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Monthly Archives: July 2008

Yesterday, I could not seem to get going. It was like I was in some kind of time warp, where everything was in slow motion, and most of all, my body. I felt like all the strength had been drained from me, and I needed some kind of tonic that would bring back my energy, that has been depleted for so long now.

I talked with my mom, and didn’t think she sounded well, though her speech was more lucid, as it had been yesterday, when my husband, Rob, visited her. I asked her if I could bring anything, and she asked for corn dogs from the Krystal. It’s hard to go there anymore, because it was always our place to get a little snack, after a doctor’s appointment or a strenuous afternoon. We would park the car, and savor every bite, often laughing and enjoying each other. (There are precious memories in that parking lot.)

So I ordered several corn dogs, in case she was hungry, and ate one myself on the way to the nursing home. As I carried two large diet drinks and the corn dogs into her room, I saw that she was crying. She was having those terrible muscle spasms, like she had for 6 hours in the ER, that even morphine could not relieve.

I practically threw the food and drinks down on her bedside table, and ran to comfort her. She said that she didn’t think she could take much more pain. One of the CNAs came in, and we told her the problem, but she disappeared, and never came back. My mom reached for my hand, and squeezed it tightly, with a look of pure fear in her eyes. I have had a cold for the past week, all through her surgery, and following, and though I have had to be present, I have tried to protect her by not getting too close, or kissing her. This time I knew that she needed me to hold her hand, so I did. Later, I applied hand sanitizer to both of us, trying to be so careful. When the CNA never returned, I went to find help on my own.

I was pretty much ignored at the desk, as they were looking for some paperwork for another patient, which seemed to be missing. Finally as I headed back down the hall, a nurse from the other end of the hallway called out to me, and asked if I needed help. I told her the problem, and she pointed me to a new nurse, that was my mom’s night nurse. She was chatting away with the CNAs, and I said that when she was finished, I needed to talk with her. When the CNA who had been in the room earlier, heard me say my mother’s name, that seemed to trigger her memory, and she told the nurse (finally) that my mom was in pain.

When the nurse came into the room, I told her that these were really strong muscle spasms, that had not even been relieved by morphine in the ER. I told her about the problems that Betty had with the Valium being injected into her Morphine line. (She nearly OD’ed.) I also told her that a sleeping pill that they had given her at the nursing home had caused terrible hallucinations. I questioned what we could do to get my mom’s Oxycontin dose back to where it had been, before they cut it in half. I explained that she had been on it for many years, and that at least we trusted it, knowing how it affected her. She has never abused it, and in fact, it is safer than many of the arthritis drugs she has been on.

The nurse told us that she had been given the half dose of Oxycontin, about 15 minutes before I came in, and that it would probably take a little longer to have an effect. She would check back. In just a few minutes, the pain subsided, and my mom was calm.  I was so thankful, as I don’t think she could have withstood much more pain at that level.  (She wanted me to tell her roommate that she hardly ever cried.) Bless her heart, I told her to cry whenever she needed to, as it would help to some degree. She then ate one corn dog, and so did I. I also helped her with the huge drink that I had brought with me, and she loved that. Her mouth had been so dry, and they often would forget and push her bedside table too far away for her to reach it, when they were working on something nearby.

She seemed to calm down a lot, and her face looked so much better. I helped her brush her teeth, put on some lotion and Chap-stick, combed her hair, and kept offering her more to drink. She said she loved me, and that I had “saved her life.” (It is a helpless feeling when you have to stand by and watch someone you love suffer.) I was so glad that I had come in when I did, and that she felt better. I told her to keep being vocal about her pain when it was that bad, and that we would continue to try and fight for her original dose of Oxycontin. The nurse said she would leave a request for the nursing home doctor.

I had stopped by my mom’s house earlier to pick up her mail, and sort through her bills, and a sadness seemed to envelop me. I could smell her perfume on her clothes when I walked into the bedroom, and the house seemed so wrong without her in it. I noticed that things were going stale on her cupboard shelves, and figured there were probably plenty of “science projects” now brewing in the fridge as well. I made a mental note to return one day soon to deal with the food problems. I began to cry a little. It just seemed so unfair that my mom had made so much progress through her therapy, and should have been home, instead of unable to move (now with a broken hip), in a nursing home bed again.

I had just had a conversation with her dear neighbor, who had just returned from a visit with her son. She knew about the broken right foot, and the broken left leg, but did not know about the hip. She was so very sad to hear all that had happened while she was gone. I gave her my mom’s number, and told her the best times to visit.

But soon, I pulled myself together and went on my way,  sadly locking her door behind me.

And so it goes…I tried to encourage her by telling her that within a few days, she would probably be able to use a bedside toilet, and at least the bedpan horror  would soon be over. (She hates that part so much, as any of us would.) I do worry about her trying to get up though, but I guess that can’t be helped when the time comes. For now, they still have the alarm on her.

I told her that we were going to get through this together, and that I would be there for her. I reminded her that I was just a phone call away, and to call me any time, and I’d come running.

I felt better (and grateful) as I turned out her light, that at least for now, she was not in pain…

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I called my mom almost all day at the hospital, but couldn’t get her to answer the phone. I checked with the nurses station, and they said that she would be moved back to the nursing home sometime today. When I asked how she was, I was told that only her nurse could give out that information, and was asked if I would like her to call me. I said, “Yes.” 2 1/2 hours later, I had still heard nothing. I have been battling a cold for a week now, and my all-nighter in the ER certainly didn’t help, followed by very early surgery the next day. I was very tired, and opted to wait to visit her today, after she was transferred back to the nursing home, as I had been at the hospital fairly late last night.

I kept dialing my mom’s room, and finally got an answer. When I asked how she was feeling, she answered, “Pretty rough.” I told her that I had been trying to reach her all day, but couldn’t get an answer. She informed me that “there were lots of people at the house, and it was really difficult to get to the phone.” I quickly realized that she was “out of it” again, and I became worried.

My brother had called last evening to ask me if it was normal for our mom to be “so out there.” I told him that immediately after surgery it definitely was, but her surgery was on Monday. Then I told him that, in so many words, the surgeon had tried to warn me that many people her age would not do well, with all she had been through, and now hip surgery. She said something like “many are out of their heads” and she may never return to her normal activities.

The thing that is so strange with her is that she seems to go in and out of this. Last night she had a very lucid phone call with her brother, and yet just a little earlier when my brother told her that I would be coming to visit at 7:00, she said, “But she’s in London. How will she get here?” Without knowing what to answer, my brother said, “She’s driving.” When I first arrived she was sleeping, and when she awoke, she seemed confused about where she was. I told her that she was in the hospital, and that she had gone through hip surgery. This seemed to surprise her for a moment. But then she seemed to get clearer as the visit progressed. She seemed to understand that she would be returning to the nursing home the next day, and she told her brother that we had some packing to do, so she would let him go. I felt she was pretty lucid (except for remembering where she was) at the time I left.

The scene that I walked in on tonight was total chaos. As I pushed the door open to her room, I saw her roommate, Sophie, curled up, peering out from behind a book, with a look of great concern, shaking her head. As I approached my mom’s bed, she told me to get back, as she was on the bedpan, and then she said in a belligerent, screaming loud voice, “I told Ladonia to get in here, and to get in here NOW.” (There was no Ladonia that worked there, that I was aware of.)  I quickly backed out of the room, and ran across the hall to find one of the CNAs, that I knew, named Felicia. I told her that my mom was extremely agitated and needed help. She seemed to know that she was on a bedpan, and before she went into the room she told me that my mom was really disoriented, and we discussed what it all meant. I told her that the doctor had warned me about this happening, and that she said many do not ever get over it. She and another CNA responded, “That’s what we didn’t want to say.”

“But don’t some of them regain their mental status as it was before?”, I asked urgently. They indicated that some did, but many did not. Then Felicia went into the room. When she came back out the door, she looked as if she had escaped the lion’s den. She was very upset, and said that both of the ladies (my mom and Sophie) had started in on her, and that my mom was very combative. I told her that I had observed that as I came in, and I was very sorry that she was acting that way.  I gave her a hug, and I was close to tears myself. Felicia has always seemed to have a good heart around us, and truly cares for her patients.

When I went into the room, Sophie cornered me and said that Felicia had not come when they pressed the call button, and that she had not returned when my mom was on the bedpan. She was upset with the condition of the bathroom, as she also shares it. Then when I approached my mom’s bed and asked how she was, she got angry with me, saying, “I called you, and you did not come when I called, and I could hear you laughing in the hallway.” I explained to her that I had just gotten there, and that she had told me to back up, and go get help. (I’m not sure she believed me, though later she apologized if  she accused me falsely.

Meanwhile, the CNA had talked about separating them because she felt that Sophie was breaking the rules by trying to feed Betty, or go on her side of the curtain. My husband and I suggested that perhaps they would both settle down, because we knew that it would hurt both of them to be separated. They have become so close.

Right in the middle of all this, here comes Nurse Betty (who happens to be black, which I wouldn’t even mention, except it’s necessary in order for you to understand what happened next.) Felicia is also black, and my mom (completely out of the blue) began to say something about “The National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People.” She had already made a reference to me about Felicia acting like “Step and Fetch It.” I cut her off abruptly, and explained to Nurse Betty that my mom wasn’t herself right now. At this my mother became even more belligerent saying, “Yes I am myself, Lonnette. I’ve just been provoked.” Then Sophie jumped in, trying to tell Nurse Betty what had transpired, and I found myself wishing I was anywhere but there. I could see everyone’s side of the story, and felt badly for each one. (I just want to add that my mom has never demonstrated any racial prejudice that I am aware of, and raised me to respect each person as an individual, so this was totally out of character for her also. Lord knows what she would have said.)

Then Felicia and another lady showed up to weigh my mom. They were rolling some contraption that could weigh her in the bed. Imagine my surprise to learn that she had lost at least 30 pounds since all this started. She doesn’t look really thin, as she retains a lot of water, but I know that she hasn’t liked the food at the nursing home, or the hospital. We’ve brought in some food several times, but I guess we’ll have to bring it more often.

Then we began to discuss the possibility of her getting out of the bed. She was so disoriented that she had said to me at least 3 times, “I need to get up and go to the bathroom.” I told them that my greatest fear was that she would not realize where she was or the condition she was in, and would try to get out of the bed.  This was answered with an astonishing explanation that she would have to try that, before they could order an alarm. Shocked beyond belief, I said, “In other words she has to try to get up and fall before she can be monitored?” They explained that this was a restraint-free facility, and that a patient had a right to fall. A right to fall? I was speechless. (Later Tony, my brother, said in our phone conversation, that she had already exercised that right, when she broke her hip.) Finally Felicia said, “Go tell Betty (the nurse) to call the DON (Director Of Nursing) and request an alarm for her. In awhile, they came bringing the alarm, which is supposed to go off if she tries to get up. However, there are no rails on the bed. Can you believe that? NO BEDRAILS!!! I searched under the cover, and could not believe that there were none. The mattresses are made in a sort of bowl shape, with curved edges at the head and foot, that would most likely keep a person from falling out of the bed while sleeping (though that is debatable), but certainly would not prevent a person from getting up out of the bed. Whoever heard of a place for the elderly where there are no bedrails? And right after surgery? Hip surgery? One more fall could be the end. That alarm may sound, but the nurse’s station is so far down the hall that my mom could be out of that bed before they could ever reach her.

When I left, she was saying that she was going to get a flyswatter and kill every one of the bugs on the wall. When I told her that it may look like bugs, but they weren’t really, she looked at me like I was crazy. (Sometimes it’s better not to try and correct what she thinks she is experiencing. She just gets more agitated, but then again, sometimes she truly needs an explanation, to have her fears alleviated. I’m walking a very fine line here.)

My cousin Jack and I discussed if it was possible that she was having withdrawals from the strong medications that she was given in the hospital (morphine). They have also cut down her Oxycontin by half. It does sound like withdrawals, but I am not a doctor. However, I am sure they will return her to the ER if she keeps this up. (Sigh…)

Rob and I had been to dinner before going to the nursing home. Since it was Friday night, we had hoped to have a little time to sit in our chairs and wind down. But that was surely not to be. It was after 10:00 p.m. when we got home, and we were both zonked. Then I had to call my brother to inform him of her present state, and my cousin Jack, who is very close to my mom. None of us have the answers. We are shocked beyond belief that she is already out of the hospital, and in no shape to be in the nursing home this soon.  She is still facing the risks of blood clots and pnuemonia that can follow surgery. She is very incoherent and very, very upset and agitated.

I am exhausted, and feeling sick myself. All I can do is call out to Jesus, knowing that His grace and strength are sufficient, when my strength is gone…

Sophie is my mom’s roommate at the nursing home. Before she came, my mom had begun to isolate, and wouldn’t go out of her room, except for meals and therapy. But then Sophie arrived, and she has been a joy to all of us. She is 83 years old, and recently began having dizzy spells, blackouts, and some disorientation. She is of German heritage, and is proud to be both a German, and a citizen of the United States. Sophie will tell you very quickly-if you don’t like the U.S.-then go back where you came from.

When I first met her, she was making my mom’s bed. Sophie came bearing 2 twin spreads, and shared one with my mother, who is always cold. (I have also bought my mom several blankets to keep her warm.) From the moment that Sophie arrived, their room became a home.  She is very protective of my mom, and my mom tells me that she “mothers” her in a good way. I told her that was good, since I have mothered her for 3 years now, and she needed another mother when I couldn’t be there.

My mom was “serving time” for a broken right foot, and a broken left leg. Together they have made tremendous progress in physical therapy, and all the staff just love them. Seeing them use their walkers faithfully, has inspired others to use theirs.

Sophie even got my mom to attend a Bingo session, where she won a quarter. (My mom was always a gambler.) They eat their meals together, and have become inseparable.

Early Monday morning at 4:30 a.m. my mom was headed toward the bathroom, when she slipped and fell. Sophie was horrified, but showed tremendous courage and friendship. She told her not to move, and pushed the call button. She then got my mom a pillow, and covered her so that she wouldn’t be cold. She got down on her knees, and held her hand, saying, “Remember what Sophie always says-it will be okay.”

The staff began to question Sophie about the accident, and she told the best she could what had just transpired. The EMS came and got my mom, strapped her to a body board, and took her away to the nearby hospital.

The next day, Sophie was depressed. The therapist asked why she wasn’t motivated, and Sophie told him that her friend had suffered a very bad fall. He took her for a walk outside the building to lift her spirits in the sunshine, but Sophie missed my mom.

After 6 agonizing hours in the ER, my mom was admitted to the hospital and scheduled for surgery the next morning. I stopped by the nursing home to get some things for her, and had a nice chat with Sophie, who was a bit teary-eyed. I got her number and promised to call her as soon as my mom was out of surgery.

I did call Sophie the next day, but there was no answer. The voicemail message wasn’t her voice. Hesistantly, I left a message, telling her that my mom had made it through surgery. I was not allowed to see my mom after surgery until almost 9:00 p.m. that night. They had her in a holding room in surgery, until they could get a critical care room. The consensus was that my mom had so many health problems, that it would be better to monitor her closely after surgery.

The next day Sophie called my mom, and the miracle was that she was able to speak to her in CCU. It turns out that the number Sophie had given me was her home phone number, and not her cell, which was all they have in the nursing home. Every patient has to have a cell phone, because there are no phones in the room otherwise. (Shocking to me.)

Once Sophie heard my mom’s voice, she was calmer. When I visited my mom later that day, after she had been moved to a regular room on the 4th floor, she told me that Sophie had gotten through to her. I vowed to go see Sophie on my way home, as the nursing home was just across the street from the hospital.

Sophie always keeps their door shut, because the lady across the hall is hard of hearing, and her television is always blaring very late into the night, and also because you never know who could come wandering in (though no one ever has.) I called out to her, and pushed the door open. There was Sophie, curled up in her bed with a book. But there was something different about the room. In the soft lamplight, my eyes immediately fell on a lighted aquarium.

“You’ve got a fish!” I squealed with delight.

“Yes, I was so lonely when your mom left, that my daughter thought I needed another roommate.”

Laughing along with her, I acknowledged, “It’s the best kind.”

“Yes, but I miss your mom so much,” she added sadly. “Sit down and tell me how she is.”

We discovered that Sophie had given me the wrong number, and I reassured her that I tried to call, but there was no answer. We discussed my mom’s hip surgery, and shared a few sighs. Sophie told me that she would be there for about 2 more weeks. The decision had been made that she could no longer live in her home. It was becoming much too dangerous, because of her dizziness and blackouts. They had placed a shunt in her back to drain fluid from her brain, and there did seem to be an improvement, but her children were adamant that she could no longer live alone, and were already looking at assisted living apartments. This had broken Sophie’s heart initially, but it seemed that as the days went on, she was a little more resigned to it.

I understood both sides of the matter, as I have wondered how much longer my mom would be able to live independently. Her health care needs were fast becoming more than I could handle, and my home was such a logistical nightmare for her. The kitchen is upstairs, the bathroom down the hall from my daughter’s vacated room, where my mom now slept during emergencies. She has lived on her own, since my dad died 3 years ago, from hospital acquired infections, following a triple bypass. We have many safeguards in place, such as the Life Alert type necklace, and she calls every morning when she gets up, and when she is safely in bed. (And I call or go there in between.) I see her frequently, as I take her to all her appointments and errands. We always laugh and say that between the two of us, there is a different doctor for every body part. We all felt, that as long as it was possible for her to stay in their little house, surrounded by her precious memories, she should be allowed to be independent. It is risky, but until now, we felt it was worth the risks. I don’t know what will happen now, but we are just taking it one day at a time.

So, I understood the concern of Sophie’s children, and also the desperate need that we all have to stay independent.

As I pulled a chair up to Sophie’s bed, I commented on how beautiful the classical music was, that was playing across the room. Sophie had arranged pictures of her family around her. I had recently made up baskets for my mom and Sophie, with many treasures. Each one had a small teapot and teacup for decoration, a white lace handkerchief that said “Get Well”, shampoo, lotion, notebooks, pens, liquid hand-soap, chocolate, sugar free candies, a cosmetic case, and various other goodies. Sophie had placed her teapot by her pictures, and I had placed my mom’s in front of her favorite picture of our family from “back in the day.” She lovingly calls it “Young Family” picture, and requested that I bring it to show Sophie.

This room has been transformed from a lifeless four walls, to a room that held soft music, beautiful treasures, and heartwarming memories. My mom and Sophie have the best view in the whole nursing home. Their window looks out toward a nearby golf course, and they have a birdhouse and feeders just outside the window by my mom’s bed. Sophie’s daughters have filled the feeders often, and the birds delight in quickly eating all the seed. Some of the other rooms have a single birdhouse outside, but my mom and Sophie have a virtual bird sanctuary outside their window.

I enjoyed my visit with Sophie so much, that I talked my husband into stopping in for a moment the next night, after we had visited my mom. We shared with Sophie that a case manager from the hospital had already called me about moving my mom back to the nursing home. This was a bit of a shock, as she only got out of surgery on Monday, but that seems to be the way they do things these days.

I watched as my husband pulled up a chair, and asked Sophie about what part of Germany she was from. He had been stationed there many years ago, and always talks of his time there fondly. He said that the German people were always cleaning-their sidewalks, and even the streets. Sophie agreed, and said that even in the coldest weather, they would open their windows to get fresh air in the house.

We spent lots of time with Sophie, and I have gotten her address and phone number, and hope that she will be a lifelong friend to our family. We love her dearly.

Now tomorrow, I must remember to get the name of the fish…

As Christians, there are many times when our faith is tested. I believe that God is a Healer, and that He loves us always. But even the giants of the Bible had times when their faith wavered. Most of us will have a faith crisis at some point in our Christian lives. Some of us will have to walk through many.

I had a faith crisis about 3 years ago, when my father was not healed, after hospital acquired infections, following a triple bypass.  This left my very sick mom a widow, (and me to primarily care for her.) I thought that I had to keep her alive, and that all the responsibility for her health and well-being was now on me. It was a very heavy burden to bear. Finally, I realized that I am not God. I cannot keep my mother alive. I can only do my best to be a good caregiver, and advocate for her. The rest is in God’s hands-far more capable than mine.

I do have questions, and I do believe that someday they will be answered, when we no longer see through a glass darkly-but then face to face. And yet, even if I don’t get the answers, I will cling tightly to my God, who is my strength and my peace. It is easy to say we have faith when everything is going well, but what about when life becomes a living hell? Will we still trust Him?

As most of you know, my mom broke her right foot, and her left leg recently. We just had a care plan meeting with the social worker and therapists at the nursing home last Friday. She was likely to go home on Friday or Saturday of this week, depending on the doctor’s report on July 24th. At the latest, she probably would have been in the nursing home for one more week. It was a good report. She had finally settled down, and decided to stay in rehab, and do the necessary work to get better.

Then I received a phone call this Sunday night-(early Monday morning at 4:30 a.m.) They said she had slipped and fell trying to get to the bathroom, and was being rushed to the ER. I threw on some clothes, and rushed to be with her. As I drove there, I felt peace. How could I feel peace when the circumstances were so awful? Only because I felt His presence, and this time I did not ask “Why?”- though He would have certainly understood if I did. I just knew that without Him, I could not face one more crisis, and just as surely as I was going to have to deal with another one, I felt His strength.

For 6 hours, my mom screamed in agony with no relief (even from morphine.) And my own heart was pierced with every cry. Then I had to watch them almost kill her, as they added Valium directly into her morphine line. I watched her jaw drop, and her breathing stop. Her eyes were fixed with no movement at all. I have never seen a person look more dead. Just as they were going to code her for respiratory arrest, she started to breathe, and move. I know that I saw the face of death, but at that moment, death did not win. I kept asking, “Is she okay?” The nurse tried to make me believe that she was, but I knew she wasn’t. She later admitted that she had almost coded. It was easy to see that she was almost gone.

She was finally diagnosed with a broken hip, and at last count, that makes a broken right foot, a broken left leg, and now a broken right hip. This would certainly be a good time for a faith crisis.

But I am so thankful that I already went there (as I am sure I could again) but not this time. I don’t know the answers. I’m not even sure of the questions anymore, but I am determined to trust my Savior, my God, my Friend. His ways are higher than mine, as are His thoughts. He is a good God, even when we don’t understand. Even when we are not faithful, He is faithful.

And so we all journey on, wondering how much a heart can break, how many tears can fall, and how many sleepless nights we can endure. But without Him, what hope is there? I pray that I will forever trust Him…

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.” Lin Yutang

Have you ever noticed that you can never get everything done? I mean there’s always one more towel to fold, one more dish to wash, one more shirt to hang up, or one more piece of furniture to dust. And the truth is, there always will be.

The thing about housework is that it has to be repeated. It’s never actually finished. We’ll always have bathrooms to clean, and beds to make. Such is life. We all go through times when we’re organized…and times when we’re not. But sometimes we have to just shrug our shoulders and say, “You know what? It will all be here tomorrow. Today I’m taking the kids to the park, or going to lunch with my husband, or I’m going shopping.”

Yes, there is an art to leaving things undone. Babies will not stay babies forever, and later we will wish for one more hug, or one more day in the park, or one more bedtime story. Husbands have a way of heading toward heaven sometimes sooner than wives, and what widow would not give all that she had to spend one more day with the love of her life? Yes, the unmade beds can wait, and the bathtubs and toilets too!

So this past week (from Wednesday through Sunday) I have practiced the “noble art of leaving things undone.” My husband and I have been taking a stay home vacation. It only requires him (a busy lawyer) to be out of the office for three business days. (And I have even allowed him about 2 hours a day to sign papers or make phone calls.) Have I been tempted to spend precious time vacuuming or dusting? NO!!! And these have been wonderful days!

Since we live in a tourist town, we decided to act like tourists-(sort of.) The first day we went out to breakfast, and casually read the paper over coffee. We went to a thrift store (one of my favorite activities), and then we went home to sit in our comfy chairs, and watch a movie. Then I started supper, and headed down to the flea market, where I have a Victorian collectibles booth to play in, while he went to the office for a couple of hours. We met back at the house, ate, watched a little tv, and back to our cozy chairs to read for a couple of hours.

The next day we took a day trip to a nearby beach town, (stopping on the way at…you guessed it…a gigantic thrift store! LOL!) Then we had lunch at a home cooking cafe, and I shopped at 3 antique stores, while he headed over to talk with some of the people that work with him on adoptions in this area. (You know men-they aren’t much for shopping.) We enjoyed the scenery on the way home, and then we hit those wonderful chairs again for a little reading time. (We just purchased them a few months ago.)

The next day we had to go over to the nursing home for a “care plan” meeting for my mom, who has been there temporarily for therapy, since breaking her right foot and left leg. When she gets to go home depends on the doctor’s report next Thursday. We’ll know lots more then. But all in all it was a good meeting. She has settled down a good bit, and has worked very hard during her physical therapy sessions.

From there, we had lunch in a home cooking cafe in our town (also a beach town), and then home to our chairs for a couple of hours. We split up again for awhile, and met back at the house for an easy supper of grilled cheese sandwiches and soup.

Today, I finally got to sleep in (yay!) and we went to our favorite restaurant in Baytowne Wharf. It’s called the Marlin Grill. But they have the best steaks on earth! I kid you not! If you are ever in Destin, Florida-check them out. You will NOT be disappointed.

(I was disappointed, however, to find that my favorite Tea Shop (Magnolia and Ivy) had gone out of business. So sad. It had great gifts and tea accessories. But we walked over to the waterfront, and sat for a few minutes, and then headed to Ross-(my second favorite store to T.J. Maxx).

Tomorrow is Sunday, and we plan to rest and wind down. This is the first year in a long time that we didn’t go the North Carolina Mountains (my second favorite place on earth.) But we have had so many crises in the family, that we were just too worn out to make the trip this time. So we opted for two vacations like this. One this month, and one in August.

I can’t wait till the next one! There is a certain amount of stress that goes with traveling-packing, flying or driving, not sleeping well, etc. And I guess we eliminated all that with our staycation (as my teenage daughter calls it.) We managed to combine venturing out, with actually resting, and it has been delightful! It seemed much longer than it actually was. (Also I spent 5 days away in my favorite nearby (nothing fancy) motel the week before, so I was already in a vacation frame of mind. I have never needed a vacation more!

Being the primary caregiver for my elderly, widowed mom is a full time job, and we have had our share of medical crises lately. I desperately needed a break. I can see now how important it is for a caregiver to get away from time to time. It is not a luxury…it is a necessity. The burn out level is high, and everyone needs a chance to escape now and then.

So I have practiced the “noble art of leaving things undone” for the past few days, and I’m loving it. It will all be there waiting for me on Monday…

Well, after 5 glorious days away, spent simply-reading, enjoying the view, resting, and just doing nothing, it’s time to join the real world. But not for long actually! Wednesday through Sunday of this week, Rob and I are going to take a mini stay home vacation, and another one in August. This only requires 3 days out of the office for him (though he will never actually pull that off.) We will just rest and do relaxing fun things. My daughter, Chelsea calls it a staycation. How brilliant!

Rob’s leg was hurting badly for the last few days, and I made him get it checked. Turns out he has a torn ligament and tendon most probably. He will get an MRI and an X-ray and go back in 2 weeks. (In the meantime-anti-inflammatory drugs, heat, and a knee wrap will have to do.) I guess this is good news, as I was worried about a blood clot. (We are both wondering if this could have resulted from the quinolone drugs he has been given several times lately, as they cause spontaneous tendon ruptures, and he has done nothing to possibly hurt his knee.) I also have had these drugs for my UTIs a lot lately. They seem to be every doc’s drug of choice these days. I knew they caused ankle tendon injuries and arm tendons, but would not be surprised to learn of other tendon injuries as well.  The FDA just made them put a stronger warning about this on the drug information sheet. But doctors don’t seem to care. It’s so frustrating!!! They always make fun of me when I ask for something else, and rarely give it to me, since quinolones (Cipro, Levaquin, and a host of others) are broad spectrum antibiotics. Never mind that they cause tendons to snap, and sometimes long after the drug is finished. Grrrrr…..

My mom is more settled this week, though rapidly getting antsy again to go home (from the nursing home.) See previous posts for an adventurous scenario of her broken right foot, and broken left leg. It has been anything but dull. We will meet with a social worker to discuss a “care plan” on Friday at 11:00 a.m.

Even our “staycation” will have to adapt to interruptions, as there is no way to totally get away from all that is happening lately. So we will treasure the moments. I believe that happiness truly occurs in moments, rarely entire days. The trick is not to miss the miracles in those moments…

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

Finally, I was able to get a few days away from all the chaos, and I have had the most wonderful time just resting, reading, and playing on my laptop. I checked into a local motel that I love. Nothing fancy, but it is on the bay, and I actually got a room on the second floor with a view of the water. I have been here since late Monday night, and I’ll check out Sunday, so I basically have one more day. My husband, Rob, joined me for dinner in the room on Wednesday night, and tonight (Friday.) He will be back tomorrow evening. This has been wonderful for him (and us) also.

He loves to tease me, saying I bring 2 suitcases, and an 18 wheeler full of decorations. (He is so right.) I love to make a hotel room feel like home, so I bring all my favorite things-candles, books, music, flowers, and a few decorative Victorian touches.  

Thank the Lord there have been no major crisis moments while I was here. My mom has been a little more settled, as she has the sweetest roommate. Together they face whatever a day holds in the nursing home. Lots of therapy, of course, but also some fun. Sophie, the roommate went to play Bingo this afternoon, but my mom was too tired, and opted to stay in her room and call me. We had a nice long conversation, and all in all, I found her spirits to be good. She was disappointed yesterday, as the therapist had arranged to move her appointment with the Ortho Doc-(Miss Shrew) up from the 24th of July. They felt that my mom was not keeping the brace on properly, and also putting too much weight on the broken foot. Part of the reason the brace is not doing well, is because it is too big. But since she has large arthritic knees, they had to give her a larger brace to fit them. However, she says that this is causing the brace to slip down.   She has been trying to walk on her toes on the broken foot, but as you can imagine, it is difficult for someone already somewhat off balance. The therapist was hoping that they could move the Ortho appointment up, and that some of the restrictions could be removed. But they called from the Ortho Doc’s office, just before the appointment, and said that after reviewing the records, it had not been long enough to tell anything from an x-ray yet about the healing process. This, of course, did not sit well with Betty, who had already informed them that she wasn’t  going to be at the nursing home on the 24th. She announced that she would be home. So, we will see…
I wish she wouldn’t be so stubborn. Of course, I understand her desire to go home, but her current situation is so much better there. She has a very nice roommate, and a very cozy room, with some feeders and a birdhouse outside a big window, by her bed. It is very important that she gets as much therapy as necessary, so that she won’t fall again when she gets home. Next time she might not be as fortunate as to not need surgery, or a cast. This time she just has to wear a leg brace, and a special shoe for the broken foot. (As bad as it is, it could have been much worse.)
I received a call from a social worker this afternoon, saying that they would be having a care plan meeting for my mom next Friday at 11:00 a.m. and they would like for me to be there. (Rob is going to take Wednesday through Friday off next week, so that we can have a mini vacation at home. We plan to do this in August as well because we won’t be able to get away this summer. So he can come with me to the meeting. I hope they will offer some home health aides, as my mom will have a difficult time getting around at home for quite some time. She usually turns down the light housekeeping, but I sure hope she doesn’t  this time, as she really could use the help with vacuuming or whatever they offer. But again, she is quite stubborn, so again, we’ll see…
I want to end on a good note, by saying that I have had a lovely, peaceful few days away, and I am so thankful to God (and Rob) for this. The past 3 years have been the most difficult of my life, and I need to make some changes so that my health does not deteriorate any more. I  still don’t know all the anwers, but I will trust God to show me (a little at a time) what is best.
Everyone needs a chance to have their spirit and body restored , and I only wish it could have been longer… 
                                                            .                                     

Well today was a surprisingly good day. (Yes, you heard right.) I can’t believe it myself. It started out a little rough. I had a doctor’s appointment in Panama City, and I usually allow 2 hours travel time, to be on the safe side. However, I forgot about the 4th of July traffic in the seaside town of Destin. Bumper to bumper traffic, inching our way along. (I had to reschedule the appointment because there was no way I was going to make it in time.) After what I’ve been through lately, a little traffic was no stress at all, and neither was having to cancel the appointment.

I made the best of it by going to a large thrift store, that I had spotted many times on my way there. It didn’t have much in the way of glassware today, but I hit the jackpot on books, teaching tapes, audio books, and movies. I had so much fun browsing for a couple of hours. It was the first time in days that I had felt the stress leave me. One of the sales girls, who was stocking books and movies seemed to enjoy making conversation, so I chatted with her off and on, during the time I was looking. It was like being in another world, after the events of the past week. Very quiet and peaceful.

I found lots of Christian tapes, and several good books. Then I drove back to our town, and ate at a new Panera Bread that just opened. I have been to the one in Destin and Pensacola many times, and now we have one!

While I was eating, Rob called and told me that he had just been to the nursing home to visit with Betty. To my amazement (and his) she was not hostile. She seemed fine. That was good news, as I had decided to go by on my way home, and bring her a couple of blankets that I had purchased, because she said she gets cold there. I didn’t know what to expect after yesterday.

I walked in and said, “I came bearing gifts.” I showed her the blankets, and put one on her bed for her, and one in her cupboard in case she needed it later. I bought her 3 boxes of honey buns (a sure cure for the night-time lows, and her favorite bedtime snack at home.) Yes, they’re “legal” for preventing lows. In fact, I’ve been concerned, because they have not been giving her a snack after supper, while she’s been in the nursing home. If she doesn’t get one, she can get really low blood sugar in the night sometimes.  I also handed her the latest People magazine with the “hot off the press” news about some movie star’s nervous breakdown. Blankets, buns, and a breakdown…who could ask for more? LOL!

She was unpacking her suitcase (from the hospital) when I walked in, and I helped her. We watched the last part of “So You Think You Can Dance.” The other lady in the room is so nice this time, but she is going home tomorrow. I hope Betty gets another good roommate. That makes such a difference.

Then I dived right into a calm discussion about the disagreement that Tony and I had. I told her how I had been very hurt by his accusations of “over the years developing a low opinion of him.” I explained how the night before our disagreement, he had called me while I was in the grocery store, and we were even laughing about the “wacko” room that they had first placed Betty in.  He never calls me, and I think that most probably he intended to let that be the nasty phone call, but since I was in the grocery store, he thought better of it. So I told her that I didn’t know what could have possibly changed overnight, by me asking what kind of charger her phone took. At any rate, I told her that I loved him, and always had, and I don’t know what to do to make it any clearer. This was a very sincere discussion, and it went well. I told her that I had sent him an email with the details of the ER fiasco the other night and signed it “Love, Lonnette.” (I decided to make the first move to reconciliation.) Then yesterday, when Rob phoned him to discuss Betty’s situation, he was very sick with a bad cold, and I told Rob to tell him that I loved him. (Another attempt at mending things on my part.) Today he had to call me about Betty’s car keys, and everything was cordial. So I told my mom that we seemed to be okay. (Rob suggested that maybe sometime Tony and I should sit down and discuss whatever it is that has made him feel that way.) I am truly at a loss. The only time we even had slightly harsh words was many, many years ago, when my mom was sick in the hospital, and wanted to see him so badly, and he wouldn’t go see her. I just called and told him that she really wanted to see him, and he needed to go. I’m sure my tone was a frustrated one, but it wasn’t a scene at all. As far as I know, that is the only  time I have ever been insistent with him about anything. He was away from our town so long, that we never talked.  We don’t have a lot in common. And I have been nothing but glad (super glad) that he came home, got close to Sam before he died, and changed his life to a great degree. So, we’ll see. I am one of those people who believes in talking things out, and it’s hard for me to carry on if I don’t. I think that is healthy.

Anyway, then I came home, talked with Rob,  played on the computer for awhile, and did some writing for my freelance sites. It was indeed a very good day! (Grin.) I could use more of those! So I thoroughly enjoyed the calm after the storm…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

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

Just when you think that it can’t get any stranger, it did. Yesterday they gave Betty breathing treatments and IV antibiotics for the pneumonia (Levaquin). She looked better when I saw her. As you know, she was admitted one night at midnight, stayed one full day and then last night.

This morning I woke up with an upset stomach-ran to the bathroom, and then got a message from Rob saying that my doctor in Panama City (who I will be seeing tomorrow) wanted me to run over to our local clinic and get a quick blood test, that could be faxed to her, so that she would have it when I go tomorrow.

So I headed out the door (feeling horrible, and with practically no sleep) to get that done. After getting the blood work done, I stopped by the grocery store, as everything here has gone by the wayside, with all the running to doctor’s offices, the ER, and the nursing home. Everything is falling down around me.

When I got home around 1:00 p.m., I called Betty to see how she was doing. Much to my shock, she said that she was being sent home. HOME, not back to the nursing home. I could not believe this. She had not even come near to finishing her rehab. The nursing home was holding her bed for her, and there was no question that she would return there to finish physical therapy. (Though last night when the nursing home was mentioned, she said, “I’m not going back there.”

She said she had been trying to reach all 3 of us-(Me, Rob, and Tony) but couldn’t get us. According to her all our phones were busy. I told her that I ran out this morning to the lab and grocery store, and forgot my phone. She said that she had been waiting since 9:30 a.m. to go home.  I told her I would come right there.

I called Rob, and we decided that we needed to make sure that her primary care physician, and the nursing home knew. Rob talked to the physical therapist at the nursing home, and she said that Betty was not near ready to go home yet, and that she would hurt herself badly putting full weight on the foot and leg, because she was slow to make progress with strengthening her upper body weight.

We put in a call to the nurse practitioner for her primary care doctor, but got no return call. Rob talked with the charge nurse on Betty’s floor, who said that the doctor- (Hospital Admitting Physician- who used to be Betty and Sam’s doctor for years,) had placed the order for her to go home. Rob asked to have that doctor call him, and he said that we were NOT taking her home, after what the physical therapist told us. We said that she needed to finish her physical therapy. (This was SO crazy-I can’t believe it!)

We ran over to her primary care physician’s office, and told his receptionist what was going on, and she said that since that doctor did not admit her, it was not up to him. I told her that she DID see her primary care doctor in the ER that night. (I’m not sure if he was working there that night, or why he showed up.) But Betty also saw the same doctor we saw on the night she first went to the ER, and he was the one that screwed up the diagnosis, and put the brace on the wrong leg, and sent her home.

So then we went rushing over to the hospital because the charge nurse said that the hospital doctor was going to come by and talk to Betty. We hoped to be there when he did. We waited and waited. I was so upset that I was having bad chest pains, and felt very weak physically and emotionally. Betty was still waiting on her bed all this time, not knowing that any of this was taking place. I knew that she would throw a fit if she didn’t get to go home, and my nervous system couldn’t take anymore. So I went to a nearby waiting area. Then the nurse told Rob that the hospital doctor (who signed the orders) would be calling him, instead of coming by.

He did, and Rob told him what the physical therapist said, and that she would be in horrible danger if she went home in her present condition, and that he was not taking her there. He told the doctor that I was sick and on the verge of collapse, and that we could not lift her if she fell, etc. (Tony was at home really sick with a horrible cold today. We had called to ask him if he was on board with us about her not coming home. We were ready to say that if he went and got her, then he would be responsible for what happened to her. But he agreed with us that she should not come home, until her therapy was finished.)

So the hospital doctor talked to Betty on the phone, and then he talked to Rob (in Betty’s presence.) He said that he was in agreement that she should go get the rest of her therapy, but that he could not force her to go back there. He said that if she was not incompetent, then she could still make decisions. He said that she had told him she did not want to go back to the nursing home.

Now let me stop right here and ask a question…She was admitted to the hospital primarily because she was having hallucinations, and also suspected pneumonia. Why do you ask a person in that condition if they want to go home? Of course, she would say yes. He did not handle this well at all.  I understand that she wants to go home, but she will not be safe at all right now. She was already in great peril before she broke her foot and leg, and now she is in MUCH greater danger.

The daughter of her roommate walked out to where I was and said, “Your mother is stubborn!” (This came as NO surprise to me. She is driving us all crazy!!!!!)

Rob told her that we loved her, but we did not want to get a call to come to her house, and find out she had hit her head or something worse. He said that he knew it might not seem like it right now, but we were wanting her to finish the therapy, because we all love her. He gave her hug.

She said that she would call Tony to come get her. (We had already talked to him, and he agreed with us.) Then she said Tony could move in with her. (That will just mean 2 more mouths to feed (him and Brandon, his son), and clothes to wash, and she still won’t have anyone there for the greater part of the day.) It is not the answer-though that is up to her. But it was not part of the equation today. 

The hospital doctor said to ask her what she would do if she fell (when he wasn’t there for his lunch break), and she said, “What if…what if…you could say that about anything…” She would NOT stop insisting on going home.

Some lady (I guess one of the social workers or a nurse) said that she should stay in the hospital tonight, and think about it. Rob came out to tell me what happened, and I was getting angry. She is killing me-she only thinks about herself and what she wants. She even said, “What good is it if I can’t do what I want?” (This is always her philosophy. It is ALWAYS about what she wants.)

As we were taking the elevator down, the charge nurse (I guess) said that the other lady finally convinced her to stay overnight at the hospital, and go for 10 more days of therapy.  (Only God knows if she’ll do it.)

I want to say again that I have had it. I cannot continue to handle her. If Rob hadn’t gotten off work today to go with me, I KNOW I would have had a nervous breakdown. I am very concerned about her, but she is stubborn, rebellious, and selfish. Enough is enough.

There is nothing I can do if she decides to go home. As long as she is deemed competent, she is allowed to make her own decisions. But this is not fair to me. I am sooooooo sick, and Rob told her that I couldn’t be at home with her now if she went, and that I needed a rest. She said that I was “about to go over the edge.” I guess she was referring to the words that Tony and I and (she and I) had. Well, if I am about to go over the edge, guess who pushed me? I’ve had it!!!!

I will be in Panama City tomorrow seeing my doctor. I am sure that I will have to go through heart tests now, if I mention chest pains, and I really wish I knew if I’m having panic attacks, or it is my heart. I have an irregular heartbeat (that is called benign) but with all this stress, I can feel it drop out a lot.  It is a scary feeling. Physically, I cannot do this any longer.

So at the moment, that is the story. What tomorrow will bring is anybody’s guess. I’ll keep you posted. We need your prayers…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

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

Last night I had chest pains and was scared, but I realized that I had not slept, to speak of, more than 4-5 hours any night, in days. My nervous system is totally whacked, and I just can’t seem to sleep. Too much stress–every minute.  I did manage to finally fall asleep, and stayed in bed until the afternoon. When my mom is at home, I always leave my cell phone on every minute, but for the past week or so, I decided to try and get some much needed rest while she was in the nursing home, so I turned it off, and let Rob field the calls for awhile.

When I woke up in the afternoon, and headed to the bathroom upstairs, I heard my phone ring. It was in my purse, so I fished it out, and found it to be dead. I guess it gave its last hurrah when it rang. So I searched all over to find my charger, and charged it for awhile. When it finally charged, I turned it on, and heard some frightening messages:

I received news today, that my mom was found in her nursing home room last night, rambling around, and said that she was “making copies.” She told me later that she was hallucinating, and that she saw her roommate crouched in a corner under a bookcase, and that she (my mom) was calling out to her mama, who was doing flips across the floor. She also told me that she visited a Russian skating rink. But the primary thing was that she was loaded into the nursing home bus, and taken to Birmingham for some kind of medical research or testing.

All of this caused red flags at the nursing home (no kidding), as she was still not acting right at breakfast. They sent her to the hospital for a mental status check, thinking that she may have had a stroke. I received a call from a nurse at the nursing home, as well as a male nurse in the ER. He said that they saw no evidence of a stroke, but that she had pneumonia, and would likely be admitted. But they kept her there all day, and then returned her to the nursing home. They said that she answered every question correctly, except where she was. (She thought she was in Birmingham.)

I went to the nursing home this evening (when I got the messages), and found her very sick, and looking pale and horrible. She said that she had felt as close to death as possible through that whole scenario. (It was then that I questioned her about what she went through, and she told me the things cited above.) She seemed to be alert, but confused about what she had experienced. She said that she was aware that she was hallucinating.

She was very cold, so my husband and I went to eat, and to buy her some extra blankets. While I was in Walmart, I received a call from a male nurse who had been assigned to her at the nursing home for awhile. He said that he was very concerned (even though he was not her nurse right now) that they were taking her off the Oxycontin, and that they could not just “cold turkey” her like that. He said he feared that within a week, that could precipitate a heart attack, or open her up to all kinds of things. I totally agreed with him, and said that could not be done. (She has been on it for many, many years.) He advised that if I was her advocate, that I should demand that they give her the Oxycontin, and I said that I would, and I knew that she needed to stay on it. I told him that I had been told to call Debbie, the charge nurse, in the morning about the discontinuation.

He also told me that when he heard how she had been acting, that he could not believe it, and went to see for himself what her condition was. (She had always been alert and lucid when she was in his care.)

I told him that I had been her primary caregiver for 3 years, and that I had taken her to every doctor’s visit, and knew her mental status well. I said that she does experience some momentary confusion at times, but nothing long lasting, and had never hallucinated before, so this was TOTALLY out of character for her.

Between the two of us, we suspected that it all may have been caused by a sleeping pill that was given to her last night, along with her Oxycontin. I do not know for sure if that was the first time she received it, but a nurse I talked to there (also named Betty) said that it was prescribed PRN (as needed.)

I asked them to please take her off the sleeping pill, as the combination of that with the Oxycontin, and everything else she takes may have been too much. (But I was told that they discontinued her Oxycontin, and I told her nurse that within a couple of days, she would be hurting so badly that she could not function at all without it.) She has tried to come off of it before, but didn’t make it many days at all. She takes it for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, and Fibromyalgia (but mostly for the horrible pain of rheumatoid arthritis.)

I also discussed whether she could have been experiencing a low blood sugar episode, and they said that at supper her blood sugar was 200+, but no one checked it, when they found her roaming last night at midnight. They did say it was 95 before breakfast. That is low for my mom, as anything under a 100, and she starts dropping numbers very quickly. I guess it could have been a combination of her low blood sugar and the sleeping pill. I just don’t know for sure. She has experience some confusion lately, but never to this degree, and never long lasting.

While I was talking to the male nurse (from the nursing home), he said that the doctor there had decided to try again and have her admitted, because he was still worried about her mental status, and the pneumonia. I asked where she would be admitted, and said I would meet her in the ER.

So we all spent the night in the ER waiting for her to be admitted. She does still have a bedsore, and I worry, of course, about MRSA (staph) in that hospital. They did bandage it tonight. (For those who have not been following this, she broke her right foot, and her left leg, and was placed in a nursing home about a week and a half ago for rehab.)

She was totally exhausted, and I asked them to please give her a snack, as she always had a snack to get her through the night at home, so that she would not have low blood sugar. (I don’t think that they have been giving her one at night at the nursing home, and I told the nurse this evening that she really needed the snack to ensure that her blood sugar did not go low.)

My mom’s primary physician came in while we were in the ER. He also felt that the sleeping pill, combined with the Oxycontin, may have caused the mental episode. He questioned whether she had taken a higher dose of Oxycontin anytime lately, and she said no. (She has never abused it, and only takes what she is prescribed.) I know this because I get her medicine all the time, and we have to get a new prescription every 30 days, so I know that there is always just enough to get her through the month.

He also said that the pneumonia was not a “big pneumonia” and that he wasn’t sure that she had it, but he wanted to be cautious. (I am so thankful for that, as she has a really bad sounding cough.)

She was very upset that she had to wait there all day today, and again all night to be admitted. (I don’t blame her.)

But she is very, very angry in general right now, and I don’t really know how to deal with that anymore. I don’t know the answers to any of this, and since I’ve been having chest pains, and am near a nervous breakdown myself, I took this past week off  to try to rest, but I haven’t slept hardly any. The stress of this is unbearable every moment. It has really taken a toll on my health as well, both emotional and physical.

I must say that after my initial reaction to the phone calls (which was a momentary panic), a peace came over me that I have never felt before in a crisis, and has enveloped me ever since. I know that it is God holding me up, and strengthening me, because I have been a nervous wreck for a couple of weeks (because of the tension and stress in our family.)  So I am so thankful for His presence, as without Him, I could not go another step…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

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