Monday, March 17, 2014
Maybe I didn't want to know.
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.
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I have to say that I was very curious about what could have transpired in the preceding half hour that there was suddenly a private room available, but decided maybe I didn't want to know.
The coordinator at the SNF explained to me that she wasn't sure we would want the private room as mom would have to move to “the other wing”. I don’t know why she thought this would be a deal breaker since the “other wing” was where mom had originally been assigned to a shared room AND the fact that we had had nothing but problems with the staff on the wing she was currently in. “Can I see it”? I wanted to move mom right that minute.
The only thing that I saw that might be a problem with the private room was its location; it was right next to the laundry room, where machines would be running all night. I quickly calculated the pro’s & con’s of making such a move and decided mom could probably get use to the machines running quicker than she was going to get use to not being able to get in to the bathroom in her current shared room situation. Anyone who has ever lived near a railroad track or a busy highway knows that you can (and eventually do) get use to the noise and at some point you learn to sleep through the noise, but wake when the train is late and it’s silent. “When can we move her?” I still needed to check with mom, but was sure she would want to make the move as quickly as possible.
I returned to moms’ room just as my sister was helping her out of bed to go to the dining room for dinner. “Do you need to use the bathroom?” my sister asked. Presumably weighing the difficulty of getting past the ever present roommate and in to the bathroom, mom furrowed her brow and said, “I think I can wait”. As we started down the hall to the dining room, mom said “I really do need to use the bathroom, but it’s such a hassle.” How sad is that?
Knowing mom would enjoy her dinner more if she was able to empty her bladder first, we detoured to the public restroom down the hall. My sister & I helped mom to the restroom, washed up and continued on to the dining room. Mom thanked us profusely. Once we were seated mom said “I wish it wasn't so hard to get to the bathroom in my room”. “Well, when do you want to move?” I asked as nonchalantly as I could.
Since I had not yet told her there was a private room available and they were just waiting for me to give the go ahead before moving her belongings, naturally she was confused. At first mom just stared at me like I was crazy, then she fell in to our usual routine of dreaming. Mom smiled as she told us she wanted to move right now, “We’ll check in to the Brown Palace and we can go to High Tea in the afternoons”.
Mom was really getting imaginative with her dreams and decided we could “check in” to a room on a cruise ship or a private island villa or……. “How about just a private room in the other wing”, I suggested. I don’t think what I said registered with mom for a few seconds as she kept dreaming. Then she looked at me incredulously and asked, “REALLY?” When I told her they were just waiting for me to tell them “yes” or “no” and then we could move her over there, she urged me to go tell them right then.
After dinner, my sister and I busied ourselves with moving moms things to her new room while mom had her “It’s not you, it’s me” conversation with her roommate. Quite honestly, I think the roommate was happy to see us go. Not that mom isn't a very congenial roommate, the room was simply too small for two beds and a roommate who had as much equipment and required as much assistance as mom did.
Once we had placed all of moms’ belongings in the private room, even it really wasn't all that big. Fortunately, the bathroom door was wide enough to get mom in with either the walker or the wheelchair without too much trouble. Once mom was settled in the new room, comfortably working her crossword puzzles while watching Jeopardy, my sister and I took some time to run over to my daughters’ house for dinner and some much needed time with the grand babies before returning to the Skilled Nursing Facility to help mom get ready for bed and settled in for the night.
After mom had used the restroom; brushed her teeth; washed and creamed her face; and her nightgown was on, we pushed the call button for help getting her to bed. Within seconds a very sweet, very competent CNA arrived and very skillfully assisted us with the transfer (with instruction from mom). “Can I get you anything else?” the aide offered. Mom asked for her pain pills; I asked if we could get moms’ Boost. “No problem”, the aide said she would let the nurse know about the medications and she would be happy to show me where the patient snacks were kept.
As we walked down the corridor, we chatted; it was comfortable. She apologized about having an “off-brand” protein drink and after showing me which cupboards contained a small variety of choices and some condiments, she encouraged me to “feel free” to help myself. Within seconds of returning to moms’ room, the nurse was there with the requested (and required) medications. The nurse was every bit as pleasant as the CNA had been and obviously had become a nurse for the right reasons; she cared about her patients. I felt the tenseness in my shoulders relax a little knowing that, at least for that night, my mother would be well cared for. In fact, things seemed so comfortable in this new room and so far the staff had been very attentive, I wondered why the coordinator would have thought mom wouldn't want to move. Maybe I didn't want to know.
Before telling mom goodnight I went through the nightly routine of making sure she had everything she needed within easy reach, set her clothes out for the following morning and asked, “Do you need anything else”? She didn't think she did, so my sister and I walked arm in arm to the elevator sharing our concerns and our hopes for our mother. We had just stepped in and pushed the “down” button when my phone rang; it was mom, she had thought of one more thing she might need. As soon as the door opened we pushed the “up” button and headed back to moms’ room. Once I had found enough rubber gloves, I fashioned another pull chain for moms’ light, kissed her good night and off we went to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.
For the first time in days, I actually did get a good nights’ sleep and was feeling refreshed when I returned to the SNF the following morning. Knowing it was already past breakfast time, when I didn't find mom in her room I headed for the therapy department and was thrilled to see how much progress she was making. With the rod holding her leg straight mom was not able to take over a step or two, but she was working so hard; I could see the determination in her face – she wanted to go home and she would do whatever it took for that to happen.
I also wanted to go home. We had been gone for nearly a month this time and I was counting the days until August 23, 2014. As much as I loved spending time with my daughter, her husband and my precious grand babies, I was missing my husband; my son; and my other daughter and her husband who had recently announced they were expecting their first child. I allowed myself to daydream just a moment when I realized I still didn't know if mom was going to be able to get in to the car, so I arranged a “trial run” with the therapist as soon as they thought it was “safe”.
I left mom to the very capable therapist and headed outside to make a couple phone calls, but as I stepped off the elevator, I came face to face with the coordinator who said, “Oh, I’m glad you’re here, I was going to give you a call” as she flashed her brilliant smile and delivered what she deemed “not that bad of news”.
It was clear that I had to deal with something much more pressing at that moment than making phone calls. How had this happened? Maybe I didn't want to know.
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