SwellPosted: June 13, 2013
Mom’s right foot, ankle and calf are swollen and have been this way for about a month. It appears to be water retention because when I press on a spot, the dent remains for a half a minute or so. I thought the problem was that she wasn’t drinking enough water, so I badgered her to increase her intake from 4 ounces to at least 16. This lasted about a week and, when the swelling didn’t go down, she went back to a few meager sips a day. She seems to be more concerned over keeping her daily trips to the bathroom down to a bare minimum versus kidney failure.
After the Water Intake Experiment didn’t work she decided that the culprit must be one of the vitamins or medications she takes each day, so I was instructed to write everything down, including the daily dosage of each. She studied the list for a few days and finally decided I was giving her too many low-dose aspirins. I showed her on the list that it was only a single pill in the morning, but she wanted to see what they looked like because she thought I was giving her another in the evening. I got the bottle and emptied the contents into my palm. She picked up a single small, pale yellow tablet, grunted once and gave it back with a dismissive, “Okay, never mind.”
Next she decided it must be an increase in humidity from the storm activity in Oklahoma. I explained that none of this touched Phoenix but she didn’t believe me and insisted on confirming it. She checked all three local network news broadcasts, and had me double check weather reports “on the computer,” which is Mom code for the Internet, before she verified for herself that the humidity hadn’t broken double-digits for weeks and she finally admitted that unnatural desert dampness was probably not the problem.
We have a doctor appointment tomorrow but, for some reason, she feels compelled to figure out a credible explanation so that her doctor doesn’t have to go through the exercise of performing an actual diagnosis, as though this might put a strain on their doctor-patient relationship. This morning she came up with, what she believes is, the definitive truth of the matter. Wheelchair Crash Damage.
“You know how I just let my legs hang down when I drive my wheelchair?” she asked after calling me into the living room.
“Yes,” I replied. “You refuse to use the footrest.”
“That’s right,” she continued. “And you know how I sometimes bump into the doorway?”
“Yes. Bill’s given up trying to fill in the gouges.”
“Right. Well I think it’s because my foot gets trapped between the doorway and my wheelchair sometimes and that keeps it swollen up,” she concluded, holding up her puffy foot as proof.
“But Mom, there aren’t any bruises on your feet,” I said.
“There’s one on my toe,” she said, wiggling her right foot so that I could see the faded, almost invisible pea-size mark on her middle toe.
“But it isn’t just your foot that’s swollen,” I explained. “The swelling goes up your calf.”
She thought about that for a moment and then replied, “Well that’s because the skin can only go out so far and then the swelling has to go somewhere else.”
“Like up your leg?” I asked. “Or around your hips?”