Archives for: July 2008, 15
We had barely gotten home from our vacation when I got a call from my Mom at 8 am. She can't hear a thing over the phone; she just said to me, "Dad has fallen, please come." That's not an easy thing to do, on the spur of the moment. They are a 3 1/2 hour drive away. I called a friend from their church to go by and give me a first hand report. Then I packed my bags.
It turns out that my Dad (90 years old) had symptoms of a urinary tract infection, but ignored them. Then he started running a low grade fever. He decided that the medications he takes every day might be related to the fever, so he stopped taking everything - prescriptions and vitamins. He got weaker and weaker. Right before I left on vacation he admitted the UTI symptoms, and got antibiotics. He took them just long enough to get relief, then stopped, then started again. He continued to get weaker, until one night he was in the bathroom with his walker and his legs collapsed and he sat down on the floor. Fortunately it wasn't really a fall. He just slumped and couldn't get up.
By the time I got there, friends had carried him to bed. He wasn't making much sense, and he was seeing illusions. I called his doctor. Some of the medication he was on must not be stopped suddenly. If it is, it causes -- muscle weakness. The sporadically treated UTI had come roaring back - causing confusion and weakness. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and said get him back on his meds.
For several days I thought he would not recover. Fortunately today he is talking sense again. He is still too weak to stand by himself - even with the walker. He has lost a great deal of the independence that is so important to him. We have a home health care worker taking care of him 9-5 every day. My Mom (at 92) can't get him in a sitting position to eat and she can't roll him over to change his sheets.
I once read a book on natural home remedies. It had a vitamin or herb therapy for almost everything imaginable. I looked up strep throat, and the author wrote this: (I'm paraphrasing) If you have symptoms of strep throat, go to the doctor and get antibiotics. This is serious. It is not the time to take vitamin C.
I feel the same advice is true for any number of bacterial infections. There is a time for preventive care. There is a time for home remedies. There is a time for beneficial food on the best diet in the world. But, there is a time for modern medicine.
I'll say the same thing to you that I'm saying to my Dad, now that he can talk coherently again. If you have symptoms of an infection, don't ignore them. Call the doctor. If you want to cut back on your meds, tell your doctor and find out the safe way to do it. Don't stop cold turkey. You can get very sick, very quickly if you ignore an infection and suddenly stop your meds.