If there were any indication that it would be worth the trouble to deal with a very annoying side effect, we might hang in there in hopes that the problem would eventually subside.  There is no clear evidence that the Pyridostigmine (brand name, Mestinon) has had any impact on Mary Ann’s fainting spells (syncope) due to the Orthostatic Hypotension (sudden drop in blood pressure when standing up).

It has only been a little over a week, but multiple trips to the bathroom each day with something close to diarrhea has worn us both out.  Most of the times there has been too little warning to get there in time.  Each medicine brings with it a cluster of side effects.  There are no perfect meds.  There is always a balancing act weighing the benefits against the problematic side effects.

Since the high blood pressure is such a serious problem, this is no small decision.  We will continue the Midodrine at the lower dosage we started just before adding the Pyridostigmine.  The Midodrine keeps her blood pressure at a higher level than is healthy for her in the long term, but it reduces the number and intensity of the fainting episodes.  We will accept the vulnerability to fainting spells that comes with the lower dose of Midodrine.  If those spells increase to the extent that they are stealing from us the capacity to have a reasonable quality of life in our time together, we will increase the dosage of the Midodrine to last summer’s level when the fainting had gotten out of hand.

The last two days have kept us inside for the most part due to bad weather.  It is at times like these that it becomes clear again that 24/7 with one another it tough to maintain.  The needs that come so very often become harder to deal with in a pleasant and patient way.

Gratefully, we have a treat tonight away from the house.  It will be a challenge, since the wind chill today has never gotten above zero.  The air temperature is heading to zero or a degree or two below by morning.  The treat is too good to pass up.  It is a Christmas Concert by the local Symphony.  What makes it such a treat is that a young woman who grew up in the congregation I served is singing at the concert.  Her Mom is on the Staff at that church.  She has the most beautiful voice I have ever heard. She is based in Boston now, and, on occasion is a vocal soloist for the Boston Pops. Check out her Blog for a real treat: http://kristenwatsonsoprano.blogspot.com/

Arranging to get to the concert was no small task. Mary Ann wanted to go, but I could not be sure she would not be able to go at the last minute.  Then came the prospect of getting there and at some point needing one or more trips to the bathroom.  Given the side effects of the new medicine she was taking, that was pretty likely.

While I do not yet know exactly how the evening will go, I realized how important it was to me to be able to experience the evening’s music.  I called the Agency, Home Instead, that we have used in the past.  The Companion Care Aide who came on Sunday mornings before I retired was available.  She committed to coming this evening to be with Mary Ann here at home if need be.  I called to buy a ticket to the concert for the Aide so that if Mary Ann could go she could be there with Mary Ann to help her to the bathroom.  To my surprise, a complimentary ticked now awaits us if we need it.

Enough for now.  Tomorrow’s post will include a reflection on the evening.

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Noma called this morning and asked if she and Herb could bring over a couple of bottles of Herb’s home made wine.  For a number of years, Herb has provided home made wine for the Thanksgiving Communion services at the congregation from which I retired.  He makes very good tasting wine.  Herb and Noma also brought a little meatloaf that Noma had made, and some home made peanut brittle.

The week started with Jan bringing with her a very tasty Mexican chicken pie on Sunday when she came to spend time with Mary Ann.  Then early in the week Mary brought by a large container of soup made using the Olive Garden recipe for their Pasta E Fagioli.  Jeanne came over for a part of the day today and brought a Quiche from Copper Oven, along with a piece of pie from there for each of us.  Mary Ann’s pie was one of her absolute favorites, Lemon Meringue.  Tomorrow, Mary is going to bring us some pork loin and dressing.

So much of the time Mary Ann is forced to eat my culinary creations, which I just decided to dub, Pastor Pete’s Pottage.  Mercifully, the pottage is interspersed with Glory Day’s pizza slices, Bobo’s burgers, Perkin’s pancakes and a variety of take out foods.  This week Mary Ann is eating like a Queen.  I, of course, am not wanting for good food either, since she needs help in consuming it all.

When food is brought to us, as it has been this week, very often it is brought with the instructions that it can be put in the freezer (or some portion of it) to be enjoyed at some time in the near future.

One of the best things about the food this week is that it is coming at a time when I have been concerned about getting more calories in so that she can stop losing weight.  Convincing her to let me feed her is not always an easy task, but she has let me do so here at home more often.  When I help her, she eats much more.  She has been eating very well with all the good food that has been appearing at our home. We weighed her this afternoon and found that she had gained back about a pound, after having dropped five pounds.

At lunch today, Mary Ann age a full quarter of the Quiche, followed by that very large piece of Lemon Meringue pie.  With my help feeding her, she ate every crumb of both.  She had eaten a good breakfast, the usual yogurt, juice and a large bowl of Shredded Wheat Mini-bites.

She was very tired today.  Yesterday, she got up fairly early and then went back to bed for a relatively short nap.  She ate well and was up the rest of the day.  Today, after the good breakfast, she really shut down and needed a nap.  Shortly after Herb and Noma came by followed by Jeanne’s arrival, Mary Ann got up and was up the rest of the day.

There was one episode that moved me to go ahead and increase the Midodrine that raises her blood pressure.  Between the Quiche and the piece of pie, as she was sitting in the chair at the table, she just went out, had a fainting spell.  I managed to take her blood pressure after she came out of it.  Her BP was 100/60.  That is pretty low for just sitting in a chair.  It sometimes drops lower than that, much lower, when she stands up.  (One time during a tilt table test at the hospital, it dropped to 50/30, when she was moved from lying down to 70% of the way to standing upright.)  When she is lying down it is often as high as 180 or more, over 105 or more.

I have changed out the pills in her daily pill containers so that the dose of Midodrine will return to the pre-hospital stay level.  I have also printed from the Internet an article by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a component of the National Institutes of Health.  The article describes a study of a drug named pyridostigmine (brand name, Mestinon), which seems to help the problem of Orthostatic Hypotension (low blood pressure when standing) without raising the patient’s blood pressure when lying down.  The drug’s intended use is to treat myasthenia gravis.  This is an off-label use of the drug.  The study concluded that a low dose of Midodrine combined with therapeutic dose of Mestinon was able to control the Orhostatic Hypotension in most of the subjects.

I will fax or mail or take the article to our Cardiologist to see what he thinks of the idea of trying this new approach.  Our Neurologist, a nationally known authority on the treatment of Parkinson’s, had suggested the option of using Mestinon when the problem of fainting got so much worse last summer.  The goal, of course, is to gain a manageable quality of life without raising her BP to a long term harmful level.

At the moment, Mary Ann seems to be sleeping soundly.  We will hope for a good night.  The weather is supposed to be great tomorrow.  Maybe we can get out of the house for a while.

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.