Thursday, June 13, 2002

Mom has had her share of physical problems over the years. Her own mother suffered from arthritis and diabetes, the latter causing complications that eventually led to the amputation of one leg below the knee.

These are some of the conditions Mom has suffered from - and is still suffering from:

Meniere's Disease - "Since the attacks of Meniere's disease occur irregularly, may be triggered by outside forces, and may go into short or long remissions, it is often extremely hard to determine if any given treatment is actually working or if the disorder is just in a quiet phase. This has made studying this disease extremely difficult, often producing scientific opinions that contradict one another. There are many different treatments available for Meniere's disease. Some will work better than others will for individual patients. It is often very hard to find a treatment that will work best for any given person."

As long as Mom can remember, she has suffered bouts of this condition. It will come on suddenly for her, causing severe dizziness and nausea. The only thing that helps her both cope with the symptoms, and help her get over it, is to retreat to her bedroom to quiet, darkness, and stillness. No one knows what causes it, nor is there any one way to treat it...

Raynaud's Syndrome - "Raynaud's phenomenon is a condition caused by a problem in the small blood vessels that supply blood to the skin. During an attack of Raynaud's phenomenon, the blood vessels become smaller (constrict), limiting the flow of blood to the hands and feet (less commonly the nose or ears). This often causes fingers or toes to feel cold and numb and then turn white. As blood flow returns and the fingers begin to get warmer, they may turn blue, then red. The fingers may begin to throb and become painful."

Mom has been vulnerable to stress all her life, succumbing to what was once called nervous breakdowns at least twice in her life - her miscarriage in her first pregnancy (1943) and later on in the early 1950's when Dad was gone a lot working and she was home alone with my two older sisters. Mom also said she frostbit her hands badly when she was young. Together, these are strong contributory factors in this disease...

Meningocele ("Tethered Cord Syndrome" - Adult Onset) - "Adult onset of tethered cord syndrome is a rare pathologic entity. Its treatable nature makes early diagnosis and timely surgical intervention important goals....Thorough clinical history and physical examination should direct investigators to include tethered cord syndrome in the differential diagnosis of select patients."

When I read the document the above quote is from, I realized that my sisters and I are very lucky to be here. Mom said she was told that if she had waited a week longer to have her surgery to fuse the lower spine, she probably would have been dead. She said she asked the doctor about having children and he said he thought she should be able to. She was very nervous about it, but did so. During her pregnancy with Betty, she carried all out front, nothing to the side, and her back bothered her a lot, but she made it through OK...

Glaucoma - Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged. In most cases, increased pressure in the eye plays an important role in this damage. The damage to the optic nerve causes loss of peripheral (side) vision. As the disease worsens, the field of vision gradually narrows and blindness can result.

Since Mom had regular eye screenings (good for her!), they caught hers fairly early. As long as she continues to have her eye drops given correctly, the progression is virtually halted, comparatively speaking...(old age affects everything anyways, including our eyesight...)