It all started with a snake . . . or a would-be snake. One day last month I was getting ready to run some errands when I got a call from Atria. It was one of the aides. “Your mother is sitting in the hallway and won’t go back in her room. She says there’s a snake under the bed. Could you talk to her?” Knowing it would do no good talking with my mother on the phone I said, “I’ll be right over.” My mother has always been deathly afraid of snakes and it didn’t help that when we first moved to the desert and lived in a rural area we had our share of them on our property. Once when she and my dad were visiting one came in the house. We found it curled up under the water heater. Though we whispered and thought we removed it quietly, my mother found out anyway. When I arrived at Atria my mother was still sitting outside her room. “I’m not going in as long as there is a snake in there!” she exclaimed. I did a full inspection of the room. “I don’t see a snake, Mom, I think it left.” I finally convinced her to come back inside, but I could tell she was still having reality problems when she began talking about seeing her parents the night before.
Soon after we had returned to the room the patient care nurse came to see how my mother was. He then suggested that she go to a walk-in emergency medical clinic for a urinalysis. “What does this have to do with what just happened?” I asked. He explained that sometimes elderly patients begin having hallucinations due to an infection. If an infection that started in the urinary tract got into the blood stream there could be problems. My mother hadn’t complained of pains, but she did use Depends which may make her more likely to contract an infection, I thought. So over my mother’s objections I called my husband to bring over my power of attorney papers (just in case) along with the book I was reading.(I knew how these visits can go!) After my husband arrived and I convinced him to go along, thinking that he could serve as a buffer between my mother and I, we left for the doctor’s office.
Luckily there were not many patients waiting to be seen that afternoon so she did not have too long a wait. When the results were in we were shown in to see a doctor. “There is some blood in her urine and her white blood cell count is up. She needs more tests which I can’t do here. I would like her to go to the Emergency Room. I will send some papers with you so they will know what she needs.” Our long afternoon just got longer!
After checking in with the front desk we were soon seated in the waiting area near the admitting door. It was then that the badgering started. When my mother is angry she doesn’t cuss or yell. She becomes snotty and caustic. “I don’t know why I am here. There is nothing wrong with me. You’re trying to run my life. You don’t know anything about doctors or hospitals. I’ve worked with doctors. I know.” I first looked to my husband who tried to placate her but gave up. The rest of the time he kept his head in a book. I next moved across the aisle from my mother, but she kept on. People turned to look. Finally I moved across the waiting room. It was quiet. I began to read my book. . . . . . . . to be continued.