Mom needed more care than the care facility where she lives could give her, so we’re in the ER now. She seems to have an infection, so I’m reasonably confident that the right antibiotics will do the trick. For now, though, her only real symptom is delirium.

I wonder what it is about delirium that makes it tap the anguished parts of people’s brains. It would be so nice if Mom could be hallucinating about picnics and parties. She’s not, though. Instead, she was afraid that the paramedics were police who has come to arrest her and she’s asked me repeatedly if she’s done something bad. She’s hyper- vigilant against mental chimeras.

Poor thing.

Since I’ve brought you all into this loop, I’ll keep you posted.

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  • Amy Jo

    I’m so sorry. I’ve been reading you for years but have never commented (You’re too smart for me!). Be sure they check any medications your mom is taking – sometimes they can interact and cause dementia-like symptoms.  I know it’s not really your thing, but I will keep you and your mom in my prayers.   (Be sure to take care of yourself while you’re at the hospital – water, food, etc.)

    • Bookworm

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Amy Jo. Right now, the thinking is mild pneumonia. They’re checking her in and I hope to head home soon myself. It’s good that we don’t have ice cream at home or I might be tempted to eat it all!


     Bookworm: If you’re still at the hospital and reading this – find a vending machine that sells ice cream. This is the third trip to see your mom today and you’ve earned it.

  • Indigo Red

    A few weeks ago, my 90 yr old Mom was slightly confused and felt sick. I took her to her doctor and he didn’t find anything specific, but prescribed an anti-bac for a bladder infection. She felt better for a time, probably the placebo effect of attention. A few days later, we were in the ER with symptoms of heart attack. It wasn’t. They gave her an IV anti-bac and saline drip. Mom stayed two nights and was discharged feeling fine. An unknown infection and dehydration had got the better of her. 
    I sleep with the phone under my pillow now. I don’t want to hassle with bedding while trying to answer a 3AM call from her minimum care home. It’s all very scary, but this is part of life. Her life is coming to an end. I need to be there for her in whatever happens as she was for me when I was young, life just beginning, and needed hospitalization.
    It’s hard. Eating ice cream helps, though. 

  • Mike Devx

    Yep, you deserve some chocolate ice cream!  Hopefully your mom will be feeling better soon.

  • Texan99

    After surgery for a brain aneurysm some years back, my mother-in-law was super-loopy for a few weeks.  She’s not normally optimistic or cheerful by any stretch of the imagination, but luckily her delirium was reasonably benign.  Like your mom, she assumed that she had been arrested.  She kept asking us what she’d done wrong, what the charges were.  There was no reasoning with her, so we just smiled a lot, joshed her about getting into trouble, and assured her we were taking care of bail and getting the charges dismissed, as if she were a slightly bad girl who’d gotten up to some hijinks.  At other times, she was incensed that her husband had left her in a hotel room in Louisiana and had failed to come back and pick her up.  Boy, was she steamed.  We’d  sympathize.  “You mean he just — ??  The nerve of him!  Well, anyway, we’re here and everything’s fine.”
    When my father was looped out of his mind in the hospital many years ago, and I had to keep tabs on him long-distance, I hired a sitter so he wouldn’t try to get up and pull out his IVs and wander off.   He chatted with her for a long while, then said, “Well, my dear, I’ve enjoyed our conversation, but I’m afraid I’m neglecting the other guests at my party.”  He’d decided that all the people wandering in and out of the room meant he was holding a big house party.
    My aunt, in her final days, believed that she had finally managed to return to the home she had never wanted to leave ten years earlier, when she had no choice but to move to an assisted living facility in another city to be closer to my cousins.  She kept saying, “Oh, I thought I would never get to go home.”
    You never can tell what form delirium will take.  Just go with it, and try to turn the conversation to something cheerful, as if it were a bad trip.  You know lots of us have you in our thoughts and prayers, knowing this is hard for you.

  • Kevin_B

    Bookworm, under these circumstances I think it would be entirely understandable for you to have some ice cream, heck, even for you to consume a whole gallon of ice cream. 
    I don’t really know what to say in cases like this, but I will say this: I give you and your family my best wishes. I hope your mother gets the help she needs and recovers soon.

  • Bookworm

    Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments.  When I left the hospital last night, the hospital was working on the theory that she might have pneumonia or she might just have an “infection” that could immediately be located.  

    It seemed as if a lot of her confusion could be attributed to dehydration, because the IV alone, without antibiotics, had made a significant difference to her confusion.  She’d gone from 100% loopy to only about 50%, which is a significant change.

    The night nurse just told me that she had a quiet night, which is very good news.  She’s given to dramatic sun-downing, so the fact that she seemed to have rested during the night bodes well.

    I’ll swing by in a while (life still goes on and the kids still need to be ferried places), and find out what the real story is.

    Thanks again for your support.  As Indigo Red said, this process is part of life, and I’m actually sanguine.  Indeed, my daughter found perturbing the fact that I wasn’t more upset.  Aside from the fact that my Mom has had a lot of close calls before, so I simply cannot maintain high anxiety, I explained to her that, at her age, someone is eventually going to get my Mom.  I’ll be there for her, but it’s not the tragedy it would have been if she was a young, or younger, woman.

    Also, although I was sad for my mom when she was so frightened, I thought it was incredibly funny when she mistook me for our old dog.  In the midst of the grimmer side of life, somehow there’s often still laughter.  Woof!