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Showing posts with label nursing home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nursing home. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Moving Day

We were told they would be transferring my MIL at 11:30 this morning, so Ali and I went over after breakfast to visit. MIL loves to have Ali read to her from her Bible, so Ali brought it with her. MIL was quite confused today... Thank God for onion rings!

Yesterday evening, when FIL was going back to see her, I suggested he take her some onion rings. She is a very picky eater and wasn't liking much of the hospital food. He stopped by our local Perkins and the waiter piled a truckload into a box for him. (In our small town, Perkins' employees are like family to us.) When Ali and I arrived, MIL told us all about how FIL had met her in Vicco last night and they had onion rings. Vicco is a town in Kentucky near where she grew up. She was really mad at him for not showing up for their wedding later, but at least he took her out for onion rings!

Ali was a little anxious over MIL's weird rantings, but I explained to her about strong medicine and how it can affect the mind. MIL keeps thinking that FIL is coming home on leave from the Army (He was in the Navy.) and they are going to get married. She told me that when she went home last night, he didn't show up! She was very upset with him for leaving her. I assured her that she was still in the hospital and that he had been there every day.

The facility she is going to is one where another family member had been. She remembered it and said it was very nice. I explained to her that her back was broken but that the hospital couldn't keep her there. She seemed OK with the idea, but then in the next sentence, she would be angry with him for deserting her at the alter...

How do you give comfort to someone that can't remember from one sentence to the next? If she can't remember she's in a hospital with a broken back, how can she remember that he has been there to visit her every day?

Hubby and FIL went on to Fairborn to help her settle in... It will be a long day.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Old Mares

Sitting here to cool down, my mind wanders... My thoughts drift back and forth from my old mare in the pasture to my MIL. I see the parallel in their lives and yet there is an amazing contrast. (You can find the story of my old mare on my blahwg! blog.)

My thoroughbred is very old in horsey years. She is still very active and a great trail horse. She is trim and fit and has energy to boot! All indications are that she will be that rare horse out on the trails in her late 30's. That is comparable to the seniors you hear about on the news: 116 years old and bowled a perfect game!

I watched my mare trot out into the front pasture, her legs moving gracefully with full motion. There was no sign of stiffness. Her stride is as elegant as it was in her youth.

My MIL however, is not in great shape for her years. She is only 78. Rheumatoid arthritis and the accompanying medications have robbed her of ability to lead a normal life. The joints in her body that have not already been replaced have deteriorated to the point where their function is greatly limited. Her legs no longer support her. Her knees buckle in toward one another. It took great effort for her to pivot from her hospital bed to her lift chair. Now she cannot even do that.

My mare is enjoying her golden years. She is able to keep up with my other horses and has already bonded with them. They move together as a herd. I worried that they may take advantage of her age. I wonder what life in a few years will be for her. Caring for an aging horse can be a job. She already has special dietary needs, especially during the winter. There will come a time when she is not expected to do anything other than graze. Trail rides will be a distant memory. Her retirement home is a lush pasture with loyal friends. That is where she will spend her remaining years, months or days...

Today might be the day that MIL moves into a nursing home. We're waiting on Medicaid approval. She is not happy about it. Her mind is not what it once was, so she feels that we don't want to be bothered with her and are glad she is going. We love her and want her to be safe and have proper care. But I worry... Will the staff treat her well? Will they make sure she gets the proper nourishment? Will she be lonely, or will she make friends that will spend time with her?

Maggie is quite content in her field of horsey dreams. Someday MIL will run through a pasture too...

Golden Years My Ass!

If you've followed this blog, you know things have been pretty tough for my mother and father-in-law. It hasn't gotten easier...

She's had a lot of bruises lately from plopping down to hard in her chair or on the bed. Her legs just don't support her anymore and she's too heavy for us to hold up. A while back, she almost fell but my FIL pushed her toward the bed and she landed on the mattress. Still, with her brittle bones, a bed could cause damage. She had been complaining about her back hurting since she twisted it in bed one night. It appeared to be muscle spasms.

Early last week, when no one was in the room, she tried to get up on her own and fell... again. We called the non-emergency number for the ambulance crew to come pick her up and get her back in bed. She insisted she was not hurt. But, after a couple of days, her back was giving her so much pain, we took her to the ER to have it checked. That was Thursday. They didn't see anything on the X-rays, but decided to keep her for observation. Over the holiday weekend, MRI's revealed she has a cracked vertebra. She is not a candidate for surgery of any kind!

My FIL was worried. He asked Hubby, "How are we going to get her back in bed? We can't handle her like this..." He began to see that the time had come... the thing he dreaded most in all the world.

Hubby's sister and brother came over tonight to discuss the situation. The hospital will release her tomorrow. She cannot stand. She cannot sit. Is she coming home? No one wanted to say the words. The brother's wife handles their medical stuff (POA) because it's her profession. She stated that she was not going to make the decision for them. She asked them what they wanted to do. She asked them over and over. FIL and his kids mumbled about how we just can't take care of her this way. They agreed it was no longer safe for her here. Everyone agreed about everything, but still... no one would say the words.

If it isn't sad enough to have a family gather together for this conversation, the remaining conversation should never have to take place...

Tomorrow, SIL will be in touch with the nursing facility and the hospital advocate trying to get MIL prequalified for Medicaid. The general feeling is that she should qualify. We won't know though until tomorrow. If she doesn't qualify, she will come home, broken vertebra and all, and we will do our best to take care of her. I pray to God that we can.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Suicide Watch

Sorry to title this post so morbidly, but that's on my heart tonight. This blog started as random opinions, sermons, thoughts, oddball items... Whatever didn't fit on the other two, went here. Now it's leading me down this road - diary of a caretaker, no-opinion counting, D-i-L. Maybe it will help someone reading to know that they are not alone if facing similar circumstances.

If you've no desire to learn what a child caring for a parent has to face, or do not wish to read intimate details of care (not too deeply intimate), then click the x in the corner. If you want to read on, but need a little background, scroll back to some recent posts.

My in-laws have lived with us for six years. It hasn't been easy, but it has had its rewards. However, the days are growing long and the rewards are farther between. Decompressing is a word that has now become important to me. It's hard to sneak a night out and not talk about appointments and medications.

We've been on a roller coaster ride this week with concern over caring for my MiL. She is now bedridden, although probably temporarily, and I can't even get her on the pot alone. Today, with FiL's help I managed, but barely got her back on the bed. To make the process as easy on her and us as possible, I have had to put her in adult diapers and leave her PJ bottoms off. It's just too hard to move her and pull everything back up. She is large and can't even roll herself. I've strained myself a few times recently trying to care for her.

She is a very proud woman and this has been extremely hard for her to take. To make matters worse, her mind is not rational. Too much illness and medications has taken a great toll on her reasoning and memory. This results in a million explanations and arguments over her PJs. FiL cannot stand to argue. He pleads with her to understand. She nags and insists that he do as she says. He begs. She nags. He tells her he can't. She tells him to do it anyway.

Three times tonight I had to go into their room and save him. They love each other too deeply to be angry. She has a temper - always has. She would never intentionally hurt him, but she doesn't understand. He has a back back, a hernia, is on three blood-thinners, and is in his eighties. And she doesn't want anyone else to do it.

F-i-L has stated that if we don't let them stay here, he will move somewhere else with her. He refuses to put her in a nursing home. In a recent post, I revealed our family's fear of a murder-suicide outcome if they were to live alone. I know that as long as they remain here, he will not do that... if only for the reason that his son could no longer live his dream on a farm.

That has not put my mind at peace. Three times tonight I listened to him tell her, during these PJ arguments, "Mommy, (Hubby - don't ever call me that!) if you don't stop I'm gonna take a walk out into the woods and be done with it!" He made a reference to something on the floor by his bed.

This is a man who has carried a gun his whole life. As a boy, he hunted around the coal-mining camps of Eastern Kentucky. He protects his loved ones with a steel sentinel waiting dutifully in the corner. Hubby can count on Dad to keep the varmints at bay. He spends hours upon hours on the lookout over the tree-lines, daring that groundhog to threaten the tractor wheels. His guns are a part of him as much as the razor-sharp pocket knife and jam-packed key ring.

So while you folks ponder whether it's possibly time to tell Dad he shouldn't drive, we're pondering over the arsenal.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

'Til death do we part...

I would like to introduce my in-laws.
This is their wedding photo from 1945. They live here with us. When today began, everyone was sure her days here were numbered. It was time to move her. Her care has been very difficult and it's become more than I can do. Hubby's brother and sister both now see the challenges we face. My biggest fear is injuring her. She has fragile joints and is six-feet, over two-hundred pounds. I am five-foot-five and shrinking. I can no longer support her weight to walk her to the bathroom or get her from the chair to the bed. I pulled something yesterday. Hubby told me not to feel guilty. I've cared for her for six years now and I've done my best.

Plans turned around quickly. They have been together for too long now. Even though he cannot bear to see her this way, he cannot bear to be apart from her. If we don't keep them here, he will move somewhere alone with her. Of course he's not able to care for her. That's just the tip of our fear...

Each of them have lost more than one immediate family member to suicide. Her brother, his sister, facing cancer... You get the picture. They are Christians and believe that God may not forgive them if they did such a thing. But before that, he made statements many times that, "When I can't take care of your mommy anymore..." And he meant it.

Life on the Funny Farm... is not funny.

Today has been an emotional roller coaster in the parent/child relationship department. Thank goodness I had a bit of strength return. I zapped the supply today!

After a slow morning, blogging, resting, watching the storm pass, I had to take my mom to her cardiologists. I'm in the kitchen, watching the clock, when I hear what sounds a little worrisome. M-i-L's aide was here for bath time. I didn't take the time to knock. "Do you guys need me in here?" I asked, as I pushed the bedroom door open.

There is M-i-L, F-i-L and aide, group-hugging in front of the dresser. I run to the group and try to help M-i-L to stand straight. Been there before. "Where's her belt?" Hidden in a bag. "I learned a long time ago that weight goes down easier than up. Let's just roll her down gently to the floor and I'll call the non-emergency number and get the gusto guys out here to pick her up." Everyone is in agreement.

It was a very gentle sit. No bleeding head this time, no broken bones. Knees bent farther than they probably should have. Clock is still ticking. The gusto guys remember her. She seems to be OK, so me and the twosome get her back into her lift chair, while the aide guides all the attachments. Not a day to walk. The bath will be in the chair. I am assured by the aide that I can leave. We hug and I do.

Mom's cardio is just a check-up and she passed. Then on to Urgent Care. PCP's on vacation and she has a little infection thing going on. So, might as well take care of it all in one trip. Two hours plus later, I'm dropping her off at her apartment and head to the drugstore where I tell them I'll be back later.

I've got to eat soon according to Rae's Weather Vane;) Phone calls come in while I'm heating up a left-over sub. As I talk and prepare, I notice F-i-L loitering in the hall. "Do you need me?" Yes. M-i-L needs to... well, you know. "I'll call you back..."

"Belt is on, OK, let's roll this thing up." Now things are going down. Hubby is gone, (probably wouldn't have made much difference) and the two of us can't get her switched over. She towers over me and is not thin. He is in his eighties.

So now I've got to convince her that what happens in that chair, happens. We're sitting down until help arrives. I start making calls. Finally B-i-L can be here in twenty.

This is his first time. Never before have I had to call upon him to do care-taking responsibilities for his mother. I know it had to have been hard. The role reversal was hard for me too with my mom. But he's a trooper. I tell him we have to hug her into bed where we can strip her from the waist down and replace her pretty silky things with more appropriate attire until this too shall pass. It's the only way we can keep her comfortable and clean until she can stand again. Maybe tomorrow. Her husband of over sixty years is not handling this well. She is a prideful woman. I have to remind her that until she can put down the pride, we cannot do the ministry God has for us here. We don't see her flesh. We see Mother.

This ordeal was quite a workout. The silky jams and sheets help to adjust her position, and finally she is properly protected and positioned in her hospital bed.

Later, after the morphine kicks in and she is resting, she looks at me with those eyes that no longer can produce tears, but redden all the same...

Her safety and comfort come top on my list. Her bones pull apart easily. Last years three-surgeries-in-a-row still haunt us.

When Hubby gets home, I fill him in on this evening's events. He is afraid that it is time. His father feels that way too. Maybe tomorrow she will walk. We'll see. But if she can't?

I don't know about the tears... I couldn't see through mine. But Hubby's eyes reddened all the same. And I'll get to the drugstore in the morning.