As I headed to my office, I went through my mental checklists. I was grateful that the weather was clear, even if it was frigid. I would go home around noon, and pick up Mom’s fur for her to wear so she would be comfy going to see the retina specialist this afternoon.
My phone rang; it was Jane*, the head nurse at Mom’s home. Mom had fallen and bumped her head. She didn’t seem badly injured, but she said her head hurt.
“Please send her to the ER. I’ll meet her there.”
I went to my office, rescheduled my morning phone conference, touched base with colleagues, cancelled Mom’s appointment with the retina doctor and headed to the hospital.
Mom was there, having her blood drawn. I asked the nurse if a urinalysis was done.
It was on the list. Could Mom use a bed pan?
Good question. Her capabilities have been on the decline, but I thought we should try. A catheter isn’t fun.
The nurse helped Mom roll onto a bed pan. I talked to her and tried to get her to pee. She amiably jabbered to me. She was glad to see her big sister (she often confuses me, her child, with her older sister who passed in 2003).
After a time, we asked Mom if she was able to pee.
“My husband is frannish.”
I looked at the nurse and said, “Hey, I was wondering, do you think maybe she has dementia?”
She laughed and rolled Mom off the pan. No pee. A straight catheter would be employed.
The procedure was professionally administered but tough to witness.
The tests were all done pretty quickly; CAT scan, EKG, blood, urine. Then we waited. And waited.
Mom got antsy. She kicked off her blankets and wanted to get up. Her eyes were glassy. She pointed to people and critters I couldn’t see.
I got hungry, made sure the nurses knew I was stepping away and made my way to the café. I bought two cups of chicken soup and a pannini. I went back to Mom’s room and found a table so she could eat the soup without wearing too much of it. She ate well.
Finally, after about four hours, the doctor on call came in. Mom had another UTI. Nothing broken, no other concerns. So she would get Bactrim and a ride home.
I thought about taking her home myself, but aside from the fact that she had no coat, she was not mobile. She couldn’t go to the bathroom without two strong helpers. She was like a 170 pound infant.
Once I got transportation arranged, Mom sat in a wheelchair, donning hospital gown, diaper and hospital socks (she had peed on her own socks and I gave the nurse permission to toss the soiled ones). I kissed her good-bye, and she giggled, pointing to her feet. “Look, he’s licking my toes!”
I’m so glad her hallucinations are happy ones!
I went to Mom’s home, dropped off the prescription and release orders with Jane, and comforted Mom’s girlfriend. Jenny* loves my Mom and always hugs me when I visit. She seems so lucid, until you chat for more than a few minutes. I reassured her that Mom was fine and coming back. For now.
My concern is that with Mom’s history, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out when she’s having a UTI, and I may have to move her to a place that’s more observant and proactive. I have a friend who’s a geriatric care manager, who knows and loves my mother, and has other places I can consider. Next week, we resume exploring options.
Meanwhile, I’ve made sure Mom gets her meds and physical therapy. Her active imagination should take care of the rest.
*Not their real names.