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When I finally went to bed last night, it was with the intention of “sleeping till the cows come home.” But it turns out that the cows came home way too early for me to get much rest.

I received a call from the nursing home, and could not quite wake up enough to answer it. But I quickly listened to the message. It was from a name that I didn’t recognize, but she said that my mom had new doctor’s orders, and that all her pain medicines had been DCed (discontinued.) I wasn’t really worried about the additional pain meds that she had received since her hip surgery, but I was worried if that included her Oxycontin. Rubbing my eyes, and dragging myself out of bed once again, I tried to come out of my sleep fog, and deal with the current crisis. (There seems to be at least one a day lately.)

So I quickly called her back and said, “I got your message. Has the Oxycontin also been discontinued?” She answered, “As a matter of fact, she (the doctor) did order that discontinued also.” It took less than a second to blurt out, “You can’t do that. My mom has been on Oxycontin for years, and you cannot just cold turkey her on it. She is 78 years old, and one of the nurses there told me (another time that they tried to do this) that she could have a heart attack, and all sorts of withdrawal problems.  She’s already had her dosage cut in half from 40 mg. twice a day to 20 mg. twice a day. She needs it for pain management, and she’ll need it to function when she gets out of there.”

There was complete silence on the line, and then, “I’ll have to call the doctor.”

I said, “I thank you very much for calling me about this change, but if the doctor’s orders are still the same, then I need to talk to the doctor, because I am afraid of what will happen to her.”

She said that she would call me back. I waited all day and never received a call. Meanwhile, I went online, and read the horrifying effects of trying to come off Oxycontin, and the even worse effects of trying to come off of it cold turkey. One person said that you had better plan to stay on it until you died (if you took it long term) because you would wish you were dead, if you tried to come off of it sooner. (I knew that my mom’s physical condition could not sustain withdrawal. She has already had 2 heart attacks.) 

Sometimes I feel like one little girl against the world, but I am determined to be the best advocate that I can for my mom, and I will not back down when her health and emotional well being are at risk. I called Rob, my husband, who is a lawyer, and he said that if I didn’t hear anything today, that we would go together tomorrow, and find out how to reach the nursing home doctor. She would have to back down on this one.

He had planned to go by the nursing home today, to take my mom’s freshly washed clothes, and while he was there, he ran into my favorite nurse (who just happened to be working our end of the hall that shift. Just happened,  that is, by the grace of God.) Rob explained the situation, and the nurse agreed that Betty should not come off the Oxycontin, and that the risks were great for her, after being on it for so many years. The nurse suggested that we write out her whole history, and the conditions that she was taking the Oxycontin for. These include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and diabetic neuropathy. (Not to mention a now broken right foot, left leg, and right hip.) Her own primary doctor made no changes to the dosage, when my mom’s previous doctor took a job somewhere else. The doctor that my mom sees now, knows that she needs it for pain management. She has never  abused it, and desperately needs it, to be able to function, with all the pain she has from all these conditions.

And to take a 78 year old woman, who has just been through major surgery, and cold turkey her on a very strong opiate narcotic, is insane! Rob told the nurse (the one we like) that we would take responsibility for any effects of her going back on the Oxycontin, but if anything happened because they took her off of it, we would sue the doctor. Bravo!

Rob then called me, to tell me that I needed to write a complete history of her use, and need of Oxycontin. (It’s so funny–this day did not go at all like I had hoped. I had hoped to get some sleep, and then to try and straighten my living room. (My entire house is in shambles, from all the craziness of my schedule-running everywhere, and never at home.) I’m having to reclaim it one room at a time. But it will be there tomorrow, and tomorrow… But this situation was my greatest priority, so I headed to the computer.

About that time, my cell rang. A voice said, “Hi, this is….. (protecting identity.) The Miracle Worker.”

I laughed and said, “Hi, how are you? What did you do?”

It turns out the nurse had a little chat with the doctor, being very careful to observe protocol, and explaining things, in a way that the doctor would receive it. After a brief discussion (which I was not told the content of) the doctor said to this nurse, “What would you do?”

The nurse said, “I’d put her back on the amount of Oxycontin that she normally takes. Because on the reduced amount she’s been on, she has breakthrough pain in her hip and leg. This way she may not.”

Can you believe the doctor agreed to do it? God is Good!!!! The nurse also told me, that if there is any breakthrough pain, there is a fast acting Oxycontin, that is out of your system in 1 to 2 hours, that could be used. And she can also have Motrin.

We were told that Betty’s liver enzymes are elevated, and the nurse said that is not something that Oxy does. We all suspect that it is the Loritab they’ve had her on, which is hydrocodone and Tylenol. Tylenol is fast becoming worrisome, because of its effects on the liver, particularly in a case like my mom’s, where they have been giving so much of it to her. I can only hope and pray that they have not damaged her liver with it.  

I said to the nurse, “You are a Miracle Worker! We’ve been trying to get that Oxycontin back to the correct level forever, and they just ignore our pleas.”

This amazing nurse is going on vacation in 2 or 3 days. Upon hearing this I asked, “How long will you be gone? We need you!”

The answer was, “Just a week.”

Then I thanked the nurse from the bottom of my heart, and said that I hoped that the vacation was wonderful! This has not been the first time that this nurse has saved the day for us (or tried to.) There are truly still some really nice people in this world, (along with the jerks.) God places them where we need them, and His favor is a sign of His ever present care and love. 

Life is, without a doubt, a constant spiritual battle. Good against evil– plain and simple. And it is absolutely a fight to the finish. But the darkness never fully prevails, because of the Light that overcomes it. Thank you Lord, for the miracle You performed today through this nurse. I praise You, and love You for Your constant faithfulness and protection for my family and friends.

You are my strength and shield, my glory, and the lifter of my head. You Are Forever Faithful…How Great You Are…

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, love you . Strength, Faith, Peace & Hope. My only problem is i just wish more people understood the pain, I give up .They will never ever comprehend the pain & i guess I dont expect it any longer. I will travel this journey with my grieving friends & Faith in GOD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    LOVE , YOUR FRIEND ,
    SANDY

  2. Thank you Sandy, for your love and continued support. You are a blessing to me always, and I truly value your friendship and kindness. Hugs-Lonnette


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