Saturday, February 23, 2008

Postural perseveration

Necessity is the mother of invention...necessity is the mother of invention...necessity is the mother of invention...
--My Mom

There are days that my Mom doesn't know who I am, and days where she can't even talk. Today she was firing most neurons in a satisfying way. We talked over coffee on a wide variety of subjects--why her oxygen level is low, what is diffusing capacity, how cooking freed pre-humans to develop large and energy intensive brains, how our human genome fosters obesity and diabetes through overeating, etc. In short, the first hour of our visit was a remarkable conversation with Mom as she used to be.

As we rolled to the dining room, however, the situation changed. She'd now been up an hour, and fresh blood to brain was starting to slow. Towards the end of our free flowing talk, she'd wondered if inventors were generally poor as the lack of resources available in poverty might make them more resourceful. "Necessity," I reminded her, "is the mother of invention."

She proceeded to repeat that old adage, first in a thoughtful, musing sort of way, then in an increasingly broken record sort of automatic repetition. Pure perseveration this--an uncontrolled repetition of a word or phrase, and a sure sign the brain is slipping its gears. In short, she was having another postural TIA.

"Oh Jude," she finally gasped, "How do I turn this off?" She became too agitated to eat. I took her back to her room and helped her into bed. As is often the case when gravity robs her brain of blood flow, she was scarcely able to move her left leg to negotiate the three steps from wheelchair to bed. I should've known better, an hour of talk is too much of a good thing.


JeanMac said...

Dear Lord, it's tough. Thinking of you and your Mom tonight.

Laura in L.A. said...

I am praying for you and your mom. It's so hard to see when you can't do anything to make it better. You are such a good daughter.

Anonymous said...

Good point that the visit/conversation may start off more "normal" and sort of wind down as mom starts running on empty.

My mother in law lost more than 8 inches of height from osteoporosis. never sick a day in her life till 75 or so. But as she had those compression fractures, bit by bit her internal organs got more and more squashed in, till her stomach was moving up by her heart, requiring surgeries,etc. Sigh. We think about getting shorter but I never had realized how bad that could be for what's inside.

well, hang in there. All you can do is be there. Wish we could make it better for our elders.

Femail doc said...

Jean and Laura: You both are always so supportive in your comments, and they are always much appreciated.

Anon: I'm glad you brought up the shape change that occurs as women implode with collapsing vertebrae. Not only does it make it hard to buy clothes, it does squash internal organs. It's not just about being a little short with the aging process!

Mauigirl said...

I'm so glad that you and your mom were able to have a whole hour of nearly normal conversation! Even though she got stuck on the "mother of invention" phrase afterward. It seems when elderly people with dementia get tired, that is when their brains get more scrambled.

My mother-in-law has been doing much better recently since it turned out she had a bladder infection - now she is cured of it and her mental faculties have improved. But she still can't carry on a real conversation like your mom was able to. We're just excited when she is able to answer questions appropriately.