I’ve posted here in the past about my difficult and complicated relationship dealing with my aging mother, but not for awhile as things just got too stressful and I tend to isolate when I’m struggling.
My dad died very quickly of cancer on January 18. It improved my mothers relationship with me; we were all the other had. We really got along wonderfully all year, with only a few issues. She was in reasonably ok health. As far as I knew, all that was wrong with her was high blood pressure (controlled by medication) and stage 3 kidney disease, which her doctor wasn’t all that concerned about.
It was clear her dementia was progressing. She would get confused while we were talking and not be able to follow the conversation, but to be TOTALLY honest, she also smoked a LOT of marijuana. And that masked the real extent of her dementia.
In October she grew very ill, uncontrollably vomiting for 3 days until she started puking blood. She went to ER the first day, and they saw no physical reason for the vomiting and sent her home in the same condition. But 2 days later she returned and they realized she was suffering from afib and severely blocked femoral arteries in both legs.
They sent her home with home care, which she very quickly stopped as she “didn’t want a bunch of people coming in this house all the time, I feel like a pack of wolves is coming at me”. It was her right to make that choice as she hadn’t appointed me her agent or been declared incompetent.
But she got much better, October and November passed. She had a wound on her ankle that wasn’t healing and got infected.
On Dec 13 she began vomiting again. Same as before, she went to ER, same as before they sent her home with a shrug. But by the 14th she was literally shrieking in agony and the other local hospital quickly admitted her after discovering that SHE HAD SUFFERED A HEART ATTACK. That the first hospital missed? I guess?!
She was in the hospital from dec 14-23. Her afib was basically uncontrollable for many of those days. It took many days to fix her electrolytes, and the doctor was also concerned about the arterial blockages and the wound.
They did an angiogram on the left leg and apparently broke through some of the blockages. She said she felt a lot better. She was stable enough to come home, with home care and a cardiology appointment in January.
The last day she was alive, she smoked a great deal of pot. After one hit, her face went white and she flopped down on the bed. She was shaking and making weird movements with her arms like she was swimming. I grew alarmed and asked her if she was okay, what was going on?!
She said she didn’t know, but then it seemed to clear up and she said “this stuff is really something”, as in the pot.
But after that, she became severely confused and angry. She was verbally abusing me all evening. It was a major shift, but I blamed the pot.
she went to bed at 9:30, after taking twice her normal dosage of night meds (clonidine and clonazepam), but she does that all the time, too. I mean, she was so cavalier about drug abuse. My whole life she behaved like that.
But she kept waking up, complaining of stomach pain. I don’t know if she vomited but she was retching. I helped her back to bed at about 2am, and she lay down on her back with her arms spread out, panting. I thought, oh god I hope she doesn’t start vomiting again.
I found her the next day in that same position, cold and stiff. The paramedics and police came and now she’s spending Christmas at a funeral home.
What finally killed her? Was the hospital right to release her? I’m not looking to sue or anything but I’m very upset that if she’d been in there for one more day it could have saved her life. I mean maybe not.
It’s a horrible thing to become an orphan at Christmas, even at age 37.
This post will give us more of a background. https://www.agingcare.com/questions/my-mother-has-zero-interest-in-getting-help-or-doing-anything-for-herself-im-so-tired-433325.htm
Your Mom could have had sepsis from the unhealing wound on her leg. My very elderly Aunt was found spread out on her bed (alive) because the cat bite on her lower leg was septic and it created a weird neurological effect that caused her vision to be flipped so she couldn't walk. It went away once the sepsis was dealt with. It has taken a very long time for her wound to heal.
Did your Mom have diabetes? If your Mom never took good care of her health, like saw the same primary doctor regularly at the same clinic/network, this is the best type of care. Outside of this, getting piecemeal medical attention in the ER is never going to be optimal. Continuity of medical team is really important. You don't get that at multiple visits to the ER. Also, hospitals are lightly staffed on holidays.
It could have been the weed. There is no telling what is in that sh*t. It passes through many hands and each seller is motivated to "stretch" the product with some sort of filler.
What finally killed her? It may never be known. Maybe it was medical malpractice. To answer the question would require a legal investigation and an autopsy.
Grace and peace to you as you mourn your beloved mom. (I’m a fellow sudden Christmas adult orphan this year too, on Christmas Eve, so I understand how much it hurts.)
I would take that pot to the police, it could have been laced, my friend almost died at 17 because a joint she smoked was laced with formaldehyde.
Your mother took drugs kind of cavalierly, yes?
Did she include an accurate description of her drug use in what she told the ER docs each time she went to the ER? Was her MJ sourced medically? Was it possibly contaminated with fentanyl? Much of the Marijuana in NYC is, I'm told.
The folks I know who are in Emergency Medicine tell me that an accurate history, even more than the presenting problem is what leads them to a correct differential diagnosis.