Our vacation is long over but before I get too far away, I wanted to post about my mom.
I've mentioned before that she has had a very tough year after a few falls and a perplexing loss of abilities. All of her doctors (including a neurologist) thought maybe she'd had a mild stroke or that there was some geriatric condition they couldn't agree on, but even though I haven't lived near her for years, knowing her history, I couldn't accept their vague diagnoses.
So I asked a good friend who is a neurologist for help. Gratefully, she got Mom in to see a colleague, a top-notch neurosurgeon at the BIG medical center in the city. Short history is this: for twenty years, Mom has suffered from NPH (normal pressure hydrocephalus), treated successfully with a surgically implanted shunt that corrects the flow of excess fluid on her brain. The symptoms of the condition sort of mimic Alzheimers and Parkinsons so it's tricky to diagnose and treat, especially when the shunt acts up. Her current shunt is a magnetic one which means it can be programmed with a non-invasive adjustment in the doctor's office. After opening or closing the microscopic valve more or less (with a wand like the ones they use for an ultrasound), the rate of fluid flow changes and so do the symptoms.
Happy ending to months of evaluations and dead ends: once we got the right doctor (with the patience and creative thinking) who adjusted the shunt the right way, it was an almost overnight recovery. Walking, memory, cognition, coordination. She went from reading the same few pages in her book over and over for 6 months to finishing a book start to finish in 3 days. And the jokes and funny stories came back too. Her mobility is improved but her balance is still shaky (we watch her like a band of annoying nurses). She's 80 and all this has taken a toll in other ways.
Still, at her age, this was really miraculous. Her physical therapist was stunned to see the changes in the space of a week. So, 6 months ago I would never have suggested we all go out to Fire Island together. In an emergency, the only way off the island is by helicopter. But given her great recovery, we all decided to go for it. As she would say, "Why the hell not?"
In every way imaginable, it was a very good idea.
Spending a week in a small beach cottage with her grand-daughters and the rest of us was pretty much all she needed. She read, played dominoes, told stories, laughed and made us laugh, got gussied up for dinners out and yes, even made it down to the beach. With the help of her entourage, we leapfrogged a big deck chair ahead and walked her in small distances to sit and rest. It worked just fine- there's no hurrying at the beach.
She sat by the shore with us, watched the babies play in the sand, chatted with her adored girls about their books, bikinis and boyfriends. She felt like her old self.
We're all hoping for a much brighter year ahead for her.
It's definitely her turn.
She's back! Let's get this party started!