My elderly mother scared me tonight, coughing and gasping

  1. Tonight, while I was upstairs I heard my mother downstairs having a coughing fit then heard her gasping for air. I ran downstairs and noticed a bowl of fruit. I was attempting the heimlich maneuver on her, but she wasn't choking as I assumed. When I asked her if she was choking,(after attempting heimlich maneuver), she shook her head no.:imbar Duh! Anyways, I just heard her gasping and went to pick up the phone to call 911. Then, I noticed that she was getting her breath back. So, I guess that I hit the panic button too quick. I just assumed she was choking when I saw bowl of fruit right next to her. Anyways, she told me that she just felt some juice stuck in her throat. She had been eating, but she was not choking on food. She described the experience as though she felt like she was choking on her own saliva and like her throat was closing up. Also, today I had noticed that her voice sounded a bit raspier than usual at times. Her voice is quite raspy at times, but not all of the time. She was just at her dr's. today for another problem and had no complaints of swallowing difficulty. Although, she has mentioned this to him in the past. I am concerned that she may need a swallow evaluation and/or be seen by an ENT for a scope in office. She told me that this is the second time that this has happened to her in the past month. I guess the first step I will take is to call her PCP and explain what happened. My sisters and I are not very happpy with her present PCP. I feel that this is something to be concerned about and hope that he does not take this so lightly. We feel that he is not aggressive enough. e.g. She was c/o severe hip pain and called for an appt. on Thursday. She did not get an appointment until today! I would think that a complaint of hip pain from an 83 y.o. that never complains would warrant a sooner OV. Fortunately, it just turnd out to be muscular strain. I bought her some icy hot patches and she was relieved immediately. And, I guess that if she had not found relief I would have brought her to the ER. Then she would have paid $75 for an ER visit.
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    About iwanna

    Joined: Aug '07; Posts: 623; Likes: 303
    Disabled LPN
    Specialty: behavioral health


  3. by   BelleKat
    We as nurses get more concerned about our family because of what we know.
    I know what you mean about hearing your mother coughing,mine has reactive airway disease which means that if she gets ahold of something that bothers her her throat closes down and she has this croupy type sound she makes(VERY SCARY!) and she has to get her xopenex nedulizer before it is relieved. She has come into my room at night before we figured out what worked best for her to make that stridor sound and shake me out of my sleep with pure adrenaline in my veins and I did call EMS. YIKES.
    Albuterol or rescue inhaler works fine now on top of a steroid inhaler. She also has a diagnosis of asthma.
    If I were you I'd take you Mom to a her primary and see what he says to a specialist(pulmonary) or a swallow study like you said.
    She's lucky to have you there,some docs just throw meds at their pts without seeing if they're effective. I've had to advocate so strongly for my parents when doctors try to write meds that would actually harm them(like ordering Beta blockers for my mom who is very asthmatic).Usually these kinds of orders are written in the hospitals by dr not usually covering them.
    I try to advocate for them having a collegial kind of low key relationship with the medical & nursing team so I can contribute pertinent knowledge and have some say about the treatments/expected goals and so on.
    Good luck with you Mom like I say she is lucky that you are there.
  4. by   iwanna

    Thanks for the reply. Well, I got a hold of her primary care dr. this morning. They arranged for her to have a swallow evaluation done this Friday. So, that is a start. Of course, I am no dr. and cannot diagnose, but I am also suspicious of a vocal chord problem or subglottic. I am thinking that she may have some stenosis somewhere. Oh well, I am just happy they are movinng on this quicker than they ususally do.

    I have been staying with my mother temporarily, and I have been planning a move to re-locate with my husband. (My husband moved in January) He works 81 miles from home. I only see him on the weekends. We are ready to live as a normal married couple that reside together. However, last night really scared me, and I am re-thinking about the move. I would love to take her with me, but she won't move. So, for now I am just putting plans on hold. I am scheduled to take a refresher course in a month. The course is down in area of where my husband is staying. My original plan was to stay in the vicinity. However, depending on the outcome of my mother, I just may do more of a commute. I do have a sister that just lives around the block that can also help to some degree. Although, she works FT. But I was thinking of getting my mom one of those lifetime emergency connection contacts for the times that she is alone. But, I called to register for my course today, and they need 5 more students or the course will be cancelled.
    Last edit by iwanna on Aug 19, '08 : Reason: typo
  5. by   BelleKat
    I'm sorry to hear about the course Iwanna. I'm glad that the doctor is seeing her sooner and hopefully it's nothing major. You and your Mom are in my prayers.
  6. by   mpccrn
    a little knowledge is a scary careful.