Notes from the Eldercare Underground: Split personalities
There’s a saying here in Texas that if you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes and it’ll change. You could say the same thing about my mother’s personality.
Today was one of those days where both weather and mother collided.
I had to accompany my mother to a doctor’s appointment this afternoon because she’d had a rattling chest cough the last few days. (She’d also fallen—yet again—in The Hotel’s dining room and hit the back of her head on either a chair or a table on her way down. No major damage from that, but it didn’t help matters any.)
When I left home the temperature was approaching 80 degrees and I’d had to put the AC on in my car. By the time I left The Hotel to come home about three hours later, the temp. had dropped to 45. There was a cold wind blowing in from the north, causing me to turn the heater on.
Ah, Texas. Whiplash weather.
Also whiplashing was my mother’s personality today.
We saw the physician’s assistant at her medical clinic, who determined my mother had, at the very least, a case of bronchitis. She prescribed an antibiotic and also Mucinex to get rid of all the “gunk,” as she put it, in my mother’s lungs that was causing the awful sounding cough.
But to be on the safe side, since the weekend was coming up, she wanted my mother to go over to the hospital and have a chest x-ray to be sure that there wasn’t any pneumonia starting. If there was, she would put her on a stronger antibiotic. She didn’t want to start out with the big guns just yet because she said that antibiotic can be hard on the kidneys and she wanted to keep it in reserve, if at all possible.
Fortunately, we were being squired around by The Hotel’s van driver and I’d had the presence of mind to have my mother ride in a wheelchair instead of her Candy Apple Red Ferrari (her walker.)
It certainly made schlepping her around a lot easier.
So, over to the hospital we went and checked into the radiology lab. After a brief wait, we were ushered into the x-ray room and told to go into the dressing room, strip to the waist (her, not me) and put on one of their fashion-forward gowns that tie in the back.
All of this was to be accomplished with her still in the wheelchair. My mother complained about my cold hands while I was trying to get her pullover sweater off and even more when I was undoing her bra in the back.
But we did it, and then wheeled out to the room where I had to hold her up in a standing position so the technician could take two views of her lungs with the x-ray machine.
I got to wear ten pounds of lead apron. Not a good look, but it serves its purpose.
Then it was back into the dressing room where I reversed the process and heard more about my cold hands.
The technician said the films were good and he didn’t need to retake them so, after wandering for a bit in the labyrinthine hallways of the hospital, we made our way out to the reception area where an auxiliary made the phone call to The Hotel to let our driver know we were done and needed to be picked up.
If I’ve learned anything in dealing with my mother through her various health crises, it’s that when everything is over and she’s on her way home, she tends to make me the brunt of her barely submerged anger.
We were sitting there looking out the big windows that face the parking lot. She thought the hospital shuttle was our van and pointed it out to me a couple of times. Each time I had to correct her and tell her that, no, it wasn’t our van. I could tell she didn’t want to hear that.
When our guy did show up, he had to park back behind the shuttle. By that time we’d had the sudden temperature drop and the wind was blowing pretty hard. I didn’t see any reason to charge out the door until our driver had put the ramp down for my mother’s wheelchair.
She, however, was rarin’ to go.
If the weather can go from 80 to 40 in 30 minutes, my mother can go from pleasant to nasty in a nanosecond.
In a voice just loud enough that I knew the hospital auxiliary at her desk could overhear, my mother said
“One of these days I’m going to knock the crap right out of you.”
When we got back to The Hotel, I made sure the manager knew what meds. had been prescribed and that the chest x-ray results would be faxed to them tomorrow.
Then I picked up my mother’s laundry and got her settled in her chair with a bottle of water since the physician’s assistant said she needed to drink more fluids to get the “gunk” out.
As I went out the door, my mother blew me a kiss.
There was a twinge in my neck that I swear felt just like whiplash.