But this morning, my Mom phoned me, stating she was very dizzy. In fact, when she awoke four hours earlier, she was so lightheaded, she had to crawl to the bathroom. I was on the ferry when she called, on the way to Seattle for work. There were really no other symptoms. No vision disturbances, no numbness or weakness, no difficulty speaking or understanding speach, no headache, no recent illness. She was completely oriented and lucid. But she just didn't sound right to me.
When I arrived, she couldn't sit up without nearly toppling over. She begged me to just let her sleep, but we made a birthday 911 call instead. I was concerned about stroke; my dad's massive and fatal cerebellar stroke had started with the same symptoms.
In the E.R., her heart monitor showed a rapid atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disturbance which can be related to stroke. As far as anyone knew, she had not experienced this before. In the process of treating the rapid rate, my Mom's heart rate dropped from over 130 to the low 30's! But she continued to do reasonably well.
Her brain CT showed "nothing(!)," and her echocardiogram and her initial lab tests were normal.
Mom won an overnight admission on telemetry to monitor her heart rhythm, with my son Tim promising to break her out of the "joint" in the middle of the night.
When was my Mom last admitted to the hospital? Fifty-eight years ago, when she gave birth to me!
So, ninety-two years old with no hospital admissions other than obstetrical, and no major medical problems of any sort! She does take medication for high blood pressure and bone thinning. But that's it!
Good genes? You bet! But let's give credit where it's due. My Mom has these other positives in her corner:
- She's a non-smoker
- She drinks no alcohol
- She's thin
- She's an avid gardener
- At ninety-two, when most people are DEAD, she lives on her own, and takes care of her home!
- She eats five fruits and vegetables a day
- She gets flu shots
- She takes her regular medications
- She appreciates humor, and has enormous wit and banter
- When my Dad died many years ago, my folks had been married for fifty years!
So, Happy Birthday, Mom. I'm sorry we celebrated in the hospital, but how many people make it to ninety-two? What a triumph for a superb role model.
Take care. Linda Gromko, MD