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The Diagnosis

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mom's been in Duke since Sunday night and now they're transferring her to a convalescent hospital for physical therapy. I have to pick three choices and turn again to my geriatric source guru, Barbara D., who recommends Hillcrest as choice #1. Hillcrest it turns out, is a locally owned convalescent hospital, the administrator is the grandson of the woman who started it in the 50's. It's an older building, but charming, clean, and fairly close by.

Everyone at Hillcrest is wonderful, from the Admissions Director, Daniel, to each of the nurses. Mom gets the best roommate, Miss Shelby, who is a hoot! (FYI, in the south, instead of calling people Mrs. [insert last name here], they add Miss to your first name. I like it, it's respectful without being formal.)
Her and Mom are the same age and both are doting dog owners. She broke her leg when she fell off a stool while changing a light bulb by herself, was healing and on crutches, then broke an arm and [the same] leg during a fire drill at a hotel. Her entire family is as sweet as they can be and make sure to include Mom in just about everything. Her grandchildren make Mom cards, and her daughter makes Mom a lovely tote basket embroidered with her initial. Mookie gets to come visit any time; he snuggles in to sleep in the bed with Mom and I can go to Whole Foods across the street.

Mom has to wear a corset type brace for her back and is using a walker, more for stability than anything else. The corset they gave her in the emergency room has never worked quite right, kept riding up her torso. The one they give her in Hillcrest seems to work better.

While she's in here I ask if a psychological evaluation can be set up for Mom. We want to know if her behavior, which has become increasing erratic, is normal for her having had strokes or if it's something else.

Earlier in the month, before she fell, Tracy called me saying Mom had cut herself. Mom told Tracy she did it on purpose, then got angry when Tracy took off the band aid and told Mom to wash it to make sure it didn't get infected. Mom put a band aid back on and then followed Tracy downstairs, very agitated, out into the lobby and was yelling at her in front of everyone.
Weird, weird, weird.

She's usually really good with Tracy and does what she says, but lately she's been telling Tracy it's none of her business when Tracy tries to get her to take her [oral] medicine. When asked, Mom says she did not say she cut herself on purpose and never told Tracy that. Obviously, I'm inclined to believe Tracy's version. I mean, she's said to me, "I'm so angry I could kill someone, maybe even you." OK then now. Time for a professional.

Doctor Williams calls me on December 4 and says that Mom has vascular dementia and that she is "no longer a candidate for living alone."

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