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Monthly Archives: June 2008

After a rather emotional, intense counseling session today (centered around my mom’s declining health), I needed to get my mind off of all the stress, and do something to nurture myself.  I don’t do that often, but I should.  Everyone needs time to enjoy life.

My favorite past time (other than reading and writing) is shopping in thrift stores. I find the most amazing things! It is SO much fun. I have an indoor flea market/collectibles booth, so many of the things that I purchase, I buy for resale. But there are so many truly wonderful finds that I cannot part with.  It’s like a big treasure chest, and as you know…one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Today I found a brand new oriental screen room divider, a shelf for my flea market booth, a mirrored tray, and several really good books. For the first time in months, I found myself with an extra hour, before I needed to be home. I drove to a nearby waterfront park, and sat in my car, and read a book. Wow-to have that much time to relax is a treat that I have not allowed myself for a long time. Life has been far too complicated and busy, and there is always so much to do.

So one of the books that I found at the thrift store today, was an autobiography of Ali MacGraw. When I graduated from high school in 1970, Love Story was all the rage. I identified so much with Jenny in the movie (not the dying part), but with her bohemian, hippie style, and with the financial struggling phase that she and Oliver went through. I remember when I was married the first time at 17, my husband and I lived in Atlanta, and we worked very hard every week. At the time, neither of us had attended college, and our pay definitely reflected that.

But it was the 70s, and we were “weekend hippies”-ditching our respectable work clothes for jeans, fringe, and moccasins, and attending music festivals in Piedmont Park, or hanging out in smoky underground bars (usually drinking cola) with singers playing folk guitars. One was in the basement of an old church, and was called “The Catacombs.”

Later in our marriage, I was an evening cocktail waitress, at a nice restaraunt and hotel, in the southern coastal town where I still live.  It suited me (having always preferred the night time to the day time.) But it was very hard work, and I didn’t particularly like having to wear the red, short, off one shoulder “costume” that  all the girls in the upstairs lounge had to dress in. I remember being so modest, that I would bend my knees, trying not to bend over to expose the matching black undergarments. I spent my nights balancing trays of fancy drinks, served in pineapples, to go along with the Hawaiian theme of the restaraunt and lounge, and dodging the advances of inebriated men. 

But it was a beautiful setting, and I used to lean against the lounge rail, and gaze into the elegant oceanfront dining room below (that actually revolved) and dream that I was one of the elegantly dressed ladies, adored and pampered by her dashing date.

But in truth, I was a waitress, and a big night out for us, on the weekend, was McDonald’s or a movie, but never both! So I could relate to Jenny and Oliver, meeting on the steps of the college, to make peanut butter sandwiches. (We ate a lot of hot dogs and fish sticks.) Still, life was an adventure then; we were full of hopes and dreams, and the true tragedies of life had not yet crossed our path. The biggest problem we had was paying our rent, and beyond that, we were caught up in our music. We had tried to make it for awhile as a folk duo, singing in bars-mostly upscale, until we added a drummer. The drummer decided that he could get us some gigs, and one night we found ourselves singing in a backstreet dive, where a fight broke out between bikers, and someone took out a whip and cracked it, right in the middle of my soft, sweet solo ballad. (We quickly fired the drummer.)

But getting back to Ali MacGraw, Love Story, and the year 1970. Perhaps it was the most exciting time of my life. I had just graduated from high school, moved out of my parents’ house, married, and was finally able to be myself. I was in love (or as much in love as a 17 year old girl can be) and I was young, attractive, and hopeful about the future. I had my whole life in front of me.

When I look back on Jenny and Oliver in Love Story, it captures beautifully the innocence of first love, that short time in life when it seems that anything is possible, and “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” (Choke…who thought that up???? Ali referred to it in her book, as an “absurd lie.” (But I had to get that in.)  Actually, true love really means being able (and willing) to say you’re sorry

Please see other articles that I have written here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

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“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway

A broken heart-an interesting phrase. It means “devastating sorrow and despair.” I don’t know about you, but when I am hurting, I feel it most in my heart. Huge stabs of pain that are relentless. My heart cracked long ago, but now it is broken in two. We think with our heads, but we feel with our hearts. I believe that a heart is so much more than a beating machine that sustains life. It is the very center of our emotions.

A broken heart is painful beyond words. It defies description, but if you have ever experienced it-no words are needed. You understand. When we are wounded, we go over and over the tragic events, the hurtful words spoken, and the misunderstandings. Each time we think perhaps this time we will make sense of it all. But it is a fruitless endeavor. Each time we replay the pain, the knife cuts deeper, and peace eludes us. We feel betrayed by our own mind, because it will not stop torturing us. If only it had an “off” button.

The only “off” button, that I have found for my mind lately, is sleep. Sleep is ever evasive for those with broken hearts, but if we are able to chase it down, it is a momentary healer. I only sleep for a few hours at a time, and then I open my eyes, and reality hits me with a sickening thud. For a moment, I thought that my life was a bad dream, but the sunlight seeping under my curtain, reminds me that I have to face another day of physical and emotional pain, for the things I can no longer do for my mom.

I had a prophecy once that said, “Weakness is not wicked.” I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. When my body and mind can no longer function at the present pace, it is not wicked. I am simply weak and exhausted, like poor Elijah, the powerful prophet, who had achieved amazing miracles, but ran from the ever threatening Jezebel. He was weary and frightened for his life. (I can surely relate.)

After running away, he sat down under a juniper tree and prayed to die. (I haven’t reached that point yet, though at times I feel like I’m dying.) And he said, “It is enough.” (I’m there.) What revived him? The kindness and gentle care of the Lord, who sent helpers to make angel food cake (my version). The angels ministered to him, and gave him food and drink. (Last night was the first time in ages, that I sat down, and had a sandwich with my husband, but immediately afterward received a call that pulled me right back into the fray.) I have decided to turn off my cell for now, as I cannot face one more crisis.

So first Elijah prayed to die. Then he fell asleep. Then he ate and drank something, and went back to sleep. It is the only prescription for my sorrow at this point. (Except that sleep eludes me because of anxiety.) Where is that Lunesta butterfly when you need him? (If only life were that easy.)

And then again, the angel of the Lord came and touched Elijah, and told him to eat and drink because the journey was too great. That is right where I find myself. The journey is too great for me-too overwhelming-too heartbreaking-too emotional-too physical-too impossible.

But Elijah went in the strength of that meal for forty days and nights. As I feed on the Word of God, I trust Him to strengthen me for the journey ahead-the one that is too great for me.

And then he found a cave-a place of refuge-a place where he felt safe and secure. I must find such a place, for it was there that God spoke to him in a still, small voice. It is impossible to hear that still, small voice in the midst of the chaos that I have been living in, for I have surely gone through the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, but He was not speaking there. He speaks in the still, small voice, and I must be still, and know that He is God, and that He will never forsake me or my family.

God asked a question of Elijah,”What are you doing here?” Of course, God knew the answer, but I believe that he was allowing Elijah to tell his story (to get it off his chest). It is so wonderful to know that the Lord listens to us, when others ignore our cries for help. He knows we need to pour out our hearts to Him. (David did this often.)

But after Elijah told God all that he had been through, and how alone he felt, God reassured him that he was not the only one left-there were many believers still. How vital it is to know that we are not alone. God reassured him, and gave him a new mission. And it was to mentor a successor-to throw his mantle on someone else, who would be able to take over where Elijah left off.

And he journeyed on, and found Elisha, and Elijah cast his mantle on him. I believe that it is time for me to cast this mantle (of the care of my mom) on someone who can help me carry on. I have felt that no one could care for her like I have, and I have put untold pressure on myself to be everything she needs. But I have learned that I can’t be Sam, and I can’t be God. I can only be me, and do the very best that I am capable of, while still remembering to take care of myself and my family. (The last part has been completely impossible.) And that is why I feel like Elijah-frightened, exhausted, and alone. I must delegate my care of her, because I will surely die, if I keep on as I have in the past.

Perhaps all of this is a necessary crossroads, for I would never have admitted that I am about to collapse, (other than to Rob), who hears it continually. For 3 years, I have laid down my life for my mother, and like Elijah, I am now weak and weary, and in need of ministry myself.

Lord, send your angels to minister to me. Help me find rest, and food and drink to sustain me. Meet me in a place of refuge and security, where I can hear Your voice, so that I can be strengthened for the journey ahead, wherever it leads.

Heal my broken heart, Lord…

Some intense family problems have developed today, and I feel that I cannot take anymore. I made an appointment to see my counselor tomorrow, and I have to take a break. The stress of 3 years of this has been overwhelming, and I feel like I am on the verge of emotional and physical collapse. I will still write in my blog, but not precisely about this situation. I have had a really emotional, exhausting day, and have pretty much hit the wall. All prayers are greatly appreciated. Please check back if you are one of my daily readers, as I will be writing often–just not about this. I have had it, and my heart is totally broken…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

Whenever I go to bed now, I don’t sleep. I think my body is in shock that I finally got in bed. My irregular heartbeat has kicked back in, from the stress of it all. (They say mine is classified as “benign” but it is still a very scary thing to feel it miss beats.) Once when I was being tested with a Holter monitor, it skipped over 4,000 beats in a 24 hour period. Now I only feel it when I take certain medications that affect it, or if I am experiencing high anxiety.  So I just lie there, and listen to Christian teaching tapes. (Kenneth Hagin, Sr. lately) I need all the faith I can get.

I awoke to the sound of my cell phone ringing loudly, and knocked over 2 or 3 things by my bed trying to find it, from a deep sleep. It was my mom. She said that Tony (my brother) was there, and that he was letting her use his cell phone. Apparently the patients do not have their own phones, and something was said about “taking her to a phone” once or twice a day. (If they are allowed, we will get her a cell phone.)

She sounded like they had almost killed her overnight. She said it was freezing there. The little warm, soft lap blanket that I had bought for her, a couple of days ago at TJ Maxx, “saved her life.”  (She indicated sometimes it was too hot, but mostly freezing cold.) She was asking me to bring some of her larger pants, and some slip on sweaters. She said that they go to the dining room for meals, and you can’t go in PJs. (Now I can understand this totally for people who are mobile, or not wearing a brace, but how the heck is she going to get pants over that huge leg brace?) She mentioned bringing a couple of skirts, but the truth is, she doesn’t have hardly any. That would be much better for her, but when you get her age, and in her condition, you don’t buy skirts, because they require hose, and she can barely get hose on without physically harming herself. So she gave me a list of things to bring, and I am once again overwhelmed, but I will try and think what could possibly work with a leg brace.

She whispered into the phone, “It’s like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.” (Enough said–we all get the picture.) Then she said, “It’s nothing like I thought it would be.” My heart had already sunk at the mention of Cuckoo’s Nest. Visions of the inmates running the asylum, and wild-eyed Jack Nicholson filled my head, along with every horror story about nursing homes that I have ever heard.

She also mentioned that “the old people just stare at you.” (I remembered my own experience with the mainly comatose audience, when I was part of a program there at Christmas many years ago.) Even though at 78, my mom is one of “the old people”, she is not in the mental state that those around her are, and I am sure that it is very scary. She is showing some early confusion quite a bit now, and has been diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s, but no one is really sure what the source of her confusion is. (All dementias and confusion are not Alzheimer’s.) She tried taking Aricept for it, but it had horrible side effects, and now she is on sample packs of Namenda (another medicine for confusion, and is tolerating it well-but the insurance company won’t okay it.)

I am too tired to cry right now, but I am sure that I will later, after I see her there. I can feel every emotion rise up in me, as we face this next part of the journey. I guess fear (for her) is my main one. Next would be fear for my own health, as I am not well, and I have bonded with her so much, that I feel like I am one with her. (I am very sensitive and compassionate, and it is easy to break my heart.) And next would be fear for my marriage, as I can tell that I am growing bitter from all that has happened since Sam died, and very, very weary. It takes a real toll on a marriage. There is no time for each other…ever. And there is the venting, and constant anxiety that overtakes me.

So I will write more about what it is like there, when I get home tonight. For now, I have many errands to run, and will probably not stop for the rest of the day. (I just hope that my heart and body are in agreement with that.)

Please pray for us every time we cross your mind, as I am depending on the prayers of others (as well as my own) to see us through this nightmare…

 

 

Today I could not go one more step. I asked Rob if he could call my mom, and stay in touch with her about the transfer from the hospital to the nursing home. I was exhausted from all the events of last week, and from being at the hospital so late last night. I had some chest pains last night and today-fatigue and anxiety no doubt. I had already packed everything that she wasn’t actively using, so I knew that part was taken care of.

It turns out that it was a good day to collapse. They did not complete the transfer until around 7:00 p.m. I know very little at this point. What I do know I have mixed feelings about, but I feel that God will once again make a way, where there is no way. She was transferred to a nursing home, which is right across from the hospital, and right next to the clinic where all her doctors are. As far as being able to get to her, it is convenient. It is a combined retirement home and nursing care facility. I have heard less horror stories about it, than some of the others. There is no intermediate care, such as assisted living there.

My only familiarity with it is-many years ago I went there to perform sign language worship to music at Christmas time, (for a program for the “inmates”-dear, sweet people, who unfortunately that day were mostly comatose.) It was so sad. But the program was so greatly appreciated by those who could enjoy it, as well as the staff.

In the retirement home facility, there is a beautiful atrium with lots of plants, from what I remember. (Though I doubt we can access that part.)

Now for the disturbing news…Betty is the fourth person in a room.  (I did not even know there were nursing home situations with four people in a room! (Another shock for sure.) They said that the only “female bed” available was that situation. But with God’s favor, there may be a way to soon get her into a semi-private room. Rob made friends with the 2-10 nurse, who said that there is a man in the nursing home, who had been paying for a room with two beds, so that he could have a private room. Can you imagine? He must be quite well-to-do. There was also a lady who actually had a private room (most unusual in any nursing home) and she just died. So the rich man will be moving into her previous room, and that will free up his room for two patients. (How Betty would receive any preferential treatment, if there were others there before her, I don’t know, except that she has Medicare and Blue Cross-Blue Shield. And of course…lots of prayer.) So we will see how it goes…(I asked Rob if he batted his beautiful baby blue eyes at the nurse, to pull some strings-lol. He is a charmer.) 🙂

As to the phone arrangements, I will have to see to that tomorrow. Not sure yet, but I’m assuming that each patient has a phone. To my relatives that are reading this, I will let you know the number, as soon as I find out something.

So that’s it for today, just a long day of my mom waiting for transfer. We will see what tomorrow brings, trusting that God will make a way where there seems to be no way…

 

 

No doubt about it, for lots of reasons the stress is beginning to show. Once again it is midnight, and I have only been home a little while. It was a very busy day again, and I am exhausted. I feel abandoned in a way, trying to face something that is far too overwhelming. There are others around me, but they are in the distance. I am the one who deals with the everyday drudgery of hospital business. Bringing gowns, air freshener, robes, bedroom shoes, and all the personal items a human being needs to survive away from home. I slept late today, though I was plagued with reflux from eating too late last night.

Still, I woke up exhausted. I feel guilty no matter how much I do, or how much I’m there for her. My house is falling down around me. Clothes are not getting folded, as I pass through the swinging doors of what used to be home. I simply grab towels from the laundry basket, and socks from my suitcase that never got unpacked from Rob’s recent business trip. I trip over things trying to check my email. Home is a place where I sleep, bathe, and dress. That’s all it is anymore.

Once Rob’s fever went away, he resumed his workaholic schedule, and after he helped me get Betty squared away in the hospital, I’ve seen very little of him. He went to the mission today to talk with some of the guys that were at the Barn ministry where we sang, and he gave his testimony last week. (All I could think was how much more I needed him than they did. Selfish I know, but I feel totally overwhelmed.)

I did two things today that helped me keep my sanity. It threw my whole schedule off, and I was behind the rest of the day, but I really didn’t care. One was I actually went into a Taco Bell and sat down quietly, and ate. (I cannot remember the last time that I sat down to eat.) The second thing I did was walk around a TJ Maxx for a few minutes. I had this desire to do somethinganything that seemed, well…remotely normal. But even in there I was purchasing hospital related items-another suitcase to roll her clean clothes, dirty clothes, and belongings back and forth, and a warm, soft throw blanket for her to use in the nursing home because she is often very cold.

Earlier in the day I had stopped by my indoor flea market and collectibles booth, which I had not visited since last Monday, to vacuum the rug, and spruce things up a bit. Lots of people come through, and things get really out of place in a week’s time. I shared war stories with another lady about the care of our moms. She said that something I had said to her on Monday helped her get through the week, and she gave me a hug. I told her what had happened to my mom-the broken right foot, and the broken left leg.

After the flea market, Taco Bell, and TJ Maxx, I headed to my mom’s house to get all the things on the list-gowns, glasses, robes, wallet with Medicare card, in case she is transferred tomorrow, and other miscellaneous items. By then it was almost 8:15, and I called to see if I could bring her anything to eat, as she complains daily about the horrible food. I suggested a pimento cheese sandwich from her house and some chips, as I had just purchased some grocery items on Thursday.

I secured the house, went through the mail, and wrote my brother a note. Before she fell, he had been eating lunch or supper with her daily, because he works nearby. However, I have noticed that he always left his dishes in the sink. Knowing that she would not be there to clean them, I asked if he would help keep the house in some kind of order, by washing his dishes daily, emptying the trash, and cleaning the bathroom he uses.  I reminded him that even when she does come home, she will not be able to do household chores for some time.

When I finally arrived at the hospital, my mom and I ate a sandwich together, and talked with the night nurse. She was a very young girl, born in Illinois, but with a Southern accent. Shortly after that my mom and I had a fight.

Yes, an argument. It was about her going to the bathroom. She was determined to go to her beside chair without assistance. Whenever I am around, she wants me to do the things that the nurses should be supervising. I was begging her to wait before getting up until I could get a nurse, but she said that she had been shown how to “shuffle” in her walker, and before I knew it, she was out of that bed, and I was helping her into the bathroom chair. Then she wanted me to have the honor of cleaning her up, and I was afraid it was going to be more than I could handle, between the mess, and her trying to stand up. I said, “Let me get some help.” She insisted, “We can do it.” But this time, I insisted on going for help. I wanted to be sure that she was supposed to be getting up without someone watching her. The night nurse came back, and took care of the cleaning (wearing gloves-something I did not have) and armed with wet wipes. My mom began to criticize me in front of the nurse for not wanting to stay in the room while she was on the chair. She just went on and on, and I began to get angry. (Believe me, I have dealt with her accidents before-in the car, and twice in a restaurant.) She has Crohn’s disease, and also at one point could not tolerate Aricept (and it caused stomach problems.) I have cleaned up after her several times, but I didn’t feel that I should have to while she was in the hospital, and I was exhausted as well. When she kept on, (after the nurse left the room), I said, “You expect a lot of me.” Of course, she said she didn’t. She seemed to simmer down after that, and we made our peace. 

The stress of my life is beginning to show. I felt like I was going to have a breakdown on the way home. How much more can happen? While I was there, after the nurse helped her back in the bed, Betty was way at the end, and couldn’t scoot up, so the nurse more or less made me help her grab the pads under Betty, and we pulled hard to get her to the right position in the bed. There went my back, and shoulder again. I was almost in tears from doing that. She was very heavy. I can’t keep doing this. I will end up with worse problems than I already have-(a torn rotator cuff, and 2 bulging discs in my neck.)

I drug the suitcase and dirty clothes in, and ran to the shower. It’s almost like I think if the water is hot enough, it can wash away my horrible life. (But our water’s not that hot.)

Well, tomorrow she may be transferred. Who knows where, or what awaits us next. Every day will be the same for me…endless fatigue, no doubt. Broken bones take a long time to mend. The nurse did tell her to let them supervise her getting up, to go to the bedside potty chair, and said especially when she had just taken pain medication. (She is so stubborn that she may end up breaking something else.) I cannot make her understand.

They had taken the bandage off of her gashed hand once again (in a hospital famous for staph (MRSA). I put Neosporin on it, and bandaged it once again. (They take it off when bathing her apparently, and never replace it.) It does seem to be healing pretty well, but an open sore is very dangerous in that hospital environment.

This was Father’s Day, but I never once saw Rob. We will celebrate when times are better, I guess. And so it goes…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

 

Today as I was driving to the hospital, I saw a girl and a guy on a motorcycle. Her hair was blowing in the breeze (no helmet), and the fringes on the handlebars were dangling wildly in the wind. She looked so carefree, that just for a moment I wished I could be her. (Heading off into the glorious sunny afternoon, with her arms wrapped around a big, biker dude (headscarf, black t-shirt, tattoos and all)-who no doubt was going to “take her away” from all the troubles that life brings. He was a “Hell’s Angel” Knight in Shining Armor. 🙂

But there I was, heading for the place I probably like least in our town. The hospital where they killed my dad-(or let him die from neglect, at the very least.) And now my mom was there, and we were at their mercy, because there was nowhere else to go. I was so grateful that we had gotten her back into the health-care system, and covered by her Medicare and insurance (even if for just awhile, after the colossal screw-up of the ER.) As far as mobility (or lack of it), it doesn’t get much worse than a broken right foot, and a broken (fractured) left leg.

I was considering the fact that her time there, this visit, was likely to be short, as she was just passing through, on her way to a temporary nursing facility. We will have no choice in where this will be, as it is a bed available situation, and we will gratefully take whatever we can get. Of course I am worried, but if they don’t mistreat her, she will be far safer than anywhere else, as we cannot continue to try to lift her to get her to the bathroom, etc.

Yesterday, when I visited her, I found that she had not been bathed, and she had already been there one night and a full day. Her little plastic pink tub was on the counter in her room, so I ran some soapy water, and gave her a sponge bath. We applied deodorant, perfume, and lotion, while giggling about the handsome male nurse, who had expertly removed her bottom, from her far too small bedpan. Such indignities! I laughingly (and extravagantly) sprayed her favorite perfume “Obsession” into the stale hospital air. For a moment, we forgot about all the stresses of the past few days (and years) since my dad died.

“Miss Prima Donna” Ortho Doc had been a no-show, as had the promised physical therapist. But hey–it was Friday, and they were all probably on their way to the beach, or some other relaxing endeavor, while my mom had to sit in the same position endlessly, with her legs outstretched, wearing a Velcro brace on her left leg, and an Ortho shoe on her opposite foot. (Let the good times roll!)

We changed her gown, and she looked a little brighter with its pink color next to her pale face.  She is an amazing woman to endure as much as she has. She is a mixture of sadly vulnerable, and fiery feisty. I confess that many times when I have thought about her in the last 3 years, since the passing of my dad (technically step-dad since I was 7), I get a lump in my throat from sadness. But she has been very strong.  We have been constant companions, and we have bonded in a way not possible, minus the tragic loss of my dad. We have both acknowledged this, and have spoken about it.

Like most 50-something 🙂 women, I had a busy life prior to Sam’s death. I am married to an attorney (workaholic), and I do some freelance writing. We had a coffeehouse for several years, where we sang on the weekends, and held a Bible study every Sunday night. I enjoy teaching, and had my own Christian radio program for 9 years on a local FM station. My husband, Rob, and I are ordained ministers (minus a church). We are both teachers of The Word at heart, and not really interested in being pastors.

Our teenage daughter, Chelsea, has moved out (at our request), and dropped out of college (in spite of our pleading), losing her full Bright Futures Scholarship. We adopted her at 3 years of age, and it has been crazier than Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, but I know in my heart that she will be okay. She has a good foundation, and was brought up in the things of the Lord. Every time she starts to stray from church, “something” ( Someone, actually–The Holy Spirit ) brings her back. She is very tough to deal with, but immensely talented. Somehow, she will make her way.

When my dad died, I knew that my world was going to change. But I am devoted to my mom, and as long as I breathe (and she does), I will try to be her best advocate. She also can be tough to deal with, but the Lord has really given me a heart of compassion and love for her, and even though I get hurt sometimes, I keep walking in love. We are almost one in a funny sort of way. I have taken care of her these past three years (though she still lives independently) as though she were my child, giving her protection, advice, encouragement, and companionship. I have learned that I cannot be Sam–and I cannot be God. I can only do the best I can, and leave the rest in His capable hands.

Today when I arrived, she had been bathed, and seemed in pretty good spirits. (Even better after I slipped her 2 Crystal cheeseburgers.) 🙂 She hates the food this time, and it used to be good. We even used to eat in the hospital cafeteria, and look forward to it, when Sam was hospitalized. But this time she says it’s bitter and awful. She’s not that picky, so I believe her. (Obviously a new cook.)

“Miss Prima Donna” Ortho Doc had come barging into the room, as full of attitude as she had been during our first encounter. (This woman is a shrew.) I was not there, but my mom tells me she was just as haughty as she had been on Thursday.

The physical therapist showed up also, with a lesson in how to shuffle on a broken foot, while using the walker. I can only assume that they think it is safer to put weight on a broken foot, than a broken leg. (What a predicament to be in!) 

I gathered up all her belongings that I could, as we don’t know when they will transfer her to a nursing facility. I am also keeping up with her laundry, (as we go), and bringing her fresh gowns often. I filled her pink pitcher with ice, got her a fresh Diet Pepsi, and covered her with an extra blanket-(she’s always cold, and I’m always hot.) I told her that I was going to meet Rob at home, and we were going to sit in our comfy chairs, and read awhile tonight. (I am beginning to see that if we are going to have any time together for quite awhile, we had best carve it out somehow.) But I struggle with the balance of it all. I am just so tired and overwhelmed.

I cannot think much past a day, or I will surely cry with anxiety. I must trust that God will give me (and Betty) grace sufficient for each day, to face whatever lies ahead…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

 

 

Well, I started the day saying, “God, I sure hope you’ll be faithful today to help us find a solution to my mom’s care.” Then I apologized and said, “God-you are always faithful, and I know that you will be faithful today as well.” And He was…

My husband and my brother got my mom in the car today for her Orthopedic appointment-(not an easy accomplishment.) I met them at the doctor’s office. When I arrived, they had taken her back to x-ray, and she was in a lot of pain. But it wasn’t the leg where we were told the break was.  It was her left knee that was tormenting her, and she kept telling them that last night, but they just ignored her.  Today, she was very afraid of falling off the x-ray table. She is a very strong woman, and doesn’t scare easily, but I have seen fear in her eyes twice in the last couple of days, when people have tried to move her. She is extremely frightened right now of falling again, and she is in intense pain.

The Orthopedic doctor that we were referred to was a prima donna of the worst kind. She was rude and inhumane. But her anger was more at the ER people than at us-though I found it difficult to tell the difference. It seems that my mom does have a broken right foot, but the other break (a fracture) is in the area of her (you guessed it…left knee-the one she kept complaining about.)  Can you believe it? If it was in a sitcom, you wouldn’t think such a thing could happen, but at this hospital anything is possible. There was no break in the right leg apparently, and yet they were having her put all her weight on her left leg (where the break actually was.) The doctor was fit to be tied with how things were handled in the ER. She said that what should have happened is that my mom should have been admitted last night. Because she wasn’t, the protocol with Medicare and the insurance company was not handled correctly, and it was going to be a mess trying to figure out how to get her in the hospital at this point. I explained that she could not even take one step, and that we could not keep lifting her to get to the bathroom. She was fussing and fuming about a lot of things, and I was on the brink of tears. I had had enough of all of it. I am so tired of being treated so badly by the medical community. I think that the insurance companies have made them so furious that they take it out on patients and families. Whatever the reason, there was no excuse for her to act like she did, and I have a feeling that she is like that all the time.

At any rate, I asked, “So do we contact her primary care physician? What do we do?” She motioned for her nurse to come outside the door, and in a few minutes they said that they had contacted my mom’s physician (who is in the same clinic), and that we were to go down to his office. She removed the brace from my mom’s right leg, and put it on the left. She put the support shoe on the right foot. The nurse gave me some prescriptions for a wheelchair and some other ortho things.

A word of explanation about my mom’s present physician. My mom and dad had a physician that they loved dearly for about 10 years. When my dad was dying in the hospital, from complications of a triple heart bypass, this physician was resigning, and went on to be one of the admitting hospital physicians. So we lost him at that point. We had to have another doctor immediately, and in that same clinic.  We ended up with a doctor who was so gruff that he made my mom cry the first visit. (She does not cry easily.) We had been told that he was brilliant, but his bedside manner turned out to be less than appealing. We decided to try and tough it out, and eventually won him over–the most a doctor like him can be won over. We found that writing all of our questions on a paper, and presenting them to him that way worked. He doesn’t like to be asked questions, but somehow I manage to get a few in. That’s so ridiculous because a patient, their families, and the doctor need to be able to talk freely. I never  waste their time with unnecessary talking or questions.)

So after “Miss Prima Donna” Orthopedic Doc left the room, the nurse said we were headed for the primary care physician’s office, and that he had arranged to have my mom admitted to the hospital, because that is the only way we could get her checked into to a nursing care facility, and have it covered by Medicare and the insurance. Protocol. Protocol. Protocol.

So she will presently spend about 2 or 3 days in the hospital, and then be transferred to a nursing/rehab facility until she can walk again, or at least be more mobile somehow. We will have no choice where she will be. It will be strictly based on who has a bed available. Oh joy!

I am so thankful tonight because we had no finances to bring in full time care. No one can afford it–no one…(When my dad died, there was no life insurance, and her only real asset is her small home.) And home health care would not be sufficient in the shape she’s in. She can’t get to the bathroom on her own, or even stand up alone. Home health aides only stay a short while.  We simply could not care for her as she needed to be cared for. I am worried about where she will be transferred to for her nursing care–very worried. But I will have to put those thoughts on the back burner for now, and just take one day at a time. The Bible says, “So never worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 (ISV Version) Isn’t that the truth? I believe God doesn’t give us the grace we need ahead of time, but it will be there as we need it. Grace for one day is enough.

For now, my mom has 2 or 3 days in a private room. (God must have surely provided that-as no one gets a private room these days.)  She so deserved that after what she has been through. And though she complained about her dinner tasting bitter, she is pretty content for the moment, and I must try to be also, and get some much needed rest…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am writing this at 3:00 A.M. because I just got home from my mom’s house, and it has been a living nightmare. Yesterday as we were coming out of the Waffle House, she fell in the parking lot. I was holding her hand, and I almost fell also, but at the last minute managed to regain my balance. I never let go of her hand, and I was holding her with the arm that has the torn rotator cuff. The cook in the Waffle House helped me pick her up, because she does not have the strength in her arms or legs to get up if she falls. I am only 5’2″ (not a big girl at all) and I have a torn rotator cuff, and 2 bulging discs in my neck. I should not be lifting her at all.

We had gone to an eye doctor’s appointment, and then to pick out some new glasses for her. I asked if we needed to use the walker to go in Lens Crafters, but she said no. We got through that fine, and we went to the Waffle House to eat, while they were making her lenses. At any rate, she fell coming out of the Waffle House. I was holding onto her, as I always do when she won’t use her walker.

She insisted that she didn’t want to go to the emergency room. She had also cut her hand very deeply. Even though she is 78, she insists on wearing a boot type slip on shoe with a chunky heel. I told her very nicely after she fell, that I believe her heel caught the edge of the curb, and she needed to stop wearing those shoes. She also kept touching her open wound with her finger, and I nicely told her that would cause a lot of germs to get in it. At some point in the conversation, she snarled at me and said, “I’ll bite you.” I suppose it was a snide joke, but after all I go through with her, I don’t find it funny. (She sometimes treats me this way, and she resists everything I suggest so often. I cannot make her do anything, so I do the best I can. I hope that I am not that defiant when I get older.) I have finally gotten her to use her walker more when we go out, but she won’t use it in the house, and she should. The Lord has given me such love and compassion for her, that even though it hurts me sometimes, I ignore her comments, and just keep loving her and caring for her with great respect and kindness. She is my greatest priority, and has been for 3 years now, since my dad died.

At any rate, I doctored her deep cut, checked every area of her body for injury, supervised her taking her blood sugar, and finally had to come home. I was so tired, and stressed out. I broke down and cried. My heart was broken, and I realized that I can’t handle her on my own anymore. I need help, and I don’t know how to get it.

Turns out that she told me she fell asleep at the kitchen table, and woke up at 4:30 this morning there in the chair. As the day went on, she found that she could not take a step on her legs. She called my brother to come help her, and fortunately, it was his day off. He got a wheelchair for her out of the shed, but she can’t maneuver it at all. He got her some soup for lunch, and when I called (after finally getting some sleep), she was in such pain,  that I said we needed to go to the emergency room. I knew I couldn’t manage her myself, so I called my husband. He had just gotten over a 104.5 fever 2 nights ago, and had finally recovered enough to go to work today. He came and got me around 6:00 p.m. and we went through absolute hell getting her in the car. We had to lift her up out of the wheelchair, and all she could do was barely stand for a minute. We struggled to get her turned enough to fall down into the seat. It took a long time, and we were sweating profusely when it was done. Then I drove her there, and he followed in the van. (We could not get her into the van as we had hoped.) When we got there, we waited forever.

The triage nurse was rather harsh at times.  She asked if my mother walked to the car after the fall. We said she did. She indicated rather haughtily that this indicated she did not have a broken bone. (I looked at my husband with a, “I’m not so sure about that” look.) Seems like sometimes mere mortals know more than self assured medical personnel.

Please don’t think I’m not grateful for nurses. I appreciate them immensely! But we have been through substandard care far too often at this hospital. My dad died there as a result of hospital acquired complications after a triple bypass. (He came through the surgery fine, but they basically let him die.) He caught staph, serratia, and pneumonia, and did not receive decent care until he was dying. When he finally reached the Critical Care Unit, he had a wonderful doctor (and kind nurses), but it was too late to save him.

When the emergency room doctor came in, he looked exhausted. I said, “You look tired,” He said, “I’m not tired, but I don’t feel well.” He looked very, very sick. He wasn’t all that communicative, but he ordered a body gram-which is a ton of x-rays.  They cleaned her cut with peroxide, as I had, and bandaged it with a larger bandage. I could not believe the lack of hygiene. The nurse took off her very bloodied bandaid, and stuck it blood down on the hospital rail, and never cleaned the rail. I found myself wondering how many others had received the same treatment, and what had I and my mom been touching as we held the bed rail. We have a ton of staph in our local hospital.

When the doctor finally came in after 10 p.m. to tell us the results, he said that she had broken her right foot, and probably her right leg on the side below the knee. He said that he “suspected” the the right leg was also broken, and that we would need the orthopedic doctor to confirm it. We would need to go there tomorrow-Thursday.

She already takes oxycontin for her arthritis. The nurse came in with 2 pain pills. She said they were pretty strong. (They were 10 mg oxycontin.) My mom takes (2) 40 mg. tablets a day for her rheumatoid arthritis, and has for many years.

The strange thing is that her left knee was causing her excruciating pain, and the breaks were on her right leg. We think she probably pulled muscles or tendons, and that can’t be seen on the type x-ray she had. That would require something that can see soft tissue, like an MRI. I am praying that the Orthopedic doctor will order one.

I knew that she could not stay alone. My house is almost impossible for her to navigate. It is a 2 story house, and my daughter’s bed (the only available one on the first floor) is too high (she sometimes falls off her own),  and my mom’s bedroom has a bathroom attached, which is best for her. I asked my husband to please call my brother, and ask him to come stay overnight with her. He can lift her, though I know it is not easy for anyone. He agreed to come, thank the Lord.

We arrived home after 11:00 p.m. and I went to the grocery store and got us some sandwich makings, since none of us had eaten. (Though we had gotten some Reeses Buttercups for my mom, to keep her blood sugar from going low, because she had to wait so long in the ER.)

We left her home at 1:50 a.m. and when we finally got to our home, the toilet promptly overflowed (a minor catastrophe) after all we’d been through. We got that taken care of, and I decided that I had to write some of this out before sleeping, or lose my mind. It’s like therapy just to tell my story.

So now here we are. She may or may not regain her mobility anytime soon. The male nurse that took us to the car suggested that she could be immobile for 6 weeks. I don’t know what we’re going to do, because I can’t keep lifting her. (And I can’t lift her at all without assistance.)  My back, neck and shoulder are hurting as I write this. She cannot even go to the bathroom on her own right now.

The other complication is that her finances are getting low. When my father died, she was left without any life insurance, and only her social security, and a very small additional income. She just had to replace her air conditioner this week, and that cost $6,000.00. She paid half of it up front, and will pay the rest monthly. But unless she sells her house, there are no finances to speak of. If you hire someone to come in and care for her, it is so costly that hardly anyone can afford it. So we are in a mess.

I have repeatedly told her how important it is to use her walker, but she resists me on just about everything, acting as if I am just a worry wart. (But she doesn’t realize how her falling changes not just her life, but my life also.) For 3 years, I have been there for her (since my dad died.) I have given her the best care possible, and I am very sick myself. I am also a diabetic, and have lots of other health problems. I stay exhausted. I have done all her errands, doctor’s appointments, pharmacy runs, etc. (The main thing that my brother has helped with is the groceries, though we have had to supplement those as well in- between times.) He comes for lunch every day as he works nearby. But I have had the primary care of my mom since my dad died. I can honestly say that I could not have done anymore in the condition that I am in.

So, we will see what tomorrow brings. For now, if I am to get any sleep at all, I need to fall out. (Let me rephrase that, please.) I need to go to bed. I just had to get this out and on paper.

Life can change in an instant. It was already rough, but it just got a lot rougher. Please pray for us, and that we will find the solutions we need, and that I will find more strength somehow. My best prayer at the moment is a simple one…”Jesus, Help Me.”

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

I think I know the true meaning of that phrase lately. Seems like my whole life is: Take a deep breath and…(But when do I get to exhale?) Life is entirely too busy, and I am so frazzled. It seems like for about 2 weeks now (more like 3 years really) I have been on a speeding train that won’t slow down. We took a business trip to Jacksonville, Florida which was truly a nightmare.  We drove home, unpacked, and I spent the next day with my mother sorting out her AC problems and running the never-ending errands that life is comprised of. Then Wednesday night, my husband and I practiced singing for a Christian outreach at our local fairgrounds, and Thursday night we sang, he gave his testimony, and then we prayed with people until pretty late. On Friday I woke up almost delirious-nauseated and feverish. I was supposed to go to Pensacola with him tomorrow. He is going to a wedding, and I had planned to go shopping, but alas, I am not feeling well enough. (I always seem to miss the good things.)

And just when I thought I got things fairly squared away with my flea market booth, now the owner’s adding solar panels to the windows, and everyone who has a window booth (I’m one) has to move all shelves 3 feet away from the window, Sunday evening. That sounds easy, but when you have a hundred glass items in the booth, it is a pain for sure. Then Monday the shop will be closed for the installation, and that night we go back in, and put our booths back together for business on Tuesday. On Tuesday, my mom has an eye doctor appointment and on and on it goes…

I could not be more busy if I had a full time job. But I DO have a full time job in the care of my mom. It is one crisis after another. A few nights ago, I was trying to work on solutions to keep her from falling off her bed. I tried out the mattress, and it turns out that the bed was actually pitching her off. The thing is clearly possessed!! I think it is because she sits on the side of her bed a lot, and that has made it uneven. She has one of those Posture-Pedic hospital type beds, which has really turned out to be less than manageable. She is too feeble to make the whole king sized bed, and the single parts that go up and down make it difficult for her to even change her sheets, as she has rheumatoid arthritis, and can’t really climb on the bed to reach between the two mattresses. You’d have to see it, but it’s just not practical now that my dad’s gone, and can’t help her with it.

We bought one of the bed rails that I had used for Chelsea, when she was younger, to keep her from falling off the bed, but my mother is not mobile enough for it to work easily. We can get her safely blocked in, but then she can’t easily get out of the bed to go to the bathroom, which she does at least two times a night. (A toddler just scoots to the end of the bed, and scrambles off, but for the most part, my mother’s scooting days are over.) If she falls off the bed, not only is it dangerous, but she can’t get up. (Yes…”Help I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up.”) She has to call my brother, who works nearby, to help her up. (She is too heavy for me to lift.) She doesn’t have enough strength in either her arms or legs to lift herself. I am so afraid that one day she will break an arm or a hip.

These are difficult days, as I can tell her confusion is increasing, and several times I have caught her trying to shoot her insulin, without first taking her blood sugar. This is important because if her blood sugar is under 100, she is not supposed to take the insulin. If she does, chances are she will go low quickly, and could go into a coma. (So these are not minor concerns.) When I try to remind her, she gets fussy, and irritable. She can be very strong-willed. A lot of her frustration comes from her own realization that her mind is not as sharp, and it upsets her. (I love her, and this is painful to deal with.) So once again the child (me) becomes the parent.

My nervous system stays somewhat whacked. I find this almost the hardest thing I’ve ever done. To manage a parent with failing health and confusion. Very, very stressful.

So that’s my life. Boring to you…complicated to me. No rest for the weary, it seems. So I take a LOT of deep breaths…but when do I get to exhale?…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html