Still Advocating at 89!

Revenge is sweet at age 89, even if it is only the knowledge that you were right and the experts were wrong.

On Thursday I learned my 89-year-old mother, affectionately called “Gram” by all, was rushed to the ER by my brother when she complained of really not feeling well, during his daily visit with her.

For those of you who know my mom, she is an 89-year-old spitfire; a rebel with all kinds of causes; possessing a passionate desire to educate the entire world about everything she has ever read or learned; still raising her 18-year-old great-grandson; and… a fantastic advocate for her own medical care.

Home 24-hours after the procedure:
advocacy in action!

In other words, not someone to trifle with or be dismissive of.

She is generally in excellent health. Absolutely no joint problems, making me look like the infirm as I struggle through some back issues. Active, still driving and driving all the grandkids and great-grandkids around town, going to church almost every day and reading several books at once. And politics? Don’t get us started!

So for her to complain about a health problem was odd. She does have diabetes, which runs in the family on both sides. But that’s been manageable. The latest issue was a severe pain in her lower jaw, that often manifested when she climbed the cellar stairs. And she climbed the stairs slowly, too slowly for her liking, and she had to rest after climbing them. These are the same cellar stairs she has been climbing daily for 60 years.

I suggested going to a dentist to rule out an infection under the tooth. She did and there wasn’t.

She had been asking her primary health care (PCP) physician, who has been her doctor for years. The PCP didn’t think the jaw pain was a concern, or the short breath. She rather dismissed it. From time to time, my mother would ask her again about it. Once my mother said, Do you think it’s related to my heart?

The doctor winced and said, Who told you that?

Well, that was that. My mother, age 89, decided to put her formidable advocacy muscles to work. She fired her PCP and found another medical center. Got a second opinion. This new medical team went right to work with a clean slate of opinions. Two stress tests (one a nuclear one) later, and the team determined she had a blockage in her circumflex coronary artery. Friday, June 11, she had a procedure, with her awake the whole time, to place a stent, to open the artery.

All this because she trusted her instinct, knew her body (she did give birth to nine children, so there’s that), and perceived an issue of sorts with a surly doctor. After months of no answers, finding the right medical team gave her answers in two weeks. That’s advocacy in action!

During the procedure, her hand started to turn a dark blue (the catheter was inserted in her wrist area), and the team was apologetic and assured her it would clear quickly. She replied, I don’t care! You can cut my hand off! It’s worth it to know I was right!

I never once wondered where I got my advocacy muscles from!

5 thoughts on “Still Advocating at 89!”

  1. Thank you, Laurie, for writing this about your Mom. Although we have never met, she and I are 1st cousins by marriage. Yes, diabetes runs in your family because I remember your( paternal )Grandma Marion had it. As for the jaw pain, even though I was trained as a nurse , RN, 60 yr ago I also thought cardiac immediately . It sounds like you definitely take after your Mom….not sure which political party is favored but she certainly reminds me of Rose Kennedy ! Please give your Mother a huge hug from me and tell her she is my idol .

    • Diabetes runs in the family. I’m Laurie’s brother and need 5 shots a day along with a handful of pills in the morning and evening. Ah, what can ya do?

  2. Wow, what an amazing woman! And it just goes to show that we all must be our own advocates. Now I know where you get your own spitfire energy!


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