My mother usually helps with the babies’ morning routines. The morning after Bob left for Europe, she couldn’t come upstairs because of a huge headache she had overnight. My dad and I took care of the kids. Right before the babies’ first nap at 9am, she came upstairs to ask for some Ty.lenol. Because she complained to me before that Ty.lenol didn’t help with her headaches, I gave her two tablets of Exce.drin. After that my dad and I brought the kids upstairs to get ready for their nap. Suddenly I heard my mother yelling out loud in the dining room. It was this really loud yelling that was so uncharacteristic of her. I quickly put one baby in the crib and rushed downstairs. She was sitting at the dining table looking scared and yelling loudly “Get away from me! I have kids and grandkids! Don’t come take me away!” I was stunned by this scene. I hugged her and she refocused her eyesight on me, called my name, and started crying hysterically. I was telling her that it was okay, that nobody was going to take her away. She continued to mumble while crying, “Don’t take me away. You go away….” At that point I realized that she was hallucinating. My dad, with Okra in his arms, came next to us and said, “It might be her headache.” At that point, I just wanted to put the babies down for their nap so I could tend to my mom. I took Okra from my dad, went to the nursery, and did a quick nap routine with the babies. After that, I found my mom in bed and my dad by her side. She was still saying things that did not make any sense. When I told her that nobody was coming to get her, she scolded me harshly for not believing in what she said. Then she complained of her heart beating really fast. I was very worried about the state of her mind at that point. I didn’t know what could cause this hallucination all of a sudden and wondered if she was having a panic attack. I was also afraid of a stroke and didn’t know enough to know if it looked anything like a stroke. I called my brother up. (It is great to have a sibling for things like these.) He was at work and told me to call her primary care doctor to ask for her advice. I hung up and called the clinic. The receptionist was so nice. She tried to find the doctor who was at that time busy. She jotted down my number and promised me that the doctor would return my call shortly. Not even two minutes later, my mom’s doctor called back. After understanding the situation, she said that it didn’t sound like a stroke but sounded more like the effect of Exce.drin on my mom. I was like, she started acting strangely only about ten minutes after she took the pills. The doctor said that this medication could have an effect on older adults like that sometimes. We went over what to watch for and when it would be a good time to go to the emergency room. While I was speaking to the doctor, my mom walked upstairs to see who I was talking to. When I told her it was her doctor, she again scolded me for calling the doctor. I pushed her out the door and continued the phone call. I was telling the doctor that this was so uncharacteristic of my mom to be speaking so harshly to me. My doctor said, “Since she could speak so well and walk so well, it definitely doesn’t sound like a stroke.” She said the effect of the meds should pass soon, but if we wanted to have her checked out, make an appointment at the clinic on that day. I updated my brother who was actually already on the train to come back to see my mom.
My mom at that point looked super alert and hyper. She was talking excessively. She was washing dishes and doing chores at a high speed. She continued to claim that there were a lot of people coming to get her. She was highly irritable. I didn’t realize that she had already taken two pills of Ty.lenol at 5am. So within 4 hours, she took four pills of two different medications. My brother arrived and examined the pills. The Ex.cedrin has a lot of caffeine in it. My mom loves the smell of coffee and tea but can’t drink any because of the caffeine. So it was most likely the caffeine that made her act so strangely. Nevertheless we made an appointment for her to see her doctor that same afternoon. Slowly she started to act more normally and started to feel tired and sleepy. Her doctor’s visit allowed us to know that it was most likely the headache medication that caused that extreme side effect of hallucination and she was prescribed Ibu.profen instead. Other than that, her vitals were good and everything was back to normal. The interesting thing was, after all of that, she didn’t remember the episode of her hallucination. I asked her if she was scared of what happened, she said no because she didn’t remember a thing.
Honestly, my mind was racing when I was trying to figure out what was wrong with my mom. I know that looking back it didn’t seem like a big deal but during that time, I was so scared. My mind went really far. I was scared of losing my mom and started thinking about all the what ifs. I was wondering what the ramification would be for us if mom was suddenly mentally unstable. I was afraid that her life was in danger and didn’t know how to react to it. I was so tense. I know that we eventually have to face our parents’ morbidity but I was just not ready for that. I know I am blessed to have parents who are healthy. My kids are still so young and I am not prepared to think about my parents being old and sick. My mom’s episode prompts me to think about sitting down with my parents to talk about their wishes in regards to their health should anything happens to them in the future. It also makes me realize that I or anyone else should not pop over-the-counter medications like it’s nothing. Everything carries a risk, and we have to be vigilant about even OTC meds’ effects. This episode also makes me realize how much I love and need my mom. She is the best mom, mom-in-law, and grandmother for us. I just can’t imagine my life without her, and hopefully I will continue to cherish her and never take her for granted.