“Ears But Cannot Hear”

When Mom first came to me, she was very underweight – 107.  She has osteoporosis and is extremely stooped which probably brings her height from its previous 4’10” to 4’6″ -8″.   Other than her demetia, she didn’t have too many health problems.  Ocassionally she would have trouble swallowing or even spit her food back up, sometimes vomiting.  She went through some dizziness as well, evidently caused by a plunge in her blood pressure.  Her overall condition seemed to indicate she might not keep going for too long.  This was depressing to me, as I’d always wanted to live near Mom, and now that she was with me it seemed it might be cut short.  Even so, her care was not always easy for me.  At the advice of a friend who’d just lost her sister to cancer and cared for her in her home until her sister’s death, I called Hospice.  They examined Mom and felt that she met their criterea – a life expectancy of up to 6 months.  Of course, they want people to live longer and will still support them and their families if they do.  But that expectation of 6 months has to pretty much stay in place – even if it’s 6 months after the person is admitted.  That standard has to be met in order for Medicare to pay for Hospice. 

Shortly after Hospice was involved, Mom developed a horrible rash all over her body.  It was quite uncomfortable, and she slept days at a time.  After 3 straight days of her not getting up, I finally made her get dressed and eat something.  She was only drinking Ensure those 3 days.  Hospice kept checking, and we called our family doctor for advice, as well as the Hospice physician.  We kept Mom comfortable with Triamcinolone, a prescription cream.  Ibuprofen seemed to help her as well.  It was during this time that the dizziness became very noticable and the Hospice nurse discovered it was connected to the blood pressure drop. 

We considered all sorts of reasons for the rash – some sort of allergic reaction, though Mom had never been allergic to anything.  Maybe something new in her environment was causing this.  My daughter-in-law had given her a massage the week-end before.  Perhaps the oil she used triggered the rash.  Or we wondered if she’d been bitten by an insect. Could it be stress from living in a totally new environment?  It was curious how we finally think we “hit” on the proper diagnosis.  I’d been dropping little bits of information in conversation – never connecting them.  But one of the women at Hospice, who heard most of everything about Mom though she never met her, gave us what we think was the answer. 

 I’d had a friend stay a couple days with us a few weeks previously.  She hadn’t been well.  She’d had a root canal and took penicillin and developed a terrible rash, concluding she was allergic to the antibiotic.  A couple weeks after that, my 25 year-old son went on a work trip with my husband.  He’d been under his brother’s trailer fixing something a few days before and thought he’d been bitten by a spider.  On the work trip he developed a terrible rash.  My husband took pictures and e-mailed them to me.  It was a livid, angry, raised sort of rash – just as my friend’s had been and Mom’s later proved to be.  And neither, my son or friend, felt well during this time.  So this perceptive Hospice worker deduced it must have been a viral thing that caused the rash in all 3 – it was too coincidental and took place within too short of a time period for it to be various random and different causes for all three individuals. 

I enjoyed being connected with Hospice.  It gave me peace of mind to know they were available 24/7 and would keep Mom from going to the hospital except in the event of a broken bone or other accident.  But most of her care they would do at home, including giving her oxygen, a hospital bed, extended care, etc.  In the event of Mom’s passing, they would come and take care of everything.  Police, 911, etc. wouldn’t be involved.  Their objective is to make the entire dying process easier for the individual and their families.  So having this assurance was a comfort.

Hospice had a social worker and a nutritionist who visited, and weekly visits from a RN.  These were all ocassions I looked forward to, as I could freely talk about the trials and challenges I was facing.  I was pretty “house-bound”, and enjoyed the company as well.  They looked into getting Mom a grant for dental work.  While that didn’t go through, they had other programs, such as helping us obtain Ensure, which is quite costly.  They also have a volunteer program, where a qualified care-giver would come and sit with Mom so I could get out.  We ended up not using that service as much as I thought I would, as the following story illustrates:

We attend religious meetings twice a week,  Sunday afternoon and Tuesday evenings.  Mom had no trouble going on Sunday.  But Tuesday by 7p.m. she was ready to “wind down”.  So I decided to have a volunteer come on Tuesday evenings.  My first experience with this arrangement was the last.  A young man came over, very friendly and sincere.  I told Mom that Kip and I were going to the meeting, and Brian would sit with her so she could be home comfortably.  She immediately popped out of bed and said, “Oh.  Is it a meeting night?  I’m going.”  Poor Brian.  No one to watch that night!   But the best outcome from that event is usually Mom is ready to go on Tuesdays.  It must have made a big impression – somewhere it’s registering to her that if she doesn’t want to go, we may get a “mom-sitter”. 

Hospice recommended Prilosec for Mom’s trouble with swallowing.  After taking 20mg. daily for a short time, the problem completely went away.  We haven’t had a single episode in at least 6 months.  Hospice also suggested the blood pressure might be due to poor hydration.  My brother Scott recommended I give her Pedialyte as Mom doesn’t enjoy drinking water.  Not only is it nicely flavored, but has electrolytes and other good nutritional value.  Before long, her dizziness disappeared, and the Hospice nurse found her blood pressure staying consistent.  By now Mom had gained about 13 pounds.  Our family doctor earlier told us she was getting enough nutrition with all the Ensure she drinks and the prenatal vitamin I was giving her, so just add lots of fat.  So her scrambled eggs are made with heavy whipping cream and lots of cheese, her toast slathered with rich butter, milkshakes and sundaes are daily treats, and lots of chocolate is within reach where ever she is. 

I was shocked when Karen, the Hospice nurse, told me Mom was a new experience for her.  She was going to “graduate”.  Karen had never had a graduate before Mom.   But she told me that she’d improved in all the areas that could have developed into life-threatening situations, and Medicare wouldn’t continue to pay for the program. 

Whereas I’d enjoyed the attention from Hospice, I was now motivated to see if I could get improvement in other areas for Mom.  Her hearing, for instance.  When I first got her the new hearing aides, about 5 years ago, I took her to a technician, Scott,  in Grand Junction, two hours away.  Scott looks like my brother Russ and has a partner named Russ.  I also have a brother Scott, who Scott the hearing aide guy doesn’t look like.  So I call Scott, the hearing aide guy, Scott/Russ.  He’s fun and enjoys Mom, and his nickname too.  Scott/Russ wanted Mom to see an MD (get this – an otolarngologist!) who evaluates the entire individual, not just the hearing, though that long word translates into “ear doctor”.  He takes dementia, vision, etc. into consideration along with hearing to determine what the overall picture is.  Previously, I didn’t think there was any point in this, as when I first got Mom and when she was with me before that, I just saw everything declining.  Nothing was getting better.  She was 89, after all.  But after all these other improvements, I decided to target her hearing and vision.  After an extensive visit with  the “O” doctor, he concluded her hearing aides  weren’t working.  I should take her back to Scott/Russ.  But not before he laid a bottle of T.J. Clark’s original Colloidal Mineral Formula on me for $25.  I should have realized something was “up” when I noticed my brother Jeff, who was with us (he lives in Grand Junction) roll his eyes.  The eye-rolling was prompted by something I’ll explain after writing the review on the back of the $25 bottle:

The Legend of T.J. Clark

“In the early 1920’s, Tom Clark was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness which caused his body to deteriorate until he only weighed 97 pounds and was in constant pain.  Desperate to find a cure, his Native American friends told him they used to take their sick to a sacred spring to heal.  Tom eventually found an older tribe member who remembered the spring and it’s location.  Tom began to drink from it, and after a period of time his health improved.  After much experimentation he was able to harness the magic of this sacred spring and bottle it.  Word soon spread of Tom Clark’s discovery.  In the 1950’s he passed on his secret formula to his grandson and namesake, Tom Clark.  Today, after four generations, T.J. Clark & Company is still the only source in the world for this miraculous formula from the Sacred Spring.  There are no other products in the world that duplicate T.J. Clark’s Colloidal Mineral formulas.”

Be that as it may, after reading a  little blurb under the above, I discovered the “why” of Jeff’s eye-rolling.  That little paragraph read:  “Learn how to create a TEAM EFFECT between this and T.J. Clark products.”  Yes, another multi-level marketing deal, multitudes of which I’d tried to influence every member and possible, remotely- related member of my family to join since time began.  Ah well.  I bought the stuff and have been giving it to Mom faithfully ever since.  Maybe she’ll learn the tribal dance and go on “America’s Got Talent” and that’s how we’ll survive the financial crunch that’s affected everyone.  Forget multi’s.  (I do believe in the concept – cut out that evil old “middle-man”.  I just can’t seem to get it right.  So the Amway, Melaleuca, Agel, Phone cards, Travel Plans, Mary Kay – they just kept piling up in the cellar and I funded everyone above me.)

Back to Mom and back to Scott/Russ.  Indeed, air was escaping out of her ears, which meant sound was escaping too.  So he made this epoxy stuff and sort of “re-worked” the aides so they fit better.  That seemed to do the trick for about 3 or 4 weeks.  We’re now back to repeating ourselves at least 3 times and yelling by the fourth.  What Scott/Russ secretly wants me to do is take advantage of latest technology and get new hearing aides (my salesmen receptors clued me in to his plot).  Now I really do like Scott/Russ.  He’s the age of my oldest son, and Mom flirts with him outrageously, which he encourages, incidentally.  He is cute.  He’ll put his ear up close to Mom’s so he can hear if the aide is ringing and she’ll say “now just stay right there.”  and pat his cheek.  He’ll give me the cutest look.  They’re a pair.  But being of such a suspicious nature, along with Dr. O’s multi-level sneak-attack, I’m reluctant to even go to Grand Junction anymore.  I think a whole army of multi-level people and slick salesmen are going to be at the highway exit laying in wait for me – much like those throngs of people on t.v. with the latest cell-phone adds!

I also know for a fact, that when I bought the latest technology in hearing aides five years ago, the truly latest technology was in the backroom and the technology that would be newer yet after the latest was introduced was in the way way back room.  Yes, if there’s one thing I am, it’s cynical about marketing and the capitalistic system.  Though there are things I love about it, like malls.  Another thing Dr. O recommended was vitamins for her ears.  He said damage that has already occured can’t be reversed, but further erosion may be helped by these vitamins.  They’re called Hear All by Natural Care.  The label says “Nutritive Support for Optimal Hearing Function”.   

  • Auditory Function
  • Hearing Clarity
  • Healthy Hearing Cells

The vitamins are all B’s and Magnesium.  There doesn’t appear to be any “newest technology” with something, as opposed to what I’m giving her for her eyes.  Ah – and that is another good story!

This entry was posted on Friday, November 13th, 2009 at 2:54 pm and is filed under Caring for Mom. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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