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It was Friday-the day that my mom would be leaving the nursing home, after 4 1/2 months. She had entered when she broke her right foot, and left leg. She did her rehab, and was just about to go home (her home) when she fell and broke her right hip. Then she needed surgery that time, and she has never been the same mentally or physically.

She was so excited that it was the day she would be getting out of the facility to go to assisted living, that she started calling me very early, wondering where we were. I was exhausted, as I had been working for days and days on the necessary paperwork for her admittance to the assisted living. I had stayed up an ENTIRE night working on her medication list, and was so exhausted that I couldn’t make it to the necessary doctor appointment. (My husband had to take her.) We were both beyond collapse.

So I woke to my cell phone ringing (twice in a row) that morning, as I tried to grab just a little more sleep. Rob had told her that it would be 3:30 before we could get everything done and pick her up, but she had forgotten. Forgotten that I have to sleep sometime. Forgotten that my husband is a busy lawyer, and this was a workday. She had just forgotten that there was anything going on, except getting out of the place she hated. Really, the care was good, and while there were some frustrating things about the place, it was far better than I ever imagined a nursing home would be. (And far better than any in our immediate area, from what I have heard through the grapevine.)

When Rob arrived the night before, to start packing up her things, she had just gone low. She is an insulin dependent diabetic, and her blood sugar went down to 32. Wouldn’t you know it? (The night before she left.) Apparently the student nurse had never experienced this in reality (only from a textbook.) She asked Rob if it happened often, and he said it happened often enough to scare us to death, when she lived alone. (Seems like it happened the most when I was around–actually something to be thankful for, though it didn’t seem that way at the time.)

I can remember pouring 3 full glasses of orange juice down her at times, before she would begin to come around. It seemed like it would never take effect. The diabetes specialist told us to keep the glucose tablets nearby at all times, but they don’t even phase my mom. I truly believe she could eat half a bottle, and not recover properly. So OJ is the only thing that really works, and that not quickly enough for my anxious heart.

My mom will start laughing at first, and acting as though she is drunk. This makes it very difficult to get the juice down her properly. Then she will sometimes become combative, and refuse to drink the orange juice. (That’s also a LOT of fun.)

Finally she recovered, ate something, and fell fast asleep, while Rob packed her belongings. (I was at the assisted living apartment, making her bed, and seeing to it that she had what she needed, to stay in her temporary room for about a week, until her permanent one became available.) Rob joined me there later, and we worked until pretty late, and then fell into the bed.

She called me at least twice, saying that she was “chafing at the bit to get out”. But we weren’t able to get her out, until the paperwork was completed.

Rob arrived first to finish the small amount of packing that was left, and I was close behind. However, before I could leave, he called and said that he needed to bring me up to date on what had happened.

“Is it bad?” I asked, weary from all the crisis events.

“Pretty bad,” he answered.

“Let me call you on the way, so I won’t be any later.” I suggested.

I called him from the car, with the cell on the speaker phone, and he told me that my mom had fallen.

“Oh my God!” was all I could utter. Then, “Is she hurt?”

Turns out that the staff had examined her to the best of their ability, and it seemed that nothing was broken, though it also seemed that way the night I examined her, and she woke up the next morning and couldn’t walk, because she had broken her foot and leg. (Don’t ever let someone tell you that if a person walks on a hurt leg or foot–it’s not broken. The ER nurse pulled that on us, and I somehow suspected that she was totally wrong. Another theory bites the dust…)

At any rate, they called the nursing home doctor, and she said if Betty seemed okay, to let her go. Rob and I were angry with her, because when she fell, she was not using her walker (as usual.) She was busy fooling around her cabinets, and not holding on to it–and down she went, just like the last time that she was about to be released.

She was angry that the nurse had told Rob about the fall, and we were arguing in the hallway. This was not the sort of happy leaving the nursing home day that I had anticipated for her. She declared boldly that she was not going to have her walker attached to her every minute. I told her then she would likely end up in the nursing home for the rest of her life, if she broke something again. She said, “Not here. I’m never coming back here.”

“Where will you go?” I asked, exasperated. I tried to end this “middle of the hall showdown”, and took her to the car.

We got through that crisis, got her settled after another long night of unpacking her things, said our good-byes, and collapsed at home again. The next day in the late afternoon, we had to return a long distance urgent call from Chelsea’s grandmother (on her birth mother’s side) in England. Tune in later–that is ANOTHER wild story!

So after listening to her talk for about 2 hours, we headed over to the assisted living. When we arrived, we realized that we did not yet have an extra key for the temporary room. We hesitated to call out, as we had told her NOT to try to answer the door, when the staff knocked, as they all had pass keys. They would first knock, and then let themselves in. (One of my greatest fears was that she would feel that she had to go to the door each time they knocked, and would end up falling trying to get there too fast.)

Apparently, that is exactly what happened. As we called out to her from the hallway, she finally admitted that she was on the floor by the door. We ran to get the nurse, who brought the pass key and found her sitting on the floor. She was dazed, talking about being in bed, and telling her daddy that someone was at the door. She indicated that there were a lot of people in the bed, and wanted to know if they were still there. Then she added, “But Daddy’s dead!” My heart sunk. (What was happening?)

“Do you think she’s going low?” I asked the nurse. She then took her blood sugar, and it was high–in the 200s.

Betty explained that she had been asleep in a chair near the door-(she thought.) (Rob spotted her walker on the other side of the room, by the bed. This meant that she had walked across the room to the chair without her walker.) So it wasn’t near the chair when she awoke from a sound sleep, and heard the knock on the door. She apparently was experiencing dreaming and confusion (upon waking) and just walked over to the door (without the walker) and fell. (This is strange, because the workers are supposed to open the door and check on her every 2 hours–not just call out to her.) They said that she wasn’t in her room earlier when they checked. She said that she had not left her room since returning from supper, so we may never know the whole story! Something doesn’t add up for sure.

Imagine our dismay and fear. They chart all falls, and if she is fortunate enough not to break something again, after a couple of more falls, she will automatically enter the next care level, which could add as much as $500 (or more) to her monthly bill. (We will run out of money quickly at that rate.) So let’s see, that’s 2 falls in 3 days, but since one was at the nursing home, she only has one strike against her at the assisted living. (But her poor body doesn’t know this.)

The nurse told her to use her walker. We also suggested that she sit in her wheelchair for now (when she wasn’t in bed), and that way if she fell asleep, and felt like she needed to answer the door (which she doesn’t, but sometimes forgets) then she could roll over there in the chair, instead of walking.

She is very resistant to using her walker consistently, and after all she’s been through, I can’t believe that she would be so rebellious about something that could be the deciding factor, about whether she will spend the rest of her life in a nursing home. I cannot make her understand this, because she doesn’t want to understand it. (I will tell you more about this tomorrow.) For now, I am at my wits end with her, as she refuses to listen and comply. She’s clearly a rebel at heart…

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One Comment

  1. Lonette,
    I hope all has been quiet since you last wrote for this post. If it hasn’t been then I wonder what next! Lonette, You Mother is probably so adamant about all this because you have quietly endured and she knows you won’t do much. Seriously, think about it–why else wouldn’t she listen to you? Is their a sister or a brother of hers that could be stronger than her and speak to her, or is there a clergy of some other person she respects so she would be quiet, listen and do what they want? Let me see who else could do this?

    This is a hard choice, but you could make her listen if you make up your mind to not be manipulated by her. You won’t be able to cry, or not be logical, or you definately can’t be nice Could you? You need to set a precedent with her and that is Lonnette is boss… questions asked, no complaining. She needs to know what you say is so strong that she better not stray.

    I had to do this a couple of times and it just makes you want to go the the bathroom –well you know what. My incident lasted about 3/4 of the day and then I was told I was right and the choice was right.

    It feels like it will never come together doesn’t it, but I promise it will soon.

    I think this is very hard on you but I think you care a lot. Remember that, you must be strong and set the rules because you care.

    Lonette, I hope all is well and that everything is better than when you wrote and then please ignor what I wrote.!!

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