It’s only the sixth day of 2014 and we are already going to the doctor’s. Luckily, in its own way, it is for a standard cardiology check-up. Oh and it’s one hour and 45 minutes each way for me, all for maybe a 20-minute appointment, another 20 for labs and 30 to eat breakfast in the hospitals cafeteria. Great food with low military prices. We usually get in and out with full breakfasts for $7.50 total.
Well, back to the reason for being here or back to the way we left 2013 and that was Mom (Enter “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”** flashback sound effects here). After being told she had six months when mom was diagnosed with double heart valve failure and had to have the surgery quickly is when they realized she really only had may three to four months. During the surgery Mom was placed on the heart and lung bypass machine, which means the machine was breathing, pumping and filtering her blood. What the medical field found out is that when on a bypass machine for some reason it affects a particular chemical in the brain (in a large number of patients) and for some reason causes depression.
About three or four months ago, Mom’s cardiologist prescribed her with a mild anti-depressant called Cymbalta which did nothing. That dose was then doubled and again. Nothing. Now we are up to date so (Enter “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” **, flash forward sound effects here) yesterday we saw her cardiologist for a standard follow-up appointment and the issue of Mom’s depression was brought up. Yes, by me.
I asked, Is it normal for those patients who were placed on a bypass machine to experience depression 18 months later? The doctor agreed that the length of time after Mom’s surgery is a concern. They now believe Mom’s low-grade depression is just that, low-grade depression. They have already changed her script to a new anti-depressant which she will begin her in nine days. She has to taper off the medicine she is on every three days, go three days without, then start the new medicine. She needs to have this medicine completely out of her system before adding the new one.
On top of this, the doctor also feels that Mom’s current line of medicines, which I don’t think I have enough fingers and toes to count that high, are not allowing her edema (water retention) medicine to do its job. So they have replaced that with a super edema medicine which should help her get rid of the extra water weight (25 to 30 pounds), which is also a side effect of her various heart issues.
As for the depression, Mom was using the bypass machine issue as an excuse and now that we know it’s not related the doctor told her that she needs to get up, get moving. The doctor asked Mom how she was doing at her church, any groups she involved in, etc.? Of course I was glad I was sitting in the room if Mom would have played around this issue. She has stopped going out again using the bypass machine as an excuse. Stopped meeting for coffee, breakfast, lunch, shopping with her sister and the list goes on. As her wonderful cardiologist explained it, if you don’t go one time to a outing, then it makes it that much easier to say no to the next outing and the next one and so on to a point where you just plain stop going.
On the way home, Mom told me that she’s been in the house since our Christmas party here at our house. That was eleven days ago. What? You talk with her on the phone and everything’s okay, she’s a little down, but not she’s eleven days long down. She can yarn a tale and get you to believe over the phone that all is right but when you see her in person you can tell by her speech, her cadence, her mannerisms and more that she’s maybe running at 55-60%.
The rest is depression.
**1989′s “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” was directed by Stephen Herek.
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- Music Is The Best Medicine! (caregiving.com)
- You Mean, Besides the Cancer? (caregiving.com)