Discussions that mention morphine

Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia board


I hope this is the correct place to post this question. My alert, vibrant 83 year old grandma broke her femur early Saturday morning. She had surgery Sunday morning and seemed to be doing fine, all things considered. Today, Monday, the minute I walked into the room, I knew my grandma was different. She had a "wild" look to her eye. She recognized everyone but seemed to be confused about where she was. She thought she was back in her apartment smoking cigarettes (her 60 year + habit). She was trying to get out of bed to grab cigarettes she thought she saw on the wall. I could go on and on but you get the picture....she looked like she was in the stages of early dementia.

My grandma's leg is progressing normally. She's been on morphine but I think they switched her to vicadan (sorry, don't know how to spell). She also is on some anxiety medication as she was before the fall. In addition, she was given a nicotine patch today to help with the withdrawal. Her sodium is low for some reason and she might have to have a blood transfusion tomorrow. In addition, her oxygen levels weren't where they should be. With all this and my grandma's overnight transformation from alert to halucinatory, is this permanent? This happened literally overnight. It's so difficult to get information from the doctors and nurses. They can't say anything for sure. My grandma lived on her own before this. If she continues as she is, I can see her bedridden in a full-blown nursing home situation.

Any information about similar experiences you have dealt with would be very helpful. This is such a stressful situation right now not to mention dealing with insurance (or lack thereof) for rehab and nursing home facilities in the future.

Thanks!
Jenny
Dear Jenny,

It doesn't have to be permanent. Maybe it's only a reaction to the very strong pain meds. Your Grandma may be just fine after a couple of weeks of recovery. Many elderly people show such confusion after surgery.

My Mom (97) broke her femur in September. She had an operation to repair it and was healing well, but when I saw her in mid October (at a rehab center) she was in horrible shape. She could not find her nose to wipe it when it was runny. She couldn't find her glasses as they slipped down her nose. I thought her whole nervous system was out of whack.

Mom had already had dementia for a couple of years, and we thought this was now the final stage, hurried on by the fall, operation, and meds.

A week or so later they took her off the strong pain killers and gave her only Tylenol. The good news is that her hand/eye coordination improved totally, she can now pick up her fork and eat normally - whereas in October she had to be fed. She also had some problem with her swallowing reflex and had to be fed only liquids. That has improved to the extent that she now eats all kinds of normal food.

Mom had to stay at the nursing home. She was never able to learn to walk again, even with a walker ..it was just too hard, too much effort, and her Dementia caused her not to see the connection between going through painful therapy and getting physically stronger and going home.

She is however quite happy at the NH. and she is almost 15 years older than your grandma.

Since your grandma had no signs of Dementia before the accident, I think she has a good chance of full recovery. Therapy will be hard work, but if she has the motivation to do it, she will succeed. And try to get them to take her off that Vicodon (I don't know the spelling either) so she gets her lucidity back! My son in law was in his 20s when he had to be on morphine after a burst appendix - he saw things crawling up the walls ... that was the morphine.

Good luck with it!

Love,
Martha