Sunday, October 24, 2010
Conversations with Mom
Saturday morning I found an empty bottle of Robitussin DM on the counter.
When I saw Mom, I asked her if it was hers and she said yes and that she needed it refilled. I really didn't think anything of it until later in the day when she asked if I had bought her some more yet.
"Do you need it today?"
"Well, don't make a special trip, but I usually take it every night before bed."
Warning buzzer goes off in my head...
"You do? But you also take Mucinex DM at bedtime. I think they are the same drug."
"No they aren't. I take the Mucinex to break up my cough and I take the Robitussin to stop my coughing at night so I can sleep."
"I'll have to check the labels Mom."
"Mom, the two medicines are the same. You really shouldn't take both at the same time."
"THEY ARE NOT THE SAME! I need the Mucinex for long-term nighttime protection and the Robitussin to stop my cough. The Robitussin gets in the system faster because it is liquid. I ALWAYS take this. I will not overdose."
After dinner, my DH and I go to the store. He talks about buying a bottle of Robitussin and replacing the contents with red sugar water. It is tempting- but we decide thats not a good idea in case she (or someone else) really needs the Robitussin. We buy a bottle- the only one they had was sugar free.
Come home. I reread the labels and tell Mom I can'[t give her both- she can take one or the other.
She starts yelling at me about being a nurse etc etc etc. I tell her I will call the Patient Advisory Nurse at the hospital where she worked for 40 years and ask them what they think. Mom is furious. I call anyhow.
The Patient Advisory Nurse tells me not to give both meds.
I tell Mom.
"You didn't talk to a real nurse! I'm a real nurse! I know more about medicine than you ever will. It's just d*mn cough medicine. Did you tell them I have asthma? Do you want me to keep your father up all night coughing?"
I walk away and at 10:00 I bring her medicine.
"I can't believe you will not listen to me and give me my cough medicine! I'll be up all night!"
"Mom- I'm doing the best I can. I'm following the instructions given to me by a Registered Nurse. I read about it on the internet. I will give you one or the other."
She takes her pills and takes the Mucinex DM. She glares at me and when I tell her good night she says:
"It won't be a good night. Thanks for nothing."
Sunday morning I get up at 5:30 and see the light on in Mom's living room. She's coughing. Not a lot- its her normal first of the morning cough when she hacks up phlegm. I get my coffee and go in to take my shower.
At 7:00 AM Mom is in the kitchen waiting for me. She is mad- it is all written in her face and her body language.
"Did you her me last night? I coughed ALL NIGHT LONG."
" No Mom, I didn't hear you."
"Well good for you. I'm sure I kept your Dad awake all night. I finally got up at 4:00 AM and came out here. All I've done is cough. I can't sleep. Would you PLEASE give me some cough medicine!!"
"Mom, the Mucinex DM is 12 hour. You had some at 10:00 AM."
"I want it NOW!"
"Mom, I'll call the patient advisory nurse."
"Don't you call anyone? Who are you going to call? Well I hope she's a real nurse. And you tell her I'm a nurse too etc etc etc..."
I call the patient advisory nurse. I explain what is going on and that my mom has Alzheimer's and that she is a retired nurse. I put the nurse on speaker phone and she can her my mom yelling at me about the cough medicine.
Nurse: "She can't take those medicines together, especially with asthma. Is she taking her Flonase and her albuterol inhaler?"
I ask Mom.
"I take the Flonase at night. And I can't take the inhaler all the time, it's not good for my heart."
"Mom, aren't you supposed to take it 4 times a day?"
"I take it PRN (medical speak for "as needed") I always take it before bed. I don't know why you won't just give me the cough syrup. It is just cough syrup!!! I have never over dosed on medication and I have never given anyone else the wrong dose. Is she a real nurse? Where is she at? Is she at (mom's) hospital? Does she know I'm a nurse? "
Nurse: It isn't "just cough syrup."
Nurse: Is she wheezing?"
"I haven't heard her wheeze. Mom are you wheezing?"
"I don't know. I can't hear it if I'm wheezing."
"Can't you feel it when you're wheezing?"
Nurse: Have her take a couple of deep breaths."
"Mom, take a couple of deep breaths."
No wheezing- no coughing.
Nurse: "Tell her she can have the Robitussin DM at 10:00 AM. Her records indicate she is supposed to be taking the plain Mucinex- not the DM. Then she could have both. If she gets worse, bring her in to the ER."
"Are you documenting this?"
Nurse: "Yes, it will be in her records."
"Mom- you can have the Robitussin at 10AM. D (my husband) will give it to you then. I have to get ready for my job- I have a church service in just a bit."
"Go! I don't care!"
After church- at 11:30 AM I come home to find the Robitussin dose cup sitting at Mom's place at the table with the medicine still in the cup.
Mom comes out of her living room. I don't want to ask- but I have to...
"Are you feeling better?"
"Did D give you the Robitussin that is sitting here?"
"He gave me something. But I don't know if it is Robitussin. So I didn't take it! I want to see the bottle."
I get the bottle and the box.
"Mom- it is sugar free and has no added coloring or flavors. That's why it is clear and not red."
Looking at the box. "I'm not diabetic. I don't need this."
"Mom, it is the only Robitussin DM they had at the grocery store. Anyone can take it, its not just for diabetics."
Mom read the box and bottle. "I can't think straight. I'm too tired from coughing all night."
I haven't heard her cough since I got home. "Are you still coughing?"
"I don't know. I haven't tried to cough." (?????)
"Do you want to see a doctor?"
"No, I just needed my cough medicine."
"Are you going to take it now?"
"I don't know. (pout) I haven't decided.
"If you take it, I need to know what time you took it."
"Why? Its just cough medicine!"
"Just let me know, okay? If its still sitting here in an hour, I'm throwing it away.
Five minutes later, she hands me the empty cup and a note saying she took it at noon.
What will tonight bring I wonder?