Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wheelchair… Walking… Walking… Wheelchair

I never know what I will find when I arrive at Mom’s.  Some days her wheelchair is in her room or off to the side of the living room and other days she is sitting in it.  I leave it to Melissa and the other aides to keep an eye on her and they seem to have a good handle on how she is doing.
Last week I arrived to find her sitting happily in her rocking chair in the living room, holding the baby.  After a nice visit, I walked her all the way to her chair in the dining room.  As usual, it took her a minute to stand and get her legs under her and it was slow walking, but she did it happily and like it was the normal thing to do.
On Saturday, we joined her for the home’s Thanksgiving dinner.  I arrived just before noon to find her in her wheelchair and Melissa had dolled her up and fixed her hair.  She looked so cute and very happy to see everyone!  She ate every bit of her meal and half of her pumpkin pie before she was full.  It wasn’t long however, before we could see how tired she was and that she was trying her best to stay awake.  I finally told her it was okay to snooze and snooze she did!

I arrived Tuesday to find her freshly bathed and sitting in her wheelchair visiting with the hospice nurse.  Mom was running a temperature and the nurse said her heart was racing but you never would have known.  She was smiling and laughing and talking non-stop.  She had refused her breakfast that morning so while it was hard to tell at the moment, it was obvious that she wasn’t feeling well.  It was also one of those definite wheelchair days.  I needed to raise her up just enough to put the alarm under her that goes off if she tries to stand up.  She struggled to get out of the chair even with my help and couldn’t stand.
The difference between good days and bad days is amazing!  I’m just glad she seems happy either way.
While the nurse and I were talking with Mom, the nurse mentioned the possibility of Mom suddenly hemorrhaging.  The doctor wanted everyone around Mom to know that, given Mom’s tumor is bleeding regularly although a small amount, she could suddenly hemorrhage and there would be a huge amount of blood.  She didn’t want anyone to become scared or panic if it happened.
Luckily for me (or not), I have experienced it myself so am aware of what it is like.  My grandma, Mom’s mom, died from a hemorrhage so it evidently runs in the family.  I also know that if it happens to Mom at this stage, it will take her life.  I am prepared and I believe my family is also.
All that said, the next time I see her she will probably be walking again…  J.  I bet Daddy is wondering when she will finally give up and join him!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Spills, Chills and What is the Plan?

It’s easy to see the difference between Alzheimer’s, which is a form of dementia, and Mom’s version of dementia.  Daddy had early onset Alzheimer’s and he forgot how to walk after being given a normal dose of sedative for a man his size.  He and Mom have never taken medication so it hit him hard and it was three days before he was awake and aware.  He forgot a lot in that time and some skills, like swallowing, we were able to restore, but the walking was gone.

When Mom broke her arm, she forgot how to cut the quilt blocks that she had been cutting for years.  She went through a time then when she was losing skills.  Now she has just a few basic skills left – eating, walking and knowing when she has to use the bathroom.  Learning new skills is definitely gone.  Introducing a wheelchair now requires learning something new.  It’s just not happening…

Although the aides encourage her to stay in her chair, Mom will still get up and walk.  Last week, she fell again and hit her head this time.  She ended up with a rug burn over one eyebrow that has scabbed over.  As usual, she was chatty as the nurse checked her over and came away with just the wound on her eyebrow and a bruise on her elbow.
It's small but the scab on her eyebrow is definitely there.
My sister was able to check on Mom right after her fall so I went up the next day and ran into some more fun!  I was greeted with a hug by one of the other residents when I walked in the door and shortly after arriving, I had to take care of Mom in the bathroom.  She has been dealing with diarrhea for a few years now so I thought nothing of that until later when they told me she had refused her lunch the day before but had eaten well that morning.  A few minutes later Mom had to head to the bathroom again and while I was taking care of her, the resident who had initially greeted me vomited in the living room.  Evidently a bug was making its way around the home – and I was sitting in the middle of it!

Falls and bugs are inevitable in any assisted living facility or nursing home.  Having raised a daughter with epilepsy, I know only too well that I can’t stop falls from happening.  There’s no stopping bugs either.  Someone comes to visit or someone comes in to work without knowing they are carrying a bug.  Next thing you know, one of the residents becomes ill – and so it starts.

While I’ve been checking on Mom and following the transition to hospice, I’ve also been checking into the possibility of getting another job.  I keep thinking I need to make some money so I can help with Mom’s bill but every time I think I have a something lined up, there is a new development. 

I worked all summer but then Tina left and I was faced with the transition to a new aide for Mom.  At the same time, Hurricane was struggling with his transition to kindergarten and needed me to perform some Grandma duties.
I was looking at a new job and Mom was suddenly put on hospice and another transition began and is ongoing.  I considered another and then another and each time an issue of some kind popped up. 

I’ve always trusted that God would guide me if I just listen for his plan.  I’m trying very hard to listen now and figure out if I’m supposed to work or take care of my family.  I do hope it all comes clear soon.  Meanwhile, I’ll take care of my husband, watch over Mom and keep Hurricane out of trouble!