Thursday, April 26, 2018

Close tolerances and lots of moving parts

Mrs ERJ and I have been spending more than the usual amount of time with my mom and dad.

Dad's health took a turn for the worse a couple of weeks ago.  He had respiratory issues and then struggled to keep any kind of food or liquid down.

One advantage of spending more time with M&D, besides their delightful company, is that we could start to see patterns that had been opaque to us.

Dad's ability to retain foods had seemed random.  Some days were worse than others (clue #1).  In time it became apparent that he was better in the morning and went into the ditch at about 9:30 AM (clue #2).  There was dark granular material in his vomit (clue #3).  He had iron in his morning med drop three times a week (clue #4).  Iron supplements can cause stomach irritation and nausea (clue #5).
Iron supplements, photo taken from within my dad's stomach

We are running an experiment under the watchful eyes of my sisters who are nurses.  We are giving the morning med-drop later in the day so dad has more hours where he can retain food and liquid.  As retirees we can wait.  We are not in a heated rush to get out the door and to work.

We also pulled the iron supplement from the med drop.  So far, so good.

Dad is a bit leery of eating much.  If the iron was irritating his stomach then it may take a week to heal up.  Nobody else is in dad's body so he is the ultimate authority.

The great news is that he is now retaining a half bowl of oatmeal in the morning and a bowl of soup in the evening.  Not enough for him to retain body weight but WAY better than he had been doing.  Oh, and he has been holding down liquids...he starts his morning with three cups of coffee.  Oddly enough, coffee is one liquid he holds down well.  Sweet-and-cold drinks, not so well.

The bottom line is that it takes time to sort through issues.  Everybody had been pitching in to care for M&D so it was almost impossible to discern any patterns.

Also, if you are caring for aging parents, take the time to question every pill and medicine if their health takes a downturn.  Tolerance to meds and supplements diminish as kidney and liver function slow and as skin and stomachs can become less tolerant of insults. Fortunately, my family is blessed with a super-abundance of nurses and we even have a couple of doctors hiding in the family tree.


  1. Joe, Good on Ya for looking after your folks so well, and you are blessed to have the time free in order to do it. Not many are in the same position. Good luck and hope your folks are on the mend. Have recently gone through something similar with my mom.

    The only other thing I would say is: All you folks with older parents: Make sure you have a primary caregiver nominated within your family, and get the required legal instruments in order well ahead of any health problems. Not just estate planning, but also things like Medical Power of Attorney, Do Not Resuscitate Orders, and so forth. Make SURE you have these in place and keep them current. Otherwise an emotionally charged and potentially life-changing health event will likely be overshadowed by a distracting nightmare you would prefer not to be dealing with at that particular time, trust me.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. My blog attracts a certain demographic and I think many of my readers are either going through this or on the brink of going through this.

      Thanks for your advice. It is spot-on.

      Please keep commenting.


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