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Friday, January 10, 2014

Something was up If you're "just tuning in" this post may leave you wondering what the heck I am rambling about, I hope you take the time to go back and review my earlier posts so you can catch up with our story. I very much appreciate your thoughts and comments.
For anyone who has been along for the whole wild ride - Thank you!

Something was up

Mom called me after being returned to her hospital room following an X-Ray, “are you coming up”? She wanted to know.  I was on my way and told her so.  “Okay, honey.  I’ll see you when you get here” mom trilled.  I could tell by her voice something was up, but when I asked what it was mom quipped “I guess you’ll see when you get here, I’ll see you in a few minutes” then she was gone………..I was intrigued.
Mom was often cryptic when she had something to share – good or bad – so, I was left to my own imagination as to what she was going to show me.  As I continued driving the few blocks to the hospital and then circling the parking lot looking for a space, I let my imagination go to a happy place.  I pictured my mother smiling as she walked along the beach; I pictured her walking EVERYWHERE.

Was it possible my mother was going to show me she had managed to walk in rehab?  Then I reminded myself it was just as possible she had received something special in the mail; had a visit from someone who meant a lot to her; met someone new she found interesting; maybe she just got the wrong order for lunch.  Whatever it was she knew it was something I would be interested in, I could tell by her voice.  I could tell by the look on her face when I walked in to her room it was a good thing.

Mom was sitting in her chair working a crossword puzzle; her face lit up when she saw me and she set her pen down.  “Hi honey.  How are you?” mom asked as I leaned in and kissed her cheek; I told her I was fine.  “What have you been doing this morning?” she wanted to know; I smiled while I told her about my morning with the grand kids.  She continued the rapid fire questions for several minutes as she smiled like the Cheshire Cat.

“What’s going on?” I was almost giggling when I asked because of her obvious excitement.  She asked if I noticed anything “different”.  After several minutes of mom watching me inspect her and then the room, mom snickered when I said “give me a hint”.  Her grin widened and her eyes twinkled as she nodded her head toward the wall where the white board hung.

I quickly scanned the board for any new information and my mouth fell open when my eyes finally honed in on what mom was so excited about.  We were like a couple of giddy school girls as we wrapped our arms around each other and squealed with delight; it looked like we would be home by the end of the month after all.  The discharge date field on the white board had been blank, but now prominently displayed the date of July 30th, 2013 with a smiley face next to it.  

I jumped when the nurses’ voice came over the intercom asking what mom needed; I hadn't noticed her press the call button.  “Yes, I need to go to the bathroom” my mother announced, she even smiled and had a lilt to her voice as she announced this basic need.  Within moments the aid arrived and wrapped a gait belt around moms’ waist.  I began bringing the bedside commode out of the bathroom; the aide looked confused and asked mom if she didn't want to use the commode in the bathroom.

“Yes, I’d like to” mom grinned as she stood up with minimal assistance.  Obviously mom had something more to show me.  Once again, my jaw dropped; once again I had tears in my eyes.  I couldn't believe I was watching my mother walk to the restroom.  Just a day or two before she hadn't been able to hardly lift her leg; now she was walking.  Granted it was only about 20 steps round trip, but my mother was WALKING!  

I began mentally calculating how much progress mom had made in the first few days of rehab and how much more progress she was likely to make in the next eight days.  She went from 0-20 in just a few days, so how far would she be able to walk in another week?  It wasn't unusual for my mind to wander any time I tried to focus on a math problem and the thought of “0-20 in just a few days” made me visualize a REALLY ssllooowww car race or a really bad commercial and I giggled out loud just as mom emerged from the restroom.  “What are you laughing at?” mom shot me a look.  I assured her I wasn't laughing at her just as the Attending Physician entered the room.

As always, the doctor offered a genuine smile as he rubbed his hands together while holding a file against his ribs with his arm.  The action reminded me of someone planning something fun, evil or
exciting; rubbing their hands together in a “let’s do this thing” kind of gesture.  I found it humorous that, minus the file, we probably all looked the exact same way as we walked through the door.  I knew he was just rubbing in the hand sanitizer placed outside every door and required to be used each time one entered or exited the room, but my lack with my lack of sleep I was finding everything a little funny.  “I saw you come in and wanted to make sure you didn't have any questions about the discharge date or what to expect” the doctor looked me in the eye as we shook hands.

For just a second I was speechless as I marveled at the contrast in the medical professionals in this facility in comparison to what we had experienced at home with doctors who had “treated” mom for years, but never got to know her; never cared about mom as a person.  This doctor actually wanted to know what I was thinking; he cared about ensuring a positive outcome for mom; he believed in moms’ commitment to her rehabilitation.  I found my voice just as I remembered I had to be proactive and assertive; I had questions, but I also had requirements.  I dug my list out of my purse.

“I just want to make sure we can make arrangements for the IV antibiotics to be given at home and I have to be able to get her in and out of the car” I caught the doctor off guard.  I cut him off when he started to tell me it would depend on the antibiotic; many of them wouldn't be covered and would require mom to go to a Skilled Nursing Facility until the course of antibiotics was complete.  “Well, we need to figure it out before the 30th I guess, because we plan to go home when we leave here” I was adamant mom was not going to a SNF.  I was feeling good that this was one thing I had researched since our last two go rounds with the IV antibiotics “not being covered at home” and I now knew there were exceptions to what I had been led to believe for a year and a half was a hard and fast rule.  I did concede that we would take her to the infusion clinic in our home town if necessary, however it was not an extended hour clinic so they would only be able to accommodate a once a day dosage; mom was currently on a three time a day dosage.
After answering a number of other questions, the doctor thanked me for giving them plenty of time to work on the IV antibiotics and promised to see what he could do; did we have any other questions?  Mom had a number of other questions which the doctor patiently took the time to go through point by point before leaving the room.
“It’s up to you, honey” mom was all the sudden serious, “If it’s too much on you, maybe I should go to a home”.  She knew she didn't want to go back to the first SNF where she’d nearly died, but if she HAD to go someplace she would really like it to at least be near home where she had friends and family to visit with.  I cringed at even the thought of my mother returning to a Skilled Nursing Facility, but briefly wondered if mom was trying to tell me that's what she wanted.  I reminded mom that as long as her faculties were in tact, it wasn't just my choice; it was a decision we would make together when the time came.  We had lots of things to consider and discuss.

We chatted about possibilities as we went about our nightly ritual.  I readied moms’ toothbrush; a cup of water; and a small basin for her to spit into.  While she brushed her teeth I warmed the water to wet a wash cloth so she could wash her face and apply her face cream (at home I would have also set out her meds, but hospital staff gets testy about that sort of thing!).  After opening her Boost; icing and flavoring her water; and covering her shoulders with her special throw, I kissed mom goodnight.  This had been our routine nearly every night for over a year; a routine that was important to both of us; a routine that was certainly easier with her at home!

Mom was looking at me hopefully, with questioning eyes as I picked up my purse and keys, “Do you think we’ll be able to go home”?

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