Saturday, September 18, 2021

Family news

One of Sister's two cats went missing for 48 hours. Sister was terribly upset. She pleaded on FB for neighbours to check their sheds, she put up signs and posters in the streets, she walked the streets calling out for missing cat. Late at night just across the road she heard a piteous miaow and found Oreo locked in a shed at the rear of a house across the road. Sister had called out to Oreo nearby there before, but didn't hear a response. Oreo was hungry but quite ok.

As I said, Mother has a heart pacemaker now. She says she reluctantly signed the authorisation form under duress. It may be a fair point with that what the pacemaker does was not clearly explained to her. However, Thursday I raised my voice to her on the phone. She said she doesn't like the pacemaker and the cardiac surgeon she saw the day before told her she could disconnect it if she chose to.

But earlier another cardiac surgeon told her she must have a pacemaker. I was becoming very confused. How can a person turn off an an internal medical implant? 

She went on to ask the cardiologist what she could do with the pacemaker. He replied, just turn it off and put in your wardrobe or a cupboard in case you change your mind. She was doing my head in.

My voice then rose. What is your problem with the pacemaker? It is not making you ill. You don't even notice it there, aside from a healing scar? 

Oh my dearest son, the cardiologist said my heartbeat is too slow now. Not said but by this time I was wishing her heartbeat would stop altogether. I repeated, what is your problem with the pacemaker?

It sits on my bedside table and it might beep in middle of the night and wake me. I put it in my wardrobe so I won't hear it. I was having visions of Mother tearing out a medical implant from her chest. For goodness sake Mother, just for once can you do what expert doctors tell you to do! But the cardiologist I saw yesterday said I don't have to have it, she whined.

After I hung up the phone I had to think this through. She has a heart pacemaker implanted, along with a  probably phone 4G connected monitor that continually sends details of what her heart is doing to a cardiologist. It was the monitor she was talking about, not the pacemaker itself. The pacemaker works regardless of monitor. There is still no logic to her not wanting the monitor. Exasperating, but as I say to R when he starts to go on about her, at 87 she is very old, and we need to cut her some slack, but I really wasn't in the mood for such nonsense.

42 comments:

  1. I am very glad that Oreo came home safely. When the house across the road was being renovated Jewel was VERY interested in the procedures (and the tradies lunches). When she went missing after they had locked up for the day I knew where she was. In the roof. And I had to call them to come back. And she ran from one end of the roof to the other. I had visions of her piddling on their newly fixed ceiling. Fortunately we got her out.
    I would have been irritated at your mother's call too. Totally unfair of me. How far away from her can the monitor be? Do you know?

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    1. EC, so good that you immediately knew where Jewel was. I guess it is not so unusual for cats to get locked into places, as they find somewhere warm and comfortable to take a nap. I now know more about pacemaker monitors from following comments but not the range.

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  2. I'm so relieved Oreo is alright.
    I'm sure that chat with your mom was a bit frustrating, but it did make me grin:)

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    1. Thanks Sandra. Sister would have been devastated. Oreo would only be a year or so old. Amusement for you at my frustration and exasperation.

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  3. Tearing it out of her chest - that's quite an image. I hope she gets used to it.

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    1. Tasker, now I know how it all works, I will firmly inform her.

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  4. She could put a pillow over the monitor, mute the sound. If she had hearing aids I'd say turn them off at night. I was relieved to hear Oreo was found before starving or thirsting to death.

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    1. The comments below are informative Strayer. It is not going to beep and only activates once a week.

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  5. I always worry when The Stig (grumpy tabby) doesn't come in at night. He's getting on now and likes his creature comforts so I worry he has been locked in a garage or shed or, worse, trapped. Oreo is one lucky cat.
    Your conversation with your mother sounds like many I had with my late mother and ongoing with my mother in law. She has dementia so I try to be charitable but there are days when I find it hard to bite my tongue.

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    1. Caro, maybe lock down and the NBN has done you a bit of favour with not having to deal personally with MiL.

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  6. I am glad your sister found Oreo.

    Dealing with dementia is always frustrating to all involved. 35 years ago, it was considered imperative that you orient the client. It rarely worked. I was doing private duty care for a client in a nursing home (it was an unusual situation). There was a an elderly woman in the room next to his that kept screaming 'fire' and 'help me!' She thought her wheel chair was on fire. My person (who had some issues of his own) was becoming frightened. I went next door to try to calm her. "There's no fire." I cannot tell you how many times I told her that, and she kept on crying. We had Leah, who was hilarious and had a real gift for dealing with this population. She came into the room and listened to me for a minute. Then she grabbed the clients water pitcher, gave her a plastic glass of water and pulled her table up in front of her. In a very serious voice, she said, "I think I've got it out, but I want you to keep your eyes open. If you see flames, dump a glass of water on it." That was that. The woman sat clutching her pitcher and glass of water until she got distracted by the television. It was eyeopening for me. For your mom? I'd suggest getting her a pocket watch or some small gadget, telling her it's her pacemaker, and let her throw it in the closet if she wants. As far as the real monitor, let her cardiologist figure out what to do about that. Surely that can be put out of her reach but still be operational. If it is making noise, I would hope it had some sort of volume control.

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    1. Leah sounds marvellous, Debby. When logic doesn't work, think laterally. In some ways it would be easier if my mother had dementia but she has not at all. This is her usual behaviour. She refuses to understand anything technological. In her own home was a classic example. About every three months she would ask me to change the batteries in the air con remote control, for heating and cooling in case they went flat. Eventually I said, keep a couple of spare batteries and don't forget where they are, and even so, long before the remote stops working, the screen display will go so dim you won't be able to see it.

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    2. I've misunderstood the situation. Didn't mean to sound like a know it all.

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  7. I'm a sucker for a cat picture but I'm surprised that your sister and her medical practitioner wife let Oreo get up on the table.

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    1. MC, I didn't even think of that, but yes, yuk.

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    2. My cat currently eats at the table (yuk, I know) because she is once again in the throes of allergy season and refuses to go into the kitchen, so table it is since she won't eat at all otherwise.

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    3. Actually I don't find it so yuk myself, though I remain surprised Andrew's sister and her wife do not. Unless you scrupulously wash your hands after handling your cat you are probably not much more compromised by the cat getting up on the table. For me the practical issue is that if a cat is accustomed to getting up on a table you need to be more vigilant about leaving food unattended.

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    4. River, practically when you have pets you are going to be exposed to germs. Mostly they don't seem to do you harm.

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    5. I agree MC. We had a few cats and two dogs and cats are terrible for jumping up on benches. It is interesting how our attitudes to germs has changed over years. Doctors are still humans, not false gods with perfect hygiene standards in their daily lives, although hopefully they are when they perform surgery.

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  8. Poor pussy it's pleasing to know it was found, it's not a nice feeling when ones pet disappears.
    Your Mum, so confused. Dr.'s just don't seem to understand that some elderly get muddled with what they say. Frustration, so much trying to explain the correct thing to her for you and everyone.

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    1. Margaret, not so much that she is muddly, more that she won't listen and also she has been treated as muddly by medical people. It should have been clearly explained to her.

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  9. Oreo is darling kitty cat, and good name. Sorry about your mom. I sure hope as I age I'm not much problem for my sons.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

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    1. Oh Dora, I am so sure you will be a problem for you sons if you live to a good age.

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  10. Glad Oreo was found and is well.
    I was also wondering how a pacemaker could be turned off and put in the cupboard, lol. Oh well, the joys of old age.
    Have a nice weekend Andrew

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    1. Sami, it's quite funny really. Thanks.

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  11. I wondered too how it is possible to turn off the pacemaker, I didn't know about the monitor part. Tell her she can just put it in her bedside drawer? With her heartbeat being slower now I suppose she would notice but should become accustomed to it.
    I'm glad Oreo was found safe and well.

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    1. River, Diane's comment below is helpful. Sister's other cat, Oreo's sister was pining too. I've forgotten the other cat's name now, but I think the name of an Egyptian goddess.

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  12. I feel sorry for your mum and you for trying to work out the problem. Bill has a pacemaker and a monitor. The monitor is on the drawers some way from the bed. It doesn't make a noise.It only monitors once a week. She is much safer with the pacemaker. It can only be turned off by the cardiologist. Bill's doctor did this the last time I went with Bill. the doc wanted to show us how weak the heartbeat was. But there wasn't any and the beat line on the screen went flat. He quickly turned it back on again and apologised for killing him for a few seconds. he said oops there isn't any natural heartbeat left. It was scary and funny at the same time.

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    1. Thanks Diane. I have a much better understanding now. Geez, that must have been a scary moment when Bill's heart didn't beat. I wonder if pacemakers make the heart 'lazy'. Like if the heart hasn't beaten of its own volition, it forgets how to do so.

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  13. Lots of memories of ‘walking the street after dark’ calling out a cat’s name. And being abused by a neighbour who didn’t believe me when I told him one our cats was in his garage. Wish I’d had a camera handy when the cat emerged at full pelt after he lifted the door…..and then stopped to do an eternally long pee on his garden (the cat that is not the neighbour.

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    1. Cathy, I am sure you know about the smell of cat pee and it was very considerate of your cat to not pee in the garage of the grumpy neighbour.

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  14. A pacemaker is not put in unless and until the heart has almost stopped beating under its own power. At that stage, there is no other choice. The _very_ minute the pacemaker is stopped (whether the battery runs out, the chest is hit by a cricket ball etc), the person dies.

    It saved my life and will save your mum's.

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    1. Hels, in my mother's case it was more precautionary. It was recommended rather than insisted upon. I guess battery life of pacemakers and other issues are dealt with professionally.

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  15. My father said he could hear his pacemaker pulsing, and with that he knew he was still alive. Near the end of his life, with lots of other terminal illnesses, he asked his doctors to not change the batteries, knowing that one of three or four things would bring the end. A lifetime of being like this, she isn't going to change.

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    1. TP, quite so with a life time of being like that. Bit of a sad story about your father, but I think he was wise.

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  16. Oh, Andrew. I am laughing - in solidarity, mind you - about your mom. Mine is so like her. It's not all dementia for my mother, it's partly just what you said; she has always been crap with technology. It's just worse now. She is having trouble using her phone lately. I have gotten calls at any hour of the night or day; so has my brother; and I cringe wondering how many other people on her phone list. She blames the phone and the phone company, never the operator ... A pacemaker and monitor is so much more serious, although I'm sure the device is foolproof for just such a situation.

    I'm glad your sister's cat was found alive and well. One more reason to have all cats be indoor cats. That's not a universal sentiment, I know. If they are trained from kittenhood it's easier. Even if they're older it can be done. Ours see the window like a TV screen where interesting things are going on but they don't try to go through the portal.

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    1. Jenny, we do have a laugh at her at times. I wonder what we will be like with tech when we are old, and it is hard to imagine what will be invented before that happens.

      I agree with you. Cats should be indoor or at least contained within runs. Their nighttime outings here lead to the death of many small native mammals, lizards etc.

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  17. Good news on your sister's cat. What a worry. And your mum is a trial. I know my dad was rigid in his ways and opinions which were often a trial to me. For instance he would insist, and publicly, that smoking was far safer for everyone than us all breathing in the fumes of buses and trucks on the street. And that ingesting fibre was absolute nonsense. And hundreds of other pronouncements. And oh yes, he hated Australia, said it was a "godless continent" and insulted my Australian friends with that bon mot every time he was exposed to them.

    I can so relate to your frustration at her intransigence.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. WWW, your father argued against even back then, medical advice and statistics. I wonder how he would feel about Covid. I am rather pleased by being known for living on a 'godless continent'. The less gods, the better.

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  18. Anonymous2:54 am

    One of the problems of old age is the loss of independence and the ability to keep control of events. That's why the old, your mother included, can lash out at and reject anything that is intrusive (particularly into the body). Also, as your blog has shown from the start, she asserts herself by "unusual" behaviour. Roderick

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    1. Roderick, she does like to be in control and those days for her are approaching their conclusion. She has not normally been concerned or illogical about such things as she is about the pacemaker. I think it should have been explained to her, bu then sometimes she won't listen.

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