Mom (and I) Go to the Emergency Room

Let me set the stage for you first. It’s about 7:30 p.m. on a Thursday, the home phone rings, guess who? Other than political or voting related calls (not the season), sales calls (turned most of the away already), the only person–and I mean the only human being that calls our home phone–is Mom. When she does, it’s one of two things otherwise she would remember my cell number and call me there. She is either needing to go to or is already at the Emergency Room (ER). This time she needed validation that going to the ER was the right and only choice. After the standard, “Hey Mom, How’s things going?” and “What’s up,” she goes into this:

FYI – Throughout this conversation Mom is coughing, which sound like she’s trying to hack up the Sahara Desert from the bowels of Hell and through a 1-in. pipe.

Mom – “Huh, Richard, Huh I’m not sure, no I don’t think I need to go but . . ”

Me – “Mom, I’ll be over in about 20 minutes and were going to the ER.”

Mom – “Well that’s just it. I’m not sure if I need to go or not.”

Me – “OK, then. What’s going on? I’ll be there in 20 minutes.”

Mom – “I woke up this morning and my eyes were puffed shut and I felt really warm. I had my INR checked and it’s was 1.5 (suppose to be no lower than 3.0).”

INR refers to the thickness of one’s blood. The lower the number the thinner the blood is and 1.5 for mom is no good.

Me – “Any fever or other symptoms?”

Mom – “Well huh, yea I been feeling real sleepy, I can’t seem to catch my breath at times and this damn cough.”

Me – “Not a lot, but any other symptoms”

Mom – “I’ve been getting the chills, sweats, can’t catch my breath sometimes, in last two to three hours I’ve had a 101*-102* temp and some pressure in my lower chest area.”

Inset: Yes folks by this time I am already in the car and about 1/3 of the way there.

Me – “Mom, Mom, I will be there in 10 minutes, be ready to go we are going to go up to Sutter, Roseville (great hospital) in case Susie (Mom’s sister) calls you.”

Mom – “OK, now I feel really bad for calling you. I know how much you’ve had going on with Robert and the nurse and PT lately. No, it can wait until tomorrow.”

Me – “Mom I’m outside, let’s go.” Emergency Room Wall

Now once we make it to the ER, we see a minimum of 50 to 75 people in the waiting room, of which at least 2/3 are to be seen and another 15 in line to check in. A lady is walking up the line asking what you’re to be seen for. As we explain, she hands us a clipboard and asks us to fill it out and step to the front of the line. We scan the paper and, other than the “What’s your reason for coming to the Sutter, Roseville ER” question, everything is on the Mom’s Medical History Sheet (medical history, medications “with strength’s and dosages”, allergies, insurance information and emergency contact(s) that we brought from home) so this goes really quick. We do the check and are asked to not go far; Mom will be seen in the Triage room next. Triage is done, Mom’s BP is low (97/44) and pulse is OK at 75 bpm. They perform an EKG and set her up for a chest x-ray and blood work. We are asked to take a seat in the waiting room until called for the test. We are there no longer than five minutes and she is called back for the x-ray. A lab tech comes looking for their donation and as Mom comes back from x-ray (10 minutes maybe), a nurse is calling her name to take her into a back room.

Only minutes pass and the nurse comes in to put Mom’s heart monitor on, blood pressure cuff, etc. and take her vitals again, close to the before. She asks what brings us in to compare to earlier and say the doctor will be…. the doctor walks in. Asks the normal heart related questions and gives Mom a once over. He get to Mom’s legs and is amazed one person can hold that much water. Her leg (R) was so full of fluid you could not press and make an indentation the (L) was better but not much. He confirmed what we pretty much knew after dealing with this for going on four to five years. Mom has “severe edema;” the body retains water and she is pumping fluid into her legs. There is not enough pressure to get that fluid back out or her circulation to the lower extremities is not working. Fluid backs up so severe that it’s now starting to press on the lower area of her lungs, which is causing the difficulty breathing and possible lung infection. He understands Mom is on Lasix (aid for clearing out excess water) and decides to place on an IV Lasix which works quicker and better than its oral brothers and also an antibiotic just in case he’s right and a lung infection is starting. What a doctor, attack something before it starts or right when it starts. The doctor wants mom to remain in the ER until some of the excess fluid can be relieved. Yes that’s how you get rid of it.     We started this at 7:30 p.m. approximately and when Mom finally is allowed to leave it is 2:20 am. Even being given a “Fast Pass” through the waiting room, it still took us seven (7) hours in the ER and we knew what the issue was, just not how bad.

If your caree starts telling you, “Well, I’m not sure,” go to the ER, get them seen.

Mom could have waited, well she did since the symptoms actually started early morning and she waited as did my Aunt Susie who saw Mom earlier for three to four hours and they discussed this and yet neither thought it was bad enough to call and come to find out, IT WAS. The deal we as a family came to after Mom had her lung surgery four to five years ago is that we keep ME (I have the POA and know all the medical history) informed of this stuff so we can decide if she needs to be seen. Our family has become very poor about this and it has to stop. To ensure Mom is around for Christmas 2013, to see her grandchildren in four to six years (Get your jobs in order first kids, then think about this topic. One day.) and all the other stuff she needs to be around to see.


All said and done it’s about 2:20 a.m. I get Mom home and realize there is no way with her breathing that she will be able to walk her princess, Taffy (14-year-old Shitz Tzu), so I tell Mom that we will take her until she is back on her feet and her breathing improves. She agrees 100% and she says her goodbyes and I head out. We (me and Taffy) still have a 20-minute drive to get home myself, need to introduce Taffy to Taz the Spaz (this should be fun) and get some sleep. Going into the house was what I expected, dogs barking then Taz detects a new smell, different, female, Oh My!! there’s a female dog in the house. Being 10 months and found in a Bid Blue Department stores parking lot I’m not sure if he’s ever been around a female dog? This one’s a bit different, other than the rest of her litter, she’s been an only dog to both of her homes. Taz the Spaz amazes us and does nothing but sniff and grunt with a lot of bouncing around. This goes on for about another 30 to 40 minutes on/off. Finally sleep, 3.5 hours of sleep before getting up for work and to make Trish her morning Mocha.

Don’t have to worry about Robert and his de-cafe coffee, it’s already in the other 1/2 of the coffee machine on a timer. Speaking of: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, his de-cafe coffee is now brewing.

Good Morning All.
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8 Comments on "Mom (and I) Go to the Emergency Room"

Profile photo of Maria
Oct 17, 2013

You guys have really had a rough time lately. Here’s hoping that everyone stays well & no more ER visits! A funny story about frequent hospital stays. When my Grandfather & Aunt were alive and I spent more time than I would like to remember at the hospital. During my Aunt’s final hospital stay I went to the cafeteria to get something to eat & was asked if I worked there!

Profile photo of ejourneys
Oct 18, 2013

Oh my goodness, Richard! On top of everything else, the lack of communication from Aunt Susie et al. must be so frustrating (to put it mildly). I’m glad Taffy and Taz let you get some sleep and hope you can get more.

Profile photo of Casandra
Oct 18, 2013

Wow. You had a super busy night. I am glad Mom called when she did and you were able to get her seen. Now I will send some prayers of healing and rest for both of you.

Profile photo of Thedogmama
Oct 18, 2013

Oh Richard, boy can I relate. What is it about Mothers? I’m so glad everything went smoothly. (even if it was the evening into night shift – I hate those – trying to get back to sleep in the wee hours) On of the up sides of my mother living with us – I can head things off at the pass earlier or decide when it can wait until morning. Sending you positive thoughts of healing and I’m adding in communication too.

Profile photo of EllysGdaughter
Oct 18, 2013

Oh My Richard, Another trip, thankful you had the Fast Pass but Mom is going to get the Fast Pass out of this world if she keeps waiting like she does! I understand the frustration! My Grandma and your Mom should be roommates to comiserate over their swollen legs and edema issues! I agree with TDM that living with Caree has it’s upsides when the breathing issues or whatever start. My Grandma doesn’t always trust me enough to tell me until she is miserable – I usually can guess! May you have a wonderful day with naps in it!! Prayers for your Mom and her continued healing!