Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Grandma's episodic health issues

My 87-year-old grandmother's health-related episodes have a definitely pattern. The week before Thanksgiving, my mother said that she had until about a week after Thanksgiving before my grandmother's illnesses flared up. I don't know if it's nerves or attention getting or what.

My mother's prediction was off, but not by much. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Grandma let Mom know that "the pain" was getting worse. I don't doubt that her pain is real but Grandma always refers to it as The Pain, sometimes causing DH to make Lost in Space references.
Mom: Are you taking your pain pills?

Grandma: Yes.

Mom: Are you taking them every six hours?

Grandma: I take them every morning.

Grandma wanted to go to the doctor. When asked what the doctor could do for her, Grandma indicated that pain pills was what she needed. When it was pointed out that she had pain pills, my grandmother said that she really needed some antibiotics. Grandma called for an appointment.

The situation got worse before seeing her general practitioner. The following weekend, she said that she might need to go to the emergency room. She was still not taking her medications as directed. Mom talked to her again about following the directions and said, "If you're not better in a few hours, I'll take you." Mom did some errands and came back to a blinking answering machine light and a message from Grandma saying that she was well enough to come over to my parents for Sunday dinner. Apparently about an hour after talking to Mom the pain suddenly went away. Smart money says that she finally had taken the pain medication. That evening, Grandma packed away two generous servings of lasagna. Her stomach must not have been bothering too much.

My parents had to be bad guys and explain that no one wants for her to be in pain and that she either had to take the medication prescribed in the dosage prescribed or she would have to go to a nursing home where they could help her out with this. Mom has mentioned to me that Grandma's episodes are starting sooner -- the Saturday after Thanksgiving instead of the week after Thanksgiving -- and lasting longer. This is not good.

This has been an ongoing process and I've mentioned it before. We all want for it to be her decision to go to an assisted living facility on her terms. She really does need to take her medications though, especially since they seem to help. One concern that we have is that she is not putting it all together anymore.

I don't mean to belittle her problems. Grandma does have some medical issues, namely atypical tuberculous, along with a pulmonary specialist to go with it, and a small B-cell lymphoma that her oncologist is keeping an eye on. The symptoms that she complains about, though, are things that have been bothering her for twenty or thirty years. In other words, not new. It's difficult for us to know if The Pain is worse now or not. Again, I wonder if she is subconsciously going through this for attention.

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