Friday, October 14, 2005

Vampires That Come in the Night

What would you do if you woke up in your own bed and someone was there trying to take your blood?
This is the situation Mom now faces. She is back on Coumadin and her blood coagulation levels have to be checked every two weeks. I could take her to a lab to have this done, but in an attempt to avoid one more medical visit, I asked Ocean View to do it. They hired a lab that sends people out to draw the blood, and apparently the most convenient time for these people is shortly after 5 am.
Someone with a normally functioning brain might be able to wake up, listen to the explanation for the visit, and face the finger prick with a minimum amount of trepidation. Might be able.
But not someone with Lewy Body Dementia. Just waking up is a problem--that is, distinguishing between whether the events taking place are a nightmare or reality. Add to that the difficulty of enough mental acuity to absorb the explanation and enough courage to face yet another of the dozens of finger pricks and IV insertions she has endured in the past month, when she had surgery to have a pacemaker implanted.
When I visited her today, I asked if the people had come by yet to check her prothrombin time.
"I think they came," Mom said, "but I don't know if I was dreaming or not."
"Yes, they came at 5:40 am," said Jona. "Connie wrote it down in her night report."
"Oh no," I said. "They came while it was still dark? That's the second time they came that early. Sorry about that, Mom. A little scary, isn't it!"
"I don't like them to come at all. I don't want my finger pricked," she said.
And I remembered the time in December of 2004 when the night visit of a man taking blood had precipitated a mental breakdown. We had just moved Mom from Colorado into assisted living near Emily in Mission Viejo. She had been in her apartment there about two weeks when she reported being raped in the night.
"No, you must have dreamed it," we assured her. "No one would come in and bother you here in the middle of the night."
But her agitation continued, and the next night she got up at 3 am or so and sat in the middle of her floor sorting old papers and letters. When the caregiver came in at 7 am to dress her and take her to breakfast, she refused to be interrupted. Soon she was hitting and kicking the caregiver, who persisted in trying to get her ready because she had a lot of people to get to breakfast by 7:30 am.
Before we were notified, Mom had been 5150'd. The police had come and carried her away on a stretcher.
At this point we looked into what had happened the day before, and yes, a man had come into her room to do a blood test in the pre-dawn hours.
To Mom, being approached by a lone man as she lay in her nightgown asleep in bed in her apartment was terrifying. Most likely it was not a rape, but it might as well have been, given the fragile state of her mind.
Somehow, after her brush with the police, we managed to get her released back to assisted living instead of to a geriatric mental hospital. We cancelled the in-house blood tests and took her to the lab ourselves to have her coagulation times checked.
Later she was taken off Coumadin, but now after a pulmonary embolism, she is back onto an anti-coagulation program--and back in the hands of the vampires.
Once again our choices are either to get them to change the hour of their visits or to take her to the lab ourselves.

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