Monday, June 3, 2013

Dementia and Nausea

Momma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s type dementia in August of 2006.  She has experienced many side effects of Alzheimer’s during that time, and she has dealt with unrelated issues, also.
About 13 years ago, Momma had her gall bladder removed.  At that point, we were sure the gastrointestinal issues were resolved.  They were not.  For the last 5 years, Momma has had periodic episodes of pain in her tummy and spasms of her esophagus – at least that was what we thought she was experiencing.  
The month of May brought with it two trips to the emergency room, much pain, and the inability to keep food or liquids down for more than about 30 minutes.  Momma was in severe pain.  This week that all changed.

On Wednesday we discovered Momma had a gallstone.  This gallstone was left behind after her gallbladder was removed 13 years ago, and this gallstone had been causing her pain for the last 5 years.  It was lodged in her bile duct, and it needed immediate removal.  I was so thrilled to learn there was something so easily “fixed” that could help Momma.
The gallstone is history now, and Momma is keeping down solid food.  It is such a blessing to see her eat and enjoy food.  What does this have to do with dementia?  LOTS!  Momma had a difficult time describing her pain.  She could not remember to avoid the foods we knew were causing pain.  She would ask, repeatedly, “What is making me hurt so bad?”  She also feared there was something much worse going on and we were withholding information.   All this came together to make her tense and worried – the very thing that irritates the GI tract the most!
The best approach with Momma was to be calm, listen to her fears, and reassure, reassure, reassure.  Then I would throw some laughter her way.  These techniques, and lots of appropriate physical touch, brought about a sense of peace that helped Momma relax. 
Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.

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