Madeline YIengst Madeline YIengst

First post: Jan 26, 2019 Latest post: Mar 23, 2019
It has been a journey.... and a very hard one at that.  My mom is the toughest person I know, and I know many of you would vouch for her kindness, tenacity, and strong will to always get better from things. After all of her health struggles, this one has taken its toll, as it has taken her nutritional reserve away, and she has little energy to rebound from the various things she has been faced with since May.

Back in May, my mom had a mild heart attack and had a stent put in her heart in one artery to open the blockage. That self-eluding stent gave off blood thinners , and she was put on Plavix  (a blood thinner) for life.

My mom recovered. She started to sleep a lot more, and the doctor weaned her  slowly down off a medication called Reglan, which was for a condition called Gastroparesis.  Gastro= the esophagus, the stomach, our digestive system+ paresis =the paralysis of the stomach's function in digesting food.  The reason this medication was removed was because it was a dopamine antagonist, which, while good for the digestive process, created other problems, one of them being shaking and the beginnings of tardive dyskinesia... symptoms which mimicked Parkinson's disease.

Gastroparesis has been the beast which my mom has been fighting very severely since the beginning of July, 2019.  Her stomach basically no longer empties food the way it used to or in a fashion which makes eating serve its purpose of nutrition.   My mom had an episode in June in which she got very nauseous and had reflux so badly that her vagal reflex to gag made her blood pressure dip, and she would pass out. She has passed out about 15 times or more since then; and when hooked to the heart monitor, my sister and dad have seen the heart actually stop for 10 seconds several times in a row. That vasovagal syncope has happened so many times, and I feel that my mom's vagus nerve no longer works like it should to help in the digestive process. 

My mom was admitted to Anne Arundel Medical Center from July 5, 2019, through, July 26th or so.   They basically told us that she had gastroparesis, and that there was no cure for it.  I wish I knew then, what I know now. Now, it is seemingly too late. Nevertheless, the hospital sent her home to get nourished on better food from home and to revisit with the possibility of surgery someday... although it was warranted that her condition with being on Plavix would make her a strong candidate for bleeding during surgery.   It was not recommended. 

My mom was released from hospital from the end of July until September 16, 2018, on which date I called the ambulance again when she passed out.  We went to the ER, to find the rudest doctor. At that point, we asked to have my mom sent via ambulance to the Georgetown Medical Center, where we hoped to received better care. Plus, there was a gastroenterologist there who suggested that he may be able to fix the hiatal hernia she had that came undone from a previous surgery called a Nissen Fundoplication.

(My mom's next ambulance ride to the hospice center will be approximately her 18th ride, with episodes of passing out due to bouts of nausea from the gastroporesis.)

With a stay at Georgetown Med Star, my dad and sister had an hour drive each way, but they were always there. .... every day.  My mom was introduced to the concept of TPN (Total Parental Nutrition) there, which was a big bag of nourishment that went into her vein. Besides pureed foods, that was the only way that she could get up to speed to possibly make it through surgery. What we found was that the TPN actually made her nausea worse, as our bodies are not used to being fed that way. It also made confusion even worse. Overall, it was the recommended course of action, but it just extended her suffering. We did not know. This has been a journey in which we have learned a lot, at the expense of my poor mom's suffering.

As the notion to get stronger remained intact, my mom was transferred to a Herald Harbor rehab/nursing home where she was emotionally abused by caregivers. My dad and sister got her out of there within a week to Spa Creek Rehab where things were a little bit better,  but still the conditions in which our elders are forced to live is quite atrocious. My sister and I learned the code to the linen closet quickly, as staff would not come to help my mom for sometimes upwards of 30 minutes. My mom gained some weight from TPN, did PT, and suffered from extreme nausea there.   This was from October until mid-December, 2018.  In December, my sweet mom vomited and aspirated on some food, which caused pneumonia. She was completely mentally incoherent and unable to respond from that incident. I flew in to Reagan National that day and found her and Karen at the hospital.  That was an awful night. They wanted to do a spinal tap, but my sister and i called my mom, as my mom's scoliosis would prevent them from getting a good sample from the brain. That was then we denied them privileges to do spinal tap for meningitis. It's a good thing we did.

After being put on three very heavy antibiotics, my mom acquired C-Diff, a horrible spore that can grow in your intestines when all of the good biotic factors all killed from antibiotics.  It took its toll. The night before she had it full-blown, my sweet mom pulled out her PIC -line for the TPN.  They said that she did a beautiful job of it.  30-five years of nursing was in her favor. It was the answer for us as to whether or not to continue the TPN. This was right before Christmas, so our plan to take her to Karen's home for Christmas day was squashed by the imminent threat of spreading C-Diff. As it was, we had to wear latex gloves and plastic gowns while visiting.

After Christmas, by mom was transported via ambulance to a rehab center in Crofton, MD. The day she left the hospital, she cried, because the nurses/staff on the Acute Elderly wing of Anne Arundel Medical Center have been just awesome. They have hearts for older people and love on them. It has seemed like it is not just their job, but their ministry, which has been an incredible gift.  We also found Crofton Care to be very attentive and caring.  My mom did PT there and ate her pureed food as best as possible.

After another round of antibiotics for yet another infection, the CDiff came back, and my mom has been at Anne Arundel Medical Center since.  It was touch and go after the first few days there.  She would pass out and her heart stopped a few times. She is still fighting the CDiff and is very weak. She occasionally cannot tolerate food or oral meds well. The next step is hospice,  and while it is a sad one, we know that they will give Mom a quality of life of which she is so deserving. I pray still that there is tiny chance we could have a miracle and get her healed. It will take God's magic hand at this point, but atleast she will be well-loved on. In the meantime, my dad and sister are incredible. Just blessings, and I watch/listen from afar and wait for the next cue to head back East. My mom is a trooper. She wants to be here on this earth, but her body is tired. Love to all. Thanks for following.

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