Friday, January 27, 2006

Mom is now ensconced back in her own home. She spent a stressfull night and day with us after her release from the hospital. She'd feel OK for a while, then start having pains and bloating again which would sent her into near-panic mode. That night she had leg cramps which nearly sent her into a tizzy. Neither Hubby nor or worried over that - the hospital had given her potassium supplementation and said that her electrolytes were out of whack when she went in. We've been encouraging her to eat bananas, as has the nurse.

She's been set up with a home health nurse who is checking on her daily or every couple of days, much to our relief. My only issue with that is that the nurse told her to use hand sanitizer after bowel movements instead of washing. I'm no medical professional, but my understanding is that a good hand-scrubbing with soap is the best way to clean them. I suggested she could both wash her hands and use the sanitizer, and Hubby mentioned that if she should get fecal matter on her hands, just rubbing sanitizer on them wouldn't necessarily remove it.

The nurse also got her wound up about some nasty intestinal bug she could have picked up while admitted. Mom kept telling us if we started having diarrhea, to go immediately to the doctor. I tried to explain that Hubby had it last week BEFORE she even went to hospital and I came down with it a couple days after she went in, but we're pretty sure it has nothing to do with the hospital. She kept insisting I go to the doctor. I finally got her to leave it alone when I told her I'd go if the bug didn't pass in a reasonable amount of time (which I'd do anyway).

She got into it with Hubby again, convinced he was being mean to her, when he was just asking her not to mess around with stuff in our house. Granted, she was trying to help by doing a chore, but ended up putting dirty dishes into the clean dishes, so we ran them all again. It wasn't a big deal, but we've asked her many times not to do chores because silly little things always happen that end up making more work for us. Hubby later had to go back to her house after dropping her off, because she insisted on taking one of her medicines before leaving, then left the whole bag of her 10+ daily meds on our counter. Round trip to and from her house is roughly an hour, so Hubby had no evening to relax.

She made up with Hubby and said she does love him. I'm sure in another month or 6 she'll be back to disliking him again, so whatever.

Meanwhile, I'm just trying to hold it together. And not get trapped into any conversations with Mom.

Peanut is a joy. He seems to be better adjusted to his new room at daycare. Monday and Tuesday nights were rough because he was overtired and cranky. The past couple days have been much better and he's been able to take a little snooze during the car ride home. He has decided that Gerber Puffs are passe and now would rather have the fruit snacks. He drops the Puffs one by one off his tray (down to the eagerly awaiting dog). He does it was a dramatic toss of the arm which always makes me smile.

Nights are still hit or miss. He ends up in bed with us more often than not, but I think we have weaned him off the 5 am bottle. He gets breakfast around 6:15 on weekdays now. Since he's no longer a "baby" we are responsible for giving breakfast before dropping him off. :rollyeyes:

He's been discovering lots of mischief to get into: the TV power button, beating on the hall nightlight with a spoon (then having a full-on tantrums when I tried to redirect him 3 or 30 times), yanking on the kitchen cabinets and discovering the one which doesn't yet have a baby lock (damn odd cabinet door).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The good news: Mom’s biopsy came back benign. Yay!

The bad news: She was admitted to the hospital the day following her surgery. I brought her some groceries that afternoon and she seemed OK, although still out of it. On my way home, with Peanut in the car, I received a call from the gastroenterologist’s office: take Mom to the ER. She was in severe abdominal pain and was having mucousy, bloody bowel movements.

I wrangled Hubby into picking up Mom, met them at the ER, and Hubby took Peanut home…we don’t like having Peanut in the ER: way to many nasty germs floating around. Finally, after about 3 hours, they were able to take Mom into the back. By that point she was convinced she was dying, her pain a 10. They took abdominal X-rays, gave her some pain meds and were getting ready to do another tube down the throat to check for blood in her stomach when I finally left around 10:30. She was admitted later that night and wasn’t released until yesterday.

The gastroenterologist saw her once while she was in the hospital, for all of maybe 10 minutes. Her primary care physician at least had the courtesy to check on her daily and got her started on antibiotics as well and left her with prescriptions for more antibiotics, pain killers, and something to relax the intestines.

No one knows what’s causing the pain. Mom still is very uncomfortable, has a headache, which she’s had since being admitted to the hospital, and has diarrhea. Obviously, something is still wrong. She has a follow-up appointment with the primary care doctor on Friday and a home health nurse is supposed to contact her today and possible visit. Thank God for medicare which will cover the visiting nurse. One small benefit.

I have no idea what to do anymore. I’ve been encouraging Mom to get in touch with her old gastroenterologist, who is a good doctor, but semi-retired and does not accept Medicaid (mom has both Medicare and Medicaid), but who may be willing to adjust his charges to help her. The only reason she ended up with the crappy GI doc is because he’s in the same clinic as the primary care doc, and they like their patients to use in-house specialists.

I feel ready to snap. I’ve been fighting the GI bug Hubby had last week…have had the trots since Monday. Peanut’s had a couple of rough nights, although last night was a good one, once he fell asleep, thankfully. I’m tired, feeling off, and beyond stressed over dealing with Mom.

Mom is as difficult as ever. She’s frightened and depressed. When she has a spell of feeling better (like last night around dinnertime), she starts getting ornery again. Started in with Hubby over the knife he used to slice the dinner. Later, after a phone call with my aunt, she started in about her. I don’t want to hear it any more. She complains nonstop. If it’s not her ails & ills, it’s Hubby, my aunt, the neighbor, medical staff, whoever. Nothing positive. Ever. If I say Peanut had a rough night, she immediately goes on about how he’s probably coming down with something. If I say work is busy, she gets all whiney and says how soooooorry she is I have such a bad job. If she can’t hear the medical staff and they have to repeat questions, she goes on about how rude they are. Or that they wear too much perfume. Or their incompetence. Yesterday, her neighbor stopped by to check on her and she had nothing nice to say about that. I really wonder if she’s beginning to lose reality.

She’s also going on again about not living alone. I agree she shouldn’t, but don’t know the answer. Her therapist has suggested living in a private group home. It may work – she’d be in a private care-giver’s home with 3-8 other adults. However, I’m sure she’d have to share a bedroom and I think it would drive her crazy. I don’t know if it’s something she can afford, even if she sells her mobile home. And once her home is gone, it’s gone for good. There won’t be money to buy another one. The therapist gave a state website to try, so I’ll follow-up on it.

I’m exhausted from being caught up in her drama. This month it’s the GI thing. Next month it’ll be something else…

Friday, January 13, 2006

I’ve been alternating between pissy and mopey for the past week. To help improve my mental state, I was going to post links to a couple a favorite sites. That was until talking with my mom last night.

I’ve been fairly unsympathetic to her about her physical ailments in the recent months. Most of the things turn out to be fairly minor, although often painful. I know I should have been kinder, but I got so worn out from the whole “Boy Who Cried Wolf” scenario; Mom jumping from one crisis to the next and things always turning out OK in the end.

But last night was the big one. The inevitable one. I figured it would eventually be her heart, given the blood pressure and cholesterol issues, and our family history. I was wrong. She went in yesterday for an upper GI X-ray. She’s had stomach and abdominal pain on and off for about a year now. It started around the time she had shingles and at first thought it was related to that. She started passing blood in her stools sometime more recently. I figured it was an ulcer, given her history of GI problems. I was wrong. It’s a mass in her stomach. Most likely it’s cancer. And I think I’m being optimistic saying “most likely”. I didn’t ask exactly what the radiologist said, but he was pretty straightforward with her and it doesn’t sound like he was doubtful. She goes in next week for a scoping (endoscopy?) of her stomach and a biopsy of the growth. She also convinced the doctor to check her small intestine at the same time. She may (Definitely? Maybe?) need stomach surgery to remove the thing. Right now we don’t know where this will go. It’s all resting on the outcome of the scope/biopsy.

I think I’m in shock/denial right now. I’m feeling numb. I talked to my boss quickly about it this morning, just to let him know that next week’s procedure will involve more than we originally thought.

Also depending on the outcome, Mom and I are considering hiring a malpractice attorney. She’s had stomach pain on and off for a year and only recently did the doctor order the tests. And that was AFTER she went to the ER with abdominal pain (due to a kidney infection) accompanied with bloody stools. And the “earliest” they could get her in for testing was about 3 weeks after the ER visit. Yeah, she’s been having bloody stools for a month now…apparently with no hurry from the doctor to get it tested.

I am fed up with piss poor medical care. I think specialty care, such as oncology, and certain ailments more common with the elderly is fairly good here (I pray the oncology care is good), but general medicine and mental health care in this area are shit. She has been so through much to get the much-needed mental health care she requires and it’s still lacking. She switched to a new internist shortly before she came down with shingles, because her old one kept ignoring certain symptoms, promised to refer her to a rheumatologist to help her deal with the arthritis, yet never did. So it seems the new internist, who has had a year of caring for Mom, dropped the ball as well.

A former coworker successfully sued the clinic Mom is using. I don’t know the exact details, but he was in a bad car accident several years ago and the doctor said he just had soft-tissue damage and sent him for physical therapy. That “damage” was actually a fracture in his neck or back and the therapy could have led to paralysis. Luckily, he either consulted another doctor or the therapist picked up on something amiss, and after MRIs and X-rays, they found the fracture. I’m considering getting his contact info and giving him a call.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Going postal

Went to the post office during my lunch break. Holy shit, what a mess. The $.02 postage hike has everyone in a tizzy and there was a line out the door. I live in a state known for its high percentage of retirees. Our state fowl is the Snowbird. My point of view on the elderly in my almost-decade living here has become this: they can't drive, and generally are rude, unless Peanut is along, then they like to smile at him and make small talk with me about babies, etc.

I wan't particularly happy to be in a long line, but whatever. Everyone needs the new stamps and today is the day to get them. First off, the old geez behind me kept crowding me into the man in front of me. I hate hate hate having my personal space invaded. When he got so close, he bumped my purse, it took all I had not to ask him to quit trying to crawl up my ass.

One of the postal workers closed her window shortly after I got in line. I figured it was her lunch break, being noon and all. Then she said something to her coworker about going to the hospital because her husband was there. Apparently the shrivelled asshole at the end of the line didn't/chose not to hear because he launched into a tirade about W@l*M@rt and their practice of closing down lines that he's in. Hello? Husband in hospital. Oh, I know, she should wait to leave until she has personally given you a year's worth of free stamps and kissed your ass while at it, since you had to wait a whopping 10 minutes in line. It's not like you're retired and have the afternoon free. Oh wait, that's right, you might be late for the 4:00 Early Bird Special at the buffet.

Then another old idiot started in with another employee. He need some odd amount to mail his letters that meant some of them needed $.03 additional postage. Except there are no $.03 stamps, only $.02 And $.01. He wanted so many of these and so many of those then changed his mind, then got mad that the employee had to re-enter his purchase. So he starts in on how difficult that "higher math" is and all. OK, dude, lets see you work the computerized cash register. I'm sure it'll be super easy for you to figure out considering you grew up in the stone age. How about you shut your yap and let the poor guy do his job. The employee not-so-nicely explained that he was doing his best to help Old Dude and if he was happier with someone else, he could wait for the other employee to finish his purchase. At least that shut him up. That employee ended up helping me, so wise-ass that I am, when he asked if I needed anything else, I asked if he wanted me to hassle him about penny stamps.


I can't stand when older people pull the stupid math comments. I used to hear them all the time when I worked retail and as a waitress. Sometimes I was having a bad day and had trouble with the math. Other times, it was the cash register. If you don't enter things in correctly, you get a clusterfuck that requires a manager to fix it. And managers, in general, aren't happy about it and make it clear. (Sears was horrible. Enter in your employee code, enter this, enter that, enter any discounts, make sure you tell it whether the item is taxable or not and in Connecticut, where I lived, certain clothing items were non-taxable while others were taxable...and customers get very unhappy when charged tax on a tax-free item.) Yes, there are some in my generation and younger that can't add or subtract without a calculator and it's a shame. And I get annoyed when in a situation with someone who can't count my change back, but I try to be polite. I may bitch about it later on, but I don't try to embarrass them. It doesn't mean we're stupid and it doesn't mean we all can't do it. I worked a summer on an ice cream truck. Guess what - there was no calculator or cash register in sight. By the end of that summer I was a pro at adding up penny and five cent candies along with sodas and ice creams of various prices and giving the correct change back. I may not be as fast as I was then, but I'm no idiot, either.

Friday, January 06, 2006

I'm so glad I don't work in Extension. During grad school, I volunteered a few hours a week in an Extension lab for the experience. We processed plant and insect samples. Most of the samples were garden variety diseased, over- or under-watered/fertilized, dog-pee-damaged, or herbicide damaged plants. Generally the bugs were things like termites, mites, aphids, or spiders (not truly bugs, but close enough). We did receive on pair of underwear with a funky bug on them. Nothing parasitic on humans, just a bug that probably blew onto the undies while they were out on the line drying, and the owner got a little freaked out. Our biggest problem was normally getting an unidentifiable leaf/stem/root or a plant so rotten is was mushy and useless.

A sample that came into Extension this week took the cake. A woman called the entomologist (bug expert) claiming to have a skin parasite. He agreed to take a look. Feeling a little hinky about the whole thing, he met her at the main desk, rather than speaking with her in his office. Which he is very glad about. She brought in a jar of skin scrapings. Which she took herself. She then informed him that she has previously been Baker Acted and suffers from Delusional Parasitosis.

He ran the samples by one of my friends to check for roundworms (nematodes) just in case. Not surprisingly, they came up with nothing. However, he did find one bug...a crab. No one wants to know exactly where the scrapings came from.

The lady wanted her samples back if he didn't find anything, so she could take them to another expert. I really, really hope she didn't come back for them.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Back to the grind... I had the week off between Chrismas and New Year's Day and what heaven it was. I stayed home with Peanut and had a great time bonding with him. We ran errands, tooled around, he had his flu shot and lead test. The lead test sucked. His veins are so tiny, the phlebotomist had to poke him about 5 or 6 times before she got the needle in. Each time she poked, he jumped and screamed. I was as much a mess as him by the time we got out of there. The poor little guy still has bruises on his arm a week later. Just to share the pain (no, not really) I had my first B-12 shot last week. Damn, that mofo hurt. I still have a bruise, too. And 3 more weekly injections followed by monthly ones. Fun times.

The holidays were good. Mom spent Christmas with us, so it was the usual grin (or grit your teeth and bite your tongue) and bear it. Peanut received a slew of great toys from our family and is still having a blast playing with them all. He was so ramped up on Christmas day, he didn't take a nap till late afternoon and he did not want to sleep. Cute little stinker.

We went to Best Friend's house for New Year's Eve. Had dinner, hung out, watched a movie, and left well before midnight. Peanut conked out in the car and luckily stayed asleep when our neighbors lit off a bunch of fireworks at midnight. Hubby and I enjoyed the free show from our front stoop.

Best Friend is the usual...complaints about money, but couldn't stop talking about the recent trip she and her husband took to CA and their plans to go again this year. She finally saw a fertility specialist who gave her a list of options to try. Of course she doesn't want to do any of them, complained about how expensive it all will be, then said her parents will pay if they decide to go the in vitro route. I didn't delve any further into the topic. Everything with her comes back to money and I just don't want to know about it.

My aunt got into town yesterday for a couple of days and we had a nice time last night. Dumbass that I am, I turned the alarm on yesterday, forgot about it, and she set it off when she got home. Hubby was at an investigation and I was stuck in traffic. Luckily, the alarm company called him before dispatching it, and he told them not to worry. Auntie visited my cousins and another aunt and uncle on the way here. She's toting Gramma's ashes along (which has Mom completely freaked out - she thinks Auntie is off the deep end). Auntie and my other aunt and uncle bought a bottle of Gramma's favorite wine, put a glass on top of her container and toasted her. I thought it was pretty cool. I hope she's somewhere looking down and laughing at my crazy-ass family.