Thursday, March 06, 2014

A Mother Day

As usual, Mother was on her death bed when I arrived to take her out. She went on and on about her medical problems. In summary, she is perfectly hale and hearty. She is addicted to codeine for arthritic pain, and the codeine is causing her bowel problems, and didn't she go on about her rumbling stomach and her constipation and diarrhoea. From the lunch out, to the chemist, to the bank, to the newsagency to supermarket, to Big W, did I hear about her bowel problems, and many others did too.

She insisted I check that ABI's Brother's house is ok and to start his car, because apparently its battery will go flat if it is not started weekly. People in our building leave their cars for three months or more, and they still start. Brother's neighbour was supposed to be collecting his mail, but the box was full of mail, some quite old. I think miscommunication. A large branch had broken off a wattle tree had broken and fallen onto his garden, and an enterprising business had left a card at his front door, advertising their tree removal service.

We were running out of time when shopping as Mother had an appointment at her doctor's where a caravan was set up to do scans for osteoporosis. I will have to come back after the appointment, she said. No Mother. I am not taking you back to the shops. I want to go home at a reasonable hour. I am not of such generous spirit as R, but then I don't complain afterwards.  Give me some money and I will finish the shopping and give the receptionist my card and get her to call me when you are ready to be collected.  I finished the shopping, emptied her vacuum cleaner, found the stick from under her bed to put the sunblinds up and down, unpacked her groceries and the phone rang and she was ready for collection. Once home I assured her of the safety of very convenient power point behind a photo she had forgotten about and not assured her about the taped up wires in her laundry that used to be the laundry light switch.

"The sun blinds were up but I didn't want to ask my friend Alan to come and put them down, so I just turned the air con to a lower setting." She has had air conditioning for thirty years, and she still doesn't get it. Speaking of which, she told me on our Labour Day holiday, she will have lived there for forty years. I did some mental arithmetic and that would be right. It was before I had my driving license and I used to catch the train to her town from the Latrobe Valley to visit and walk or get a cab to her place. The last task is to put her bins out, except it is day early. I put them near the gate and the lezzos next door will put them out on the street for her.

So that was my day off from work blown to hell. It followed the usual pattern. Miserable Mother upon arrival, brighten up as the day went on, and then tired and needing her nap in the later afternoon (or pass out from overdosing on codeine) .

But never underestimate her. Sister booked The Cuckoo for Mother's eightieth birthday, but Mother got on the phone and rearranged the table. It seems Mother is claustrophobic and needs to be near a window. After some conversation, it was resolved, but 'Mrs C, you will be on two tables instead of one and bench seats'. 'I am a poor widow with many medical issues. I am very panicky that the food will upset my bowels and the oompah band will be too loud and I don't like people brushing past me when they are going to get food. We will need cushions and my daughter's back is not good, so the benches need to have to have backrests.'

To conclude, I posted a letter for her to Sister, informing Sister that she couldn't take the trip to Bright to see the autumn leaves. Half way through the three hour trip, they would stay overnight in Euroa. Check out at 10.00am. Mother is never ready for anything by 10.00. But she had my sympathy on this. Sister will have them all in bed by 8.300pm and up at 6.30am and ready to go by 8.30. Sister will nag Mother to hurry up. Little Jo will stay, 'Gee Nanny, you are slow'. Bone Doctor will say she is wasting time standing outside and smoking and firmly reject giving any kind of free diagnosis of Mother's medical problems.

What can I do? She is my mother.


31 comments:

  1. 'constipation and diarrhoea'

    An interesting combination.

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    1. Probably not on the same day Victor, although...

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    2. Maybe in Melbourne and its hinterland, Andrew, to go with its famed four-seasons-in-a-day weather.

      And as to your final question (what can I do?) the answer is here: vent on your blog. You do it so entertainingly we all love to read it, and you know a problem shared is......well not a problem solved, but often something more bearable.

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    3. Thanks Marcellous. I find it very therapeutic to write, and to get good feedback is wonderful.

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  2. Get your Mother to try Panadol Osteo for her arthritis pain Andrew - recommended by drs more than other pain medication, formulated especially for that pain at a ?stronger strength ? than ordinary panadol and can be bought far more cheaply by prescription (($6 for two packs of 96 ). Non habit forming - only drawback is the appointment at the GPs for the script!

    I've warned my family - well they can do what they like if I get that way. Heres hoping I don't lol

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    1. Cathy, thanks, but she would know all about it. I vaguely recall she is allergic to panadeine. There isn't much she says she isn't allergic to. She is at the doctor weekly and he despairs of her, although she is a very lucrative patient for him.

      I think it is just in her character to be like that. Hopefully not yours or mine.

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    2. Panadol Osteo does not work. It is 665mg of paracetamol in a sustained release formula that needs to be taken no more often than every six to eight hours. This 1330mg over a day. I found better relief taking four regular panadols at once getting the relief of 2000mg within half to one hour. When you are in pain, slow release is a joke, relief is needed now!

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    3. Thanks River, whatever she takes, she takes it every four hours.

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  3. Andrew, I see, just mother the most important person in the world. My parents live 250 km from my place in the future will be a lot of problems I am sure. Just life full of ups and downs

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    1. Gosia, she is important to all of us, but she is very trying at times.

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    2. I know sometimes older people can kill you

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  4. You had a busy day, but your mum might complain and rant and rave a bit but she does have a zest for life, she will live for years yet.
    Merle...........

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    1. Merle, we all agree on that.

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  5. Andrew, have I mentioned recently that you are a saint?
    The bowel obsession ((from where I sit) seems to be a common thing with your Mother's generation. I bet she has bowel stories coming out of herear. Panadol osteo is a brilliant idea cranethie as it helps break the aperient cycle while also showing pity and admiration for someone's enormous forebearance.
    In turn, I have pity and admiration for anyone who can stand a day of bowel stories while knowing a) the boom and bust cycle is not that hard to break and b) advice is about as welcome as a dose of clap at the convent.

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    1. FC, I reckon many of her problems are stress related, but she won't take medication for that. She still does her own vacuuming, although she is on a waiting list for someone to do it and clean the bathroom.

      I pretty well switch off when she starts on her bowel problems.

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  6. My normal internal response to whingeing elderlies was to say "get over it.. you don't know what true suffering is about. We Allies bombed 120,000 civilians and boy soldiers to death in Iraq (or whatever place you want to make a point about). Now THAT is suffering!"

    But once I turned 60, I gained a new insight into sore backs, arthritis in the fingers, men's bladder issues at night, crappy teeth etc etc. Pathetic, I know.

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    1. Yes Hels, she does live in a very small world now and is very self focused. She watches tv in the evening and reads trashy magazines, the local paper and the Weekly Times.

      Yes, ageing is not particularly pleasant is a physical sense, but there are some good aspects to it.

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  7. So sorry to read mother is addicted to codeine, is she getting prescription codeine? I read in your reply to cranthie that mother is allergic to Panadeine, possibly it is the codeine element in it that she is affected by? Panadeine is panadol and codeine, and codeine is well know for causing stomach and bowel upsets. I take an over the counter strong "chemists own" pain reliever which contains the highest allowed amount of codeine for non prescription medication, and have found it works best when taken with food, so I take it in the middle of my meal when I need it. I've found I can manage without it for weeks at a time now that I'm not working and able to lie down instead when the ache gets too bad. I'm even managing without panadol.
    It sounds very much as if mother may have IBS and should probably learn to avoid foods and drinks (medications too) that upset her digestive system. I understand she probably won't.
    Sad that you had to lose a whole day to this and hearing about the bowels all day is just too much on top of everything else.
    Perhaps schedule two days off next time? One for mother and one for you? Ha Ha.
    I must remember to schedule a bone density check for myself.

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    1. River, she does take what she takes with food. She certainly avoids many foods she knows upset her, including milk products. Her diet is very bland. Yes, I normally go when I have two days off, a day to recover, but with ABI Brother away, it had to be done.

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  8. Ouch. This is a very, very familiar scenario - which I put out of my head.
    My mother enjoyed being a martyr - to everything. And of course she was allergic to everything - unless she enjoyed it. Then it was fine.
    I like River's suggestion of two days off next time.

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    1. EC, I know what you mean. Funny how some special things don't upset her.

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  9. Hello Andrew:

    Oh dear, this is all somewhat depressing. And there but for the Grace of God go we all!!

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    1. JayLa, I firmly believe that it is an extension of how you were when you are younger. Some people cope with ageing very well, even though they may still have all the problems.

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  10. Poor old mum :) whether you admit it or not Andrew you are a lovely son and R is a legend :) mum is a lucky old duck :)
    P.s. I thought of you when I was making up tomorrows post!

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    1. Grace, she has never done anything to not deserve the kindness of her children. I better not think too hard about that.

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  11. Thank you for caring for your "Mum" Andrew, no matter what her eccentricities :) When I cared for my husband for over 13 years I found out what the words I LOVE YOU really mean!!

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    1. Hello Theanne, what an attractive name. Caring for your partner in such situations really does bring home, 'for better or worse'.

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  12. She can have my bowels if she wants, then she'll really have something to complain about!!

    Big cuddle for you Andrew.

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    1. Fen, yes and you are only young.

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  13. Been there
    Worn the t shirt

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    1. John, I suppose it will only get worse.

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