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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Something was seriously wrong

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.
For anyone who has been along for the whole wild ride - Thank you!

Something was seriously wrong

It took a lot of persuasion and a little coordination to arrange for me to
be able to help mom with her shower at the SNF, but I finally got it worked out with the therapy department and they agreed that since I would be the one responsible for showering mom at home that it only made sense that they should make sure that I was capable and mom was safe.  It wasn't like I hadn't helped mom with her showers for the past year and a half, but I had to admit that the rod holding her leg straight did put a new spin on things.

With each “procedure” mom had undergone since early 2012 came a new set of challenges; a required change in the way we did things.  Each change had been difficult at first and became easier as we developed a routine.  My feeling was that the presence of the rod would be no different than previous challenges; we would have to take it slow and easy until we were sure of ourselves.  Evidently the aide assigned to “observe” our showering techniques did not have time for “slow” and I’m not sure “easy” was in her vocabulary.

The aide sat in the chair fidgeting and sighing as I took my time getting mom ready to get in the shower.  Once I had her top off, I wheeled her in to the shower; positioning her at what I thought was an appropriate distance from the grab bar and asked mom “Are you ready for this”.

I felt clumsy and unsure of how best to help mom get to a standing
position safely; the presence of the aide should have been comforting, but it made me nervous.  I could feel the aides’ eyes boring in to me and hear the disapproval in her sighs.  After the first failed attempt at mom standing, I decided I needed to position her wheelchair at a different angle.

I always explain to mom what I am thinking when it comes to her care, but before I could even tell mom my thought process about how it might be easier for her to stand the aide stepped in behind her, put her forearms under moms’ arms and hoisted her to a standing position.  There wasn't time for mom to prepare or adjust for this movement.

“OUCH!” my mother winced in pain, “that hurt”.  I quickly stepped in
and stabled mom as the aide stepped away from her to scoot the shower chair in behind and just as quickly (and roughly) the aide set mom in to the chair as she said in a sarcastic tone, “It’s going to hurt, you just had major surgery and are just going to have to work through the pain”.

“You have no idea how much pain my mother has worked through” I was not happy and was starting to work myself in to a frenzy.  I talked myself off the ledge quickly when I looked at mom sitting naked on the hard seat of the shower chair waiting for the water to start.  I shifted my focus to the task at hand as the aide left the room to “take care of something”, only to return after the shower was done and I had mom dressed and back in her wheelchair.

An hour later, although mom felt better because she was clean and her hair was washed & styled, she was in obvious pain.  After making sure she was able to get the pain medicine she had asked for, I made sure mom had everything she needed for the afternoon before going to visit my grand babies and returning to my hotel room.  I was exhausted after the adrenaline quit surging through me; I needed a nap.

Napping is not something I do well, or often, but when I nap I REALLY nap.  I've never understood, but always envied people who could “power" or "cat" nap and feel refreshed.  No sir, not me.  I need HOURS of sleep before I even feel alive and I can’t say that I have felt “refreshed” since I became a full time care giver for mom.  I’m not sure how long I would have slept that afternoon if it hadn't been for the nightmare that invaded the sound sleep that had engulfed me within seconds of hitting the bed.

I struggled to wake myself and was sure I had been sleeping for hours;
wasn't sure if the clock was confirming or denying that belief.  Had I really slept for nearly 12 ½ hours?  I started to panic as I quickly put my shoes on; I hadn't left mom for that long without checking in with her since this whole ordeal had started over a year and a half earlier.  I was sure it was the nightmare that prompted the intense feeling of the need to get to mom as quickly as possible; I couldn't shake the feeling that something was seriously wrong.

didn't realize I had slept for less than thirty minutes until I was in the car and heading to the Skilled Nursing Facility to check on mom.  I was too worked up to even think about going back in and trying to sleep some more.  I still had the feeling that something was seriously wrong and I needed to see for myself that mom was OK.

It was eerily quiet as I made my way down the hall and to the elevator,
elevating my anxiety to a point I was having to remind myself to breathe; the elevator seemed to take forever as it chugged up to the second floor.  When the door finally opened to deposit me on to the second floor the silence was suddenly replaced by the familiar yelling and moaning coming from the room across from moms.  I was nearly half way down the hallway towards moms’ room, which was at the very end of the corridor, when I realized I had not seen even one staff member since I had entered the locked door on the lower level.  Where was everyone?

Hmmm, I couldn't imagine there was no one monitoring this wing.  I stopped briefly before continuing on to moms’ room to make a note about this observation, adding it to the ever growing list of problems I had observed since mom had arrived at the SNF.  As I got closer to moms room, the yelling from across the hall grew much louder and I wondered how mom ever got any sleep between that and the laundry machines running next to her room all night.  I was just steps from moms’ room when the yelling suddenly stopped and I heard voices coming from her room.

My heart sank as I entered the room; I had found at least four members of the staff.  There was a nurse at the head of the bed; an aide next to her and two people who I recognized as therapists on either side of the foot of the bed; I couldn't see my mother.

My heart was pounding so loud I couldn't hear myself think.

Something was seriously wrong.

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