A catastrophic reaction is when a dementia or Alzheimer's patient has a oversized reaction to a small (or non-existent) problem or event.
And that is what landed us in the ER nearly a week ago.
All day, Mom had been going back and forth to the bathroom, at an increasing rate. Since it was the weekend, TW was home from work to see this. He started timing her, and noticed that, by dinner time she was going approximately every 7 to 10 minutes.
And we could hear her self-talk "Oh my God! Dear Heavens!" over and over again. Always said in a voice that clearly indicated fear, stress and distress... We would try to ask her what was wrong, what could we do to help? She couldn't answer us with anything more than a frantically whispered "Oh my God! Dear Heavens!"
Finally, at bedtime, she was visibly panicked. She was trying to talk, and tell me something, but couldn't get the words out (which was causing more frustration). I followed her to her bathroom, and she frantically began a cycle of toileting, wiping, cleaning, washing, dressing... that went on for more than 30 minutes. I tried to help her, tried to calm her, but nothing worked.
I knew that, left unchecked, this could go on for *hours*. So, I did the only thing I could, and we bundled her off to the ER.
We were prepared. I had the "one sheet" that I carry in the car that details Mom's health, including meds/doseages and allergies. I had extra clothes for Mom, just in case. I had my cell phone (so I could text TW and keep him updated) and I had my iPad (the Hospital has Wi-Fi), and my best secret weapon: Twinks.
Twinks, The Wonder Kid went with us, and was a TREMENDOUS help and support. She really stepped up, and showed so much poise and maturity. She really was (and is) amazing.
We went to the nearest hospital, which is less than 5 minutes from our house, door-to-door.
The intake was as expected; the ER staff was gentle with her, and by the time we were in our little room, she was calm and ready to go home...
To rule out a silent UTI (which can cause all sorts of havoc in the elderly, especially dementia and Alzheimer's patients) the doctor had to have her cathertized, after it became apparent that she was unable to provide a "sample" on her own. They also drew blood, and rushed all of that off to the lab.
The results came back - and as I had expected, there was nothing there.
The doctor proclaimed Mom to be in excellent physical health... except for the vascular dementia.
We were given instructions on medication to help her sleep through the night, and went home having spent about 4 hours in the ER.
What prompted all of this was one sad, simple little fact: My Mom was scared of her poop.
She went to the bathroom, and didn't understand what her poop was. She was totally freaked out by it, and couldn't deal with it.
This week, we have watched her deteriorate at a speed faster than ever. She is fading away faster than I can absorb it. I don't want to believe it. I want to stop it.
I think I am about to have a catastrophic reaction of my own...