Monday, January 19, 2009

Is it the Pink Pill?

Last week some "bug" kicked my butt again, and I ended up spending a few days in bed. My mother is in town, and she promptly offered to take my grandmother to the beauty shop on Thursday. I accepted the offer, and it was a good thing, because Thursday was one of the days I could not get out of bed. So I was napping just after noon, and the phone rang - it was my grandmother.

Mam-ma: "Debbie, I don't know WHEN I've been to the doctor... I haven't been in a long time."
Me: "Okay...." (wondering... where is this headed... does she expect me to take her today?)
Mam-ma: "But today I got a letter in the mail from Medicare about a visit, and I don't remember a-goin'."
Me: "Is it a bill?"
Mam-ma: "Well, no..." and she starts to read it to me... "it says it's from the 9th of the ninth month of 2008." I'm looking on my calendar to see if we went to her family physician around that time in September, as it sounds familiar. I asked if it says what the visit was for, and she reads me a diagnosis that is for removal of some lesion.
Me: "That is for that place that the doctor froze off your nose."
Mam-ma: "My NOSE?!"
Me: "Yes, your nose... don't you remember, he looked at your nose and froze a place off it for you? When we went in about something else?" Well, she sorta remembered. Me again: "But it's not a bill, right?"
Mam-ma: "No... it's just a print-out. But I didn't remember we went to the doctor in September."

We did - two days early, as a matter of fact... she couldn't wait for her appointment! My mother had driven out of her driveway on September 8th for a 3-month trip, and the next day Mam-ma started to decline. She had a regular checkup scheduled for September 11th, but by the 9th, she could wait no longer!

Then she proceeds to tell me she got a letter from Aetna, and they are not going to pay for her Avapro.

Me: "But they ARE going to pay. I told you that. Your doctor got an exception on that drug. Just put that letter aside and I will stick it in your file." I tell her this twice and explain that Aetna agreed to pay for Avapro, but not Aciphex. Yes, she remembers about Aciphex, and she thinks the Nexium will be just fine as a substitute. She starts reading me the letter... how Aetna paid for Avapro in January but she will have to try other drugs first before they will approve it again.

Finally, I stopped her again... "Mam-ma... your doctor's nurse has already called Aetna about that and told them you are NOT trying other drugs, and Aetna agreed. It's taken care of. Just set that aside, and I will get it next week for your file."

Mam-ma: "Well... okay... I just didn't know if it was urgent or not."

I assured her it was not urgent - that it had been handled. I added, "You need to get ready - Momma will be to get you soon!" (Her appointment was for 1:30 - it was now nearly 1:00.) She said she had told my mother to call first and she'd open the garage door for her as we were having sub-freezing weather and she had her garage door closed. I told her, "She may be trying to call you now!" So she said good-bye - she DID say it! - and hung up. Sometimes she just hangs up when she is finished talking! You'll hear a "click" and you know she is done!

Wednesday it was her food stamps... Thursday it was the drugs. Bless her heart, I think she just goes into a panic mode when she thinks I am sick... and she comes up with all sorts of things that need my attention, like I am not going to feel better in a few days and she doesn't have others to help her in the meantime. My husband says it is just an excuse to talk to me. And that may be partly correct, because I have not heard another word from her since!

Wednesday, she had phoned to check on how I was feeling and to tell me that there was a letter in her mailbox telling her that she was approved for $14 a month in Food Stamps... something I had told her myself a few days earlier. Apparently we each got a letter, and mine arrived a few days ahead of hers. Anyway, in the course of the conversation, her medicine was mentioned, and she said, "Well, I'm out of night-time medicine." I questioned this, and she told me that her pill dispenser for Wednesday evening was empty. "Where did the pills go?" I asked, knowing I had filled enough for her to have medication through Thursday noon. She didn't know, but there was nothing in there. She was supposed to have two pills - her thyroid medication and her night-time Coreg for blood pressure. Lately, I've noticed that quite often, the night-time medicine is still in the dispenser compartments. If she gets sidetracked or has dinner away from home, she forgets to take this medicine. Since it is so important - the only dose for her thyroid each day and one half of her daily blood pressure medication - I have been concerned that she was forgetting. Now, she was coming up short - did she think she hadn't taken it and take a double dose?
Over the phone, I tried to talk her through putting night-time medicine in that compartment... and to quiz her about whether she had enough medicine for the next day, knowing that when my mom arrived, she was going to fill the dispensers again for the following week. Yes, she had the Thursday medicine. And now, somehow, she had a "pink pill" in her Wednesday night box. That would be the Synthroid for her thyroid. Did she have a white pill (Coreg)? No... just the pink one. So I talked her through finding the Coreg pill in her little tray, and I prayed that she had indeed found the right one. Meanwhile, she found a bottle of "green pills." NO... don't take those! Those were the pills for blood sugar that she was prescribed in October and didn't need/never took... I should have already tossed them... but I had left them in her box for some reason, and now she was looking them over. She said she would put them in the trash. I hope she did. I made a mental note to doublecheck that when I go next!

So, now we have confusion about the medicine, and I wonder how much longer Mam-ma will be able to manage at home alone. I know how critical it is that she take that medication properly and not over - or under - medicate. And I am doing all I can by putting it in the dispensers without physically going to her house and dispensing it three times a day, and neither of us wants that! So it just is what it is... for now.

I had to laugh... one of the same days all of this was happening, my former pastor's sister Beka posted this about her dad on her mom's CaringBridge site.

Uncle Warren and Aunt Joy went with Dad to see a movie at the library – one of Dad’s favorites – "O Brother Where Art Thou." When I talked to them they were on their way to the library by way of a route that Dad did not know. So Dad was complaining to Uncle Warren, who was driving. The conversation went like this:

Dad: Where are you taking me? I’ve never been on this road in my life.
Warren: Yes you have, John.
Dad: This is not the way to the library.
Warren: Yes it is, John.
Dad: It isn’t either. O Brother Where Art Thou? O Brother Where Art Thou? . . . I have never been on this road in my life . . . . . oh yeah, there’s the Shirley's house . . I know where we are now.

I know just how he feels. I think there are days when we all wonder if anyone knows where they are going! I hope you have clear pathways this week and all of your pills are in the right compartments!

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