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Monthly Archives: August 2008

Knowing that new clothes always make a lady feel better, I shopped a little for my mom yesterday. For the last 3 years, I have been by her side for all her shopping, and I know very well what styles she likes, and what pleases her.

So tonight was the night we tried on clothes, in the half of the room that is hers. This was quite difficult, as she was in her wheelchair, and barely able to stand as of yet, without great effort and some discomfort.

Little Ferl, the dear, frail, French lady in the nearby bed, had an amused look on her face, as she observed our laughter and fun. We pulled the curtain around our side of the room, and giggled as we struggled to make the pants go on. When we had a full outfit, we would push the curtain back, with a bit of a “TA DA” and my mom would wheel over to Ferl’s side of the tiny room, to get her opinion. Struggling to her feet, and with the help of her walker, she “modeled” her newest fashions, on the nursing home runway.

I played the emcee, saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll be right back.” And then I pulled the curtain back again, to disguise what was going on “behind the scenes.”

Ferl does not have any children, but she does have 2 nieces, who she loves dearly. They had visited her today from Birmingham. Ferl said proudly, “Today is a family day!”

To help my mom physically get through the trying-on part, I brought a Wendy’s hamburger, and fries for her to munch on, in between outfits. (Hey-a girl needs energy when she tries on clothes.) We would try on something, and then she would take a bite. Even at that, she really didn’t eat much, but I try to bring her a little something each time I come, just in case she is hungry, because the food there is terrible.

My mom modeled two new complete outfits, and we also tried out 2 pairs of black pants. Long before we finished, sweet Ferl fell fast asleep. She and my mom have become very close. My mother has become her protector, looking out for her since she came to the nursing home. She often pats my mom’s hand and tells her how thankful she is for her friendship. Sadly, (and happily for Ferl) she will probably be leaving soon. She lives in Bob Hope Village, in a retirement apartment, but she tells me that she will now be moving to an assisted living apartment there. The way she came to be in the nursing home is that one evening she fell in the bathroom of her apartment, and ended up staying on the floor all night, until a neighbor found her. She hurt herself pretty badly in the fall, but fortunately she didn’t break anything. She’s been at the nursing home, getting some physical therapy. We will hate to see her go, because we like her very much, and she was a welcome change from the grumpy Addie.

Before Ferl fell asleep, she told us several times, that she enjoyed listening to us having fun, trying on the clothes, and it made me realize that we have had so many fun, special times. We’ve faced so much together, and because of that, we are more than friends. Sometimes I have trouble knowing where she ends, and I begin. It is like being a mom, and taking care of a little one. You are meshed, in a special, undefinable way.

I helped my mom with her gown, and called for the CNA to help get her in bed. I leaned over and gave her a kiss, and she told me she loved me, and that I made a “great mother.” (Role reversal again.) I pulled the chain on her light over the bed, and made my way through the room in the dark, to the hallway, and said goodnight to the CNA, who was sitting in the corner reading a book.

As I walked across the parking lot to the car, I wondered if she would be able to function, on her own, at home anymore. She has seen roommate after roommate making plans for a different existence. Sophie was (more than likely) going to Mexico, to live in a cottage on her son’s property. It seemed a much nicer thought than moving into an assisted living arrangement here, while her 2 daughters argued over what was best for her. Poor Addie (who had Alzheimer’s), could not believe that she was not going home, when her family arrived to get her. They were taking her to another institution, better equipped to handle dementia patients. And now Ferl, who was living happily in her little retirement apartment, until she fell, is making plans to transfer to assisted living. I am sure that none of this has escaped my mom.

But we talk often about what it will be like when she gets home–of how she will sit in her chair and watch TV, and go to the bathroom (without an audience), and eat food that she actually likes, and sleep in her own bed. Tonight she said, “I want to go home. I feel like a kid who’s been at summer camp too long.” (Such a great description.)

She will have her chance to go back, God willing. We will just have to see how it goes. But she will have an opportunity to do all those things, that we all take for granted everyday, but she no longer does.

All of these thoughts were on my mind, as I reached for the handle to my car door, but I brushed it all aside, because tonight we had fun, she said that she loved me, and it was “just us girls.” Simple pleasures…

Please read other articles that I have written here:

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

Today I had a counseling appointment, and I was very glad that I did. I wanted to talk over some of my feelings about Chelsea and her mom reuniting. I told my counselor the story, read her some of the email, and tried to be honest about my conflicted feelings.

She understood totally why I felt the way I did, and said that I had nothing to be insecure about. If Chelsea’s mom had been mother material, she wouldn’t have had to give her up all those years ago. (Though I will always believe that the choice of adoption is a courageous one.) We talked about how all her childhood memories are with us, and that no one could step into the picture at this point, and be able to recreate that. We discussed how she had planned on living close by, and my counselor, who also knows Chelsea said that we will have to wait and see how this turns out. We know that it will be healing for Chelsea, as to any feelings of rejection she may have, and we know that this is an exciting “fantasy” time for her. I am quite sure that there will be a honeymoon period, and that is good. There should be.

The counselor and I talked about how it seems that God is in this, and He has a purpose, and it will be interesting to see it play out. She laughed, and agreed, when I told her that my thinking is that I will be here waiting, when the dust settles, and the shiny fades, and the new wears off.

Today we got an email from her mom, saying that she intended to go to Miami first, where she previously lived, and retrieve her “designer wardrobe.” It seemed an odd thing to say, and worrisome, from the point of view that Chelsea is so materialistic  already (through no teaching of ours), and I hate to see her mom encourage that side of her personality, as her mom mentioned in an earlier phone call having designer handbags and clothes in storage. When Chelsea heard about it, she quickly shouted, “Well, she can bring them to me.” (That most likely will happen.)

I so wish she would just spend time with Chelsea, and not try to win her affection through material things. (I’m praying that she will not.) Chelsea is the original “material girl”, and she sure didn’t get it from me, as my favorite stores are thrift stores. LOL! Today was the first time that I’ve been in the mall in months, and I was doing some clothes shopping for my mom, not myself.

Actually, I bought a new feather pillow, and some shoes that were on sale. It was a fun day of wandering aimlessly there, and of having lunch, and just being alone with my thoughts. And in the midst of it, the strangest thing happened.

I was having a late lunch in the food court, and when I sat down to eat,  it turned out that my table faced the carousel directly. It took me back to the first time that Chelsea came to visit us. She rode the carousel, and I remember holding her on the horse, like other moms were doing today. I also remembered all the years that passed, as she rode her favorite horse, Arabella (yes, I still remember the name), and I would stand on the sidelines, waving each time she came around into view.

I thought about how long ago that first ride had been…16 years. But in some ways, it seemed like just yesterday, and it was a strange feeling, of wondering where the time went, and to some degree feeling a little sad.

I reflected on the night that her mom placed her in my arms, and as we headed home from Pensacola, she turned 3 years old, right there in my arms. (And now, I have to place her back in her birth mom’s arms.) And so the circle of life continues, just like the carousel…

Please read other articles that I have written here:

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

As most of you know, several years ago, I lost both my birth father and stepfather, very close in time to each other. For the last 3 years, I have been my mom’s primary caregiver, and she has not been well at all. Recently, she suffered 2 devastating falls and broke her right foot, left leg, and right hip. She is presently in a nursing home (temporarily) for rehab. She has also had some progressive mental issues, that seem to have gotten worse since her surgery, though sometimes she is completely clear. She experiences sporadic confusion, and memory loss. She will be a far different person, when she returns home, than she was when she left. All of this has changed me as well. It has been very stressful, and very painful emotionally, at times.

In the middle of all this, my daughter, who was adopted at age 3 (and is now 19), decided that she would try to find her mother. We have located her, and she is planning to visit and meet Chelsea in late September. She is presently in England. Of course, I have supported and encouraged Chelsea in her search, and have been very positive. (This will no doubt be a time of healing for her, that she desperately needs.) In my more rational moments, here is a link to what I want to feel:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/469410/when_and_how_to_tell_your_child_they.html?cat=25 

I honestly did feel that way, when I wrote that article back in December of 2007. But now I’m facing the situation for real. One thing I try to do in my blogs, is to be honest about my feelings. I can never help anyone else, if I hide my true feelings. And it helps me work through my feelings, when I write them out.

Yesterday, I fixed some home cooking for Chelsea (spaghetti), and we shared with her what we had been able to find out. She is very excited, and looks forward to spending time with her mom on the beach, introducing her to her friends, and taking trips with her. Her mom is quite a bit younger than me, still hip (and a little on the wild side.) Though, she has become a Christian since we knew her, and that is a great relief. A girl of 19 is very impressionable, and I pray that her birth mom will be a good role model, and not just a best friend.

At any rate, it has stirred feelings within me, that I did not suspect it would. Whenever I considered it, in days gone by, I always calmly rationalized that someday she would probably want to meet her birth mom. We told her when she was little (in answer to her questions) that if she did want to find her, when she was older (18+), we would help her.

So now, in the middle of all my losses and daily pressures, that day has arrived. I now face her reunion with her mom, with feelings of excitement and trepidation. Chelsea was a very difficult child to raise. It took blood, sweat, and tears, and two parents working at it full time, to stay one step ahead of her. (One person could never have done it.) She came strong-willed, and that never changed. It was like being the matador in a continual bullfight. LOL!

I wanted to run away at times, (and did twice) because the pressure was so great. I was told by psychologists, that she saw me in the role of her mom (who she was angry at) and that she was trying to reject me, before I rejected her. I had to convince her that I loved her unconditionally, and that I would not leave her.

It took time, but God brought us closer and closer. She truly came to love me, and trust me. But as  she entered her teen years, she became even more defiant and rebellious. There are no words for the struggles we faced during those years. If there was a rule to break…she broke it. She and her father were in a constant tug of war. But still we loved her, and prayed for her.

She entered college this fall, on a full scholarship (Bright Futures), and then promptly dropped out, losing all of her financial aid . She never studied, and rarely attended classes. After working for a little more than minimum wage, these past months, she says she wants to go back to school. She will have to pay her own way, because we had an agreement that if she dropped out, and threw away her scholarship, we were not going to pay for her college.

So now into this picture, comes her birth mom.  Chelsea sees her as someone she can lie on the beach with, hang out with, and introduce to her friends. And this has me considering the question, “What is a mom?”

While I enjoy a friendship of sorts with my daughter, I can never be just a friend. She looks to me for fun and laughter, but also for guidance and honesty.

My fair skin has seen its best days on the beach, so I’m not likely to be a very good beach buddy at this time of my life. (She made sure that I saw her teeny weeny bikini when she was here yesterday, and I imagine her young, hip mom will have an even smaller one. She used to dress like a Barbie doll in mini skirts and spandex. LOL!) But as a Christian mother, my place is to be a role model for modesty, and Godly values.

She plans to travel (eventually) to visit her mom in England, and perhaps take  a trip with her to Australia. Her mom had (or has) a sailboat, and sailed all the way to Guatemala alone. I have never been out of the U.S., and probably never will. The farthest my husband and I have been for years, is the North Carolina mountains. (But they are so beautiful, that honestly, there is nowhere else I’d rather vacation.)

So, my raw feelings are, that it’s almost like we’ve done all the hard, heartbreaking work of nurturing and raising this child, and now when the hard part’s over, her birth mom steps into the picture, to reap all the rewards (and the hero worship.) What’s wrong with this picture? (Just some honest feelings as I think this through.)

Her birth mom says that she wants to live no more than an hour away from Chelsea by car or plane. We have welcomed her into our lives once again, because that is what Chelsea wanted. We have remained positive and encouraging to our daughter, and now we just have to walk it out. (The fun never ends…)

What do I feel? It’s a mixed bag for sure.

(Confused, happy for Chelsea, sad, a little jealous, a lot frustrated, hopeful, scared, gracious, concerned, conflicted.) And things that I don’t even have words for at the moment. A little afraid of what the messages will be about life, love, and priorities. But in a way, I feel relieved. Relieved that we actually made it this far, when we often wondered if we ever would. Relieved that someone else will have to deal with her temper, rebellion, and manipulative ways.

And relieved that this part of my life is coming to an end.  (Not that I’ll ever stop being her mom.) I have nurtured, loved and guided this little one for 16 years (she is now 19, and we got her at age 3), and I have truly learned the meaning of laying down my life totally and completely. My emotional and physical health has suffered greatly, but I did it. I saw it through, when at times I didn’t think I could. I have loved, even when the love wasn’t returned (and when it was), and I have continued to love through my tears, disappointment, and pain.

Many of my dreams of motherhood were just that…dreams. Because this was workhard work. And because she was so defiant, many things were not the way I would have wanted them to be. I wanted to give her a storybook life, but instead, together we learned the meaning of being faithful to a call, of loving until it hurts, and pressing on toward the finish line. As parents, we learned what it meant to balance love, with teaching the difficult, important lessons of life, which meant not always coming to her defense (when she was wrong), and making her live up to her responsibilities. It is not a popular role, but it is the role of a parent. I can only pray that somewhere along the way, some of the truths stuck, and that our love and discipline will guide her, even when we are gone.

I cherish the little girl days, and the memories that we have of mother and daughter.  The times when I couldn’t get her out of my bed. The times we laughed, and the times we cried. And I know that those times are deep within her spirit, in a sacred place of love and security. And I am so thankful that she knows the Lord, and was brought up in His ways, and with His values. He gave her to us, for a short time, and now He will complete what He started.

He knows and understands my brokenness, my pain, and my tears.

And I will still be here when the dust settles, and the shiny wears off, and the new fades, just as I have been all along…

Please read other articles that I have written here:

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

I got an invitation, in the mail last week, from the nursing home. They would be holding a Luau on Saturday, August 22 for residents and their families, or guests. Thinking that perhaps it would bring my mom out of her week of anger, I signed us up. She hasn’t been in a good mood all week, and nothing had improved when I arrived this evening. She angrily shouted at me, as I walked through the door, “You better get in here, Lonnette.”

I looked dejected I’m sure, and she then added, “Is anything wrong?”

(I felt like saying there wasn’t, until I got here.) I did take up for myself this time, and said, “I just don’t like to be yelled at, when I first arrive.”

Angrily, she dismissed my hurt, and said, “I was just kidding.”

(I had been bearing gifts, of her favorite perfume, Obsession, and a nice makeup case that she had asked for. I was sad that she had ruined the moment.)

If she was kidding, her tone of voice didn’t show it, and she has been like this for almost a week with everyone. I don’t know what to attribute it to, except that she gets like this for awhile, and then, hopefully, has several good days. She seems to be agitated and angry about everything lately. I guess it’s just been too long away from home, with too many injuries, (and without the freedom of mobility.) Though she often gets this way at home also. She is quite angry in general, and seems displeased with everyone and everything. She has been through so much.

I tried to tell myself long ago, that I would not take on her moodiness, and that her being in a bad mood would not put me in one. Tonight I was able to follow through on that. As I pushed her wheelchair into the hallway, outside the nursing home, all of the residents were being brought to the dining hall, but we weren’t allowed to enter for a while. So I talked to my mom’s new roommate, and she complimented me on my skirt (a floral print), that she said was perfect for a luau. (My mother never said a word about it.) We waited, and there was a tenseness in the air. Finally, they opened the doors, and called us in, by families and guests.

The Director Of Nursing came out, wearing the tallest stiletto heels that I had ever seen in my life. Honestly, it looked as though she was walking on stilts. (I would have fallen off, and needed physical therapy! LOL!)

I looked back at the new roommate–a precious, frail, French lady, and asked if she could sit with my mom and me, and it turned out that they had it set up that way already. We were so glad. She lovingly touched my mom’s hand, as she sat next to her. She is so very sweet.

We enjoyed looking at the decorations. Someone had transformed the dining hall into a cruise ship, and it was amazing. There were strings of white lights that went from the corners of the room to the center, murals on the walls of palm trees, fish, and the ocean. Over the door it said,
“Bon Voyage” between two red and white lifesaver floats. A young man in a captain’s hat held the door for us. There was orange punch, with umbrellas in the glasses, and everyone received a beautiful Hawaiian lei. There was live acoustical music, and recorded music that was very enjoyable. And there were some authentic Hawaiian dancers-some with grass skirts, and the whole get up.

It took quite awhile to get everyone served, and it took lots of people helping, as well. The menu was Coconut Shrimp, Teriyaki Salmon, Brown Rice, Carrots, Rolls, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake. (Betty is right about the food. It wasn’t good. I ate my roll, my rice, and my cake. All carbs!!!) I feel sorry for anyone who has to exist on this food, so I try to bring things into my mom, as often as I can.

But all in all, it was a very nice cruise! LOL! The decorations were out of this world, and one woman danced with a candle on her head, and one in each hand, until the Director of Nursing came frantically rushing out onto the stage, to blow them out. (Probably, wisely, against nursing home codes.) That part was funny, as the woman had to finish her dance with blown out candles, but we all clapped really loud for her anyway.

Since my mom was not particularly in a talkative mood, I talked a lot with a lady next to me, Ruby Martain. Ruby’s son, and 4 year old granddaughter were there. The granddaughter’s name was Riley, and she was having the time of her life, dancing to the music. Everything that Ruby said made perfect sense, until she asked me if I lived here. I told her that I did, and my mom also lived in the Fort Walton Beach area. I asked her if she lived at the nursing home, and she smiled and said that she did. Then she added, “I count the buses for them. They said I did a really good job, and wanted me to come to work for them. So I count the buses for them, and there were 7 today.”

I smiled with warmth, and said how wonderful that was, and felt sad that conversations often go this way in the nursing home. (You sometimes feel like you’ve stepped into the Twilight Zone.) And you have–the “Twilight Of Life” Zone.

After the “cruise” was over, I wheeled my mom back to her room, and someone else wheeled Ferl (aka Fergoine, that we can never pronounce). She thanked us so much for including her in the evening, and we told her we were pleased to have her be with us. Then my mom seemed agitated again, as the talk turned to the aggravating things that have happened in the nursing home. She was telling the truth about the things that frustrated her, and we listened and agreed. (But I wished there could have been something pleasant to talk about, but it was clear from the start, that wasn’t going to happen this evening.)

The night nurse came into the room, and took her blood sugar, and said that one of the CNAs would be in to help her to the bathroom, and into bed. (We had the buzzer on for well over 10 or 15 minutes, and no one came, as is often the case.)

I hugged my mom good night, and promised to bring her some homemade spaghetti on Sunday evening. And then I hugged her roommate, because she looked like she could use one.

What should have been a lovely evening on the “Love Boat” was a little lacking in love, but with my mom, that’s the way things sometimes go. I can’t change that, but I had a good time, and was glad to get home and see Rob, and sit in my cozy bedroom chair to read awhile. It’s been an exhausting, emotional week…

Please read other articles that I have written here:

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

So today was the day we saw the Ortho doctor, for the first follow-up appointment since my mom’s hip surgery. For those just joining me, my mom broke her right foot and left leg, and had been in a nursing home, temporarily, for rehab. Just before she was to be released, she fell one night on the way to the bathroom, and broke her right hip. She needed surgery this time, and it has been a long, long journey back.

The news was good today, though the “Ortho Shrew” was back to being a “semi-shrew” again. She didn’t have much to say about the terrible spasms, that my mom has been experiencing, in her leg and hip. She practically shrugged her shoulders at it. But she did seem to think that the healing progress was very good. We got to look at the X-rays, and as big as you please, we were able to see the rod and screws that were inserted to hold the hip together. It was amazing. After the doc left the room, I rolled my mom closer to the x-ray light board, and pointed out the screws to her.

The doctor said it would be approximately 6 more weeks, before she would begin to feel like herself again, and I believed she hinted at 4-6 weeks for rehab, though the nursing home has hinted at possibly 3 more weeks. I hope they don’t send her home too quickly, because she needs to be as steady on her feet as possible, to avoid another injury when she goes home. I hope she will be agreeable to use her walker in the house now, and will take every precaution. I know that she doesn’t want to get hurt again.

I asked the doctor if we could possibly get a script for a wheelchair, as there would be many times, when I took her out, that it would be safer to wheel her, than to have her walk, such as at the mall. She did write a prescription for one, so that was good.

My mom had not eaten since breakfast, and she is an insulin dependent diabetic. I pilfered some candy kisses off the receptionist at the Ortho doctor’s office, fearing that she could go low, without something sweet. After her appointment, I wheeled her across the street to the nursing home, and then went to the Waffle House to get take out food. Then I went back to the nursing home, carrying 2 coffees, 2 cups of grits, and 2 trays of food. I had to somehow manage to get all of this, and my mom (in a wheelchair) over to the atrium. But it wasn’t easy. I got a basket, and put the coffees and the grits in it (and put that in my mom’s lap), and then I put the bag (with the trays of food) over the handlebars of the wheelchair, and off we went. Thank the Lord for the escape we can sometimes make to the Residential Atrium–(a much cheerier place than the nursing home.)

They got our order almost correct, with the exception of not including sweet and low for my mom’s coffee. (She was not happy about that. Sometimes I think I’m losing my mind these days, as I can’t seem to think of everything that I need to. There’s just too much to compute.) But we enjoyed the food, and certainly needed it, as it was almost 4 p.m., and neither of us had eaten since breakfast.

My mom was in a blue “funk” today for some reason. (That place does that to you some days.) We sometimes think that they stay up at night, thinking of ways to torment us. LOL! They changed transportation plans on us several times, and we always feel crazy trying to keep up with all their mistakes and changes. I finally just decided to wheel her back to the nursing home, as it was easier (and faster) than trying to coordinate transportation. Besides, my mom had gotten very cold waiting in the doctor’s office, and it was good for her to be in the warmth of the sunshine.

The day is almost over now, and I am exhausted. I have been trying to do far too much again. I coughed for 6 hours straight last night, and have had a cold (or horrible allergies) for a month. Tomorrow, I have a doctor’s appointment in Panama City (a 2 hour drive), and the truth is, I have not taken care of myself lately, because there is no time for that. I am a diabetic also, and have high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, high cholesterol, reflux disease,  a very high A1c, and general poor health, because of so much stress. It takes a lot out of a person to live two lives. (I can hardly manage one, I admit.) But you do what you have to do, and more than that, I do it for love-love of my widowed mom, who needs me now more than ever.

I am exhausted emotionally and physically, and my health is reflecting that. I know that I cannot do more than I have, and I fear that I will be even busier, and more stressed when my mom returns home, because I know she will be there on her own (by choice), and I will have to keep a very watchful eye on her, (which I have always done, to the best of my ability.) The risks are even greater now.  So I am glad that I can lean on God for the support and strength that I need daily.

My mom got a new roommate today–a very pleasant 82 year old French lady, who is a bit like Sophie (that we adored), and nothing like Addie (who we didn’t.) I am glad that it is not another person with extreme dementia or Alzheimer’s, as that is so wearing on the person in the room, and even on their families, when they visit. Truthfully, who you have as a roommate is so important to your well being, and happiness, in the nursing home environment, and I think this will be a good match. Perhaps it will cheer my mom up, to have someone pleasant to talk to again.

She was very tired, as it was a very long day. And as I was leaving, with one foot out the door, she called loudly to me, “Wait, wait…”

I turned to answer, and she said, “Come give me a hug.”

I did, and that made the whole day a success. That was her way of saying “thank you.” She then said, “I love you.”

(We have been through so much together, that it is sometimes difficult to know where she leaves off, and I begin.) We are bonded through our experiences, and more than that, through our deep love and commitment to each other.

The bond that a mother and child share is like no other. A mother is our first memory, and we are their last (and all the ones in between.) Though disagreements may occur, just let someone else try to hurt either one of us, and there will be hell to pay. When all the other friends are gone, there will always be a mother waiting with open arms, and when her last hope is almost gone, there will always be her child, to see her through.

And forever it will be you and me against the world…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

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

When I finally went to bed last night, it was with the intention of “sleeping till the cows come home.” But it turns out that the cows came home way too early for me to get much rest.

I received a call from the nursing home, and could not quite wake up enough to answer it. But I quickly listened to the message. It was from a name that I didn’t recognize, but she said that my mom had new doctor’s orders, and that all her pain medicines had been DCed (discontinued.) I wasn’t really worried about the additional pain meds that she had received since her hip surgery, but I was worried if that included her Oxycontin. Rubbing my eyes, and dragging myself out of bed once again, I tried to come out of my sleep fog, and deal with the current crisis. (There seems to be at least one a day lately.)

So I quickly called her back and said, “I got your message. Has the Oxycontin also been discontinued?” She answered, “As a matter of fact, she (the doctor) did order that discontinued also.” It took less than a second to blurt out, “You can’t do that. My mom has been on Oxycontin for years, and you cannot just cold turkey her on it. She is 78 years old, and one of the nurses there told me (another time that they tried to do this) that she could have a heart attack, and all sorts of withdrawal problems.  She’s already had her dosage cut in half from 40 mg. twice a day to 20 mg. twice a day. She needs it for pain management, and she’ll need it to function when she gets out of there.”

There was complete silence on the line, and then, “I’ll have to call the doctor.”

I said, “I thank you very much for calling me about this change, but if the doctor’s orders are still the same, then I need to talk to the doctor, because I am afraid of what will happen to her.”

She said that she would call me back. I waited all day and never received a call. Meanwhile, I went online, and read the horrifying effects of trying to come off Oxycontin, and the even worse effects of trying to come off of it cold turkey. One person said that you had better plan to stay on it until you died (if you took it long term) because you would wish you were dead, if you tried to come off of it sooner. (I knew that my mom’s physical condition could not sustain withdrawal. She has already had 2 heart attacks.) 

Sometimes I feel like one little girl against the world, but I am determined to be the best advocate that I can for my mom, and I will not back down when her health and emotional well being are at risk. I called Rob, my husband, who is a lawyer, and he said that if I didn’t hear anything today, that we would go together tomorrow, and find out how to reach the nursing home doctor. She would have to back down on this one.

He had planned to go by the nursing home today, to take my mom’s freshly washed clothes, and while he was there, he ran into my favorite nurse (who just happened to be working our end of the hall that shift. Just happened,  that is, by the grace of God.) Rob explained the situation, and the nurse agreed that Betty should not come off the Oxycontin, and that the risks were great for her, after being on it for so many years. The nurse suggested that we write out her whole history, and the conditions that she was taking the Oxycontin for. These include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and diabetic neuropathy. (Not to mention a now broken right foot, left leg, and right hip.) Her own primary doctor made no changes to the dosage, when my mom’s previous doctor took a job somewhere else. The doctor that my mom sees now, knows that she needs it for pain management. She has never  abused it, and desperately needs it, to be able to function, with all the pain she has from all these conditions.

And to take a 78 year old woman, who has just been through major surgery, and cold turkey her on a very strong opiate narcotic, is insane! Rob told the nurse (the one we like) that we would take responsibility for any effects of her going back on the Oxycontin, but if anything happened because they took her off of it, we would sue the doctor. Bravo!

Rob then called me, to tell me that I needed to write a complete history of her use, and need of Oxycontin. (It’s so funny–this day did not go at all like I had hoped. I had hoped to get some sleep, and then to try and straighten my living room. (My entire house is in shambles, from all the craziness of my schedule-running everywhere, and never at home.) I’m having to reclaim it one room at a time. But it will be there tomorrow, and tomorrow… But this situation was my greatest priority, so I headed to the computer.

About that time, my cell rang. A voice said, “Hi, this is….. (protecting identity.) The Miracle Worker.”

I laughed and said, “Hi, how are you? What did you do?”

It turns out the nurse had a little chat with the doctor, being very careful to observe protocol, and explaining things, in a way that the doctor would receive it. After a brief discussion (which I was not told the content of) the doctor said to this nurse, “What would you do?”

The nurse said, “I’d put her back on the amount of Oxycontin that she normally takes. Because on the reduced amount she’s been on, she has breakthrough pain in her hip and leg. This way she may not.”

Can you believe the doctor agreed to do it? God is Good!!!! The nurse also told me, that if there is any breakthrough pain, there is a fast acting Oxycontin, that is out of your system in 1 to 2 hours, that could be used. And she can also have Motrin.

We were told that Betty’s liver enzymes are elevated, and the nurse said that is not something that Oxy does. We all suspect that it is the Loritab they’ve had her on, which is hydrocodone and Tylenol. Tylenol is fast becoming worrisome, because of its effects on the liver, particularly in a case like my mom’s, where they have been giving so much of it to her. I can only hope and pray that they have not damaged her liver with it.  

I said to the nurse, “You are a Miracle Worker! We’ve been trying to get that Oxycontin back to the correct level forever, and they just ignore our pleas.”

This amazing nurse is going on vacation in 2 or 3 days. Upon hearing this I asked, “How long will you be gone? We need you!”

The answer was, “Just a week.”

Then I thanked the nurse from the bottom of my heart, and said that I hoped that the vacation was wonderful! This has not been the first time that this nurse has saved the day for us (or tried to.) There are truly still some really nice people in this world, (along with the jerks.) God places them where we need them, and His favor is a sign of His ever present care and love. 

Life is, without a doubt, a constant spiritual battle. Good against evil– plain and simple. And it is absolutely a fight to the finish. But the darkness never fully prevails, because of the Light that overcomes it. Thank you Lord, for the miracle You performed today through this nurse. I praise You, and love You for Your constant faithfulness and protection for my family and friends.

You are my strength and shield, my glory, and the lifter of my head. You Are Forever Faithful…How Great You Are…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

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

After several days of overwhelming heartache and hurt, I would like to turn my focus to the simple pleasures of life. It’s not the expensive, elaborate things that mean the most in life, but rather the simple things.

Last Sunday, on the spur of the moment, I stopped in the deli at Publix, and picked up some snack items, for an informal picnic with my mom, at the nursing home. She had mentioned that she would love some potato salad, and Publix has terrific potato salad. My favorite is called “Southern Style.” It tastes just like homemade! I also picked up some sliced Havarti cheese, some fresh fruit, and 2 small slices of cheesecake. Even though my mom is a diabetic, at the end of the day, she will always have a snack to ensure that her blood sugar does not go low in the night. (So we considered the cheesecake her bedtime snack.) Okay, that’s stretching it a bit, but if you can’t live a little every now and then, what’s the point, right?

I bought one of the Publix green tote-bags for $.99, and put all the picnic items in it. I had already made up a bag of drinks, utensils, plates, and napkins.  So bearing food gifts, I headed toward the nursing home.

This nursing home has almost no decent places for a family to meet, outside of the room. And my mom looks forward to getting out of the room whenever she can. But we discovered a “get-away” made in heaven. The Senior Living Residential area has a lovely atrium, and it just so happens that there are actually hidden away doors, far down at the end of the hall, that connect the two. Bingo!!!

It was almost 7:00 p.m. when I arrived. I called for the CNA to transfer my mom to her wheelchair, and I kidnapped her! We ran away to the atirum. (Okay, I did stop at the nurse’s desk, and tell them where we would be.) I’m too law abiding not to. LOL!

The atrium is beautiful. It looks like a huge courtyard, and it even has lights on poles, that have fans on top of them, near each sitting area. You can adjust the brightness of the lights, and the power of the fans, by an easy to reach switch. The atrium also has lots of tables and chairs, and game areas, etc., and most of all, lots of green plants. Can you imagine how good this seemed to us? We were away from the unpleasant smells, and the heartbreaking sights of the nursing home, and we pretended (for a little while) that we were together again, on one of our “girls nights out.”  I put a lace tablecloth on the table, and added a battery-operated flickering candle that looked so real!We laughed and talked, and squealed about how good everything  tasted (especially the cheesecake.) One older lady, who lived in the apartments, and was strolling by with her walker, stopped to see what we were doing. (She thought the picnic wasdelightful.) We had so much fun!

We actually forgot about the time, and finally realized that we had better get back to the room, as the nurses did their nightly “drug pass” between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m. It was a little after 8:30. (However, my favorite male nurse (who only works my mom’s hall sporadically) said it was okay for us to go, and that we could stay as long as we liked, and he would leave her room for last.) It pays to have connections! LOL!

As we rushed back to the nursing home part, we saw Snowball, the cat, prancing down the hall towards us. Snowball is a declawed cat that lives in the nursing home. How cool is that? (D. J. The Golden Retriever visits every week also.)

We told everyone that we passed that we had “run away” for awhile. They all smiled and nodded with delight. We smiled too, until we remembered that the nurse would be taking Betty’s blood sugar before bedtime. LOL! Oh well

We have so many of these precious times to recall in the “outside world”, and we are making memories still, even in the nursing home. And so we find happiness in the simple things, and in just being together…

It’s amazing that when you are hurting to the point of death, people (often close friends or family) come out of the woodwork, to hurt you more. Just when you think you have experienced everything, someone else stabs you in the back.

There is so much cruelty in this world, and unfortunately, from people who claim to be Christians. Only a close friend or family member could hurt you this badly. I am not really surprised though, because this person has always tried to judge me for many years. But I overlooked it, and tried to love her anyway. I am sure now that jealousy is at the root of it all.

God is not fond of those who try to stir up discord, and this person has taken a small comment of frustration from me, about her continuing know it all behavior, and used it to devastate everyone in our remaining family. But I know that I am not fighting flesh and blood, but Satan himself, acting through this person. Her motives are wrong, and her heart is wrong. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. I can honestly say that my heart has been right in this relationship.  And before God, my heart is pure now.

She wrote a letter that pretty much wrecked everyone in our family-my brother, my mom and me. It was full of lies, half-truths, and venom. She even tried to hurt my memories of my dad, by saying something that she knew would hurt me. These words were calculated to annihilate and destroy. And for a moment, they did. But I will not give her the satisfaction of lingering over them anymore, because the spirit was totally evil. I know evil when I witness it, and this was from the pit of hell.

I have bigger things to worry about than someone who has chosen to be judge and jury, concerning my care of my mom. She always has a better idea, always has a story of how she did everything right with her dad (from changing his diapers, to spoon feeding him), and never misses a chance to tell me where I have gone wrong. I dismiss this person from my life. She is no longer significant, because I have much greater concerns. I am concerned about my mom, and I have NO regrets for the care that I have given her. I have loved her always, and have been there for her whenever she needed me, and anything else is a lie. I have been completely devoted to her for the past 3 years, since my dad died, and I will be there for her until her death. I have complete peace of mind about our realtionship. It was not always perfect, but it was and (is) always based on complete love and devotion, and I do not have to defend myself to anyone. Before God (my true Defender)–He knows the truth of my heart, and for that I am so very grateful.

This person uses accusations to cause guilt, outright lies to wound, and gossip to sow discord. She is not what she tries to appear, though I have not been fooled by her (ever.) Still, I have shown her love and acceptance. Always.

And so I ponder what kind of evil would cause a person to do such a thing, at a time when our family is in devastating crisis. At a time when the decisions we are facing are heartbreaking, and the pain we face daily is crushing. Condemnation instead of comfort is so hurtful. And none of us deserve it.

Perhaps one good thing did come from this. My brother and I have grown closer. We have talked, and I told him of my unconditional love for him. I told him that, even if at times I seem overwhelmed and frustrated with the primary care of my mom, I appreciate the things he has done, and I am pleased with him as a person. (Not that he even needs my approval. I just wanted him to know.) He has totally changed his life around, works hard, and does the best he can to make a decent life for his teenage son and himself. The stress of my mom’s illnesses and injuries has taken a toll on both of us, but I will not let the callousness and inhumanity of this cold, uncaring person come between us, or any member of my family. Nor will I let her destroy me or my memories.

Forgiveness will come, but it will take time…lots of time.  She has tried to inflict fatal wounds, but all she has succeeded in doing, is bringing my family closer in this sad time. What Satan intended for evil, God will use for good. And I do not have to continue to subject myself to the cruelty of her thoughts and words. And I will not subject myself to them.  She is dismissed from my life.

I cling to the kindness and grace of my God, and to His embrace, when I feel that I cannot take another step. He will deal with this person in His way, and in His time. His way is perfect. My task is to not grow bitter, and to somehow forgive.

But I will also use wisdom, and no longer leave my heart open to her wounds. Still, persecution helps me identify more with Christ and His sufferings…

When you are caring for an aging parent, you learn a lot about loss. Their losses are too many to count, but your losses are huge also. As a daughter, I will forever long for my mom. Even though my mom and I didn’t have an ideal relationship, when I was growing up (who does?), she is and will always be…my mom. Now that Sam, my stepfather, has been dead for over 3 years, and my mom’s health and mental status seems to be fading rapidly, I am already feeling like an orphan. Even as adults, as long as our parents are alive, we feel secure in the knowledge that, if we need them, they are there. There is some sense of security and protection in that belief.

The truth is, they need us now, more and more. The roles have changed forever, and there is no turning back. The parent has become the child, and the child has become the parent. But sometimes in our memories, we retreat to a safer time and place, when all the responsibility of the world was not on our shoulders.

If middle-age (bordering on older middle age) is not scary enough, suddenly we are responsible for everyone. High school and college age kids, parents with failing health and confusion, and spouses who also need some attention and time from us. We begin to feel squeezed  by the constancy of it all, and a day spent in bed seems like a storybook option-something we do not allow ourselves very often, because there is much to be done, and we certainly believe that it all has to be done by us.

One day I realized that if something happened to me, the whole puzzle would fall apart. Everything would break down, if I did. (Talk about pressure.) But of course, for me to break down would be selfish, and self-centered, wouldn’t it? How scary have things gotten when a breakdown sounds like a way of escape? Let’s don’t go there…

I got a call today from a social worker at the nursing home where my mom is receiving rehab. We are scheduled for yet another of their famous “care plan” meetings, where everyone sits around a large table, and feels intimidated by the people staring back at us. Their decisions are sometimes made with abject callousness, because after all-it isn’t their  parent, and it isn’t their problem. The assessments are given, and the cold hard facts about how long the “inmate” does or doesn’t have to continue with therapy are calculated. (I have to wonder how much of that is based on what financial gain (or not) they will stand to receive.)

Last time, our meeting was very positive. The occupational therapist, the physical therapist, and the dietician all had a report about my mom. She passed with flying colors, except for a protein nutritional deficiency, and a problem with keeping a leg brace on, (that was way too big.) So big that it kept sliding off her leg. She was told at that time, that if she received a report from the doctor, that the leg and foot were mending, and that she no longer needed the leg brace and orthopedic shoe, then they could keep her about a week longer, for additional instruction in regaining a more normal gait, and a little help with balance issues. She would be home in a week or so–two at the very most.

But then that very  weekend, she fell on her way to the bathroom one night, and broke her hip. I got the fateful call at 4:30 in the morning, and things changed dramatically.

Now they are saying that she is having some mental issues-she “goes in and out” according to the nurse’s assistants. While I know that previously (before these falls), she had some memory loss and confusion, it was minor and manageable. (Now I am not so sure.) I live in fear daily of what I will find when I go to visit. (Some days she is as clear as a bell, and others she isn’t.)

I am sure that I have been in denial to some degree. I have been sure that it was the anesthesia, or the trauma of the surgery, or the morphine, or the daily cocktail and combination of drugs that she takes, with new culprits thrown into the mix lately. There is also the different surroundings, and the complete change in her daily routine to consider. (And the cutting of her Oxycontin dosage in half, while adding Loritab.) Maybe it’s denial, or maybe it’s hanging onto a hope that keeps me going. I am not sure anymore if she will go home, or if she should. I know that will be the plan, but everything has changed now…everything. I no longer feel that she is walking on the precarious tightrope that she once was. I feel that she has taken an almost fatal fall, and there was no safety net. But she still wants to get on the wire again. (I guess we all would. Because not to, would mean the loss of everything.)

Of course, her safety is of supreme importance, but her happiness is no minor issue. We can house people, keep them alive, and imprison them in homes, and for the most part they will be safer (though not completely so, for my mom broke her hip, while in the nursing home.) There are no rails on the bed there, and sometimes in her confusion (combined with her stubbornness) she tries to get up, and threatens to walk to the bathroom, forgetting that she can’t right now, and not realizing that she is not likely to survive one more fall. (Neither am I for that matter.)

I am the one who listened to her scream for 6 hours in agony in the ER. I am the one who saw her throw up in the elevator from pain, morphine and the motion of the gurney. I am the one who listened intently, while the anesthesiologists insisted on recounting in detail (in her presence) why she may not survive her surgery, and all the complications that could occur. I am the one who had to listen to her question why there were bugs on the wall, as she hallucinated, on her first night back in the nursing home. Was it the anesthesia? The morphine? The trauma of her injury, pain, and surgery? I don’t know…but I do know that it scared the heck out of me. She yelled at everyone in her frustration and confusion, and accused me of not coming when she called. But it wasn’t that that brought me to tears.

It was this Sunday, when she wet her clothing, and thought that her roommate had done it. It was when I had to listen to the CNA tell me that she was getting worse mentally, and that they would once again have the psychiatrist examine her on Wednesday. It was the grieving for all that she has lost, and all that I have. It was just because.

Now I try to balance protecting her, with keeping her informed about her care. We have been told that at this point, she is receiving coverage from her Medicare, but because of the length of her stay, her supplemental insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield) is no longer in effect, and that she is incurring a daily personal cost of $128.00 dollars a day. (I nearly fell out of bed the day I got that message.) But I decided not to tell her for now. It could only make her feel worse, and there is no way we could pay that. No way. The only asset she has is her house, and they can’t take the homestead. You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.

So I’m wondering how all these factors will affect her “care plan” meeting. Right now she can’t even take a step. All of her therapy is done from her wheelchair or another chair, and she is not even on her feet at this point. (There is no way she can go home at this time.) But I never know what they will say or do next. I never thought they would send her home from the hospital after she had pneumonia either. She had not even come near to finishing her therapy for her broken leg and foot, and the doctor told her she could go home. (Not back to the nursing home…home to her house.) How ridiculous was that? The physical therapist said that she was sure to fall and hurt herself badly, if she put full weight on her broken leg. We had to have an all out war with her, to get her to consent to go back. The doctor said that as long as she was considered competent, he could not force her to go back for the therapy. (I felt like saying-then you take her home, and be responsible for what happens if she falls.) Finally, she agreed to go back, and finish her physical therapy, and the rest is history. A few days before being released (rightfully), she fell and broke her hip. And the beat goes on…

Tonight Rob and I went to her house, and cleaned out the refrigerator. (You don’t want to know the “science projects” that awaited us, after her 2 month absence.) It was one of the things that got lost in the urgency of the crisis of the moment. We also got rid of the flour in the pantry, old cereal, and stale crackers and cookies.

Somehow, it made me feel sad and sick. Just being there-in her house-without her, seemed so wrong. I smelled her scent when I walked in her bedroom. I saw the family room where she watched TV, and it’s dark, and all the medicine bottles have been abandoned, along with her insulin pens and charts.

I cried on the way home. They were inner tears this time, where you feel the pain in your heart, but they don’t run down your face. I know that she will probably return to her home, but I don’t know how much longer she can stay there, or how much longer I can carry the weight of it all.  And it is the not knowing, that adds to the heartache. But as long as I’m alive, she will never be alone, and I’ll stand by her-protecting and comforting her…

How much can a heart break until it can’t break anymore? How much sorrow can a person endure until they are numb? Apparently, I haven’t reached that place yet, as I am still crying. I have been strong beyond my ability. (Mainly because it wasn’t my ability, but the Lord’s, that has brought me this far.) Can I trust Him to carry me further still?

There have been no mountaintop experiences in my life for a long time-just valleys that seem to never end. They say that it’s in the valleys that you develop character. (Whoever they are.) I wonder how much pain they have survived, to know such a thing, though I do believe it’s true.  I must be full of character by now, and I’m so ready to cry “uncle.” (It’s an expression for saying “I give up–enough’s enough.”)

But how much is enough? How hot does the fire get, before you run screaming out of it (or worse, are consumed by it?) How lonely do you have to feel, before someone hugs you tightly and says, “It will be okay.”  (Even if you know it won’t.) How invisible (in your pain) do you have to become, before you completely disappear?

Tonight there is another break in my heart, or perhaps it has shattered like broken glass, in a million pieces. (But I suspect there is still more to break.)

I went to the nursing home this evening, and I found my mom sitting on her bed, eating her dinner. She looked very exhausted and tired. There was a strong odor of urine in the room, though I didn’t mention it.

I had tried to call her all day the day before, but had not been able to reach her. I was not able to visit yesterday, as I was not feeling well.  And I had tried all day today as well. (I go at least every other day. Sometimes every day, when I am able.) After calling and calling, I realized that she could no longer figure out how to answer the phone. My brother had left a cell phone for her, and had painted green where the “answer” button was, and red where the “hang up” button was, but the paint or marker had worn off.  So now, she would fumble with the buttons, completely frustrated, trying to answer, with no success. And I would begin to worry when I couldn’t reach her.

This nursing home does not have a phone by the bed, so if you want to reach the outside world, or talk to your loved one, you have to have a cell phone. Cell phones are extremely difficult for the elderly, (and even sometimes for the not so elderly.)

(I have to back up a little to tell the story.) My mom had a fabulous roommate until Saturday. Sophie went home on Saturday morning. It was a very sad time for her and my mom, as they had grown to love each other. They were allies against the nursing home world, and together they could overcome almost every obstacle or trauma. Truly it was a lovely friendship–one made in heaven. On the day she left, my mom requested that Sophie play her German music one more time. My mom had become very fond of it.

Sophie always provided atmosphere in the room. On certain nights, you would think you were in a 5-Star Hotel. Sophie even had a fish, swimming in a serene aquarium, and at night before bedtime, she would dim the lights and play beautiful classical music, or her German songs. (She was from Germany, and had a lovely accent.) It was a charming atmosphere for a nursing home room, while Sophie was there.

Just outside the window, Sophie’s daughters would fill the feeders with bird seed, and the birds would quickly eat all of it in a couple of days. It kept my mom and Sophie entertained, watching the birds that flew in daily.

On the same day that Sophie left, Addie arrived. Addie is a large, very confused, and aggressive woman. It was a total culture shock after sweet, precious soft-spoken Sophie. Addie immediately wanted the blinds closed. She could not figure out why she was there, and she cursed under her breath every moment. When I would try to visit my mom, I would often pull the curtain, so that we could talk in peace, but Addie would pull it back abruptly, without warning. She ordered me around, and I did numerous tasks for her, and she kept asking where the remote for the TV was. Sadly, I had to tell her, that they had said that the maintenance man would bring one–but he never did. Not in weeks. (This has really been hard on my mom, who has a broken hip, and can’t get out of bed to change the channel.) Since her eyesight has grown worse, it doesn’t leave anything for her to do, but lie in bed. She tries to read the paper, or a magazine now and then, but she can’t see well enough anymore, to read for very long.

Addie must have asked 20 times in 30 minutes, about the remote control. Then she wanted to know a million other things…over, and over, and over again. I was nearly crazy, so I know my mom was. She has to live with this 24/7. Even in the night, Addie will curse and say, “I can’t wait to get out of this hell hole. Or, “Oh, God.” (ETC.)

My mom had broken her right foot and her left leg, and had received therapy, and was about to go home, when she fell one night, on her way to the bathroom, and broke her hip. Now, after a painful surgery, she is once again on another regimen of physical therapy, and this time it is very painful, and even more difficult. In order to get through it, she has to have her rest.

Day after day, we all answered Addie’s questions, even though we grew increasingly more frustrated.  Finally last Sunday, we decided to complain. My favorite nurse (a male) was filling in on my mom’s hall on Sunday afternoon. He usually works on the other hall. When I arrived, much to my surprise, my mom was in her wheelchair, putting on lipstick (something she has not done in weeks), preparing to go to complain with us. (I thought this was very brave.)

I told the nurse very politely, that the lady was driving my mom crazy, and that I felt she wasn’t getting any rest. He said that he would submit a complaint, and for me to check back. On Wednesday, I went back and asked him if he’d heard anything, and he said that they would never tell him anything, bu that they would contact us. I told him that I had not heard a word.

The CNA, who often works with my mom, agreed that Addie was driving everyone crazy, and said that my mom had finally gotten her told a few times. (I guess in her frustration, she couldn’t take anymore.) The male nurse said that he and the CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) would file another complaint. He then told me to check with a nurse (I’ll leave out her name to protect the innocent) who would be working on Friday from 2 p.m. through the entire night. He indicated that if I complained again to her, that should take care of it.

So that brings us back to this evening (Friday.) As I said, I walked in and my mom was sitting on the side of the bed, finishing her dinner. She told me that Addie had put on her (my mom’s) clothes, had wet them, and put them in a bag in her wheelchair. (So that explained the horrible smell when I walked in.) My nose led me to the bag.

By this time, I’d had it! I was glad that we had come to complain again. This was just too much.  (Addie was in the dining hall at this time.) When the nurse came in, we explained what had transpired all through the week, as well as what I had just found.  

She said, “You mean that Addie is putting on your mom’s clothes, and then wetting them?” I answered, “That’s what she said, and you can smell the urine.” She agreed, and offered to wash the clothes, as I cleaned my mom’s wheelchair, and Rob gathered up the rest of her clothes to take home and wash. (But none of us could understand how Addie could possibly fit in my mom’s clothes.)

The nurse left the room, and I put away some gowns and clothes that I had brought for my mom. I finished cleaning her wheelchair with antibacterial wipes, and also cleaned her bedside tray. About this time, the nurse returned and asked to see me outside.

She and the CNA were waiting by the entrance, and the CNA proceeded to tell me that my mom had wet the clothes. (This took a moment to process.) “I’m so sorry”, I apologized. “I believed what my mom told me, as she is not one to lie, and she seemed so sure about what had happened.”

We still agreed, however, that regardless of who wet the clothes, Addie was still a problem, and the nurse agreed to file another complaint.

The CNA told me that my mom was getting worse mentally. She said, “She’s in and out.” I told her and the nurse, that my mom had been a brilliant woman all her life, and had lived completely independently until now. I assured them that while she did have a little confusion and some minor temporary memory problems now and then, that she had never experienced the kind of confusion she was now experiencing, after the surgery. I also told them that for the earlier part of this week, she seemed completely clear to me, except for one or two remarks that made no sense.

They said that they would be having her evaluated by the psychiatrist on Wednesday. I asked if I would be told what the evaluation was, and the nurse said that I should call the unit nurse early Wednesday morning, (early being before 7:00 a.m. when the psychiatrist would come) and tell her I would like to speak with the doctor. (More runaround probably. I won’t hold my breath, that I will actually learn anything, but we’ll see.)

Rob and I had been on our way to dinner, on this Friday evening, but things had gotten so complicated that we weren’t able to go. When I got back into my mom’s room, she asked if she could get in her wheelchair, so that we could go for a little walk. (I could not say no–dinner or no dinner for us. I just could not leave her right now.) So I said that would be fine, and called for the CNA to transfer her to the wheelchair, as she can’t stand right now, and it is a tedious process of moving her legs and body in a certain way, to get into the chair.

I went out into the hallway to wait. I found a corner nook, sat down with Rob, and began to cry. It was just too much. I was still trying to process what I had just been told, and the sadness of it all.  The tears were streaming down my face so much, that I had to go to a nearby restroom and get some tissue.

In a few minutes, my mom was wheeled out into the hall, and I tried to hide my tears, though she noticed I was sniffling, and asked if I had a cold.  (I do–a 3 week cold, so that was no lie.)

I apologized to Rob about dinner, and asked if he wanted to go eat alone, or do some errands. He said he would call his mom, while we walked. (His mom is in Assisted Living in Central Florida.)

So Betty and I escaped (at least for a moment.) I took her through the double doors that led to the atrium, where the privileged lived. It was a large open area in the Senior Living residence area. We had visited it before, to see how the “other half” lived. What a contrast between the nursing home, that was tucked away in the back of the building, and the affluence of those who lived in the retirement apartments.

We had a very good time. I told her that we were going to run away. We laughed about that, and wished we could. An elderly woman waved to us from her window that overlooked the atrium, and we waved back. We looked at the bowling area, the pool table, the puzzle area (where 3 dimensional castles had been built, as well as what appeared to be the London Bridge.) We wheeled right up to the fancy dining hall, and then right into it. The lights were dimmed for the evening, and there was only one worker in the back, who seemed to ignore us.

“Wouldn’t you like to eat in a place like this every night?”, my mom asked. (It was a far cry from the nursing home residents’ dining area.)

Then we found the pool. I had always smelled chlorine in the atrium, but never saw a pool. Finally, I reasoned that perhaps they didn’t have one, since the whole place was senior citizens, and maybe it would not be safe. But we found it, just off the dining hall. It was a very small rectangular shaped pool for swimming laps, or doing aquacize.

The sun was still up, so I wheeled my mom outside into the fresh air–something she has not experienced much of since mid June. We walked completely around the building, a very nice long distance, and then back into the front entrance of the apartments. Sadly, we made our way back to her room, but we were happy with the nice walk we’d had, and I made a mental note that I could take her to the atrium sometimes, and we could have our snack there. (I don’t think the people at the retirement apartments would care, and it would be a nice change of scene.)

Once back in the room, she wanted a soda and some crackers, so we sat together at the foot of her bed, and ate peanut butter and cheese crackers. I bring lots of snacks for her, as she has lost 30 pounds since coming to the nursing home (and she is always giving them away to her favorite helpers.) Hey, it doesn’t hurt to bribe the best ones.

So finally, at 8:45 p.m. we said good night, and I kissed her goodbye.

Rob and I decided to go ahead and eat out, and enjoyed a nice dinner (at 9:00 p.m.) and then on the way home, my cell phone rang. (I believe she said it was the nursing home Director Of Nursing.) She was very brash, harsh, and overbearing. She said, “My nurse told me you were upset.” I explained to her that I was no longer upset, but that we did have a problem with my mom’s roommate. She told me that there were only 2 “female beds” available, and they expected a lady to return from the hospital to one, and that the other one was in a room with a lady that sometimes “cried out.” I tried to explain to her that we didn’t want to move my mom, as she had the best room in the nursing home, with a view of the golf course, and lots of bird feeders outside her window. (She said that she could not move the other lady without her family’s permission. And that she (Addie) had previously been in the room with the lady that called out, and her (Addie’s) family had asked for her to be moved.)

At a complete loss, I asked her to please not move my mom to either of those rooms, as she was happy with her bed by the window, (it was just that the other lady was driving her crazy.) This woman was not compassionate or kind. She would not let me say a word, and I finally gave up in total exasperation, (deciding that maybe the devil we knew, was better than the one we didn’t know.)

I asked if Addie was due to go home anytime soon, and she said perhaps in a week. So that was that. I slammed my cell phone shut. So this was the culmination of all those complaints, trying to follow nursing home protocol. I was in the van, and the tears began to fall again. Tonight I was finding the world just too cruel, and even though I have been extemely strong through all this, there are those days when it’s just too hard. And so I cry, and for a moment, I let myself experience the horrible reality that has become my life. (And most importantly, my mom’s life.) And then I dry my tears, bandage my breaking heart, and go on, afraid to even think about more than the next few hours…