and pains pass quickly.


  3. Narcotics do nothing for me at least Tylenol 3 doesn’t and I refuse anything stronger right now. I know how you feel about getting answers and cures. I’ve now been suffering almost a year with irritable bowel syndrome so badly that I’m pretty much confined to home. I’ve had every test going and none of my doctors can offer a solution. Is it part is RA, nobody knows. Thinking af you, feel better…ciao


  4. The absence of a high is sometimes referred to as acclimation. I only get giddy if I have mis-remembered when I took my last dose and take another far too soon. That is part of why I much prefer the fentynal patch to oral opioids. I can’t make that error and I have a much more stable level of medication in my system than is possible even with optimal dosing on the pills.

    As for assisted living facilities, they really vary dramatically. My parents, who are only in their early 50s have already talked about choosing one. The right living situation can mean enough assistance that a person gets their needs met, social activities, outings and trips, and as much independence as a person wants. They are being designed for baby boomers now, and that is not a generation willing to tolerate a living death when they can have much better, my mother has commented that people in these assisted living villages live better than she does – more interesting things to do, beautiful little homes, so on.



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