"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Friday, February 13, 2015

Personal Note: Mama’s Back and Varicose Vein

I haven’t spoken on my mother recently.  She had been doing well.  The pacemaker implanted last year really helped with her dizziness and falling.  She had her cataracts operated in August for one eye and November the other.  The cataracts were an elective surgery, and since she had been doing well otherwise we decided to have it done.  It really made her see very well, so well that she was shocked to find out she had so many wrinkles…lol.

So things were good until just about a month ago.  She started getting a sharp pain in her left hip, the hip that she had replaced about eight years ago.  It got to the point where she could barely put any weight on it.  We made an appointment with her orthopedist, the one who replaced it.  He took x-rays and made her do all sorts of leg movements, and from a hip perspective, there is nothing wrong.  That was a blessing because if the hip had to be re-replaced then that would have been a big, big deal.  What he found was that her arthritis had really attacked her lower spine and that it had caused the sciatica nerve to inflame.  Indeed, the pain ran down her left leg and caused it to occasionally go numb down to the knee.  He gave her three epidermal shots in her lower back, and he said if this didn’t solve the pain in a week she would have to go to a pain management specialist.  It did not make the pain go away, and so we have an appointment with a pain management doctor on Monday.  She did have something like this (stenosis?) over ten years ago, and a precise steroid shot in her spine made the pain go away.  I don't recall the pain being this bad, though.  She’s been bedridden now for almost a month, and has not been a happy camper.

Then there was the adventure from yesterday.  While at work I get a panicky call from her.  Her foot is bleeding.  It’s spurting out and shooting across the room.  She had been lying in bed when she noticed blood on the sheets and her foot bleeding.  Now here’s what I’m thinking.  My mother gets these severe calluses on her feet which have to get scraped and cut away by a podiatrist.  (Yes, she’s got a doctor for every body part…lol)  Sometimes those calluses crack, and I’m thinking that’s what happened and blood started coming out.  She tells me on the phone she’s got the bleeding to almost stop; at least it’s not spurting out.  I’m debating whether I should call an ambulance.  Now my work is an hour away, and I carpooled, so I don’t even have a car to rush home.  It’s just around mid-day and I won’t be home until 5:30.  If she goes to the hospital she’ll have to stay there until evening, and since she doesn’t speak English well, there’s going to be a lot of confusion. 

So she said to hold off while she goes to look for a neighbor, and I try to call my wife at home.  My wife is out and I can’t get a hold of her, and the neighbor is not home.  She says she’ll wait but it’s starting to bleed again.  After almost an hour, the neighbor does get home, sees my mother and calls me.  We decide it’s best to call an ambulance.  When the EMT get there I get on the phone and explain her medical history and they stopped the bleeding.  It was not from a crack in a callus, but one of her varicose veins had “blown.”  By now my wife had called me back and I told her to head over, and she did.  The EMT did not think she needed to go to the hospital, but my mother’s neighbor and my wife both thought it would be best because my mother was anxious and not feeling sure.  So the EMT took her to the Emergency Room.  Actually it turned out to be good advice because the vein started bleeding again and requiring a stitch while in the ER.  The doctor at the ER said blowing a varicose vein was not uncommon, and in time it might happen to her other veins.  I guess it sucks being 81 years old.  And so I picked her up when I got home and settled her in.  There were a lot of bloody towels on her floor and blood on her bed sheet and carpet.

So that’s the adventure.  Just when you think things are going well, something unexpected comes along.   I just hope they can do something for her back.  She’s walking with a can, stooped over and favoring one side.  Just a few months ago she was still gardening.


  1. I was feeling a little under the weather this morning and long story short, I thought that Victor #1 might have some kind of "Relaxation Techniques" for me but after I finished reading "IT" I decided to pay you a visit but wouldn't you know "IT" I started recalling similar stories of when my mom was 81 and she lived till she was about a month short of 87 years (God Bless her soul).

    Longer story shorter, after reading this, I think I'm going to go and take a little nap before I comment anymore on your loving dear old mother. OK! I'll simply say that these Italian and French ladies are pretty tough old woman and leave it at that...lol

    God Bless you and yours

  2. Well thank the good Lord Mrs Manny and the neighbor had the sense to insist she go to the hospital. EMT's serve a purpose but their knowledge and judgement are inadequate at best to diagnose and decide whether or not someone needs a physician. At least until certain presidents or supreme court justices give them the power to do so. That really annoys me. God bless her- my own mom only lived to 66- she'd be 97 this year:)

  3. I am truly sorry to hear about the difficulties your mother has been suffering and would like to assure you that I am praying for her as well as for you and your family. One thing is for certain as I read your story - you are a good loving son Manny, and your wife too for helping in such a situation. May God smile on both of you and your own son Matthew.

    God bless you all and your family.

  4. God Bless, Manny. From my experience, it is part and parcel of growing older. These incidents just happen as the body wears down. She may stabilize again, you never know. My MIL beat the odds so many times! But I know what you are going through. God will give you all the grace and strength to get through, and help your mother as best you can. He will be with her, too. It's just another season of life, as well all approach the next.

  5. Oh my, Manny. What an ordeal your mom has been through.

    It is good that she has her family nearby and so willing to help. Prayers for all of you and please keep us posted!


  6. Oh, thank you all. She's doing pretty well. Tomorrow is the pain management appointment. That's the one I'm looking forward to.