What do all these things have in common? More than we may realize. All the medical tests in the world sometimes don’t give us the story we need to heal ourselves. This is my mom’s story:
“She is 87. It’s to be expected.” That’s the doctor’s prognosis. I don’t buy it. Not so long ago, my Mom was healthy and independent, enjoying her great grandchildren’s birthday parties. She is now laying in a hospital bed, completely incoherent tied to an IV.
Its Mom’s third visit to the hospital. With each visit, her symptoms worsen. This time she was brought in for chronic dehydration causing weakness, hypothermia, high blood pressure and confusion. Doctors surround her. Are we losing her? Its not that I deny she will one day pass; I simply don’t think it’s today.
My sisters have exhausted themselves and their options. Desperate times call for desperate measures; they turn to me for help. I am the sister whose healing beliefs were considered strange; weird. I came to peace long ago being called the “black sheep” of the family. I am now ready to move from the past and into the present, doing what I do best - teach people how to heal themselves. For the first time ever, I take the role to teach my mom.
When mom entered the ER, we were told that her ammonia levels were high and she was suffering with a UTI. We did what any good daughters would do; we googled high ammonia levels.
According to Healthgrades:
“The liver plays a vital role in most metabolic processes. One of these processes is the detoxification of ammonia in the blood. Ammonia is a by-product of normal protein metabolism and is produced by bacteria in the intestines. When the liver is damaged, the detoxification process may be disturbed and cause rising blood ammonia levels. High levels of blood ammonia can cause problems in several organs, most notably the brain.”
I voiced my concerns to her primary doctor, “All of her symptoms suggest high ammonia levels.” Yet he informs me that no report from the ER with this information exists. I am learning that test reports are golden in the medical field. Nothing can be done without the essential report. My concerns are dismissed. Luckily, I am not easily dismissed. I continue my research. After three days on the IV, my mom is looking better and is now able to speak, although her words are slurred and slow. A few words together are better than none at all.
I continue pushing about high ammonia levels. To appease me, her doctor orders an ammonia test. It comes out a bit high at 40. He is not concerned. I ask him if being on the IV for 3 days could have flushed her system and brought the ammonia levels down? “It’s possible,” he agrees, still not convinced. He orders another test the following day; her ammonia levels increased to 45. He is now concerned.
I explain about the liver and chemicals. I request that all medications that are not essential be eliminated, one of which is an anti-cancer drug she was put on18 months ago. He offers his blessing; I call the oncologist. After explaining my concerns, I am told by the oncologist office to “get her off that med as soon as possible.” The office also admits, “I’m not even sure why she’s on it. Her cancer was so insignificant. She really doesn’t need it.” I have to wonder.. then why is she on it? I make sure the hospital stops the anti-cancer med immediately.
Although still weak and tired, each day Mom shows signs of improvement. She is brought to rehab for therapy to increase her stamina and muscle strength. She is now eating food and water on her own. However, her blood pressure continues to be an issue. The only answer at the hospital is to add more blood pressure meds. Slowly, her blood pressure balances.
My next step is to clean up her diet.
I explain my concerns about the city water and the cranberry juice filled with sugar, red dyes and blue dyes that the hospital offers. Finally, the nutritionist picks up the cranberry juice and reads the label. She looks shocked. She admits that she never read the label before. She wouldn’t drink it. My mom takes note; I may not be so crazy after all.
Most of the doctors and therapists deny the connection. Their belief is that small amounts of chemicals have little impact on the body. I assure them differently, “If you were serving my chemically sensitive son this food and water, he would not be able to think either. I want as many chemicals as possible eliminated from her diet.” With a shrug of their shoulders, I am given the green light to do as I wish.
Two days away from discharge, I focus on cleaning up her home.
Upon discharge, her home is filled with pure spring water, organic cranberry juice, and coconut water for electrolytes. Each day her memory improves, and she is feeling better.
However, it doesn’t take long before her blood pressure and heart rate begin to dangerously drop. I’m pretty sure she’s over medicated. Maybe the coconut water is helping? I make an emergency call to the doctor. He suggests we cut her blood pressure meds in half. I agree.
Three days later, my mom’s blood pressure is perfect; her heart rate is good. Her memory is back, her stamina is improving. We watch her heal. There are still two complaints; a heaviness in her head and shaking of her hands. I believe both are side effects from one of her meds.
Three weeks later, mom takes a huge step backwards, and we are back at the hospital. What happened? After a four hour evening away from home, mom began fading fast. She drank little water and no coconut water while she was out. She quickly became completely dehydrated, confused, weak and lethargic. Her blood pressure peaked. Increasing her meds was the doctor’s fix; I thought differently. Instead of trying to fix the blood pressure, why not fix the electrolyte problem?
Mom being away from coconut water with electrolytes caused severe dehydration which caused the body’s rise in blood pressure. I was focusing on an absorption issue.
After a week on the IV, her blood pressure was still not normalizing; after a short time off the IV, dehydration returned quickly. I knew the coconut water was instrumental in my mother’s health. I ordered her back on it. The nurses and my sisters complied. Within two days on coconut water, my mother’s blood pressure was stable and she was taken off the IV. Her body was able to maintain health.
My sisters and I made the decision to mix half spring water with half coconut water. Mom drank it throughout the day. Each day she improved physically and mentally. By the third day she was discharged. The last hurdle that needed attention was her constant light headedness and her uncontrollable shaking of her hands.
The following week, we went to the doctor’s office for a quick check. Her blood pressure was now too low. Mom was able to eliminate another of her morning blood pressure pills. Within a short time, the light headedness disappeared and her hands stopped shaking. She graduated from her walker and was able to use only a cane for assistance. Her interests in reading, cooking and cleaning returned. My mom is healthier now than she has been in a long time.
When she complains about having to drink coconut water throughout the day, I remind her that if all she has to do to be healthy is drink coconut water, then she has nothing to complain about. I get her to laugh at herself.
I learned as my mom’s advocate that those who spend the most time with our elderly parents have the most knowledge to help them heal. A medical test does not always give the answers we need. It was up to me to keep the vast array of doctors on the same page, something that was lacking between them. I made sure I did my job well.
Its not that I expect my mom to live forever, I don’t. However, while she’s here, I do want her to enjoy her life. We were able to go to dinner the other night and she truly enjoyed herself. I plan on more of these adventures together.
Life is meant to be joyful... what we eat and drink makes all the difference in the world. Advocating for your elderly parent(s) is essential, and drinking coconut water may be the secret weapon!