The Official POPS blog.

Friday, June 29, 2012


We’ve had a lot of fun with the blogs recently. This one takes a bit of a serious turn.

My mom lives in St. Pete Beach, FL. Her birthday is May 30, so about a month ago she turned 85. A very active 85, she was driving herself to a job at a local thrift store, usually 4 or 5 days a week. She did volunteer work and was very active. That was a couple of months ago. That all changed.

On May 11, she fell. She fell very hard, flat on her face. No broken bones, but VERY messy. She could not explain how or why she fell, but insisted she didn’t black out. She spent that day in the hospital, where they ran some tests and scans before releasing her. Prior to that, she had been having some other difficulties: memory issues and some incontinence. A routine visit to her doctor did not show any abnormalities. After the fall and her subsequent doctor’s visit, she began to decline. She became more confused, had more serious memory gaps and worsening incontinence.

I went to visit her on her birthday as I do every year. I got to FL on Monday the 28th of May and returned home on that Friday. I noticed that she was definitely more confused than normal, certainly more tired than usual, but it was all put down to her fall.

Fortunately, my sister lives close by our mom. Sometime the week of June 6th, she decided to call mom’s doctor (her GP) and explain the confusion, incontinence, being constantly tired and gaps in memory along with the fall. The doctor’s response was, paraphrasing only slightly, ‘your mother is 85 years old’.

Over the several days that followed, my sister phoned me to let me know how she was doing, becoming more and more concerned because of her increasing inability to understand some things and her confusion. But when I spoke with my mom by phone, she would usually sound pretty upbeat and alert.

On June 13th, I was heading to Lawrenceburg when my sis called around 8:30am. She asked me to give mom a call and see what I thought. I called my mom and she was totally incoherent. I had to pull off to the side, as it was kind of freaking me out. Her vocabulary was perhaps 10 words, and the only phrase she could utter that made ANY sense was “I don’t know…”. Everything else was gibberish. I called my sister immediately and told I agreed that mom needed to get to a hospital.

I talked to my daughter, an RN, just to get any ideas she might have. I told her about the confusion, the incontinence, the incoherence, and inability to comprehend. The first thing my daughter asked was whether her grandma had been tested for UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). Then she wanted to know whether they had checked for a stroke with a CT scan, and asked a few other things which I can’t remember.

After hours in the emergency room they finally ran several tests with some clear results: she had a UTI. Yep, a urinary tract infection that had probably gone undiagnosed for at least a month, probably much longer. AN INFECTION! The frightening thing is that even after being given the symptoms that my mom was showing, her doctor never even suggested it. I can't say enough good about Saint Anthony's of St. Pete. Sadell and Fabiola were simply wonderful, caring individuals. Mom is currently in the rehab unit of a nursing home. It looks as though it will be a loooong haul. Kudos there to Brent and Rogers. They are taking excellent, patient care as are the many therapists (thanks for so much info, Jaci).

You may wonder what the point of this blog might be. Simple. After mom fell on the 11th, my sister called mom’s doctor with a certain set of symptoms that pointed directly to a UTI; confusion, loss of balance, incontinence and memory loss. The answer she was given was not acceptable: ‘She’s 85 years old’. Folks, this is a very serious issue. A urinary tract infection CAN KILL. It is not like having a paper cut get infected. In the elderly, a UTI can cause massive damage, even death. If you know any elderly folks, especially women, I insist you spend 5 minutes reading about this issue. I’ve included a link below, but there are many other resources you can use to find out about UTI. (http://www.agingcare.com/Articles/Elderly-urinary-tract-infections-146026.htm). This infection was almost certainly the reason for the early symptoms of confusion, incontinence and loss of balance. While other issues have turned up since, the early misdiagnosis was unforgivable, and so much of the pain and misery she is now suffering could have been prevented easily if only her doctor had done his job.

Thanks for lending an ear.

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