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Hello, I am caretaking for my mother that is 70 (in July). I have been since my father died in 2007. Anyway, when I say that I caretake it basically means preparing meals, taking her to the doctor and doing laundry. Everything else my mother could do on her own. She could bathe herself, dress herself, walk by herself (with a walker).

She has diabetes, heart problems, has had multiple back surgeries, survivor breast cancer, shoulder issues and I'm probably forgetting something else!

Anyway, in February she started coughing really bad and started spitting up a lot of blood. I took her to the hospital and she was in there a few days but got released. They did tests on her and told us to follow up with her doctor and request medical records and give them to the doctor. Anyway, a lot of time passes between having to make dr appointments, more blood tests from her primary dr. and they finally figured out that she has a lung infection - MRSA. The doctor gave her an antibiotic finally at the end of March-ish maybe April! She got better after finishing the antibiotic. It was like things were back to the way they were. Then she started coughing again. We went back to the dr.... more blood work, x-rays, blah blah. Everything came back okay... but she was still coughing.

Then she fell. Bumped her head. ER. CT scan and everything came back normal. Then she fell again and hit her head. This is throughout April.

May comes and she's declining. She can barely walk. Her arms and legs are weak. We make a dr's appointment but I can't even get her in the car (she's too heavy for me to pick up), I finally get her in the car. We get at the dr's office and I can't get her out. The DR says take her to the ER.

The ER does tests. Everything is okay according to tests. But she can barely walk. I can't even get her inside the house because we have stairs to go up. I had to get a neighbor to help me get her in the house. The ER suggested seeing the DR, but I can't get her there because of the stairs and I can't get her in the car.

She fell last night. Ambulance ER again. Tests again. Everything comes back okay. She's not okay. Her blood pressure is high and the ER doctors act as if it doesn't matter. They set up nursing and physical therapy for her, but kept giving me a pitiful look that meant "this is what happens when you get old and have health problems and there's nothing we can do" kind of look. They were talking about nursing homes. WHAT!

But she was FINE just a few months ago. Yes, she walked with a walker, but pretty much never fell (for a few years she hadn't fallen) then all of a sudden all this stuff happens. She got around great.

I just don't understand why they're not trying to see what's wrong. Something is obviously wrong. Her blood pressure used to run GREAT before. It was always in the 120/60 range. Even though she suffers from high blood pressure, it ran good. She took her medicine, I make sure she eats healthy... now her blood pressure is always 150/80... and UP. At the hospital it was 199/80. When I check it lately it's always 176/80 or something. I don't understand why they're ignoring it!

I don't know what to do. Please if anyone can give me ANY advice on how to convince the doctors that something is wrong and to help her. Something has to be wrong, but it's like if all tests come back okay, they won't admit her to see what's wrong.

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I am in the same situation with dad. Fell, got msra and was totally out of it. Lost 50 pds and is like a skeleton. I am just a fall away from catastrophy, and he cant lose anymore. The doctors are clueless amd tells him tests are good. Cat scan was good.We were referred to a GI doctor.They want to do a colonoscopy. But he doesnt want to. They threw cancer around. But at this point, after a year and a half of decline he cant go through any treatments. Im lost. I feel for u, its so hard not knowing what the future holds.
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I know I just wrote "geriatrician" but a comprehensive geriatric eval might make sense and maybe even a neurology evaluation since she has such weakness. I would think you need a more academic medical center type of setting most likely too. Please let us know how it goes...
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ERs tend to deal only with acute traumatic emergency or illness well. Their idea of "nothing wrong" means "nothing you are going to die of tonight." To top that off, not all doctors are sensitive to changes in function as signaling a major medical issue. CTs can be normal with some fairly bad things wrong with the brain too - MRI is probably one thing she needs, along with an eye examination and a good cognitive evaluation. Her spinal cord and peripheral nerves need some consideration too here. That BP is scary! And "traces of MRSA" in the blood makes no sense at all - if it is growing in the blood stream, she is still septic, or it is a contaminant. If PCP is not that good or not that invested in a real thorough workup before assuming that what is going on is all irreversible and untreatable decline, then see if there is an option to get her in to a geriatrician and tell them what you've told us - that she was functioning at a decent level a short time ago, and ever since a MRSA pneumonia was treated - you thought/were led to believe successfully treated - things have been going down hill and at age 70, you are not ready for just non-management with not-so-benign neglect.
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danicares, it is my understanding that if one has a painful condition or is fighting off an infection, one's blood pressure will be much higher than normal.

My blood pressure is usually around 120 when on my blood pressure pills, recently broke a bone and my readings have been higher because of the pain.
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Can you get her to a different doctor or hospital? Your story sounds frighteningly like my mother's experience last year. She suddenly started falling, local ER sent her home 3 times "no medical care indicated"--in one week! I finally flew in from across the country, and got her transported to a better hospital in a nearby city. They admitted and promptly diagnosed her cough as advanced lung cancer, the falling an unusual but well documented side effect. All medical folks are not equal!
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BTW, the antibiotic that they gave her was Moxifloxacin - it's the one that seemed to fight it.

My mom had a staph infection before in her back after contracting it from a hospital when she had a back surgery. They said she was "always" have the infection in her blood and always quarantine her when she's in the hospital. It's kinda nice - at least she gets her own room when she's in there (sometimes, or she shares with another infectious person).

I'm not sure if MRSA is the same - actually the dr. basically said it's the kind that is in public and anybody can pick up.
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The first time, the doctors at the hospital did a full workup and seen a spot on her lungs. But then later, when they released her and she seen her primary doctor, he got the records from her trip to the hospital and he re-did everything they did and he didn't see a spot on her lungs. He did more lab work, gave her an antibiotic and the change that happened was VERY visible. It was like night and day. A 7-day antibiotic, after the 7 days were up it was like she was back to normal.

The doctor basically told her that she's still coughing because some tubes in her lungs (sorry, he said more medically than I'm saying it) are closing and she needs to take deep breaths all the time. Her coughing has gotten loads better since he suggested that. The ER doctor did say he seen some traces of MRSA in her blood, but it wasn't full-blown like some patients he seen.

So... the primary doctor and the ER doctor basically are saying that they're not too concerned. She has had a ton of lab work, tests, etc and they keep coming back OK.

I just don't know what else to do. ER turns her away... We are trying to figure out ways to get her to the DR now to see what's going on.

Another thing - her doctor took her off of a blood pressure pill because it was making her legs swollen, ever since then she's had high blood pressure - I don't know if it's because of the pill, or because of MRSA, or because of something else.

But anyway, thank you for your advice. I guess the only thing to do is to try to get her to the doctors. The ER is doing nothing. This is so confusing.
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Glad, I suspect as well that your stepfather contracted MRSA while he was recuperating - he was vulnerable, his immune system might have been compromised, he was exposed to other patients via the medical staff, he was on antibiotics, and could have been developing a resistance to them.

MRSA stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staph Aureus infection. I don't recall from the nurses' explanation whether that means just a resistance to methicillin or other drugs in the "cillin" category, such as penicillin.

This is a good, basic explanation of MRSA:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mrsa/basics/definition/con-20024479. The section on "Causes" provides a good explanation of how these infections occur.

The really scary aspect is VRSA, which is Vancomycin Resistant Staph Aureus infection. MRSA was treated with Vanco, but there wasn't anything stronger to treat the VRSA (so I was told), so it had to be treated with the drug to which the strain was resistant, if I understood the situation correctly.

That was a scary time.
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Thank you GA. I haven't ever heard of others experiences with MRSA. I know once you have it, you are more inclined to get it again. I suspect he got the MRSA from the hospital, it was an outpatient procedure, and it was the foot suture where the infection must have started. It seems it was about 10 days between the surgery for the cyst and being diagnosed with MRSA.
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My father had MRSA twice and VRSA once. They were rapid onset, debilitating conditions, but he recovered. He was in his mid-80s when these occurred.

GladI'mHere, he acquired them after being hospitalized for a multitude of deconditioning related issues, but no surgery.

As I understand it, there are 2 different kinds of MRSA - the hospital acquired and the community acquired versions. Some people who are otherwise healthy have acquired MRSA from gyms, locker rooms, etc., where close contact is standard. It can also be acquired in hospitals and nursing homes, where people are not only vulnerable but are exposed to a lot of others who are ill, and the staff moves freely between patients.


Dani, I hesitate to suggest this but the spitting up blood and rapid decline frightens me. I think she needs a complete workup from her regular PCP or internist. The fatigue, weakness, falling....I'm not a medical person but it sounds as if something is going on, and it's not always reliable to expect that ER doctors will be able to diagnose it.

I'd call her regular doctors ASAP.
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Is it MRSA pneuomia. Google it.
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If she has MRSA it is not only a lung infection, it can happen anywhere and is an superbug, meaning antibiotic resistent. How did they determine MRSA? My steppop had MRSA following removal of a cyst in his foot. Infection developed and led to a two week stay in the hospital because he was so weak and needed to be on intrvenous antibiotics. The infection spread to his bone and they were afraid that they would have to amputate his foot. They started with a toe, and thankfully that was enough. Following the two week hospital stay he went to rehab for three more weeks.

It sounds as if you need to do some serious advocating for your mom. Something maybe should be checked that hasn't been. Or possibly time to talk to her doctor about options available, maybe hospice?

MRSA is confusing me because I thought is occurred only following a surgery within the wound.
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