Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shingles, Part Deux!

The lull is officially over. I realized Wednesday afternoon that my grandmother didn't have enough medicine dispensed to make it to Friday when I planned to visit again and buy groceries for her. I had decided to run to the grocery store and do a couple of other errands for myself, so I made plans to go by her house and do the meds at the same time. My sister Suzanne and her husband Mike were there picking up the okra and tomatoes Mam-ma had called and offered to me earlier in the day (and I had declined). They left, and I did the medicine and was about to leave, when Mam-ma suddenly shuddered and said, "Hand me the trash can, I'm sick." Boy was she ever. She threw up so hard she literally threw out her lower denture! It's sorta funny now, but it wasn't funny then. She fished it out and cleaned it later while I cleaned up the rest of her mess. So, I called Home Health to see what I needed to do, and they said, "Call her doctor." Mam-ma's doctor doesn't work on Wednesday afternoons, so I called back and said, "You have to help me. I think it might be her Valtrex." They said, "You need to take her to the ER... she could be having a reaction. We can't diagnose anything."

So, I got Mam-ma changed into some pajamas, because she threw up all over her clothes, and I called my Mom and Suzanne (both of whom were shopping) to alert them to what was happening, and we headed to the ER. Suzanne and Mike were still in town, so they met me at the ER. Mom had said she would come when she and her husband, Lee, got done with some shopping... she never made it, because luckily, we were in and out. We saw a great ER doc who has seen Mam-ma before, and he said, "She is having and adverse reaction to Valtrex... not necessarily an allergic reaction." He also said that Valtrex can sometimes speed up the healing of shingles, but it is not a cure, and it wasn't worth it in this instance. He says that shingles is "a nursing problem" and we just have to try things like aloe vera gel, Aveeno, Caladryl, etc. - whatever works and alleviates the discomfort. He also said Mam-ma is still breaking out, and that can last 2-6 weeks, followed by months of pain.

So I took Mam-ma home, and Suzanne's husband picked her up and took her home. Mom offered to spend the night last night because she and her husband are supposed to go to Branson for several days. So she said, "Let me help while I can." I stayed until she arrived about 7:15 p.m. She said she finally got my grandmother into bed around 9:00, but she was soon back up for chocolate chip cookies (Mom said, "I didn't know this was a night-time ritual." Neither did I, but I'm not surprised... I know I buy cookies nearly every week!)

The thing is, Mam-ma was totally out of it, and we're not sure why exactly. Her BP was very high - 182/83 at the ER, and then 201/94 at home. That is probably pain. She says she has barely been able to see for 2 days now - that everything is blurry and out of focus. And when my sister called last night to check on her, she told her she had shingles and had been to the ER. Suzanne said, "Yes, Mam-ma, I know... I was there." Mam-ma said, "Oh you were?" I was sitting beside my grandmother saying, "That's Suzanne you're talking to..." but she didn't realize it, I guess. It really rattled my sister, but mostly, it just concerned her how confused Mam-ma was.

She was so wobbly it was like she was drunk. And yet she was having a FIT because one of us spent the night with her. I was heating soup on the stove, and she hobbled into the kitchen on her walker. I looked around just as she took a step and lost her balance, and she braced herself on the stove... literally INCHES from the open flame. She never realized it. I quickly grabbed her hand and moved it. She thought I was just offering a gesture of affection and smiled at me.

So, today... I had planned to go with Greg this morning to some meetings with our broker and insurance agent. However, our phone rang before 7:15... it was my sister. She said my niece was dizzy and had possibly passed out at home... my sister and her husband were taking her to the ER... could they bring the baby to us? Of course! So by 7:30 a.m., I had Timothy in his crib here, and I had called Home Health and asked could they send a nurse to check on Mam-ma? They said they would.

Mom e-mailed and said Mam-ma fixed her own breakfast - she insisted - and Mom hoped that was a good sign. Then Mam-ma promptly threw up what she had eaten in the kitchen sink! Mom was upset with her... seems Mam-ma took her morning meds BEFORE eating anything and insists she does this all the time. Mom has harped on her for 3 days to eat BEFORE she takes any medication. At 97, what are the odds she will change?

So the day is only a few hours old, but it's already shaping up to be a crazy one around here. My sister had said she would stay with my grandmother tonight, if needed... that may be out the window. We're just taking it one minute at a time. I knew that lull wouldn't last!

I rocked Timmy to sleep in his crib and sang "Over the Rainbow" - his Uncle Tim's favorite song. Timmy smiled and looked at me with eyes that gently drooped shut. Even after he drifted to sleep, his mouth formed a momentary wide grin. A friend commented yesterday that "little ones provide balance." God must have known I needed balance this morning... and He sent a perfect angel my way.

1 comment:

Mark said...

What an ordeal. And, yes, you're right about the likelihood of her changing at age 97. I feel for her that she has to go through shingles.

Hurray for balance!