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Last night I had chest pains and was scared, but I realized that I had not slept, to speak of, more than 4-5 hours any night, in days. My nervous system is totally whacked, and I just can’t seem to sleep. Too much stress–every minute.  I did manage to finally fall asleep, and stayed in bed until the afternoon. When my mom is at home, I always leave my cell phone on every minute, but for the past week or so, I decided to try and get some much needed rest while she was in the nursing home, so I turned it off, and let Rob field the calls for awhile.

When I woke up in the afternoon, and headed to the bathroom upstairs, I heard my phone ring. It was in my purse, so I fished it out, and found it to be dead. I guess it gave its last hurrah when it rang. So I searched all over to find my charger, and charged it for awhile. When it finally charged, I turned it on, and heard some frightening messages:

I received news today, that my mom was found in her nursing home room last night, rambling around, and said that she was “making copies.” She told me later that she was hallucinating, and that she saw her roommate crouched in a corner under a bookcase, and that she (my mom) was calling out to her mama, who was doing flips across the floor. She also told me that she visited a Russian skating rink. But the primary thing was that she was loaded into the nursing home bus, and taken to Birmingham for some kind of medical research or testing.

All of this caused red flags at the nursing home (no kidding), as she was still not acting right at breakfast. They sent her to the hospital for a mental status check, thinking that she may have had a stroke. I received a call from a nurse at the nursing home, as well as a male nurse in the ER. He said that they saw no evidence of a stroke, but that she had pneumonia, and would likely be admitted. But they kept her there all day, and then returned her to the nursing home. They said that she answered every question correctly, except where she was. (She thought she was in Birmingham.)

I went to the nursing home this evening (when I got the messages), and found her very sick, and looking pale and horrible. She said that she had felt as close to death as possible through that whole scenario. (It was then that I questioned her about what she went through, and she told me the things cited above.) She seemed to be alert, but confused about what she had experienced. She said that she was aware that she was hallucinating.

She was very cold, so my husband and I went to eat, and to buy her some extra blankets. While I was in Walmart, I received a call from a male nurse who had been assigned to her at the nursing home for awhile. He said that he was very concerned (even though he was not her nurse right now) that they were taking her off the Oxycontin, and that they could not just “cold turkey” her like that. He said he feared that within a week, that could precipitate a heart attack, or open her up to all kinds of things. I totally agreed with him, and said that could not be done. (She has been on it for many, many years.) He advised that if I was her advocate, that I should demand that they give her the Oxycontin, and I said that I would, and I knew that she needed to stay on it. I told him that I had been told to call Debbie, the charge nurse, in the morning about the discontinuation.

He also told me that when he heard how she had been acting, that he could not believe it, and went to see for himself what her condition was. (She had always been alert and lucid when she was in his care.)

I told him that I had been her primary caregiver for 3 years, and that I had taken her to every doctor’s visit, and knew her mental status well. I said that she does experience some momentary confusion at times, but nothing long lasting, and had never hallucinated before, so this was TOTALLY out of character for her.

Between the two of us, we suspected that it all may have been caused by a sleeping pill that was given to her last night, along with her Oxycontin. I do not know for sure if that was the first time she received it, but a nurse I talked to there (also named Betty) said that it was prescribed PRN (as needed.)

I asked them to please take her off the sleeping pill, as the combination of that with the Oxycontin, and everything else she takes may have been too much. (But I was told that they discontinued her Oxycontin, and I told her nurse that within a couple of days, she would be hurting so badly that she could not function at all without it.) She has tried to come off of it before, but didn’t make it many days at all. She takes it for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, and Fibromyalgia (but mostly for the horrible pain of rheumatoid arthritis.)

I also discussed whether she could have been experiencing a low blood sugar episode, and they said that at supper her blood sugar was 200+, but no one checked it, when they found her roaming last night at midnight. They did say it was 95 before breakfast. That is low for my mom, as anything under a 100, and she starts dropping numbers very quickly. I guess it could have been a combination of her low blood sugar and the sleeping pill. I just don’t know for sure. She has experience some confusion lately, but never to this degree, and never long lasting.

While I was talking to the male nurse (from the nursing home), he said that the doctor there had decided to try again and have her admitted, because he was still worried about her mental status, and the pneumonia. I asked where she would be admitted, and said I would meet her in the ER.

So we all spent the night in the ER waiting for her to be admitted. She does still have a bedsore, and I worry, of course, about MRSA (staph) in that hospital. They did bandage it tonight. (For those who have not been following this, she broke her right foot, and her left leg, and was placed in a nursing home about a week and a half ago for rehab.)

She was totally exhausted, and I asked them to please give her a snack, as she always had a snack to get her through the night at home, so that she would not have low blood sugar. (I don’t think that they have been giving her one at night at the nursing home, and I told the nurse this evening that she really needed the snack to ensure that her blood sugar did not go low.)

My mom’s primary physician came in while we were in the ER. He also felt that the sleeping pill, combined with the Oxycontin, may have caused the mental episode. He questioned whether she had taken a higher dose of Oxycontin anytime lately, and she said no. (She has never abused it, and only takes what she is prescribed.) I know this because I get her medicine all the time, and we have to get a new prescription every 30 days, so I know that there is always just enough to get her through the month.

He also said that the pneumonia was not a “big pneumonia” and that he wasn’t sure that she had it, but he wanted to be cautious. (I am so thankful for that, as she has a really bad sounding cough.)

She was very upset that she had to wait there all day today, and again all night to be admitted. (I don’t blame her.)

But she is very, very angry in general right now, and I don’t really know how to deal with that anymore. I don’t know the answers to any of this, and since I’ve been having chest pains, and am near a nervous breakdown myself, I took this past week off  to try to rest, but I haven’t slept hardly any. The stress of this is unbearable every moment. It has really taken a toll on my health as well, both emotional and physical.

I must say that after my initial reaction to the phone calls (which was a momentary panic), a peace came over me that I have never felt before in a crisis, and has enveloped me ever since. I know that it is God holding me up, and strengthening me, because I have been a nervous wreck for a couple of weeks (because of the tension and stress in our family.)  So I am so thankful for His presence, as without Him, I could not go another step…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

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2 Comments

  1. Lonnie , I read with great pain everything you have been going thru .Really hurts me a woman like yourself should have to endure so much !!!!! Keeping you in mt every thought & prayer. All my love , strengt , peace , courage & FAITH. These journeys are so very hard , just know i am walking beside you.
    your friend , Sandy BIG HUGS FROM THE HEART

  2. Sandy: You will never know how much it means to have you walk beside me, when I know how much you are hurting also. Your friendship is priceless, and I thank you for being there. I really, really needed your note tonight.
    Love, Lonnette (Lonnie)


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