Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Mother has been very sick!

My parents, Gene and Elinor Gagliardi

Please forgive the SeniorESL posting gaps. My mother has been very, very, very sick. She is improving very slowly. I hope to start posting regularly soon.

My mother is 75 years old. When she was in her mid 30s, she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (類風濕關節炎, 类风湿关节炎, Viêm khớp dạng thấp, La artritis reumatoide).

My mother took a lot of aspirin, and when the pain got worse, she took cortisone and prednisone. As she grew older, she developed osteoporosis. No matter how bad the pain was, my mother did her own housework every day.

Late last year, she fell. My dad brought her to the hospital to check if she had broken any bones. When the medical technicians tried to x-ray her, they twisted her back. The x-ray showed many tiny fractures in her spine and ribs. Six weeks ago, my mother fell again, and she refused to go to the hospital because the last x-ray was so painful.

My father then negotiated with Kaiser to send nurses, therapists, and home health care aides to check on my mother every day. Everyone gave different advice, and my mother's physician did not return phone calls or emails from my father or the visiting nurses in a timely manner.

Soon, it became too painful to eat and drink (all my mom wanted to do was smoke cigarettes). They gave my mother stronger and stronger pain medication, which would constipate my her. Then would give my mother "stool softeners" to relieve the constipation, which gave her severe diarrhea. She could not stop going to the bathroom, and any "accidents," no matter how small, were humilating to my mother, who is a very fastidious person.

After five days of constant pain and diarrhea, my mother became very dehydrated and malnourished. Two weeks ago, my mother was at the point of loosing consciousness and slipping into a coma, so the visiting nurse ordered an ambulance to bring my mother to the Kaiser Santa Clara Emergency Room. My father followed in a separate car.

During break time, I tried to call my parents at home. No one answered. Teacher Judy suggested that I call the main phone number at Kaiser Santa Clara. I called and asked, "I am looking for my mother. Is Elinor Gagliardi in the Emergency Room or has she be admitted to the hospital?" They were immediately able to tell me "Yes" and switched me to her room in the emergency room. My father answered and gruffly told me he would call back. I knew he was too busy, so I ran back to the classroom and dismissed the class. I jumped in the car, bought a sandwich for my Dad, and went to Kaiser.

When I got to Kaiser, my mother was awake, and the nurses were trying to adjust her pain medication (morphine and percocet), so they could x-ray her and run more tests. They had also given her an IV to re-hydrate her and give her some vitamins, but everything would run through her into a bedpan. The nurses and doctors were constantly coming in and out of the room to check on my mother, so she couldn't sleep.

My mother became very frustrated and wanted to go home for some privacy, but when nurse asked to her to try to walk with a walker, they could see that she was very unsteady on her feet. They finally convinced her to stay overnight in the hospital and my father stayed with her.

She stayed in the hospital for a week, then came home last Sunday. She is happy to be home, but is still struggling to find the right balance of medication. She is still weak, but she can walk to the bathroom and dining room. She has no appetite and is still struggling with constipation. My father and I (with the help of Kaiser visiting nurses) are trying to do everything we can to take care of her at home.

My mother and father are very precious to me and I love them very, Very, VERY MUCH. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers!

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