January 8, 2013

almost fail

I don't know about you but whenever I take prescription medications I do it with the belief that they are going to help to give me some measure of relief for my illness or condition and hopefully do so without side effects.

Other than an severe allergic reaction I've never crossed my mind that those prescriptions we all take for granted and take on a daily basis had the potential to cause serious or life threatening conditions. But then I saw it happen to my Mom over these past months and I awoke from my dream world.

A few months ago my Mom's kidney's began to fail. Before my eyes I watched my Mother transform from a fairly healthy person with the usual maladies of a woman of 84 years of age to a woman who was so weak she could barely walk.

There are so many interesting layers to a relationship between a daughter and her mother when the daughter starts to take on the role as care taker, but that's for another post. I'll say this, the dynamic shift becomes challenging, the relationship is very rewarding but when the health issues arise it is a roller-coaster ride.

It was pretty frightening and very frustrating to watch my mother go to the doctor every few weeks only to hear bad new after bad news. Her kidney function was declining fairly quickly and without explanation. Doing what doctors do, he considered  all the options, like....congestive heart failure. They tested her heart; good news heart looks good but the kidneys were still failing. Tests on kidney's, kidneys look good for her age, no tumors, blood flow good, no evidence of acute kidney disease, good news but kidneys still failing.


Then her doctor decided to withdraw my mothers medications one by one.  Processing medications puts strain on the kidneys and there was always the chance the medications themselves were causing the kidney failure. It was a shot in the dark but it made sense so one by one he did it over a period of time.

First the diabetes medication, four weeks later, guess what? Mom doesn't need diabetes medication if she's careful with her food choices-positive lifestyle adjustments, good news. Kidney's are maintaining no worse but no better, she's still Stage 4 kidney failure. Then he decides to take her off two of her three blood pressure/heart pills by weaning her off over a period of two weeks leaving her on one. Good news, her blood pressure OK, blood sugar's still great. Great news, kidney function has improved a lot.

Then we finally got a diagnosis!

One of the blood pressure medications caused the kidney failure; in only two weeks she's improved to Stage 3.

She is feeling remarkably better. And now thank God we get to slip back into the more comfortable role of me just being at her side, we'll leave the holding her up for another day.

And we're breathing again.

Since this all happened I can't help but feel a bit ill at ease every morning when I down my high blood pressure pill with my OJ. Truthfully, that treadmill I have and never seem to find the time to use is starting to look pretty appealing to me!

What an eye opener.

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  1. Oh thank goodness! This is such good news!

  2. I literally saved someones life by pointing out contraindications to medications that were killing them. (multiple ambulance trips to the hospital, heart stopped beating and all) Her doctor was shocked and appalled that they weren't aware of the contraindications. I'm a huge advocate of knowing your medications and what they can do to you.

    Glad to hear things are looking up!

  3. Wow. What a roller coaster ride. Glad to hear things are looking up.

    I've always been sensitive to any medication. I am very leery of all of it. Since working in the field of addiction treatment, I've become even more cautious. I was just having a discussion with a board member of the org I work with and he noted that many of his medications - some he's been taking since he was a child after a brain injury - were deemed useless at this point. I think it's important to keep having conversations with our docs on a regular basis. What was good for us in the past isn't always good for us now. (OK, I'll get off my soapbox now. :) )

    Oh, and thanks for being a top commenter on my blog in 2012!

  4. Glad to hear your mom is doing better and the problem is getting solved with the reduction of medicine. While I too agree that medicine can be beneficial, I wonder when is enough, enough with them. When the doctors start giving medicine to take away side effects from other medicines taken, one has to start to wonder about the benefit of it all. But you are right, hop onto that treadmill and put your time in, so to speak, and maybe you can get off your meds!


  5. Hi, I found your post from Anne's. we've both been tagged by her! I'm so pleased to hear that your Mum had a good result. I was chief carer for my Mum who died less than two years ago. Her neglect happened in hospital where you'd think she'd be safe. I blogged about it. I campaigned about it. I even got myself onto the regional news to talk about it but Mum died shortly after. It's taking time to get over. Mums are very precious.

  6. I shouldn't be frowning at this post because that is WONDERFUL news! I just hate she had to suffer for this long because of a side effect!!! This is a lesson for all of us. I am so glad the outlook is positive. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Hey Jen. Good to hear your Mom is feeling a lot better! Yes, meds can do a 'number' on us...if we aren't on top of things. WE have to be because the doctors generally feel that they are keeping us alive and that is what they are supposed to do,in their minds.
    I am on Lipitor to keep LDL cholesterol down to a safe level. I read up about it and it (a statin drug) can be pretty nasty. I went to my specialist and told her I wasn't happy being on it because of the potential side-effects. She understood and I am on half dosage and my LDL is even lower now!!
    If we don't advocate for ourselves and do a little research, no one will. Your Mom is lucky to have you by her side. I know it is exhausting looking after aged parents. Make sure you are looking after yourself too Jen. Otherwise you won't be of any use to your Mom.

  8. Great post, Jen! I avoid taking meds (yeah.... except for that one - the HRT which has made a hella difference in my life in recent years) - but your post is a really good reminder to a) evaluate the needs for meds and b) don't accept blindly what doctors say. Ask questions! In your mom's case, her doctor could have/should have been evaluating all those meds all along - pitfalls of modern med

  9. So glad they found out what was the cause of your mum's problems. I have had intrevenous antibiotic every 3 mth for over twenty years it's a preventive thing but five years ago I had a nasty reaction to the drugs and I said enough I won't have them unlessI really need them. The result was my health improved so much that I only need them once a year. InJuly I had them and after two daays my kidneys started failing (these were same drugs I had for years) so they were stopped and kidneys started improving. A lesson in your story and mine for everyone as you know your own body better than any doctor.


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