I have a friend (who by the way is riding to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, this week) who tells me from time to time when his girlfriend is away that he is “bachin’ it”… meaning that he has returned to living alone temporarily as a bachelor.
One of these two activities is the same for me…
…yep, I am “bachin’ it” at home. With all that is going on in my life, I can only dream of riding one day to Sturgis again. I have another two friends from the area where I live who are riding there, too, but they would not think that I would ride that far so it probably did not cross their minds to ask me to go with them. Yep, such a ride is a dream, not reality.
My spouse has remained in Pittsburgh to care for his mother. I drove back home on Saturday to attend a funeral for a dear friend’s husband, and also to get some much needed sleep! It’s darn hard to sleep when your mother-in-law moans and cries all night.
During the past week, we were beginning to set up what we thought would be necessary end-of-life care. We began making arrangements for full-time caregivers to come to her house and help … cooking, bathing her, cleaning, and not leaving her alone. We also contacted hospice, since my mother-in-law’s doctor essentially gave her a death sentence (“she has renal failure”) when the doctor saw her last Monday.
We subsequently have learned that my mother-in-law’s doctor is a quack. Well, perhaps not quite that bad, but his nonchalant and careless attitude made me think that perhaps the death sentence was inaccurate. We never could see that doctor again in person. His staff are terrific gatekeepers.
I invoked the help of the physician (gerontologist) who was my elderly aunt’s primary caregiver. I faxed her my mother-in-law’s most recent test results. Turns out that this doctor along with two other specialists she works with agree that my mother-in-law’s condition is not quite as bad as her doctor made it out to be. Arrrggghhh!
Now it goes back to what I thought happened — that my mother-in-law has either a hairline fracture of her frail hip bones and/or a compression fracture in her back. These are very common maladies of older people as frail as my mother-in-law is.
I made this fairly easy assumption because my mother-in-law has been crying (literally) and complaining about acute pain in her lower back and down her left leg — clear signs of a sciatic nerve pinch. She can barely walk. For about three weeks, she was in a lot pain and was alone. I imagine that she was not eating much of anything because she did not want to go down the stairs to her kitchen (evidenced by a ton of smelly, spoiled food in her refrigerator — yuck!)
When her primary doctor observed blood test results and significant weight loss which are indicators of malnutrition, he interpreted those results as end-stage renal failure, telling my spouse that she had less than a few months to live.
But those results didn’t match the circumstances and other results from other tests. Working with as many seniors as I do, and being the primary caregiver of my elderly uncle and aunt through their end-of-life, I know a bit more than the average bear. As my aunt’s doctor always said, “look at the whole picture, not just numbers on a lab result sheet.”
She was so right.
My mother-in-law’s primary physician would not help us to obtain any medications to ease her pain without an x-ray. He sent orders to the local hospital for x-rays, but we kept telling him that the pain is so severe, she can’t leave the house (and won’t!) The doctor’s representatives actually said, “well, wait a while and see how she feels next week.”
I got busy again. I contacted other medical professions and learned that a company has a mobile x-ray machine and would come to the house and do the x-ray there. The x-rays were taken on Saturday, right in the house (and actually ON the dining room table!)
The results of those x-rays are yet to be determined, but I just betcha that what Dr. BHD predicted will be what it is. Then perhaps her primary physquacko will finally prescribe something for pain.
Meanwhile, my spouse — quite the trooper — is caring for his Mom. Preparing meals, arranging for someone to help her with bathing, and also continuing to make arrangements for caregivers to come to the house to help with cooking and so forth so MIL will have nutritious meals and not get into a malnourished condition again.
Unfortunately, the quest to find a replacement primary physician is quite a challenge. The community where MIL lives is very run down and that doctor is the only one anywhere near her home. Taking her out of the house to be seen by a new doctor, having new tests, etc., is far too much to consider asking my MIL to do. So we’re stuck with Dr. Physquacko.
However, Dr. Physquacko learned one thing this past week — that he is dealing with Dr. BHD who doesn’t take anything he says at face value. He now knows that we have additional resources that we consult and confirm or question his prognoses. We ain’t no fools.
I sure miss my spouse, but he is doing what I preach:
Life is short: show those you love how you love them.