Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February is Almost Gone

Well, Spring is in the air and I've actually been able to get out and enjoy it.  I've been able to take some nice walks, which have been noticed by neighbors who were concerned that they had not seen me for a while.  The weather has been beautiful, although another polar vortex is due within a few days.  It should not be as cold as earlier and I'm hoping to be able to continue my walking. 

As you can see, Mother Nature is as confused as the rest of us!  The yellow jasmine is on my mailbox and the azaleas were on the golf course.  I also saw daffodils and red buds in bloom, but couldn't get close enough to photograph them.  This may be very premature, but I'm so happy to see that Spring is near!  I need the feeling of renewal that it always brings.

In the many hours I've spent bedside, I credit the iPad for my sanity!  With all that has happened over the last few years, I've found it almost impossible to have the focus to read a good book or do anything that requires prolonged concentration; however, there are so many things available online to maintain one's interest.  Two of my favorite discoveries follow:
  • Livestream App.....this offers live events/performances (front row seats, as events are happening).  I've enjoyed jazz from Lincoln Center (one of my faves!)---92Y, which are interviews with interesting/famous people from the 92nd Street YMCA in NYC ( our local synagogue charges for the series) ----TimesTalks, which are interviews with famous people by NY Times.---BooksandBooks, which has authors discussing their newest book.  There are symphony performances, lectures   I've really enjoyed what I've found, but I feel there are many things that I've not discovered.....the search feature isn't particularly user friendly.  All of these seem to be more low-key than major production pieces, as well as more in depth and am continuing to search.
  • The Writer's Almanac....this is a web site that you sign up to follow.  Each day you receive an email that begins with a poem, then gives a summary of a famous event that happened on this date, someone who was born on the date (with a little history), and so one....a lot of info in a short email.
I'm sure you've made equally enjoyable discoveries and I've love to hear about them!

On Saturday I treated myself to an afternoon in Savannah, Macy's to be exact.  I had been wanting to go in to take advantage of the white sale, but thought I'd missed it.  Then I received an email announcing ongoing sales; so, on the spur of the moment, I went in for a look around.  I actually found what I was looking for, at a great price.  I met a very nice saleslady, who found an additional 15% discount, which made my day.  I wasn't there nearly as long as I would have liked, but it was a good little jaunt.

 Before all of this happened with my mother (and after our Artist Uncorked class), I started an acrylic painting lesson online (YouTube).  It is absolutely amazing what you can learn online!  This is supposed to be a cherry and I'm 2/3s of the way through.  I hope to view the last instruction video this weekend and complete the project.  It you think it's an apple with a long stem, don't feel bad!  I thought the original photo looked more like an apple than a cherry, so I'd be surprised if I could get it to look like a cherry!!  This isn't anything I will ever be great at, but I'd be happy to just create something I like.....

Wednesday, February 26
Today is dark and rainy, which is fine.  My plans are to have lunch with Sharon, buy cat food on the way home, stop in for a brief visit with mama, and have the rest of the day at home.....sheer joy for a semi-recluse!  On the Mama front, she isn't rebounding as she usually does, and everything is so tied together - dementia, pain, anger, depression - that it is difficult to determine the major motivation for anything she does or doesn't do.  Since she has been mostly bed-bound, I've been going over at lunch and dinner to help with that.  Day before yesterday, she was uncooperative with the physical therapist, but he did get her to walk a bit and had left her in a wheel chair in the dining room.  Since she was there, I went with it and, lo and behold, she fed herself, no problem.  Lots of people stopped by to say they were happy to see her out and about, and she responded positively.  But, yesterday she was angry and wouldn't go to the dining room for I left and didn't go back for dinner.  She stayed in bed all weekend and wants to stay there most of the time, but the plan is now to get her up throughout the day, whether she likes it or not.....and I will not be going around meal times (or several times a day!).  She isn't going to like it.  It's not going to be pretty, and I've apologized to the staff in advance; but, it seems the only thing left to try. If nothing else, this plan gives me a little more personal time, for which I'm thankful.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Coming Up for Air...

Well, I'm having a day at home today and my only expectation is to do this post.  It's almost 11AM and I'm still in my PJs...and may remain that way unless I can think of a good reason to put on
Substitute "tired" for "busy"
something else.  

Mama was in the hospital until Thursday.  Because she was labeled as "combative" and "uncooperative", the rehab centers refused to take her.  So, she was sent back to Bloom!  Needless to say, I was beside myself, but she did seem to settle a bit once she was back.  Friday was a very bad day since lying on her back so long aggravated her scoliosis, a lifelong problem.  It got to the point that she never mentioned her hip, it was her back.  The pain meds from the hospital were not doing the trick and Bloom was hesitant to give anything stronger due to the possibility of falls.  Keep in mind that my mother doesn't have the strength at this point to push herself up to sit, so I don't think she will be standing alone for a while!  Both the Amedisys (home care service) nurse and therapist felt she needed to be in skilled nursing.  So on Friday I contacted Life Care myself and plead our case (Bloom wanted to know what Life Care could do that couldn't be done at Bloom and I said they could manage the pain!), referring them to the people at Amedisys, explaining her hospital stay, that she has dementia, and so on.  I finally got the ball rolling.  Then, when I came in on Saturday, my mother was sitting up in her recliner, talkative, eating well at all meals, taking meds....go figure, but this is typical of dementia.  You literally don't know what to expect from one day to the next.

Sunday was the reverse.  She kept her eyes closed most of the day, mumbled, not responsive, and reaching out with her hands like she was doing something....just in a world of her own.  Once I got the ball rolling with Life Care, the Bloom nurse prescribed a stronger pain med and I thought this behavior might be due to that.  Yesterday was more of the same, except she seemed more coherent but refused her meds, wouldn't eat, was combative, etc.  As I was trying to coax her to take her meds, she became angry and went into her same old routine, making me the source of all evil.  That actually clarified things for me a bit.  I didn't know whether to move her to Life Care because I couldn't tell whether she was in pain, whether it was the dementia or the fallout of the hospital experience. When she did her usual performance, I knew that part was to punish me and she was stronger than she appeared.  In her tirade, she invited me to leave....and I did.  I hung around until the social worker and therapist came. I stood outside her door to observe how she interacted with them.  She was a little testy but, overall, very workable.  Both were pleased with her effort and told me to go home and rest, which is what I did and am doing.  I think remaining at Bloom, where people and routines are familiar, will be best in the long run.  Her therapy may go slowly, depending on her and the dementia. We will just have to take it one day at a time

At this point, if things progress well, I plan to detach a bit, which is definitely easier said than done.  Tomorrow I hope to have lunch with Sharon and will stop by Bloom either before or after...but for a short time.  It is good to be there frequently, but I can check on things without her ever knowing I'm there.  Its already the middle of February and I haven't walked since the end of November.....and I can really tell the difference.  I'm going to try to get back into that.  My political groups are always an option, which I enjoy, as are outings with friends. Micheal's has some acrylic painting classes coming up which I'd like to take, and my neighbor and I have signed up for a one-day pottery painting class.  So, lots of options....just need to rest up to have the energy to do them.

Thanks to everyone who has been in touch, especially since there was little response from my end.  Over the last few years I've been living vicariously through you and it's always good to hear from you, especially your good thoughts and words of encouragement.  This catches you up a bit and I hope news will be more positive from here on out.  I also hope news is good in your corner of the world....let me know..  Love to all.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

It's Sunday and my mother remains in the hospital.  It has been another case of one step forward and two back.  The dementia adds a whole new dimension to it.  Every other day has been a bad day, which means progress is very slow.

She fell on Monday and on Wednesday she still could not move out of bed, even coughing would make her grab her side.  Before I went over on Wednesday, I called Amedisys, the home health people, and asked if they could send someone over to evaluate her.  Micheal, the therapist who has worked with her several times, came over, which was a great relief.  It didn't take him long to determine that she needed to be sent out again, so off we go to the ER again.  I Mae sure to get there before Mama in order to see that a lot of "efficient" but invasive procedues (that agitate people with dementia) were not done.  One our previous visit they had put an IV line in that was never used.  She will tolerate a little of this, but at some point she begins pulling them out....which she would never do if she were herself.  A different physician ran a few tests and x-rays again and, sure enough, the hip was broken.  She went into surgery around 6PM.  I went home and took care of the kitties so I could be back by the time she got to a room.  

She got through the surgery fine and even the next day, though movement remained doubt aggravated by two days of I attention and pain!  The second day she was either combative and abusive or asleep, so no PT was done and everything was difficult.  The doctor said that the second and/or third days could be worse than the first, and that proved to be true.  The third day, Friday, she was sitting up when I got there and had a good day, eating well and moving (with help) from the bed to the pot and to the chair.  She worked with the therapist and by late in the day could make those transitions without screams of pain.  But late in the day she began to become agitated, so I kept a low profile (as I can do no right during those times) and left once she had dinner and was moved to the bed.  

When I came in this morning, I saw the nurse in the hallway and asked how she was through the night, to be told that she had been moved to the cardiac wing.  She had become agitated and had an irregular, rapid heartbeat, with her BP dropping very low. She was surprised that I had not been called, but I learned that this had begun around 6:30AM and I guess there had not been time to call once things were somewhat under control.  In the process of the move, she had cut her finger, which had bleed a lot.  Because of her striking out at nurses and attendants, she was restrained and still agitated, though she settled bit after I arrive.  I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.  I'm sure part of her agitation is that I go home at night, but she also gets agitated when I come in the morning.  This morning she was mildly agitated and resistant to anything I suggested.  She refused to eat breakfast or have milk or coffee, both of which she loves.  So, I asked her several times and when she refused, I put things away, sat down and asked to to let me know if she wanted anything.  That is usually the best thing until she eventually vents it all or forgets about it.  By the time the nurses came in a few times, she seemed pretty well over it. Around 10:15AM she was taken to the OR to suture the finger cut.  It's now 12:30 and they are just bringing her back to the room.  We'll see where things go from here.

So, I'm pooped.  Every morning it becomes harder to get up and takes longer to get going.  It is mostly mental exhaustion and physical stagnation, but it's harder that work!  It her heart stabilizes over the next day, I hope she will be transferred to a nursing facility and maybe that setting will be less stressful.    Since I didn't receive a call about the heart situation, I was totally shocked when I arrived this morning, but all he ups and downs of this whole process removes some of the sting. You just learn that it is the nature of things.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sunshine and Warmth Again!

Sunday, February 2
It was wonderful to awaken to sunshine today.  Not only that, I slept in until 8AM!!  Heaven!  Generally I'm not able to sleep in because I have to get up to keep Gabby to his insulin schedule, but last night I had a night out and his evening injection was set back by a little over an hour, which meant I could make it later this morning also. So, both yesterday and today have been a breath of fresh air.

My friend Cheryl called day before yesterday and left a message.  I contacted her on Saturday morning and she suggested we go into Savannah for a concert/party for a CD release by a local band.  My FIRST thought was "oh, no.....up late, remain dressed past 7PM, energy required to be social, etc".  THEN I thought, "don't complain about having no life if you're not willing to say 'yes' to it!"!!  So, I said yes.....and had a wonderful evening.  I went over to Cheryl's for dinner (you've seen photos of her place on the May River from her Labor Day gathering), and then we picked up her friend Anika, who was very warm and personable.  The band, Velvet Caravan, plays "gypsy jazz", which I couldn't define for you except to say that it was very pleasant and enjoyable, along the lines of the Gypsy Kings but a little more mellow (You can read about them HERE, but the music clip is not of the full band and not as good as the music last night).  The evening began with a short movie about the members of the band, their musical history and how they came together.  Then they came onstage and played for over an hour.  It was very enjoyable and well received by the audience.  As we were driving home we all queried why we don't go into Savannah for more maybe we will find it easier to do so in the future. While it was the first late night for me in a long time, I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of it.

Monday, February 3
This is for Jan...
 I, who railed against football, have to confess to thoroughly enjoying the Super Bowl!  For it to have been such a one-sided game, it was fun and pleasurable to watch.  Seattle came to win and everything came together for them perfectly...such synchronicity is always amazing to see, and I don't say that to minimize the hard work involved.  It's the first game I've watched from beginning to end in a long time, but I don't remember any being as exciting to watch.  I'm sure the win was savored even more by Seattle after the press touted Manning and Denver all the way, with little mention of their team (except to castigate Sherman).  It was a fantastic win and a great story of a young team....and Bruno Mars wasn't bad either!!  As planned, I also watched the Puppy Bowl, which was totally adorable!

Tuesday, February 4....One Step Forward, Two Steps Back!
I was literally finishing the paragraph above when the phone ran and "Bloom" popped up on the screen.  You can imagine how my heart drops to my stomach when I see that.  I had been by there earlier in the day and the girls told me that Mama had been combative in the morning, wouldn't get up for breakfast, refused to take her meds and, when I arrived, she pretended to be asleep.  I pretended not to want to wake her and left, planning to walk back later in the day.  My sense was that it would not be a good call, and I was right.  She had fallen again (trying to push her walker into a staff member).  I went right over and she couldn't be moved and was in a great deal of pain, so there was nothing to do but call the ambulance and go to the ER.  We were there from about 11AM until 6:30.  I've never seen the ER like that - in the admissions area they had put folding chairs down the hallway to accommodate everyone!  Once inside, all rooms were full and there people were in gurneys in the hallway!  It was a zoo and there was only one person who looked like a doctor.  They took loads of x-rays of Mama's right side, showing no breaks.  Eventually, they sent someone with a walker to see if she could walk, and she couldn't get off the bed or stand.  They then did CT scans, which also showed no breaks.  So, there was no reason to be admitted to the hospital and they sent us away!  They suspected that it might be a deep bruise that would lessen over time and I mentioned to the nurse that I was concerned that she might need pain meds for a couple of days.  She said she would mention it to the doctor, but I got no response, even after making a point of thanking her before we she would know we were leaving.  She went back to Bloom and got as settled in as she could, though every move hurt. She wasn't able to walk to the bathroom, which presented other problems, etc.  Anyway, it seems that after I left, the hospital faxed over a script for pain meds, which I didn't know about until I went over this morning.  She lay in bed all day today, still not able to move her right leg or put any weight on it.  She did eat well and the meds relaxed her, but even coughing hurt.  So, I don't quite know where things will go from here.  She will get physical therapy, but it may not begin until Friday.  One of the ladies said that sometimes breaks or hairline fractures don't should up for about a week when the new bone begins to grow.  So, I guess we will have to see how it all progresses, but it is a lot for a 92 year old to go through.


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