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Judi's avatar

What is the prognosis?

Asked by Judi (37662 points ) December 28th, 2013 from iPhone

My MIL is in the hospital again. For the last 10 years she has given us several scares. She is nearly 70 but can barely walk and has been on a low dose of prednisone for her RA for 35 years. She has had frequent UTI’s that have landed her in the hospital on several occasions, a few times we thought we were going to lose her it was so bad! Her bones have become brittle from the prednisone and she has broken both feet more than once, her collarbone and her arm all from falls. Her skin is like tissue paper and tears or bruises at the slightest touch.
The other night she took another tumble and broke her foot again. She was returned to skilled nursing at the retirement center where she lives. Today they sent her back to the hospital because she was lethargic. It appears she has bacterial pneumonia and possibly another UTI.
In the past she was like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. She would recover miraculously but not quite to her former strength.
This however is the first time she had contracted pneumonia.
Usually I’m the one to run to her side but this time my sister in law is doing it since her children are grown and she is able to now.
I’m just wondering if my husband and I should maybe get there too. She’s about a six hour drive from us.
I should also add that she is a daily drinker and will probably be detoxing too.

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10 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I’m not a Dr. so no prognosis. but I would go to visit. The “Phoenix” effect may not work this time.

marinelife's avatar

Wow, it sounds like it could be bad. I would keep in close contact with your relative that is there and be prepared to drop everything and go.

Judi's avatar

I messed up. She’s nearly 80, not nearly 70.

ETpro's avatar

I’m so sorry to hear of all her suffering. I second the thought @Tropical_Willie & @marinelife offered. Either go now of be ready to. The combo of things she’s facing now in her weakened state do not sound good.

hearkat's avatar

It is so hard to say for people as they get older and have all the little issues snowball into bigger issues. These days, I work with mostly an older population, and I’m amazed at how some seem to hang on and beat the odds while others seem OK then take a sudden turn and are gone very quickly.

The Physicians will give your sister-in-law their medical prognosis, but the other huge factor is the patient’s own will and determination. If she seems determined to get better, there’s a better chance she will, than if she seems too tired to fight anymore. Be ready to go depending on what your SIL reports. How does your husband feel about whether or not to go?

Judi's avatar

We have our grandsons right now. Mom is coming to get them tomorrow. Hubby would jump in the car right now if he thought he could be of help. The truth is, both my SIL and husband are Doers. They have a real hard time just sitting and being with her and they make her nervous sometimes. (She’s been their step mom for 40+ years, their dad died ten years ago.)
I’m good at just being, sitting, so it’s hard for me not to just be there for her. I know exactly how she likes her pillow even when she is unable to communicate. :-(

hearkat's avatar

Hopefully it will all work out and you’ll get to her and bring her a sense of calm comfort… that is a benefit to anyone. Safe travels.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Question: why arn’t the nurses watching over her due too her succession of breaks?
My mother had bruises from falls etc until she passed away (starved) and not treated by a Doctor that should had training in treating seniors.
Keep an eye on that institution!
I have heard stories from staff that work in these institutions( understaffed and cutting corners etc)
Ask the staff( houskeeping etc) about the care and even go unannounced at different times of the day. Ask fellow visitors etc
She should not have to go through pain again, since she should be maybe in a different hospital setting where she would receive ‘expert“care daily all round.
Something is wrong when she gets hurt this amount of times? (maybe a hospital is better equipted for her safety?)

Judi's avatar

She has insisted on staying in independent living. She will recover in skilled nursing where they do an excellent job.
It is an extremely high end facility. Probably the best in the country.

Buttonstc's avatar

I’m going to assume that a large part of her reluctance to transfer from the Independent Living section to the skilled nursing part is due to the last fact you mentioned (daily drinking) and they can’t force her to, I assume.

I have no idea if she will be a Phoenix this time around because Pneumonia can be a killer in the elderly, especially in someone whose immune system is compromised by ongoing Prednisone. (I’m assuming you’re aware of the double edged sword of Prednisone? On the one hand it does wonders in keeping down inflammation but it does leave the person less able to resist infection, thus the Pneumonia.)

All I can say is to follow your instincts. Pneumonia seriously weakens someone for quite a significant time afterward.

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