Three weeks ago my wife fell at home, breaking her tibia and fibula. Upon entering a hospital ER, routine vital sign tests revealed a heart rate of 150 and a oxygen SAT in the low 80's. We are now at home. Her heart rate is stabilized, but she remains on oxygen (2 liters). She has long suffered from severe chronic pain caused by small fiber neuropathy, and takes high doses of opioids for the pain. Prior to her fall I observed her dozing off mid-sentence, using the wrong words in sentences and having memory problems, so I now suspect she has had a low SAT rate for some time. She still has some difficulty choosing the correct word, and short term memory issues. How can we determine if these problems are from oxygen deprivation and are they reversable? She does not fully recognize the extent of these problems.
Well, I can give you an experience response. I have a similar problem, and it comes from pain. I have a broken back from a car wreck a long time ago, and even before my back got so bad that I had to take medication, I goofed up my words and was not aware of it on account of the discomfort I had to bear for so long. This is because pain prevents a person from focusing very well on what they're doing and saying. Her ongoing pain from neuropathy is probably doing this. Adding pain medications to the mix, well, yes, she's going to additionally doze off all the time.
Now, as to oxygen deprivation, it is true she may be breathing shallowly because of the drugs she takes, or even because perhaps some other organic problem is hindering proper oxygenation. So, I think she needs to see a pulmonologist to check out her normal breathing and resultant oxygen levels in her blood. In addition, it could be her opiate dose needs to be adjusted so she's not as "out of it" and thus perhaps breathing too shallowly. Also, there are other pain medications to help with a lower opiate dose, that do not depress the nervous system so much... there are some nerve pain medications, like the class that Neurontin and Lyrica are in, that numb pain.
I just do not think that she's had permanent brain damage or anything so extreme as that, just from the way she breathes, mainly because of my own personal experience with pain and pain medications. So, if the pulmonary specialist evaluation and possible treatment, plus an adjustment in her pain meds doesn't help matters, then you could also have her evaluated by a neurologist, just to make sure her brain, so far, hasn't been affected by oxygen deprivation. I hope this helps some.
Thanks very much for your response to my question. It is good to have an opinion from someone who has dealt firsthand with this type of disease. this morning we learned she has a staff infection, and a friend said when his mother had staff it affected her mentally, so i'll be checking into this some more. And we are seeing a pulmonary guy.Again, appreciate your insights.
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