Plastispine

My mother came back from the doctor’s today with three pieces of news.  First, that her massively swollen knee was a double-sprain that needed to be bandaged, she’ll get a cortisone shot in it within two days to help with the pain.  The second requires a little bit of back story. Understanding the fact that there /are/ kids that come to our property and sneak around at night to smoke, my mother continues to have odd hallucinations of them coming up to her cottage, and feels very threatened.  She’s become paranoid, and keeps the axe in her cottage at all times because it’s the only way she can sleep.  She has a firm grasp on reality, and /knows/ it’s a hallucination, but it really bothers her because she’s never had this kind of problem before.  After going to the doctor, he did some exams and found that she still had active breast tissue; which means she’s in menopause.  Apparently, hallucinations of this sort are very common for menopause and that she needn’t worry.  This came as a huge surprise to us because we all thought she’d been in menopause for a long time.  She had a hysterectomy when I was a toddler, but they left one singular ovary just floating around for no reason that she could fathom.  Apparently that was enough to stave off menopause until now, even though she’s been having symptoms of it and was under the impression that she’s been in it for many years.  She’s almost 60, and only just now hitting menopause.  I guess that’s a good sign for me.

The third piece of news was that her leg injuries are related to the fact that she has a section in her back of dead muscle and nerves.  They don’t regenerate, and it’s an extremely bad sign.  We’ve known for a few years that she might need another back operation to replace all of the metal in her spine with a plastic-like material, which won’t damage her body like this does.  It would also lesson her daily pain by 100%; she’d never be to the point where she’d be without pain pills, but she wouldn’t need to take 25 a day just to move about.  She was passing back and forth the idea because the idea of another year-long recovery period wasn’t very appealing, and the fact that she’s a diabetic puts her at risk for a lot of complications during a 9-hour surgery.  She died on the operating table the first time she had the surgery, but was resuscitated.  No one told me this for years because I was in deemed to be in too fragile a state to handle the news.  I was very angry at the time when I found out my mother had almost died and no one told me, but in retrospect it was for the best that I didn’t know – I was in far too fragile a state.   The fact that she was an undiagnosed diabetic back then, and the disease was raging out of control without anyone knowing could be in part to blame for what happened.  Now she’s under control, she’s losing weight, and her blood pressure is back in a healthy range – so there’s less risk.  It’s still nerve-wracking.

We think they may give her the same ultimatum now that they did then: it’s either a wheelchair, or walk.  So we’re very seriously considering the surgery again.  We talked for a long time today about having her move into the second bedroom in the main house for the first three to six months (where she’s bedridden, and will then need to get around with a walker), and having a half dozen home-makers come during the week so that Curtis and I don’t suffer caregiver burn-out.  We were burning out before, in the big house – but that was a very different situation.  This surgery could potentially make her quality of life ten times better, it could reduce her pain pills and add another 10 or 15 years to her life by taking away the liver damage from the drugs.  We don’t mind that she won’t be independent for a few months while she recovers (they estimate the recovery period for this will be shorter then the last operation).  It’s worth it to know that she’ll be in better condition in the long run.  With the plastic replacing the metal, she may not even need assisted living once she fully recovers as she’ll have far less pain and much more mobility – which is a wonderful idea for everyone in the family, as we were all passing around the idea of who was going to take care of her, and no one was fully comfortable with it (most of all her).

I don’t know much more about the situation now, but we’ll see what the next few months give us.  Until then, I’m nervous but hopeful.

— Babs

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