As the caregiver for my elderly mother, I try to pay attention to signs that she is about to be in trouble. When people reach their late 80’s, they can suddenly go south faster than you can say what happened? First, my sister noticed she was extra grumpy. Then we noticed her appetite had decreased.
The next evening she said oh my leg is in terrible pain and I can’t move it! All of the sudden this happened? No trip, no fall, no nothing except extremely bad pain in her upper thigh and groin.She had an episode like this during the previous month, but she explained that she had sprained her leg getting out of a recliner chair. Not having any idea the pain could be something other than a sprain or even a break, we took her to the E.R. Her leg was in pain, but nothing appeared to be broken or bruised, however, while she was there they noticed she had a UTI and that her potassium was too low.
Mom doesn’t have the normal symptoms of cystitis, burning on urination, low back pain etc. She also didn’t have a temp on her forehead. She has very short hair, but when she has a temp her trunk feels warm but her hair doesn’t hold her heat on her head. So no one caught it until it was bad. This time I connected the dots quicker. When the leg fired up, I noticed the muscle was in spasm in her thigh. I also noticed her trunk was warm when I lifted her into bed. I told her to show me where else hurt, she pointed to her groin. Bingo.
I went to CVS to buy some medicine to stop the bladder spasms. It’s called Pyridium. While I was there I saw they offered test strips to diagnose urinary tract infections. Eureka! I had her give me a urine sample, I tested it and sure enough, it was positive. The Pyridium quickly helped the bladder spasms. As soon as her bladder calmed down the leg spasms lessened.
I was happily surprised. I also made sure she took some potassium. This helps flush her urinary tract and the muscle spasms lessened. Then we called her primary care physician and they gave her a prescription for antibiotics.
And after a nap, she woke up able to move her leg. I’m still curious about the connection between the leg spasms and the bladder infection. I suspect the bladder inflamed pressed on a nerve in her spine causing the spasm to cramp her leg.
My point to this rambling story is that not everyone has textbook symptoms when they get sick. We have to pay attention to our elderly friends, touch them, notice small differences in order to keep them out of the hospital.
CNA, Caregiver, Massage Therapist, Yoga and Pilates