Sunday night, I ended up in the emergency ward with my mom again.
At least, this time when I heard her quavery voice on the phone, I said,”Call 911 right now. I’m on my way!”
She did, and I arrived at her condo right behind the ambulance.
Mom had almost fallen because she was so dizzy and hot. She felt generally crappy, but somehow made it to her bed, then was able to make those two phonecalls. She said her head felt full, and every time she moved, the dizziness overwhelmed her.
The paramedics were calm and reassuring, as paramedics are. They didn’t seem to be in full emergency mode, and as long as Mom didn’t move too much, she seemed okay. She looked fine, at least. They had her raise her arms, smile, and asked her a few questions. She could do all that, so they said it didn’t seem to be a stroke. They checked her heartbeat, and even though she has atrial fibrillation, it seemed fine. Her blood pressure was high, despite her pills, but the paramedics said that this was quite likely due to the stress of her current situation. She had taken all her meds properly that day (this all happened at 9 pm), she assured them. They assured her that they were taking her into the hospital. I followed in my car.
Mom got a bed in emergency within fifteen minutes – but in a back hallway of the ward, not in the regular beds that loop around the nurses’ station in the centre. Somehow, that reassured me. I reasoned that if things were dire, she would have been placed in full view of all the medical staff, and hooked up to all kinds of monitors.
She and I had a few conversations with nurses. Her blood drawn pretty quickly, she gave a urine sample, and she had an ECG. Later, she was taken away for an x-ray of her chest. She was exhausted (so was I, quite honestly), but a doctor didn’t come by to see her for almost five hours. I guess it took that long to have all that analyzing done and some sort of diagnosis made.
And what was that diagnosis finally? Well, I wasn’t very impressed with the doctor’s bedside manner, but the upshot was that they had done 15 tests on her and there was “no emergent situation”. We asked what that meant, and he explained that there was no heart attack, no stroke, no real reason for her to be admitted. He said that yes, there was “something”, but that “something” could better be dealt with by her physician, as it wasn’t a life-or-death situation.
“But what’s wrong with me? Why do I feel so dizzy?” Mom almost whined.
The doctor told us that his best guess, based on her symptoms, was vertigo.
I quickly googled it on my phone. Yep, sure sounded like Mom had vertigo. In fact, it sounded like Mom had vertigo last year when she threw up at the casino and PG and I had had to go and get her and take her into emergency. Mom then mused that she thought that she’d tripped and almost fallen a day or so previously, but now she thought that perhaps she’d been briefly dizzy, not clumsy.
And what medical treatment is there for vertigo? The doctor said it was actually fairly common, particularly in older folks, but that it wasn’t usually long-lasting or totally debilitating. He assured us that it would very likely pass on its own, in a day or so. If it became chronic or longer-lasting or more severe, there were meds, but he suggested that I just take Mom home and that she try to relax.
So that’s what we did.
I stayed with her that night – or what was left of it – because even though she was already feeling much, much better, she was a little nervous that it would happen again. The next night, DD stayed overnight with her. And then she pronounced herself “just fine!” and said she didn’t need any more babysitting. She’s continued to be “just fine!” ever since.
But I do think I prefer the movie “Vertigo” to the version Mom experienced – and so does she, I’m sure!