The Emergency Room…again
When my Mom’s loss of memory slid from early to middle stage Alzheimer’s, I still did not recognize the symptoms but assumed most of her symptoms were little more than aging.
Mom’s only physical ailments were ugly stomach aches. Bouts of colic plagued Mom as often as any newborn baby.
Mom would call her neighbor… who would call an ambulance… and off she would go to the hospital emergency room.
Despite my pleas to call me first, since I knew chicken soup often soothed Mom’s stomach better than any hospital visit, they would not listen.
==> The Hospital is exciting <==
Both Mom and her neighbor preferred the big, shiny red ambulance with lights flashing and horn sounding. I’m ashamed to admit now, but those Hospital Emergency Room visits became a dreaded ordeal for me. I worked from home, so my time was flexible, but I already pushed business aside 3 days a week to care for Mom. And an one of these unproductive emergency room visits could easily consume a 12-hour day. And every visit became the same scenario!
By the time I arrived, the pain had subsided and a frustrated mother would greet me. She couldn’t couldn’t remember where she was…or why. All she wanted was to go home.
==> Keeping my Mom in a hospital bed, and modestly under a sheet could become near impossible <==
Pain or not, Mom got a twelve hour IV while I filled forms, waited for interns, and did my best to keep Mom calm and in the bed without too many threats to strap her down.
After the first 5 minutes, Mom had no memory of a stomach no matter how many times I reminded her. While I told the doctor of symptoms Mom objected and let him know she felt perfectly fine. Occasionally, I thought my mother had lost her mind.
==> I didn’t know much about Alzheimer’s yet <==
After months of the same scenario playing itself out time and time again, accompanied by MRI’s and X-rays and tests and weekly visits to her family doctor, the emergency room was a disastrous waste of time in my book. On one hand, I thought Mom might be enjoying the attention, but on the other hand– who knew what medical mystery might be lurking inside her belly. It was a quandary–for sure.
The medical mystery was finally solved during Mom’s last visit to the emergency room. I’d had some business to tend before heading to the hospital so Mom had already been there a couple hours before I arrived. The nurses were not pleased to deal with her loud language and angry outbursts, crying out to be dismissed and allowed to walk away from the hospital alone.
I could hear their threats of physical restraint as I hurried down the hall to her room. In the past, I’d been able soothe her anger by reassurance that we’d leave soon. But I knew she surely felt totally alone on this day.
I entered the room just as a tall, scowling physician arrived. He scanned the clipboard at the foot of Mom’s bed, nodded in my general direction, and then gave quick orders to remove the IV and allow Mom to get dressed so we could leave.
Absent any bed-side manner, he turned to me and said, “You know, you can’t allow her to keep calling an ambulance every time she gets hungry.”
My jaw dropped as I took a step backwards. I was startled by his abrupt manner before I could respond. “My Mom has Alzheimer’s. We’ve been trying to have her stomach pain diagnosed for months. I never thought—“
“It’s hunger,” he said matter of factly. “She doesn’t remember whether she ate or not, so she doesn’t eat at all.” He nodded toward Mom. “She needs better supervision.” His white jacket flapped as he strode out the door with a grim shake of his head.
==> That was our last emergency room visit and the beginning of my education about Alzheimer’s <==
Mom’s oldest great-grandson was about to attend school near her home and had been looking for a place to stay. Now, it was settled, he moved in with Mom and made sure she ate 3 meals a day. It was a good situation all around, we thought. He had room and board and Mom was no longer alone with Alzheimer’s.
Besides the presence of Mom’s grandson, we also changed the way food was displayed in her home. We added a fruit bowl to the dining room table (Mom loved fruit), ready-made rice dishes, chopped fruits and salads and veggies—all in the fridge. We also loaded the refrigerator with Food and Nutritious drinks. Mom could eat for a month and never light an oven or wash a pan. We learned that If she could see food, in the fridge or on the counter or anywhere in plain sight, she would eat.
==> Keep healthy food in plain sight and ready to eat <==
Later on, it can become quite difficult to get the person with Alzheimer’s to eat.
Rice-A-Roni Creamy Four CheeseRice-A-Roni Chicken Rice CupEnsure Original Nutrition ShakeBoost Original Chocolate Ready To DrinkPacific Coast Classic Dried Fruit Tray GiftOrchard Favorites Fruit Basket GiftDel Monte Lite Fruit Cups Variety – 24/4 oz.