Monday, April 19, 2010

Shout Out to My Aunts

If it weren't for my Aunt Mary and Aunt Lorene (Mom's sisters), and Aunt Ruth (Dad's sister), I don't know what I'd do. They have taken my parents to appointments, to pick up prescriptions, and to get groceries. They've brought food and had them over for dinner. They've taken Mom to the movies and have spent hours in the hospital with them. I haven't had to do grocery shopping for my parents the last two weekends because my aunts beat me to it! These women have been a huge blessing to me these past weeks. They make me feel like I'm not alone.

An update on my mom: We took her to the Salem neurologist, Dr. Wynn, last Monday. We told her we had seen improvements since he'd done her spinal tap in the hospital. He was skeptical until he asked her a few questions and had her walk for him. He said the changes were obvious and thought it was worth putting in the shunt; however, he'd like us to get a second opinion. He suggested OHSU. We told him we had an appointment there on May 27, but we thought it was too far away. He agreed and said he'd contact the neurologist she's scheduled with to see if we can get her in sooner. He was very positive about her neurologist up there, Dr. Quinn. He said we can't ask for better. He knows him from medical school.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Guilt Trip

Isaac's school auction is coming up a week from tonight. Some stay-at-home moms whose children attend Sonshine have been working hard on it. I appreciate their hard work. I want to be supportive. I was the first or second parent in Isaac's class to donate items for the themed basket they plan to auction off. However, I keep seeing requests to volunteer and reminders to order tickets. I feel obligated to do so, but I know that life is too crazy right now to commit to much more than doctor's appointments. I decided that I would buy tickets the day before the auction if it turns out that I can go.

Anyway, today one of the auction coordinators asked me to order tickets when I picked up Isaac after school. I told her that my life is pretty insane right now. She responded, "Yes, I know. Mine is too." I thought to myself, "You may think you know, but have no idea!" I don't know her, so I didn't want to go into why my life is insane. But I resent her comment because basically, she was saying (in my interpretation), "Yeah, right. We're all busy. Look at me--I'm doing all the work here. You're just a slacker."

I wonder if she has to clean two houses and grocery shop for two households every weekend.  I wonder if she has to plan and prepare low sodium/low saturated fat/low vitamin K/low cholesterol meals for her parents several times a week. I wonder if she takes both of her parents to their frequent doctor appointments. I wonder if she has to pick up prescriptions and run other errands for her parents in the evenings. I wonder if she goes to 2 different churches every weekend--her own on Saturday nights and her parent's on Sundays. I know she doesn't work full time or have a busy teenager to run around.

I hope I don't sound like I'm whining. Life is insane now, but it will ease up in another 2-3 weeks. I just am a little sensitive right now to any implication that I'm a slacker. Two of my close friends (Dana and Jenni) want me to join them for dinner that night. You know what? I believe I will.

I Fall Apart, but It's a Good Thing!

The Wednesday before last I took my mom to her general practitioner to ask about normal pressure hydrocephalus. I asked to speak with the doctor privately. I pretty much cried through the whole discussion. I asked for a neurologist to look at the MRI, specifically looking for water on the brain. I asked for a spinal tap. The doctor basically told me that I just had to wait until her appointment at OHSU on May 27. She didn't think a spinal tap was warranted, and she was confident that if there was water on the brain, it would show up in the MRI written report. I told her that I could not wait until May 27--that Mom could be dead by then. I said I was taking her to the emergency room. She said that they wouldn't help me so not to bother. I told her one of my closest friends is an ER nurse (Dana) who has been trying to get me to bring her in since November. Dana told me that if I brought her to the ER, a neurologist would see her right away and run all sorts of tests on her to find out what is wrong. Dana was working that night. When I told the doctor this, she agreed to admit Mom but still said that she wouldn't order a spinal tap; the neurologist would have to do it if he found it warranted.

Long story short, the neurologist DID see signs of NPH and performed a spinal tap, removing several vials of cerebral-spinal fluid. He said that if it is NPH, she'd improve in a week or so. We do believe that she has improved. She is more animated, talks more, responds faster to questions, has better eye contact, and seems to walk better. Of course, the changes we see may only be our imagination fed by hope. But my aunt noticed improvement, and she didn't even know that fluid had been drained. We take her back to the neurologist on Monday. Hopefully he'll decide to insert a permanent shunt from her brain to her abdomen. The fluid will drain regularly that way and be eliminated. This procedure has had a lot of success in helping people to recover at least some if not most of their previous level of function. We have hope. That's more than we had a month ago.