Sunday, March 4, 2007


Some of you may remember my post around Christmas time concerning my grandmother and her failing health. Well, for those interested here is an update:

. She had a video consultation with a doctor sometime last week who is sending her for another bronchoscopy, this time to look for any polyps that may have been missed on the previous dozen or so.

. She has not left the house, except to go to the clinic for the video consultation, since she returned home from British Columbia on January 3, 2007.

. She is coughing to the point that she now nearly passes out. Her coughing spells last anywhere from a few minutes, to almost an hour. They're so bad now that she can no longer stop them by drinking water.

. The doctors still, after surely a decade, do not know what is wrong with her. They thought it was asthma, then they thought it was GERD, then they thought it was asthma again, then they thought it was COPD, then they thought it was emphysema, then they thought it was Barretts esophagus, then they thought it was asthma again, then they thought it was a lesion in her throat, then they thought it was something wrong with her pulmonary branches. This woman has been brushed more times than Rapunzel's hair. She's been scoped more times than the piece of chocolate cake at a Weight Watcher's meeting and still no one knows what's wrong.

She's been on so many different medications they'd drop a whole group of pacaderms dead instantly. So many samples have been taken that they could probably grow her a new esophagus by now.

Alright, enough with the puns.

This is serious.

They're now looking for polyps they might have missed in the last dozen bronchoscopies? They're going to take brushings and samples to rule out anything they missed previously? What are these doctors thinking? Can they not bone up and say "we have no idea what is going on."? Can they not send her to other doctors in other provinces? What is it with these guys!?

I'm scared that by the time they do find out what's wrong, it's going to be too little too late. I'm scared that if they do find a polyp that they missed the last times, it's going to be malignant and that'll be it. Are they just wasting time, hoping she'll die before they find out what's the matter with her?

Why hasn't she had a barium swallow?
Why hasn't she had any imaging?

Who's her patient advocate - her husband? Who can't hear to save his life (and refuses to get a hearing aide because "I can hear just fine!"), who has no idea what the doctors are saying, has no memory of what she has had done, no idea what sort of questions to ask, no idea how to explain her symptoms aside from "she coughs". That's her advocate? hat's the person who should be telling the doctor her history, what she's been through, what it's like when she starts coughing?

Nine times out of ten she's coughing up a storm infront of the doctors and they just look at her. Then they poke about, make some notes, throw her another prescription of Prednisone and schedule her to undergo ANOTHER bronchoscopy. Is this another ploy to get more money from the government?

As I mentioned before, my grandparents are old school. You do not question the doctors. You do not ask questions even if you don't understand anything they've said. You do not correct them when they repeat your history wrong (one doctor speculated that it was emphysema because my grandmother smoked when infact, she's never smoked in her whole life. My grandfather has emphysema because HE smoked.) and you don't speak up about anything while you're in the office. You keep your mouth shut, you smile, you nod, you take whatever prescription they give you and you leave. In their eyes, doctors are not overworked, tired, stressed-out, humans; they're God. And you do not question God.

I don't know what I can do to help her.
I don't know what I can do to help at all! And this frustrates me. I saw how frail she was this year, I saw how much weight she's lost, I saw how much she can eat before she starts coughing so much she nearly vomits. And yet no one can pinpoint what's causing it. After all these tests. All these procedures. All the drugs. All the appointments. They're all coming up with blank expressions and muttering about that it could be this or that but let's do another one of these and then go from there.

I just want to help her. I just want to fly back there and make everything right. I want her to come out here, see the specialists out here.

I don't want to lose her but I'm starting to feel that this is just the beginning of the end. She's had skin cancer, I'm scared that this is going to be another cancer. But not one of the DOZENS of specialists she's gone to can help her. What chance do I have?

I don't want to lose her.
But I think I might be.

God, please - please if you do absolutely nothing else for me in my entire life, help her. Help her please! She's a good person, she's the nicest person you'll ever meet. A heart of gold I'm sure You know that. Please, Just help her! Intervene somehow. Do something! Please, don't take Nanny away from me. I've only just begun to really know her and see how truly astounding she is. Don't take her away. Please, Lord, help her.


scalpel said...

If it's gone on that long it's probably not cancer. Although there are plenty of other diseases that can be just as bad.

Best wishes.

About Grandpa and I said...

If it at all possible she could come and stay with you a month or two and see a specialist? I know how you feel about your grandma. I miss mine terribly.

I was thinking "pulmonary embolism" at first, because I experienced one and they thought I was just having an "asthma attack" and I almost died. Has she had a workup for her lungs or to check for any embolisms?

Again... enjoying your blog!

Grandma aka Bonnie
at Grandparents Cyber Corner