Saturday, December 30, 2006


My grandmother has a cough. She has had one for about 5 years now. It's not like a smokers cough or that. She describes it as something tickling her throat, it makes her cough and she cannot stop even to breathe and often times almost passes out. The only way it will stop is if she takes a drink of water which she can't do a lot of the time due to the coughing. Once she has been able to get the water in though, it clears up a bit.

Over the past 5 years she has been to see over a dozen doctors from Thunder Bay all the way to Winnepeg. She's had blood tests, physicals and consults. First they thought it was asthma so they put her on nebulizers, then they thought it was an infection so they put her on antibiotics, then they took her off the asthma meds and thought it was heart burn so they put her on Pariet. She went to see a cardiologist who did an exercise stress test which showed nothing abnormal. They put her back on the asthma meds, then thought it was pneumonia so she was in the hospital then she was back on asthma meds. All for the same thing: A cough which starts from something in her throat. You'd think she'd have been sent for a gastroscopy/bronchoscopy, but no one has sent her for one.

My grandparents are old school patients. You do not question the doctor. Even if you have a concern about another procedure, you do not ask them. You keep your mouth shut and that's it. So since no one has sent her for a gastroscopy/bronchoscopy they wont ask. I have tried my hardest to talk to them about it, I have tried to tell them to ASK about a gastroscopy and/or gastroscopy since nothing else is working. They refuse saying that since no doctor mentioned it, it's therefore not needed.

I want to help her, I'm scared she's going to die one day because she can't breathe from having a coughing fit, but how can I help her if she won't listen to what I'm saying?

She was up all last night coughing, gagging, choking; in tears, wasted, and weak. My dad currently has bronchitis and so he thinks it's been passed to her which is very well may have. They are on their way to the walk in clinic since my grandparents are from out of town. If this were her family doctor, I'd ask to go just to ask about options regarding what could be done.

I'm at a loss, the whole family is scared for her. She can't go anywhere without a bottle of water and every 10 minutes she's choking. In her sleep she has fits, and my grandfather has to hold her so she doesn't roll off the bed and to make sure she eventually starts breathing. This is going on 5 years now! Why can't anyone find a diagnosis?! The sound of her choking is horrible, she struggles to breath, gasping sounds, it sounds constricted and when the spell passes she has to go lay down; she's too weak to do anything.

She's pushing 76, she's in good health otherwise. She had cataract surgery a few years ago and is doing great but this is killing her. She's never smoked in her life, never drank, no drug use.. she's not prone to infections, not overweight. And yet no one can figure it out. It's heart breaking - I want to help her, I want to figure it out but I can't. Quite possibly one of the most frustrating things this whole holiday.

They're on their way to the walk in clinic. She probably has bronchitis since you can hear the congestion in her lungs each time she coughs, just like my dad. They'll probably give her antibiotics. She'll take them and when it clears she'll still be choking and coughing like before. The bronchitis is making it worse. I just don't know how to help. I'm not a doctor so they refuse to listen to me. They don't hear half of what doctors say anyways so I cant even ask WHY she hasnt been given a gastroscopy OR a bronchoscopy because they don't know. They just know she hasn't had it and so it mustn't be warranted. But you'd think after 5 years.. ...

Mind you, I don't think too highly of their family doctor - he's only at their small hospital, as far as I am concerned, to 'rule the roost'. They've had some really, really good young doctors come in but every one of them has left and they managed to get ahold of two of them and both said it was because of the head doctor; he drove them out.

So frustrating!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very tough situation. Sounds like your grandmother needs to see an ENT asap.

I found you on Neonatal Doc's blog. Your analytical response to his 'Lucky' post is brilliant. You hit the nail on the head better than I ever could.

Happy 2007.