AvaC42 Posted August 11, 2017

Mom (86 years old) has a few very bad days every month and her doctors don't know the cause. Any thoughts?


These episodes seem to come on quickly usually between 10 am and noon. They last anywhere from one to three days. She has a difficult time explaining how she feels but some of the common statements are that her eyes and forehead are heavy, she feels "terrible" and isn't hungry. She was hospitalized last October when it happened and had an MRI, blood work, CT scans, etc. Everything was normal. I took her to her PC another time during an episode and, again, blood work and a urine test were fine. She had a B12 shot that day which didn't do anything either. She recently had another MRI and there was no change from the previous one. I started tracking the days it happens to see if I can come up with some kind of pattern but am at a loss. It's usually about a month in between but this past time, it was only three weeks (I thought it might be a chemical reaction to hair color but ruled that out now). I also considered that it might be something with her morning pills but when it happened this time, she had forgotten to take them so I ruled that out. She's taking a number of different prescriptions but, when this started, nothing had changed for quite a long time. I'm stumped and so are the doctors. Has anyone else had experience with something like this and found an answer? I would really like to get this figured out so she can be OK!

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Katiekate Aug 31, 2017
Yes, my mom went through this with ever increasing frequency throughout her final year.

The "crash" (as we called it) was very rapid. In only a minute she would suddenly be unable to stand, hold her head up, or anything. She would be "gone" for 2-3 days after each episode.

We tried increasing her heart meds. The thinking was that she was experiencing wild heart rate that was causing the blood to move so fast through her system there was no time to pick up enough oxygen in the lungs as it rushed madly by.

On one occasion her doc actually saw this happen right in front of him! He immediately did a blood oxygen level on her...and sure enough....oxygen deprivation!

After a couple of months free from the crashes...it started again. Doc didn't feel it made sense to up the meds again as the risk far outweighed the possible benefit.

This was sort of like mini-strokes. Oxygen deprivation in her brain for very short "bursts".

I think that was what did it in the end. Sooner or later those mini-strokes were going to kill off brain cells that are critical to some vital organ..... like throwing a dart at the board blind folded. Sooner or later you are not going to miss.

freqflyer Sep 1, 2017
Ava, thanks for the update.... we sure do learn from each other :)

AvaC42 Jan 3, 2018
Another follow up as I'm interested in what the thoughts are on anxiety being the cause of my Mom's episodes. We just came off a two day stay in the hospital - again checking for stroke or other physical problems. She has continued to have these bad periods for 1 - 3 days and they happen anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks apart. This time it started right after Christmas and when it wasn't getting any better, I took her to the ER. CT scans, MRIs, blood tests and urinalysis all came back OK (same as in the past). I told the staff that she had a hard time with the last MRI so they gave her a very low dose of Ativan prior. I couldn't believe the difference! This got me thinking that maybe these episodes are all related to anxiety and after looking up her symptoms, it seems to fit. I am taking her to her PC doc for a follow up and hope we can get her on a medication that does the trick. Does anyone have any experience with particular meds that worked well or not? Thank you!

Sunnygirl1 Jan 3, 2018
I don't know what your mom has, but, I'll tell you what I have experienced with my family members after repeated ER visits. One parent had heavy head, jaw locked, faint, dizzy, seizure like behavior, vision loss, etc. This started an array of tests. Every tests you can think of. MRI, neurologist, cardiac tests, blood work, ENT tests, test for UTI, he even wore a heart monitor for days, had tilt test, etc. He had an episode on the tilt table, before he was tilted. So, we knew that his heart, blood pressure, everything was normal, while he had episode. Next stop psychiatrist and he was diagnosed with Conversion Disorder. You can look it up. It was explained to him, he accepted it and he went on a daily med for anxiety. Only a couple of relapses in the last several years. As long as he takes his meds, he's okay. He also keeps 2 Xanax around, just in case.  He doesn't even have to take them most of the time. Just knowing there are there are helpful. 

My mom suffers panic attacks that take her to the ER, feeling sick, like she dying. She's been diagnosed, but, refuses to take a daily med. She gets better as soon as she takes an anti anxiety med too. She's been tested extensively and there is no other cause. These spells happen often during severe weather conditions or family crisis. She worries a lot and I can tell when one is coming on.

I'd discuss it with her doctors. After ruling out actual medical causes, the psych referal was a godsend. A consult with a psychiatrist was very beneficial for my Lo's. At least we know what we are dealing with. I hope you can find answers for your mom. I know how stressful this can be.

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