I almost lost my mother the Thursday before last!

The last photo taken of my parents. - This picture was taken of Mom and Dad about two months before Dad died (Oct 2003). He was in a nursing home at that point. My daughter has the most recent photos of her on a memory card somewhere that were taken with me and my kids.
@jerzgirl (8058)
Gloucester City, New Jersey
September 29, 2008 10:07pm CST
As some of you might remember, I wrote about my mother falling because her walker tipped and she followed it down, but when we got to the hospital, they said she had pneumonia. Well, they released her on Sunday, but she never really felt better. The same complaints she had before and during her hospital stay she continued to have - feeling weak, sleepy, not rested, light headed. On Thursday morning, she got up as she always does, turned off her oxygen concentrator, and went into the bathroom. While she was there she called for me, loudly. I asked her what, she said, "I need your help!" The tone was not her normal request for help, so I hurried to the bathroom and found her on the toilet struggling to breathe. "Bring me my oxygen - quick!" I hurried out to fill the portable tank with the liquid oxygen tank and brought it back in, gave it to her and turn it on to the proper setting of 3 liters. I started to back out of the room and she said, "I need a nebulizer - get the nebulizer ready, hurry!" I went out to prepare that, went back in to the bathroom again, and she said, "Call someobody - take me to the hospital. I can't breathe. I can't get a breath." I called 911 and told them my 91-yr-old mother was struggling to breathe, she had emphysema, and needed transport to the hospital. They called for the ambulance. The whole time Mom was saying, "Hurry - tell them to hurry!" I assured her I had called them. She continued to ask for them to hurry. Within two minutes, I could hear sirens, so I told her, "they're almost here, Mom, I can hear the sirens." Then the sirens stopped, but no ambulance - I had a feeling they had stopped at the firehouse just up the street, which they apparently did do to meet the paramedics. Within seconds, they were out front. I met them at the front door, told them the gurney wouldn't fit through the door (past history - they'd had to take the door off the hinges to get it in when she first had respiratory arrest 13 years earlier.) So, they brought in the special wheel chair to bring her out. They worked on her in the bathroom and the chair fit just fine, then they took her out the front door and to the gurney, then took her to the ambulance. Meanwhile, I got my shoes on (I had quickly dressed while waiting for them to get here), called my daughter to tell her, grabbed Mom's purse and mine, and pulled out. I left before they did to get to the hospital. They still managed to get there first. When I got inside, they had her in a priority care room and let me in because I was family. There were people on all sides of her, they were trying to get oxygen into her and thought that if the bipap mask didn't work, they'd have to intubate her. An ER doctore we've seen in the past came up to me and said, "I remember you. I've seen your mother before, but I've never seen her look this bad. She was blue when she got here, but we're doing everything we can. If we have to intubate her, we will." I told him that was fine. Fortunately, she did respond to the mask, so they didn't put a tube down her throat. But, they did blood work and found that her carbon dioxide levels were sky high (that's the gas we exhale) and were preventing oxygen from getting to her body. This same ER doctor told me the symptoms of that were feeling weak, being sleepy, not feeling rested, light headedness - everything Mom had complained about even during her previous hospital stay less than a week earlier. They xrayed her chest and found it full of fluid around her heart and lungs (an additional symptom of excess carbon dioxide). Apparently, she didn't have pneumonia before, but had finally developed congestive heart failure (which was the final diagnosis), but when they xrayed her, they didn't find fluid, so they treated her for pneumonia. They've always taken good care of her before - I can't imagine why they wouldn't have checked her blood gases knowing she was in end-stage emphysema, but instead opting to assume she had pneumonia. Unless it was the ER doctor who shoved his name tag in her face so she could read his name since she couldn't understand him - he hadn't even read in her records that she was blind! At any rate, she responded so well to treatment that she was in ICU only three days and in Critical Care only two before they discharged her!! Even her pulmonary doctor called her amazing. My mother is part Energizer Bunny!!! Today, however, her visiting nurse took her blood pressure and found it had dropped to 88/40 because they had her on two blood pressure meds since being discharged and she began taking them both yesterday. She got hold of the doctor who said to stop giving her the one whose dose they had quadrupled until she sees her family physician for her hospital followup on Wednesday. Unbelievably (or maybe not), Mom doesn't remember a thing about that day. She only remembers waking up in the hospital. She remembers going to bed the night before. Even though she appeared alert and aware that she was having a problem, she has no memory of it. I'm glad we got her there on time. I'm glad this didn't happen during the night when I was sleeping. I would hope I would hear her, but what if..... Anyway, thank God for the everyday miracles because I think that's what she is at times - a walking (even if assisted) miracle. So, do you have any everyday miracle events you can tell? And, thank you all who responded about Mom being in the hospital the first time.
4 people like this
12 responses
@lynnemg (4539)
• United States
30 Sep 08
Your quick response to your mother's call for help saved her too. Don't forget that. The very first step in caring for someone in an emergency is to recognize that one exists. Step two is calling 911. Be proud of yourself, as well as your mother. She is obviously a fighter and not yet ready to leave this Earth. God is not ready for her to go home just yet. As far as the misdiagnosis, unfortunately, they happen all of the time. It seems that doctors are in too much of a hurry sometimes to properly care for patients. I cannot say that I have experienced anything quite like that. Enjoy the time you have left with your mother. you will miss her when she goes home at last. I gather from what you have written that you have her at home and in your care. I applaud you for that. It takes a special kind of person to care for loved ones when they are elderly and sick.
1 person likes this
• Regina, Saskatchewan
30 Sep 08
Wowza! You're Mum is 91, in end stage emphysema, blind and prone to carbon dioxide build up and pneumonia and STILL mentally alert enough to call out loud enough when she needs help and knows exactly what it is she needs - even if she doesn't remember afterwards! Yep - you're right, a miracle woman that proves the Energizer Bunny is NOT an urban myth! My everyday miracles happen the moment I open my eyes in the morning and my heart is still beating and I have the desire and the energy to get out of bed. I pay attention to the unfolding day around me, and within each vignette that comprises a day, I find more little miracles to feed my soul than I can count. You and yours are in my prayers sweets, and I hope I have a spirit just like your Mum's when or if I get to her venerable age...................Kudos to you both!
• Regina, Saskatchewan
30 Sep 08
By the way, this was extremely well written Jerz! And yes, you too are wittier when you write! ROFL Hugs.
• Regina, Saskatchewan
19 Mar 09
Thanks for BR Jerz. My own mother went into the hospital a couple of nights ago, and finding this in my email this morning, and re-reading your discussion has given me hope for a miracle of my own......Thank you.
@kenzie45230 (3560)
• United States
30 Sep 08
Bless your heart. It sounds like your mother is strong willed and that God still has a job for her.
@edb1rd (22)
• United States
30 Sep 08
Yeah I agree!
• United States
30 Sep 08
That's funny. Not funny-haha but funny-weird. Thursday before last, I also spent the day in the hospital with my mom. She was having surgery to remove a cyst that was the size of a small Nerf football. When the surgery was over, the doctor came out to speak with my aunt and me. She told us that the surgery went well and the cyst was removed. Then she said the word everyone dreads- cancer. She found some cancer in an ovary and a lymph node. She assured us it was all removed, but my mom was going to have to have chemo treatments. The 'funny' thing is that you and I had mom troubles on the same day, but all is well all around for now. Cherish the moments you have with your loved ones, moments are only a moment long.
@heaven11 (1159)
• United States
30 Sep 08
Iam sorry to hear this I have an aunt that is 65 she has 24hr oxygen copd and congestive heart failure Unfourtanly with these issues pneumoni is a high risk my aunt has at least 6 times a year as a matter of a fact she just got of the hosptial yesterday this is her 4th time thois year. I dont know why but it seeme congestive heart faliure is hard to digonose they did they same thing with my aunt they said she had pneumoni the thing is it took them 8 months to figure this out they always lead it to her not completly recovering for the pneumoni until finnally her daughters and I (shes likemy mother her & my uncle raised me) told the docters there is something wrng and there gonna get to the bottom of it and they called iin special heart docters and within that day they had digonased her with copd consegtive heart failure and ordered her to be on 24 hr oxygen.
@lingli_78 (12844)
• Australia
30 Sep 08
OMG!!! that is really scarry... i'm glad that your mum is fine now and nothing really serious happened to her... i can imagine how scared and panic you are throughout the whole ordeal... hopefully your mum will get well soon... take care and have a nice day...
@blackbriar (9080)
• United States
30 Sep 08
She keeps going and going and going..... I can fully understand your mom having no recollection of what happened to her. My hubby had a stroke last year and the ambulance rushed him to the ER. When his dad and I got there, he was alert and talking but had no clue who anyone was. We had to both hold him down at one point cause he was trying to pull out his IV and all the stickies on his chest for the heart monitor. Even tying him down wasn't working cause he suddenly developed super-human strength and broke the bindings. They had to handcuff his hands to the bed instead. Next day he snapped out of it and said last thing he remembered was talking to me at home about the cats. It's scary to think that a loved one is going thru something like ours did and then have no clue what happened. Someone wasn't doing their job correctly being this wasn't discovered before when your mom was in the hospital for pneumonia when it was something even worse.
@fasttalker (2797)
• United States
30 Sep 08
Wow what a story! And very well written I must say. I got started reading and couldn't stop! I am so glad everything worked out for her. I think we have all encountered wrong guesses and wrong diagnosis when dealing with elderly family members and it is very frustrating. As far as miracles you had the pleasure of witnessing a great one there. I believe miracles happen every day. We don't always take the time to see them or appreciate them and I am sure that you are thankful for this one! Good Luck with your mother and take care of her (as I'm sure you will)!
@pyewacket (44036)
• United States
30 Sep 08
Holy moly...what a story! It's weird she didn't remember calling you and only remembers waking up in the hospital, but whatever mental consciousness she was in it was good she did call out to you. My prayers go to your mother that now that they found out the real problem with her she will indeed be on the mend. I had my share of "fun" events with my mother but never as drastic...but would like to know what the hell happened to her the very last time she did go to the hospital...I probably could have done a formal inquiry, but since there was another pressing serious issue occurring simultaneously I never did. (My mother and I were being threatened with eviction)--you can imagine how I felt when I left my mother at the ER as it was suspected she had pneumonia....was still awake and lively, and I walked into her hospital room the next day and she was on life support and respirators...like WTF happened? My theory is that they gave her meds that turned wrong for her...It was on August 27, 2006 after her being there two weeks, and while I was there at the hospital she crashed....the crash team try to resuscitate her but it didn't work and she passed away.
@webeishere (36353)
• United States
30 Sep 08
Glad to hear that things turned out good for mom and yourself as well. Taking care of my dad worries me as well with his bad heart etc. I always fear coming home at night from getting my wife from her job and finding him in a situation similiar to yours. So far all that has happened was finding him on the floor twice in 5 years from him falling. Other than messing his pants waiting for us to get home he had no ionjuries. Taking care of my dad is stressful as I am sure you know. Hope things work out well in the future for you all also. Take care and God Bless you for taking care of your mom too. HAPPY POSTINGS FROM GRANDPA BOB !!~
@Opal26 (17690)
• United States
30 Sep 08
Hey Jerz, I hope your Mom is doing better now. I'm sorry that she had to go through all this and is now back in the hospital, But, that's the best place for her so that they can treat her and make sure that this time they have the right diagnosis and treatment for her. Thankfully she knows herself well enough to tell you that there was something really wrong with her so you could get her the help she needed quickly.
@redkathy (3375)
• United States
30 Sep 08
Wow what a story! I have been through some similar traumas with elderly family. Doctors getting it wrong and hospital tests being less than accurately read. Your mom IS a miracle to survive all the medical blunders!!! My mom wasn't so fortunate. I know that God has a plan and she's better off there than here, I still do miss her. I've been taking care of my mother in law. She was in a nursing home/rehab as she fell in June and broke her hip. They really didn't want her to leave, she has very good insurance and was a steady paying customer! Hubby and I were up in arms and it took a week or so of indirect threatening and second opinions to get her sprung! ggrrrrrrrr to the medical people who are not true to their oath!! That's enough ranting from me. Blessings to you and mom. I'm happy you all have another day together!!