Green Woman seems like a good place to start this journey. Mom and I going into this after about a month of discussion and research. We're doing this deliberately, carefully and we have to tools to make sure that we're making things better, not worse.
About six months ago mom was diagnosed with high blood pressure. She just turned 87 and has never had a problem. And it’s the systolic that’s high; her diastolic was and is in normal range. Some research on the net gave us information that this is a common side effect to aging. Like the rest of your body your arteries just aren’t as flexible as they used to be. But, what the hey. Doc puts her on one medication. Doesn't like the results; adds a second drug. Doesn't like those results and ADDS A THIRD.
In the meantime, my 87 going on 80 pretty darn sharp for her age mother is turning into a zombie. Even her friends start to notice. “You’re not the Kathryn I know.” The weakness in her left leg is getting worse, her balance is off and she’s having muscle cramps at night. Just for info, I’ve been the same doctor in the past and discussing side effects is like talking to a brick wall. I’ve been using herbs and getting reasonable results given that my knees are shot and I haven’t been watching my diet very well. That’s going to change.
I don’t’ pay much attention to Dr. Oz but there was an article in the local paper a couple of months ago on the benefits of adding high potassium foods to your diet to help control blood pressure. I check the indications on mom’s RX and low and behold she’s being told to watch her potassium intake. As in don’t take too much. (head slap, forehead hitting desk) Here’s something that can help you not need so many drugs and you’re being told not to take it. Meantime mom’s getting foggier (depression is a possible side effect of two of the drugs along with muscle cramps and balance problems) all the time. This is a gal who has had a few problems with her back but didn’t need cane to get around the fucking house for cryin’ out loud and the only thing she’s been taking regularly is generic Prilosec.
Ok. Best herbal compounds I can find? Check. Tai Chi DVD’s dusted off? Check. New arm cuff that will fit her so she can use my monitor? Check. Wrist cuff as back up and for me to use too? Check. Excel spreadsheet to keep track. Check My trusty, dusty copy of
Kitchen with the very readable nutrition charts in the back? Check. Does it
list potassium levels? Check, check, check. Do dried beans, nuts, brown rice,
other grains and Swiss chard suddenly look absolutely delicious? Damn straight.
Funny, what you won’t do for yourself, you’ll fall all over yourself to do for
someone you love.
Do I want to keep my mom around as long as possible? Of course. But, not if she’s miserable and she was. This is a gal who faced going to work when dad was disabled and she did it with style. This is a gal who loves to play in the dirt. And she’s telling me she doesn't know why she’s still around. “Danger Will Robinson. Danger” And I can't help wondering how many older men and women are in her position without backup. Falling, breaking something or being written off with what looks like approaching senility and it's the American Way of Medicine instead.
Ok. Third day off the drugs. Fog is already lifting. Balance is improving. We’ll keep an eye on that left leg. At least if she does finally have to go to that neurologist for it we can be pretty sure it’s actually a physical problem and not side effects of the drugs.