Stoning Mom to Death
Mom Chooses her Poison
Mom sent me an email recently, listing three drugs her rheumatologist suggested for her arthritis pain and asked which one I thought she should take - and - which one I thought she was probably going to take. She answered her own questions and said, “None. I’m not taking any of these f@**#%g drugs. I’d rather be in debilitating pain than get TB or have a stroke.” And that was that.
A quick investigation of the suggested drugs revealed that, indeed, they each contain a two-page, tiny-print, very, very long list of frightening and horrible side-effects, including, but not limited to: death, cancer, tuberculosis, strokes, shortness of breath, sinus infections, heart attack, liver cancer, lymphoma, hair loss, dry mouth, and blindness. This new miracle drug would be in addition, I guess, to the Methotrexate (chemotherapy) she takes for arthritis.
Back in the day..
It Causes What??
Blindness wasn’t really on the list (yet) but may as well be, along with deafness and dementia. The last miracle drug she took crippled both of her knees. I don’t blame her for refusing to the take the drugs but I was compelled to remind her that perhaps if she were not in constant pain, she would be more inclined to get out and do something besides watching old movies on her 10 foot by 25 foot flat-screen, HD, plasma television set. She insisted that she gets out as much as she wants and we are welcome to watch movies with her, anytime. And, she says, she would fix us dinner. I reminded her that after fixing a large meal for all of us, even with our help (which means putting plates on the table - all the help she allows), by the end of the meal, she is nearly sick with pain. That she climbs her wickedly steep stairs on her hands and knees. That she wakes up in pain, more often than not. That she won’t visit our homes because we have stairs on the fronts of our porches, and that, and this is the real issue, she avoids social contact with family members because she does not feel like being around other people. At least us, anyway.
I reminded her that the risks are balanced by the promise of a new life, pain-free, as if she were 20 years younger. TB is treatable, I reminded her. Lymphoma.. well.. pretty much the death knell. Hard to convince mom that dying is a fair trade for feeling better for a few years before she succumbs to lymphatic cancer. Reviews on WebMD indicate that all of the folks taking would recommend it to their friends. It’s a 5-star drug. I guess the blind, deaf, and dead people felt pretty good before they took their final dose. Humira
Here's how it went:
Me: “Mom, you are in pain every day. How much better would your life be if you didn’t have constant pain?
Mom: “I’m not in pain every day. Only some days. On some days, I have no pain at all. Except my knee. Because of the statins.”
Me: “Okay, but you can’t think climbing yours stairs all day on your hands and knees is okay..?”
Mom: “I don’t climb the stairs on my hands and knees all day. Only at bedtime.”
Mom: “It’s a game I play with Chessie (her cat). “
Me: “Um -”
Mom: “Yeah. He likes to walk up the stairs at bedtime between my legs and every third step I stop and give him a kiss.”
Me: “Uh -”
Mom: “And, we talk about going to bed. I only do that at bedtime. I walk up and down the stairs the other times, standing up - like normal.”
Me: “But -...”
Mom: “I’ve got a new movie I want you to see.. I can cook lunch..”
Me: (Heavy sigh) “Okay. Yeah. Let’s watch a movie. I’ll set the table.”
Throwing in the Towel--Update on Mom
Eventually the pain got so severe that mom agreed to take xeljanz. Several months later the swelling, twisting and debilitating pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis is mostly gone. She suffers with Osteoarthritis and some spinal stenosis. Her replaced knees ache. She uses a walker sometimes. I'm grateful for the Xeljanz. So is mom. I still think the whole thing could have been avoided if medical doctors paid more attention to seniors instead of writing them off because they are old.