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~ Kathy M.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When Somebody Is Sick ... Some Observations:


I have shared the photo above before.  It is of my Mom and her friends graduating from nursing school in the late 1950's.  This post isn't about Mom though, it is about Cary's Mom.  I'm going to try to leave out confidential information and still describe what I have learned, perhaps offering help to others going through the same thing.

Cary's Mom was recently very sick, and she ended up spending a week in the hospital.  My observations of the hospital experience were that the staff was made up of quality, caring and professional people.  Still, there were a lot of folks in and out of her room, and sometimes things got missed in the hustle and bustle.  It is definitely better if the patient can have a family member or a good friend hanging out in the room with them as an advocate, so that everything is followed through with.

I stacked a pile of index cards and put them on her little side table.  I also stuck a pen into the cardboard part of the tissue box (somebody else had put a pencil in there and the tube of Chapstick).  Whenever my MIL had a question, or I did, I would jot it down so that we wouldn't forget to ask about it.  They also had a big dry erase board in that room, which was great for communication.  Cary and his brother used their own methods, mainly asking as they went along.

One day, I overstepped my bounds by buying a large bottle of calcium supplements in the hospital pharmacy.  Calcium is part of her everyday routine, but that we couldn't seem to get the staff very excited about making sure she got some.  They were pretty excited when I gave her a couple of the chewables; they had to call down to the pharmacy and get prescription label for it!

Another thing that I learned was that CNA's are super special people.  They have a difficult job, but the one that was with my MIL the majority of the time at the hospital was a loving person with a huge heart.  I will miss her a lot.  The nurses and doctors and everybody else were great, but I think that I will always remember Ms. L.

Cary's mother needed more care before she can come back home, and we had to transfer her to a nursing home that specializes in rehabilitation and skilled nursing.  We wanted to take care of her at home, there are some mobility issues that now needed addressing first.  We had to let go of the guilt of not being able to do it all, but we know that in the long run it was better for her to be helped by those who do that for a living.  The only thing that made it a bit easier is that we know this is a short-term situation.

Finding a place for her was when things got tricky and overwhelming.  Making choices on where to place your elderly loved one is not easy!  It reminded me of the days when I had to find a new daycare for my kids, only so much harder.  Because though there are many assisted living residences and foster homes in our area, there are only a handful, well, four, in Central Oregon that could meet the requirements that she needed.  She had to be in a center that offered "skilled nursing, short-term care and rehabilitation".

The hospital told us of two.  One they left off the list, I think because they wouldn't put their own parent there.  One was never mentioned, and I am not sure why, because it looked pretty good on the computer.  Cary and his brother toured the one closest to us, but decided that wasn't going to do in this particular case.  So, we chose one that is in the next town over, making it a 45 minute drive one way and two towns away from our house.  We are happy with our choice, but dang, it takes a chunk of time to drive there and back and to visit for an hour or so.  Good thing that we both have very flexible schedules.  We are also fortunate that Cary's niece lives in Redmond, and is able to be right there and she visits her grandma often.

Last weekend, we rented a hotel room for two nights, and that helped a lot.  They hotel staff was so great, and they gave us a discount, their hospital rate, for only $75.00 per night.  You can even have up to two dogs there, for an extra $10.00 per night.  We left Dana at home with our housesitters though (another $20 per day for us, but very worth it.)  There was a pool, hot tub, fitness area, a great breakfast and a good bed.  If you need to stay in Redmond,  The Sleep Inn  is a nice place.  It was also handy, because we were able to visit Cary's Mom several times a day.  With gas so high and the free food included, we it probably evened out because we had more energy than we would have.

I am worried about my MIL, but I know that they are doing a great job where she is, and that they really care.  She is doing everything that they ask of her so that she will become stronger and also get her knee working better.  She should be able to come home within a couple of weeks.

I am also worried about Cary, and his brother.  We have a big family, so I have been busy with updates and communication.  I set up a private message on Facebook with ten other family members so that I can let them know what is happening, pass along phone numbers, etc.  In addition, I give general FB updates. occasionally asking for prayers and letting folks know how things are going, but without going into detail.  There are also phone calls and texts.  Texting bugs me, but I do it anyway.

You have to keep on top of things though, in all areas.  It just seems that many people are not pulling their weight these days.  I took a picture of the flowers that my step-daughter sent her grandma, and posted it on FB.  She texted me right away, saying, are those from me?  Turns out, she had pretty much gotten ripped off.  Not only were the colors wrong, she only received a bouquet that cost 1/2 as much as what she paid for.  The next time I went in, there was an additional vase of flowers, in the right colors to balance out her order.

Then, Cary's Mom had asked that somebody from her church to come in and pray over her.  Two days later, nobody had, so Cary got on the phone, and talk about getting the run-around!  Finally, by the time he was done, somebody rushed right over to the nursing home.  It was the first that they had heard about it, but they did drop everything to get over there.  I learn so much by watching Cary get things done.  He is good at going right to the top, if need be.

Well, I guess that this is long enough.  To sum it up; if you find yourself in this type of a situation, be an advocate, do your own research, follow-up to make sure others do what they are supposed to, and take time to nurture yourself when you can.  For me, that boils down to trying my best to keep to my routine, and taking time to rest and read my book when I can.  Making a blog post once in a while is also theraputic.

Now, I need to force myself to get ready for Christmas.

Thanks for reading this!

~ Kathy M.  



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12 comments:

Linda Reeder said...

You have offered some good ideas for a difficult situation, and a time that arrives for most of us sometime in our lifetime, both as the care giver and the one needing care.
Wishing you all the best.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thank you, Linda. This is our third one, but the others were able to stay at home. We can't wait until she gets back to her house.

Kathy M.

Deb Gould said...

Oh, Kathy! Such a hard road it is, isn't it? A lot of you are moving into that phase of life where our elders are having difficulties; my turn with all that is over now, but I can still remember that overwhelming sense of guilt, responsibility and inadequacy. Keep your strength up; Cary, too.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thank you, Deb! Cary says, it is just our turn. I'm believing on that sow good seeds thing; his Mom has always taken care of everybody so well, and it is her turn to be taken care of well now.

Kathy M.

Grammy Goodwill said...

Your MIL is lucky to have both of you. I think you have covered some very good ideas here. We kept a notebook when Mom was in the hospital. That helped us. I hope she will be home for Christmas. Be safe traveling back and forth.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thank you, Patricia, I appreciate you so much. Tomorrow, we are taking her doggie to the vet for shot updates, and then will take her to see her Mama! That should cheer her up.

Kathy M.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

So sorry your MIL is ill. As difficult as it is for the sick person, it is no cakewalk for the family members who sit at the bedside. You're right in all your observations (I wish I had thought of the index cards when PaPa was in the hospital last year), especially about having a family member present to help keep things straight and advocate for the patient. I'm sure you and Cary are exhausted, so I hope you'll take some time out to get some rest. Wishing your MIL a rapid recovery. God bless.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

You've certainly had some emotional challenges lately. I hope your MIL is getting better every day. You've shared a lot of good information in a personal way here, and I hope you continue to take good care of yourself while you help care for others. Sending you a cyber hug and all good wishes for the Christmas season.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thank you, Lisa. I know that you just went through this the past couple of years yourself. I carry index cards in my purse all the time, so they did come in handy ... they are not flimsy like regular pieces of paper. Cary came home yesterday and said, somebody wrote notes about Mom on index cards, and I said, that was ME!

Kathy M.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Kathy, yes, this has been quite a year, hasn't it? Thank you for the hug and Christmas wishes, here is one back!

Kathy M.

Lynn said...

Kathy, take care of yourself. Sending love your way for you and your family.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thank you, Lynn. I can feel it!

Kathy M.

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