Saturday, September 15, 2007

My Most Embarrassing Day

Of course it happened at a P.E.O. meeting in a lovely lady's home.

Mom had been on stool softeners for several weeks, and I thought the problem of her constipation had been solved. Keeping the right balance of Sorbitol, prune juice, and various foods in her diet was tricky, though--too much vs. too little of one thing or another.

It might have worked out if she hadn't been given Colase.

There we were at the P.E.O. special event for B.I.L.s ("Boy I Love," my grandmother once explained to me, but in 2007 it is known as "Brothers in Love," partly because so few spouses are still alive). We had two B.I.L.s at this dinner.

We had just started to eat the catered Italian cuisine when Mom said, "We have to go now. I feel sick. I don't want to stay."

Fool that I am, I insisted on staying another 45 minutes until we had been there about an hour.

But I began noticing a bad odor. She needs to go to the bathroom, I realized. She may even have had a BM in her Depend.

Taking her to the bathroom in this home was not an option--it was too small to get the wheelchair inside, and there was no bar for her to hold onto while I removed her nylons and Depends.

The odor got worse. I got worried. Mom insisted on leaving.

The ladies were very polite.

Finally we made our excuses and left, wheeling to where I had parked the car.

As I helped her into the car, I realized the BM was outside the Depend--all over her skirt, the wheelchair, the seat of my car.

I drove back to Ocean View Assisted Living as fast as I could.

In the parking lot, I put a blanket in the wheelchair before moving her into it.

Up in her room, I peeled down the Depend and found a mess--all over her nylons, shoes, skirt, the floor. On my clothes too.

Marnie, a kind caregiver, had figured out that something was afoot as I wheeled Mom back to her room and insisted on helping me. She was a lifesaver.

Together we cleaned up Mom and the bathroom. Then I gave Mom a shower, put her in her nightgown, and left her in Marnie's care.

Hindsight: had I known the extent of her problem, I would have left the party immediately when she first asked to leave. Instead we stayed as the odor got worse and worse...

My brother Bill listened to this story and said, "Colase--I use it to have a colonoscopy. It cleans you out fast."

"I didn't know," I moaned.

From now on: no more Colase.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Calcium--The Culprit

After weeks of trying to balance Mom's diet and relieve her constipation, we now have the solution: Just reduce her calcium pills to one a day.

In July her calcium was changed to three times per day, and soon afterward, her constipation began.

Today after reviewing all Mom's recent medical history, Dr. Rosen suddenly realized that the calcium increase was probably the cause of her constipation.

I take 2000 mg. of calcium per day with no ill effects, so it never occurred to me that calcium was the problem. But Dr. Rosen said sometimes it can cause this problem.

So we have changed the calcium back to 500 mg. per day, and added Sorbitol and Colase temporarily until her stools become normal again.