The ER visit

Mobile Intensive Care Unit

Within a week of moving in with me mom's health issues required an ambulance ride to a hospital emergency room

There I was, July 4th weekend, sitting in the hospital emergency room waiting for the results of my mom’s tests to come .  She hadn’t been in town a week and we hadn’t even gotten a chance to visit her doctor yet.

My mom’s best friend Margaret had come down to help her get settled in her new home. She went with her in the ambulance while I followed in the car.  It was a long night waiting for all those tests.  Mom was hooked up to a heart monitor and other equipment.   A definite sign they had concerns. Before they let her go, the hospital wanted to know her doctor’s name and when she was scheduled to see him.  They’d wanted to forward her test results.

When we missed the first appointment with her new doctor because I couldn’t get the day off work, he called to reschedule – the first time I’d ever known that to happen.  It wasn’t the ideal conversation to have when meeting your doctor for the first time, but I remember it clearly and I’m grateful for it.

“I don’t know you well,” the doctor told us, worried we’d blow him off or might not like his tone or candor about what needed to happen.  But he was blunt about mom’s weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose level (sugar as most diabetics call it), and everything else.   “You’re a prime candidate for a heart attack or a stroke.  I’m afraid the next call I get about you is that you are in an intensive care unit.”

Deep down I knew mom’s health was bad.  She could only walk a short distance without stopping and when she did, her breathing was heavy, no matter how minor the activity.  By now I’d learned that whenever we went somewhere together I had to add anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes onto the errand.

Although mom chalked some things up to getting older, I’m sure she knew things were not right, but I don’t think she took it seriously until that day. Face sullen, bottom lip poked out like a child who has just been scolded, mom got quiet, probably because she was trying to let the news sink in.

We both were.  Moving her in with me and assuming responsibility for her care just got a lot more complicated.  From preparing daily meals and medicine, to finding help to care for her while I worked, my list of things to do instantly became mostly about her.  And if her quality of life was going to get better, I was going to have to do it right.

In additions to the several prescriptions mom needed, her doctor gave us some referrals, including one to a dietitian.   That was probably the most important.  Come back later and I’ll tell you why?




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I'm a working wife and mom who takes care of an aging parent. Only I began doing it full-time, in my home, when I was in my mid-thirties, single and about to make a career change. Thirteen years later, mom is still living with me and I expect it to be that way until one of us leaves this earth. It hasn't always been easy managing her care. (I've helped my mother recover from surgery, and a major injury that required a nursing home stay, as well as the death of my younger brother after a long illness.) But caring for her has been worth it because I know that my assistance means she enjoys a better quality of life as she ages. I hope the experiences and information that I share will help you manage,with grace, the changes that take place in your life as you assume the responsibility of being your parent's caregiver. If you have a question you think I can answer, please contact me at

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