My mom had breast cancer several years ago, and developed lymphedema, which she was managing with pain medication until last November. In November, the pain management clinic decided to change her medications, which led to a gradual but dramatic decline in my mom's standard of living.
posted by odayoday to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Earlier this month I realized that she's not eating much, and has lost approximately 30 pounds since February. Part of the reason it took me so long to notice her condition is that I recently had a house fire that left my boyfriend and I moving from short term place to short term place, and I wasn't able to focus on her as much as I should have until we settled in a bit.
She now doesn't leave the house at all, and has told me that her back and lymphedema hurts so much that she's not capable of cooking her own food, or doing anything more than moving from the bed to the couch. She also has developed obsessive fixations on her health in general (she was convinced she had periodontal disease, a problem with her ovaries, malnutrition, and dehydration. She went to the hospital for the malnutrition/dehydration, and they told her she was medically fine. She had the other issues checked out and is fine as well. She's also fixated on her refrigerator and air conditioner, and is convinced that they are broken, when I, her apartment maintenance people, and her home health nurse have all tried to assure her that they're fine.), and complains of chronic dry mouth (which could be legitimately caused by her medications, but to me, is not a reason to stop taking the medications when she is then unable to function).
When I realized the condition she was in, I began attending all her doctor appointments, which has been helpful. Her PCP put her on Cymbalta, as well as a sleeping pill, a week and a half ago, and also authorized a home health nurse and physical therapist to visit her twice a week. The pain management clinic has agreed to allow her to use the medication that was previously working for her as well. I have been doing her shopping and laundry, but am not able to go to her house and personally cook for her each day.
I was very hopeful that after seeing the doctors and beginning medication she would start to improve, but things seem to have gotten worse in the past few days. She calls me at all hours saying that her back hurts so much that she can't move, but then will tell me that she's been up adjusting the air conditioner to make sure the temperature is right. She has been very depressed and has legitimate pain, but I'm frustrated by the fact that she seems to be refusing to care for herself at all, even to the limited degree that she can. She complains about the microwave dinners and other easy-to-make foods I bring to her, and occasionally implies that she feels she needs live-in care, rather than the help we're able to offer. Her home health nurse mentioned today that she thinks my mom should also be visiting a psychiatrist because of the odd things she says, so I've called her doctor to ask for a referral.
I would very much appreciate any advice you have for caring for an ill, or possibly mentally ill parent. My mom is only 58, and I have been taking completely off guard by this situation, because she was doing so well until recently. I am an only child, and my dad does not live in the US. My mom has two sisters who live about an hour and a half away, and even though they are not in the best health, I'm planning to call them about this situation this weekend. I think the fact that home health is involved will take some of the pressure off me, because if nothing else, other people will be seeing my mom regularly, but I'm finding myself drained and angry with my mom when she calls yet again with what seems like an imaginary issue.