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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

9 - Not a walk in the park!

Today is day July 9th (and my 9th post) in the 30 day blog challenge I joined.  For anyone "just tuning in", this post may leave you wondering what the heck I am rambling about.  I promise it won't take too long to go back and review my first 8 posts so you can catch up with my story.  For anybody thinking there is nothing here that could affect you, I hope you're wrong.  I hope you are wrong, not because I wish bad things for you, but because that would mean that you are truly alone in life.  You see, although my story revolves around senior care giving and health care, I believe there are lessons within my story that could be applied to ANYBODY that might EVER know someone (or be someone) who is need of a little help, no matter their age.

Mom seemed to be doing very well in the Acute Rehab setting.  Now that she was busy with therapy so many hours of the day, I also was doing a little better.

Now, one would think that things might have gotten easier at this point.  They just got different.  I no longer spent up to 20 hours a day at the hospital.  Now I only spent probably a total of 6-8
hours either at or traveling to the hospital.  The rest of the time I was making sure moms clothes were gathered, washed and returned to her; anything she wanted brought back was either found or purchased; bills were paid; items she would need when she was released to come home were gathered and prepared; etc.  It was truly a juggling act!

Although I had assured the doctors; therapists; nurses; family members; and myself that I could handle this, I was starting to panic!  Was I really ready for this?  Was I really ready to be with my mother 24/7?  Was I really equipped to handle all the care she needed?  Could I really roll her in to the "roll in" shower we had installed?  How could I get her in/out of the house for appointments?  My worries and concerns just kept adding up.  What am I going to do?  What if I can't do it?  What if I let mom down?  Having continuous care at home had been one of the criteria for acceptance in to Acute Rehab.  I HAD TO DO THIS!

Oh, man, I can tell this is not going to be a walk in the park!

Mom worked hard - ability and commitment to a minimum of three hours a day of organized therapy had been one of the criteria to be considered for the program.  In spite of the constant back pain which was being semi controlled with some heavy duty narcotics, she managed the organized therapy and more most days.  Each week her "team" met and discussed her progress and likely discharge date.  Her report cards (yes, that's what they called them) were pretty impressive!

Mom was on the right track!

She was granted her first "day" pass after about 10 days in rehab.  With the help of the therapists I learned very quickly how to best load mom along with the wheelchair, walker and any other equipment that she might need.  I had no idea what we were going to do or where we were going to go, but we were in the car and on the road!  We didn't go anywhere too exciting or do anything that unusual, but for mom this was big stuff right now!  It was a sign of things to come.  She beamed as we made the decision to go to "Great Clips".  After our hair cuts we just drove around.  We got ice cream.  We just enjoyed being out of the hospital.

My mom was on the road home!

It would be a total of 3 weeks that mom spent in rehab, this time, before she would come home on May 30th, 2012.  That night we both slept like we had not slept in weeks.  I woke with a start after snoozing hard for nearly 10 hours.  I hadn't heard mom at all - even with the baby monitors I had placed in her room.  My heart was beating hard as I scurried across the house to her room.  Oh, Lord, please let her be OK!  I quietly crept in to her room with my eyes on her chest to see if she was breathing.

Her eyes opened.  "We better get up.  The Home Health people will be here soon."  What a relief!

With the help of the Home Health nurse and therapists mom gained strength each day.

She's not ready for a walk IN the park, but with a lot of determination she was soon able to walk TO the park.  Each time the therapist came they would work on her exercises and then off she would go with her pretty pink walker down the street!

Things went pretty well and mom continued to improve.  Well, she improved in the sense that she was able to feed herself and accomplish other tasks necessary for survival, but she still needed a lot of assistance.  She was still in severe pain most of the time and still taking at least two different narcotics for pain control.  Plus all the other pills she took for her various other "conditions".

Even so, six weeks later she was discharged from Home Health Care. These were people we'd relied on for the past six weeks.  They were people we had come to trust, people who offered helpful advice and access to resources.  We were comfortable with them and confident in their abilities.  We hadn't been nearly as impressed with the office and management staff.

With assurances that mom was doing "very well for what she'd been through" and accepting praises for "doing such a good job" with moms care, we said goodbye to the nurse and the physical therapist.  (We had never seen the aide that was assigned to mom (but we did get a call after being in home health for nearly 3 weeks apologizing that "she wouldn't be able to make it today") We had asked that the OT not come back after the first 3 visits - remind me to tell you THAT story later!)

The next week and a half were pretty uneventful.

We took lots of rides around the valley, just enjoying our time together and marveling in all the beauty around us.  We noticed things we had never noticed before and chattered about what our community used to be like.
As we drove around I told mom stories
about some of the mischief I use to cause when I was young.  She acted shocked at each story and then would laugh.  I so enjoyed hearing her laugh.  I suspect that there were very few of those stories that she hadn't already heard from someone, but it was fun taking those walks down memory lane.

Things seemed to be going pretty smoothly. What a nice reprieve!
I probably shouldn't get too comfortable, huh?
But, things were pretty normal actually.  Well, except for moms back pain.
Sad to think even her pain had become normal.
And, her knee.  Does that look a little puffy?
But she seems to be feeling pretty well and we have an appointment scheduled with her doctor in a couple weeks or so.  Maybe they could get her in a little sooner, maybe they'll have a cancellation - I'll call in the morning.

No such luck.  Not only did it only take moments for me to find out the doctor was on vacation, it took even less time to find out that "they don't do a cancellation list".
I wondered out loud about what I should do.
She didn't know, but suggested "if I really thought it was urgent to go to the emergency room".

 By the last week of July we were back on the roller coaster.

As scary as it is, I hope you will return and join us for the ride!

Count your blessing and enjoy the day!


Vanessa Terrell said...

Thanks for sharing your story...I truly understand. I hope each day has gotten better for you and your mom. God bless!

Nancy Boyd said...

Wow this really hit home for me, as me and my siblings are trying to care for my elderly mother from a distance. Sometimes I've wished that I COULD be there physically, but in my heart of hearts I realize that what she needs is beyond what I can give her. She's in good hands with the health care workers and the plan we have set up for her.

The hardest thing though? Facing the mortality of a parent. That's a whole separate thing and not so easy even when you see it coming.

Thanks for sharing so much about your journey with your mom. I can totally relate.

Nicki Sanders said...

I am blessed and so appreciate the blessing you find in caring for your mother. So many friends and family members are having a very similar experience. Thank you for sharing the joy and challenge! Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

And thus the roller coaster began! Stay tune!

healthcare hostages said...

Thanks for taking the time to take a ride with me today!

Every day is a blessing even though some days I have to remind myself of that!

Have a blessed day!

healthcare hostages said...

It's tough no matter what role you play in your parents health care. Not everybody can be there full time.......and not every parent needs or wants us there all the time! But it sounds like you are as involved as you can be and that you have made sure your mother is safe and happy. That's really the important thing! Be as involved as you can, even from a distance!

Trust me, I am all too familiar with facing mortality of a parent. It is "removed", but I don't know that I think it's separate. It's terrible. It's heart breaking. But, it's inevitable, the natural progression.

That's why it is so important to have those conversations with your parents. Better to KNOW what they want when the time comes. Some of the things we need to know as children as we make arrangements for our parents farewell are learned through simple conversations. Other information we might need require REAL conversations which may leave us with a heavy heart and a lump in our throats.

Thank you so much for your post! I really appreciate the opportunity to share our story.

Have a blessed day!

healthcare hostages said...

Thank you. Trust me, I know how blessed I am to have gotten to know my mother so well.

There are a LOT of people having similar experiences to varying degrees. I am hoping sharing promotes caring!

I hope you'll join me again! Oh, and share my story with those friends & family members!

Have a blessed day!

Donovan Dreyer said...

You are a role model! Way to go with such a powerful gesture of love in the present. It is, well.. a present for your mom- and for you. You are absolutely on point that this applies to me and everyone who reads your true story as it unfolds.

healthcare hostages said...

Thank you so much Donovan! That's very kind of you to say. Most days I feel like I am a great example of what NOT to do! But, that's why I wanted so badly to share this story (the UBC was just the kick in the pants I needed to get started).......not everybody has to make the same mistakes, I'll share mine!

It absolutely could happen to anyone at any time. I always knew that, but it became glaringly apparent when I started this blog and read some of the comments and emails I received.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post. I hope to see you again!

Have a fantastic day and don't forget to count your blessings!