Today started out normal enough. I did my rounds, as usual, including checking on the kittens.
Beep Beep is getting more comfortable with leaving them to sleep while she gets some needed sustenance – and some cuddles! 🙂
I was just settling down to upload the trail cam files when I got a phone call from my mother.
For quite some time now, she’s been complaining about her heart. Chest pains. Not getting any air. It’s been very confusing. Partly because test after test has shown her heart is in great shape. No one has been able to find anything wrong. The other part is, her descriptions are rather lacking in details. She’ll talk about how her heart is bothering her so much, but then start talking about not having any air at night, and has to turn on a fan or open a window. But it’s her heart. It is made more difficult for her to explain, when she has a very poor grasp of anatomy.
The more detail we manage to wrestle out of her, the more we’re thinking it’s a problem with her lungs. What makes it even more difficult is that her symptoms only seem to happen when she’s lying down in bed. When she’s up and about, they go away.
This morning, I could hear in her voice right away, that something was wrong. She started talking about how much her heart was bothering her, then talking about not being able to breath. Her night was bad enough to scare her, and she was wondering what to do.
Normally, I’d just take her to the clinic. The clinic her new doctor is in has walk in, but it’s also located in a hospital, so there’s an emergency just down the hall.
But we’re in shut down right now, and with all the scary stuff she’s seeing on TV about the Wuhan virus, she’s also worried that her breathing problems are related to that.
Which is theoretically possible. Even though her building is in lock down, people do still have to go in and out. It was very unlikely, but still something that would probably check.
Also, her doctor’s clinic is doing most appointments only by phone right now.
Now, there is a hospital just a few blocks from her place. I suggested she go to the emergency there, but neither of us were sure there still was an emergency room. The building is now more of a nursing home with a clinic in it. She had even tried the health link number, which is for all the province, but only got a message saying they were busy. What else was in the message, I don’t know, since she would not have finished listening to it.
So I suggested she try to get to the emergency we thought might be near her, and to do that, she would first call the social worker assigned to her building. The social worker would have the phone numbers she needed. While she was doing that, I got online and tried to find the numbers to call myself.
Well, that turned out to be useless. I called the hospital number and got an long recorded message saying, “if this, call here, if that, call there, if something else, do this”. Even I was loosing track of it all. My mother would have been completely lost. From the website, it sounded like they wanted people to go use drive through testing centres for the Wuhan virus, rather than go to any hospitals.
I finally ended up calling the clinic near my mother. My mother used to go there, before switching to where her current doctor is. After talking to them for a bit, I was told to call this other clinic. So I did.
They told me to call the hospital near my mother’s place.
I explained to her that I’d tried that and just got a recorded message telling me to call other places. I ended up being transferred from the clinic to the hospital it was in, with instructions to ask to be transferred to the hospital in my mother’s town. When I explained the situation to the new person I spoke to, she was stunned that I only got a recorded message. So she put me on hold and called herself.
It turns out that, at the very end of the message, there was one last instruction to hit 0 to get the nurse’s desk. I must have hung up before that last bit at the end, because I never heard it.
Then she told me, “you know that hospital doesn’t really have an emergency room anymore, right?”
Well, now I do!
Basically, if she went there, they would assess her, then send her someplace else.
After explaining the situation to her, she suggested I bring my mother to this hospital, then gave me instructions on which entrance to go to.
So I called my mom back. She had just called the hospital by her place and told me they booked a telephone appointment for her with her new doctor.
It was coming up on 10am, as we were talking.
I told her about my calls, and gave her the choice. In the end, she decided she had better get checked.
So off I went to pick her up and take her to the emergency at this other hospital with an fully functioning emergency.
I’ve taken her here before, but a few things have changed since the shut down started. Instead of going straight to the desk to be checked in, there was a lady at a table facing the entrance. She was wearing a mask, gloves and gown. In front of her were posts like used on highway construction areas, with yellow caution tape between them, plus a hand sanitizer station. On the table was a stack of masks.
She asked us a few questions about why we were there, and if my mother had other cold-like symptoms or had been traveling out of the country within the last 14 days.
Once that was cleared up, she asked us to use the hand sanitizer, then my mother was allowed to the check in desk.
I was not.
There was a small waiting room I could go to, though, and it was a good thing I was handy. My mother, being scared of the virus, was talking about getting tested for it, and the staff were all “why weren’t you given a mask?” They had to come to me to clarify. Then a few moments later, the woman we first talked to came to me and asked if my mother had a history of dementia. I carefully (and quietly!) explained the situation with her, so that helped them understand a bit more on how to address her. Meanwhile, I could hear them trying to explain to her that, because she doesn’t have the symptoms, they would not be testing her for the Wuhan virus, eventually mollifying her by saying they would make that decision as she gets checked. Then she was sent to the emergency room waiting room, and I could hear no more.
Then I waited.
Which was fine with me. I got to update my family, and had a nice chat with a woman who ended up waiting in the room with me, because she wasn’t allowed in with her husband, either. The only exceptions I saw was an elderly couple, with the husband pushing his wife in her wheelchair, and another guy with his very elderly father, and both times they were clearly expected for specific things, not an emergency room visit for something unknown, like my mother. The place was surprisingly busy, all things considered.
Then my mom came out, and that was it. We were done.
Once I got her in the van, she was able to tell me that…
…they found nothing wrong with her.
She is, understandably, frustrated.
They did take X-rays of her lungs, but will only call her if there is something found.
Long story short, I suggested waiting a few days for the X-rays to be looked at, and if she doesn’t get a call, to book an appointment with her doctor to talk about her breathing issues.
It took a lot of questioning, but I eventually got out of her that she’s had this issue for probably about 10 years, but that it’s gotten noticeably worse, recently. Which eliminated one possibility that I was thinking of, in that there was some sort of air circulation problem in her tiny apartment. Ten years ago, she was still living here at the farm. She brought up asthma, but the more I described the symptoms, the less she thought that might be the cause. She had also brought up her thyroid, but that was only because a friend she talked to on the phone takes medication for her thyroid and suggested it. I had to explain to her that a thyroid was a gland we all have, not a disease. I know people with both hypo- and hyper- thyroidism and was able to explain more about that to her. I had brought up in the past that sleeping in a more upright position might help, and maybe getting a sleep chair, and she’s starting to think that might be a good idea. She doesn’t want something with “buttons” on it (a remote), so she’s just thinking of a recliner with a lever. Sleep chairs are designed for actual sleeping on and would be much better, but are very expensive. So it might be worth trying a recliner and seeing if it makes a difference.
It wasn’t until just before I left that she mentioned something that had me thinking that she might have sleep apnea.
Whether or not she does, a sleep test would probably be a good thing to get done, but with all non-essential and elective health care not being done right now, it’s not like that is going to happen. Especially since there are already months long waiting lists for these tests, at the best of times.
At least my mother was feeling better by the time I got her home, but I can really understand her feelings about them not finding anything wrong with her.
It was late afternoon by the time we were done, but I was still able to get some things checked off on my to-do list. Her town has a hardware store, so I was able to go there to get the paint we need to finish the sun room door, plus a few other things. After messaging with my daughters, I ended up swinging by home to drop the stuff off and pick up a daughter, then we went into town for a few errands, before picking up some take-out food.
Oh, was that ever good. 😀
My daughters, meanwhile, did get some work done on the future garden plot, but that will be a post for another time! 😀
For now, I’m just happy my mom’s okay, and to be home.