Friday, December 12, 2014

Clap your hands...

Do you remember leaving your child for the first time at preschool or kindergarten?  You probably had mixed emotions.  You knew that they were in well trained and caring hands.  They needed to be there.  But, the screams of "Don't leave me here!" broke your heart.  You expected to hear about all of the things that they learned and how nice the people were that helped them.  That part is exciting, but the bad habits that they seem to pick up are frustrating and a new challenge that must be handled.

This walk down memory lane is pretty much what happened when I left my mom in well trained and caring hands at the hospital. Yes, there was screaming as I walked away.  And, instead of hearing about wonderful experiences when she came home (no, I really didn't expect a miracle), I received a physically healthier mom.  For that I am thankful. Unfortunately, we were also gifted with some new bad habits to challenge us. 
Here's a quick little story that will make sense in a minute...  When I was 10 or 11, Mom used to take me to the convalescent home where she worked.  I hated it.  What I most remember is the screams.  It seemed like every room had a resident screaming, "Help me!  Oh, please, help me!  Don't leave me here!"  I'm sure that there weren't that many screams, but, to my young ears, it sure sounded like it.  It made me feel helpless and scared.

Which leads me to one of Mom's newly acquired behaviors... screaming.  "Help me!  Somebody help me!"  It is still heartbreaking to hear.  And I feel just as helpless.  There is little to do to soothe her. Offers of help are met with anger and frustrations.  Distractions are non-existent these days.  Offering a hand to hold is grounds for getting that hand slapped.  Helpless.  Both of us.

My favorite new challenge is the the tapping.  And clapping.  And poking (strangers like this one, too).  And knocking.  And pounding.  If there is a surface, or body, or even two available hands (like the two she has) she will make some kind of rhythmic noise.  If she needs your attention beyond the yells and crying, she will poke you.  Often.  And anywhere. On anyone.  It's a fun challenge.  Tonight we received a special performance, I could actually pick out the rhythm of a song. 

It would have been the perfect ending to this post if the song had been "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands."   She could have changed the words in the final verse:

If you're unhappy and you know it, clap your hands, bang the walls, poke someone.
If you're unhappy and you know it, clap your hands, bang the walls, poke someone. 
If you're unhappy and you know it, then your hands will surely show it,
If you're unhappy and you know it, clap your hands, bang the walls, poke someone.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Let right win...

It has been an emotional and stressful couple of weeks.  Here is an update on Mom's condition:

Mom is doing well as far as her physical health is concerned.  She has recovered from the pneumonia.  She is understandably weak and has been in a skilled nursing facility for several days.  The original goal was for her to stay only long enough to get her strength back and then come home.   Unfortunately, she is about an hour away and I don't get to go to see her every day. 

After seeing her at the home yesterday, the goal has changed as I have realized that I am just not qualified to give her the kind of care that she will be needing soon.  Additionally, Medicare rules being what they are, we might not have the opportunity to place her in a long term facility again.  So, we are trying to find a permanent home for her where her needs and comfort can be met.  

This was not a decision made quickly or without a lot of thought.  I believe it is the best choice for her overall comfort and care.  I have made comments and observations that the woman I have taken care of for all of these years is not my mother.  It is a horrible disease destroying her body and her mind with very slow, very sure steps.  But, the bottom line is that disease ravaged person is still my mom.  Regardless of how I feel about the impact of the disease, I want my mom to be safe and comfortable.  I think this choice will help make that happen. 

Finally, I would be less than honest if I said that part of the decision is for my and my family's well-being.  We have survived this disease but the cost has been enormous.  I have lost a sibling, my financial stability and my children's childhoods... and sometimes even my own sanity. 

I hope and pray that this decision works out.  There are still a lot of hoops to jump through and red tape to be cut.  But, I'm a firm believer in what is right will win.