Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Well, after a sleepless night of worrying about whether I was doing the right thing or not...my mother's surgery was scheduled for this morning at 7:40 am. They finally took her down to surgery about 8:30. By 10 till 9:00 it was canceled. She finally expressed her wishes (while on the operating table) that she does not want a feeding tube. The surgeon came to get me and we talked and I have to say I was relieved. I was relieved of the responsibility to make the decision and relieved the ordeal was finally over. My mother will be transferred to a long care facility and kept as comfortable as possible until her death. I have tried for so long to get her to tell me what she wanted and she never would. I'm not sure if she really understands that without the feeding tube she may not live long but maybe at 91 years of age that has already been decided anyway. I just want her to be comfortable as possible. Now I'm at work and I have a late night meeting. I don't think I slept more than 2 hours last night. My suggestion to everyone is to get all your ducks in a row.....create a living will, make sure your loved ones know what you want concerning end of life issues. It is the greatest gift you can give them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Never Ending Saga

I've been tied up for the past 4 days. Found a skilled nursing facility to take my mother who was supposed to be discharged yesterday but wasn't. I went to the hospital this morning expecting discharge but her blood work came back funky. Seems her potassium level is low so they are keeping her today to give her potassium and checking labs again tomorrow morning before deciding whether to discharge. She's been looking a little better but is still losing weight rapidly. She just can't keep food down.

My brother has been on the verge of a breakdown but is holding it together (barely). I feel so bad for him too. He's so anxious and there is nothing I can say to him that relieves that anxiety. I keep telling him to hang in there and try living on his own for awhile. He's on his way to see his doctor today and may have to go back on his anti-psychotic medication. The problem he has with it is it causes him to break out in a horrible rash that burns his skin. I just don't know how to help him.

Me....I'm here and functional at least for the time being. Work is such a stress. It takes me about an hour just to get my thoughts together and get productive. There is just so much on my mind I can't concentrate. I'm also having trouble sleeping. I fall asleep ok but I wake up every morning at 3:33 am and that's it for me. I'm up for good. Hope that straightens out soon.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I went to the hospital this morning in hopes of catching the doctor but alas my plan didn't work. The nurse told me that since it is Friday he may not do his rounds until his office closes at 12:00. It is impossible to predict when these doctors will be around. I couldn't get my mother to wake up for breakfast so I wasn't able to feed her this morning. I wanted to see how she would do with the change in diet but I guess I'll just have to check with her aide to see how she did. I'm not expecting her to eat much as this has been the pattern but I can still hope. I really don't want to her to have a feeding tube but it may be the only option. I'm trying to balance work and care of my mother and brother at the same time. I wish I could retire because it would be so much easier.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Granny's Boyfriend

A 5-year-old boy went to visit his grandmother one day. Playing with his toys in her bedroom while grandma was dusting, he looked up and said, “Grandma, how come you don’t have a boy friend now that Grandpa went to heaven?” Grandma replied, “Honey, my TV is my boyfriend. I can sit in my bedroom and watch it all day long. The religious programs make me feel good and the comedies make me laugh. I’m happy with my TV as my boyfriend.”

Grandma turned on the TV, and the reception was terrible. She started adjusting the knobs, trying to get the picture in focus. Frustrated, she started hitting the backside of the TV hoping to fix the problem. The little boy heard the doorbell ring, so he hurried to open the door, and there stood Grandma’s minister. The minister said, “Hello, son, is your Grandma home?” The little boy replied, “Yeah, she’s in the bedroom bangin’ her boyfriend.” The minister fainted.
I have finally reached the conclusion that we will no longer be able to care for my mother at home. It is the hardest decision I've ever had to make but I know in my heart it is in her best interest. She is bedfast now and unable to stand for more than 4 or 5 seconds at a time and that is with 2 people assisting. She barely eats and that is with a lot of coaxing. I'm not sure I could manage her care even if I wasn't working full time. I expect the doctor will be discussing a feeding tube at some point and I'm not sure how I feel about that. It is a very emotional decision because I realize we can keep people alive longer than what they would want. I don't want to prolong her life if she has no quality of life. My brother is having a really hard time right now. His emotional state is up and down just like the rest of us but it is even harder on him. I am expecting my mom to be released from the hospital at any moment (without notice) and I have to make a decision soon. I pray I make the right one for everyone.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Well, this is my first chance to post since last week. My mother was transferred back to the hospital last Friday and that is where I've been for the past 4 days. Today she was taken out of isolation and things are beginning to look up for a change. I have no idea where we are going from here but we will take it one day at a time. Thank goodness I saw my own doctor a couple weeks ago because the anti-depressants are working wonderfully...........I highly recommend them if you are under stress! I just came into the office for a couple of hours but will be going back to the hospital this afternoon. I'm keeping a positive attitude and I hope I have many more days left to spend with my mother. She's a sweetie!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Perks to being a senior

Finally I have something to get excited about being considered a "senior". I realized this the other day when ordering from the senior menu at Denny's. It was so personal, it spoke to me. Right up at the top of the menu it says in big, bold letters "For Our Senior Friends". Friends mind you, not acquaintances, not diners, not old geezers......it says FRIENDS. I don't know about anyone else but that makes me just want to order a "grand slam" just for the adventure of it and besides....it's among "friends". I was first introduced to the idea of "senior" menus not by Denny's but by Ihop. Did you know that just being over 55 will get you two entrees for the price of one between the hours of 4pm and 6pm? What a deal! My kids ask, "Who in the world wants to eat so early?" But heck, I need two hours to digest so I won't get reflux. That gets me to bed right on time... So between coupons and senior discounts I guess that makes me the cheapest date in town. My significant other assured me I'm just more bang for the buck! Age does have its’ own reward!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Small Case of Attempted Murder

Do kids run away any more? I'm talking about the silly seven-year-old kind. Not the teenage, steal your mom's cookie money, hop on a bus to Laughlin, Nevada, turn a few thousand tricks and come back home pregnant and tweaking. Not that kind. Ick.

We kids were playing at some girl's house down the street from ours. I don't remember her name, so let's call her Agnes. I coveted Agnes' bike and it must have shown because she let me ride it, as long as I stayed in the driveway which ran down the side of the house. The bike was a little big for me, so when her little brother stood in my path, I mowed him down, unable to brake or steer clear of the kid. He cried. I jumped off the bike, happily turning the weapon over to Agnes. As panic and overwhelming guilt flooded my senses, some sort of fight-or-flight response took over and like a weasel, I skulked away.

I was a fugitive. On the lam. I wandered around the neighborhood, too scared to go home and face the consequences of attempted murder. Mortifying images danced around my head: confrontation with both sets of parents, our family becoming the shunned ones, jail, and OHMYGOD, ... probably an apology! There was no way I could face the victim's family.

Adrenalin hopped, skipped and jumped through my body. I turned down this street and went down that alley. Where could I go? I was seven and had never traveled by foot more than four blocks to school. I did not do well with the unknown, so I sat on the sidewalk at the edge of my frontier and I shook and cried. I think I was stalling, sure that my parents would have found out by now and might be looking for me. I wanted my mommy but at the same time, I couldn't face her. She would be ashamed of me and that made me feel even worse about the whole ordeal. It would be easier if someone just caught me.

Fifteen or twenty minutes must have passed since the tragic incident when I heard the dull roar of my father's truck coming down the street. He pulled up next to me and I left my fate in his hands.

"Come on," he said.

The judge was lenient. I was released on my own recognizance and apologized to poor little Timmy (or whatever his name was) after being told by his mother that he required however many stitches on his face. Her feeble attempts to make me feel bad about what I'd done were puny and tardy. I was embarrassed and guilt-ridden beyond her wildest dreams.

And that was the end of it. This was, after all, the 50s, before people sued the crap out of each other for everything. Back then, shit just happened. You got your nose rubbed in it and then you moved on. Judgment was rendered by parents and neighbors, for free. Not courtrooms and lawyers, for thirty percent.
Yes........it is true.. I am now officially a member of the cataract club. I had my eyes tested the other day and my doctor advised me I have cataracts in both eyes. Her exact words were, "This is something we would expect to see in someone of your age." EXPECT.....well I wasn't expecting it. And what does she mean by someone of MY age? Ahhhhhhh who am I fooling......I know exactly what she meant. I'm not fooling anyone with my righteous indignation!

Belly Up To The Bar Boys

The following article was from the caregivers home companion.


Moderate Alcohol Intake Can Strengthen Bones as We Age

There seems to be a direct correlation between moderate drinking and bone density in older men and women. That’s the consensus of researchers conducting an epidemiological study of men and post-menopausal women primarily over 60 years of age who were found to have greater bone mineral density if they practiced regular moderate alcohol intake.

Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University in Boston found associations were strongest for beer and wine and, importantly, bone mineral density (BMD) was significantly lower in men drinking more than two servings of liquor per day. The results suggest that regular moderate consumption of beer or wine may have protective effects on bone, but that heavy drinking may contribute to bone loss.

Yahoo................ Though I've never really liked alcohol I'm beginning to think I need to learn to like the taste of wine, for several reasons. (1) I'm going crazy (2) I like my bones (3) I'm going crazy and (4) Maybe I'll be a spiffy dancer too.

Anyway it couldn't hurt!

Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm still thinking of a new title.................Tales From the Crypt......I know I'm not dead yet I just feel like it. Any thoughts?
I woke up at 1:56 a.m. this morning and just laid there thinking and thinking and thinking. The clock turned 3:00 a.m. and I was still thinking. I have no idea what time I finally got back to sleep but sometime in the night I shut off the alarm. Somehow I still woke up at my normal (before daylight savings time) get up time 5:30 a.m. Dodged a bullet there. Needless to say I'm a bit fuzzy headed this morning and have no idea what I was thinking about all night with the exception of one thought. I kept thinking how my blog title is misleading since I am not middle aged anymore. Unless I live to be 120 which even if I could I don't think I want to. I think I need a new title but I don't want it to be age defining. Don't know why this was such a topic of concern at 2:00 a.m. but I guess it was.

The weekend was better than the last one. My mother seemed better but very detached. I don't know what to think about it all. She doesn't initiate a conversation but she will answer you when you talk to her. She has no interest in anything. I always put her headphones on her at night with her favorite cd. She would never ask for it but she always seems to enjoy it. She'll close her eyes and sometimes hum along. It helps me to leave her when she looks comfortable and relaxed. I have a few issues I want to talk to the Director of Nursing about and since it has always been difficult for me to be assertive this will be a challenge. Every time I go to the home I find my mother parked in her wheelchair in the doorway just facing a wall. Since the space is so tight she can't turn her self around or even see her tv. I realize she doesn't ask for anything or make any requests but please........at least they could get her into her room. They have never even put her in the recliner my daughters brought even after they told us to get one. My mother left the hospital with a stage 2 bed sore and now has 2 other smaller ones. I can't believe sitting in a wheelchair that doesn't even have a padded seat could be good for her. They would leave her in it from 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm if we weren't there to keep bugging them to put her to bed. It just makes me ill. No wonder she is depressed. This is a rehab. facility and supposedly the nicest one in town so I can't imagine what a nursing home will be like. I just keep asking God to lead me in the right direction and to help me make the best decisions regarding the care of my mother.

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Favorite Philosophy

A man with one watch knows what time it is - A man with two watches is never quite sure.

Don't look where you fall, but where you slipped.

People may doubt what you say but they will believe what you do.

Never explain, your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe it.

You've go to do your own growing no matter how tall your father was.

The best way to predict your future is to create it.

Courage is not a lack of fear, but the ability to act while facing fear.
I've been out with strep throat for a couple of days. Things are progressing on all fronts. I saw my doctor and got an antibiotic, anti-depressant and a referral to a counselor. I think I needed all the above! My daughter Jamie saw a doctor Thursday and they are testing her for Lupus. All the symptoms she has been having over the past few years are starting to add up but we don't know for sure. I hope she gets a clear diagnosis soon so she can determine just what she has to deal with and what type of doctor to see. I'm just keeping on keeping on.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

After such an emotional weekend I walked into the nursing home yesterday with no idea of what to expect. I was surprised to find my mother in her wheelchair and returning from physical therapy or Physical Education as she calls it. I think I learned today that we are at a point where things can change in a moment. There will be bad days and hopefully more good days to come. I also learned that sometimes the best intentions may not be the best thing for someone. I think I have been too close to the situation to be objective. I need to take a step back and let the staff tend to some of the issues such as feeding. My presence isn’t having an impact one way or the other and I believe my mother sometimes regresses when I am around and I just react emotionally. This being a parent of a parent is really very much like parenting children. They act better for other people than they do for you. Thank goodness! The best part of being in the nursing home is getting to know the other residents. They are all so cute and you can’t help but fall in love with them all. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Cecil. He’s one of the “characters” in the home. He is confined to his wheelchair but tries escaping every time he gets an opportunity. His chair is alarmed just in case he tries to get out of it. The alarm goes off frequently and it is really quite loud. Every time I hear his alarm sound it is followed by Cecil yelling “fire drill, get out, get out”. He was outside my mother’s room the other day when she was in bed and feeling so sick. He kept asking who that old woman was and the nurse kept telling him she’s not an old woman and it was none of his business anyway. I couldn’t help getting tickled and thinking about how insulted my mother would have been if she knew he was referring to her as an old woman. Then there is Bertha, she is my mother’s meal partner and even though neither of them can hear the other Bertha talks and talks and doesn’t seem to notice my mother never responds. Bertha is 97 and sharp as a tack. Her husband worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and she mentioned she attended the inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt in passing one day as though it was nothing more than a trip to the store. She said, “We were in town so it seemed like something to do”. Bertha has also been perturbed for a week because she believes it was my mother’s fault she was left in bed until 3pm last Monday. According to Bertha they gave her lift to my mother and left her high and dry. One week later she is still a bit miffed over the incident. Another lady of interest is Miss Mary. Mary shuffles along on her walker up and down the hall always with the look of someone not quite sure which turn to take. I hear her often ask for directions to her room. And then there is Joe. He has an air of dignity about him. I haven’t quite figured out why he is there as he appears to be very independent. He is dressed to the 9’s and sips his morning coffee in the dining room as if he were in the fanciest bistro and perusing the morning paper. I wish I knew all their stories for I’m sure there would be some interesting tales indeed.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

How quickly things can turn when a person is 91 years old. This weekend has been an emotional roller coaster. I went to the nursing home Saturday morning to take my mother her laundered clothes. I found her in the dining room slumped over in her wheelchair shaking and her eyes closed. She looked so pitiful my heart just broke. I touched her arm and sat down beside her trying to coax her into eating. It was no use. She just trembled and kept telling me she couldn't do it. Every bite I did manage to get into her mouth she would swallow and it would immediately come back up. I realized this was just torture for her and finally asked the nurse if I could stop. I also asked them if they would put her back to bed and not force her to stay up in her wheelchair. They informed me it is my right as a family member to make such a request. My mother is there for rehab. but I think it is a battle we are losing. She is losing the will to fight back. She is slipping away from us. Her condition was so heartbreaking that I just fell apart when I finally left. I cried so hard I just didn't have any tears left. When I left her she was back in bed and beginning to doze on and off. At dinner time I returned to find her dressed again and back in her chair. Things had not improved and again I tried to feed her and again everything came back up. This time I just told them I didn't want her back up again. About that time my daughter Jamie arrived and her reaction was the same as mine. She just broke down and wept. I hated seeing her that way but her reaction confirmed my own and somehow that was reassuring. My daughter's purchased a lift chair for my mother after the nurse recommended putting something in her room. It seems that she had an episode the night before where she felt she couldn't breathe. The staff borrowed a chair from another room and she sat in it the remainder of the night. So the girls purchased a chair and brought it to her room. When we left she was in bed and the chair installed. Later in the evening my brother went back to check on her and she wasn't any better. She began telling them she was having chest pains so it was our call as to whether she went to the ER. I went back to the nursing home and my oldest brother met us there. Mom didn't appear to be in any pain or distress but she was lethargic and refusing to eat. She just keeps looking at me in a way that makes me feel so helpless. I can't make this any better. My heart tells me she is giving up and I can't blame her. She is in a pitiful condition. If she doesn't have the will to fight back we cannot give it to her. I just want God to wrap his arms around her and comfort her. I want him to help her let go of this life and go to the next with him. I can't be selfish enough to ask her to stay for me. I love her too much to ask that of her.