Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 18th

Dying sucks. Try dying with dementia of any type, deafness and cancer. Try being one of those looking after said person. For all involved, it isn't pretty.
God has reversed my Mom's train, and trust me, I don't wish her dead. I think He and I might just be involved in a bit of a shoving match, and hey, it's God, you have to let Him win.
In the meantime, I have been forbidden to:
a) Bring in a pillow from home. Her pillow. After she complained of neck pain - she has osteoporosis. I gave her one of those u-shaped neck pillows, but that combined with plastic pillows makes her feel too hot. Hence the suggestion of bringing her one of her pillows, met with a "They won't like it!" - who's they? and "DON'T YOU DARE!!!!"  Apparently I have been forcing her to be, oh, comfortable, and that doesn't seem to sit well, as if being uncomfortable will make her die faster as is her wish. So of course I ignored her wish after a week, brought in her feather pillow from when she got married in 1955, and she exclaimed "It is sooo soft!"
And now she cradles it around her neck. All the time.
b) Order TV for her. "DON'T YOU DARE!!!"Well, this one I've heeded, but when her few friends and neighbours come in and admonish her for not having it, it makes you feel badly. But she would notice a TV if I brought it in, unlike the pillow, even if I gave her headphones to go with it. So at the moment, the seemingly neglectful family is heeding that wish. But there is only so much of the Young and the Restless you can discuss without her actually watching it. As she proclaimed to the Bean, the storylines are "S-H-*-T".
c)Ask for a walker for her. I haven't totally lost on that one as I have resources, like her doctor, although I have been forbidden to "PUT THE BUG IN THEIR EAR." Make no mistake, the cancer is going to get her, or the heart or something else. She is not dying fast enough to be on the palliative floor, and she is losing condition. Because she is palliative, no one makes her do anything, but such has been our dance and relationship through the beginnings of dementia. I am now the bad cop, making her do what she can even though she doesn't want to do it. Anyhow, an e-mail to her doctor will start the ball rolling.
d) Take concerns to the nurses. "DON'T YOU DARE!" Yeah, well she loses big time on this, because you can't out nurse me. I will never stand for sloppy nursing. And it doesn't matter her wishes here. I'm paving the way for when we are old and decrepit. I have reminded them that we will be her age sometime, with the fallen bladders, the funky bowels, brains that seem to be on the Enterprise, far, far away, and the ears that seem to ignore all. That's why you treat the elders well, because that is how you you want to be respected. Someday.
On the other hand, she knows I am going insane being here for so long. I love my Credit Valley friends, I don't love my Credit Valley work, so now I have her blessing to go back to work that I love.
In the meantime, I will take her to the bathroom, flush the toilet, get her ice, put the garbage can up, put the rails up, put the oxygen back on, take the ears out, put the pillow on the feet, and turn the lights out. One day, forever....

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Slice of Life: New Year's Edition - January 3rd

My musings for the end of this year, not to be repeated in subsequent years, the bad stuff, por favor.
1. Prayers, answered. Mom much better. Patience, tested. I don't mean this in a bad way. It just means my Mom is as close to back to normal as she is going to get, which means she is driving me crazy. She looks much better than in the preceding months before her hospitalization, and except for the oxygen tubes in her nose, and her telling you, you would never know she is sick.
My first major clue occurred during a bathroom run. Ever the helpful daughter, I assisted her to the pot. While waiting outside the door, I heard her crackly voice: "I NEED A DRINK OF WATER!" To which I replied, "WHEN I GET YOU BACK TO BED, I'LL GET YOU SOME WATER."
"I NEED IT NOW!" Now, I looked up in the mirror there, and noticed that the waitress hat was not on, in fact, I was sporting a jaunty set of reindeer antlers. So I repeated : "WHEN I GET YOU BACK TO BED!" "BUT I'M DYING!" "NOT RIGHT NOW YOU AREN'T! WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED.""I'M FINISHED THEN." And so we toddled back to bed, she had her water and a gentle lecture from me as can only be done when someone wasn't wearing her hearing aids: "I WILL DO ANYTHING FOR YOU, BUT BREAKFAST AND DRINKS IN THE LOO IS NOT ONE OF THEM." Conversations need to be kept short and to the point during a scream fest.
Fast forward to the day after Boxing Day. I hadn't been over since Christmas Eve, due to the dreaded Christmas cold, so imagine my surprise over the past two days to find a new steadiness to her gait. She's taking purposeful steps now to the bathroom, nary a shuffle in site, no bouncing off the walls and door jambs, no swaying at a whisper. In fact, I think if she could guarantee she would use a walker, she might even be able to go alone. Shaking my head, I remember her ward room days when she was assisted by me and a walker, she would zoom the walker into the middle of the room on the way back, and stagger to her bed. And of course, I remember her deluxe rollator that sits on the opposite side of her 12 foot living room, where she can't reach it.
So I rearranged her back in bed, and she told me "The volunteer fed me." Her ears were in, she wasn't yelling quite so loudly.
"And what do you mean the volunteer fed you?" I had visions of them opening up her tray, setting her up.
"She fed me with a spoon."
"She did what?"
"She fed me with a spoon."
Holy jaw breaking because it hit the floor! I was speechless, and apparently trolling for flies. For most old folks that I've dealt with, eating independently is one of the last things they want to give up. They shake, rattle and roll, miss their mouths sometimes, but feeding oneself is a basic need for most of them. You can assist with the occasional mouthful to make sure some of it actually gets in. My Mom? No shaking, no weakness, nada.
And I said nothing.
The next conversation had to do with comfort. Because of her osteoporosis, she has a hard time getting comfortable in bed. I bought her one of those u-shaped airline neck pillows, which she finds is comfortable, but it gets hot. No surprise with the plastic pillows propping her up. So I asked her if I could bring in one of her pillows from home. I figured a breathing cloth pillow behind her might cool things off a bit. She said she didn't think the hospital would like it if I brought in things like that from home. No amount of explanations would convince her otherwise, so I said I would ask the doctor, because apparently I am just a nurse, and then I was forbidden to ask the doctor. The end. She is definitely much better. God has reversed the train.
2. Babies make everything better. I was told by the Queen Mum that the Humvee was not to visit her in the hospital, in case she had something contagious. Like cancer is. So ignoring her as usual, just because it was Christmas, or slightly after due to our illnesses and not hers, the Bean and the Humvee and I went to visit. And my Mom positively lit up. The Humvee cooed and smiled and laughed, the Bean declared whoever owned this baby must surely want him back. It was a bonus day, proving again there is a Santa.
3. In keeping with my Mom's tour, I help her to the bathroom every visit I make. She declares that the nurses don't come fast enough, and then are too fast in dealing with her once they do come. So I take my time getting her off the pot, helping her pull her bloomers up, wash her hands and pad on back to bed. The one thing she always does is pull the call bell in the bathroom when she is done even if I am there. I don't discourage it because it is easier just to have her yank it all the time than for her to hit and miss when I am not there. So she pulls the bell, and I am there helping her when her day nurse comes in, saying she would help my Mom. Normally the Old Girl prefers me, but this time, she actually pushed me forcefully out of the bathroom, announcing that she'd rather this nurse help her as she was more efficient than me. Apparently I must have been wearing the Nurse Ratched hat.
In other news:
1. Granola bars with Nyquil chasers make a fine Christmas dinner indeed. And like the 24 pound turkey, there is enough to go on for days.
2. In keeping with the festivities of the season, Nyquil comes in red and green, pretty much the only Christmas decorating I did around here.
3. The warm, weather has turned the out house into a do it yourself bidet, stated one of my best friend's nephews. Thank you very much for that visual.
4. Euchre, gin, the card game! - wine and friends make a great New Year's night. If only I could remember it. Or how I got soot under the arm of my Tilley shirt. Or the bruise on my arm. Or where I put my toothbrush. Or...
5. New Year's revolutions, or, next on my Bucket List: My travel plans are a bit on hold for now, other than for work. In the desire to screw up my knee worse than it is, and only because it is feeling a bit better, I think I am going to try skiing. Once. This all Canadian polar girl has never downhill skied in her life. I will only ever go up in that chair lift once, and down the bunny hill, upright, I hope, once. Right up there with the zip line - never ever to be done, ever again. Yup. We'll see.
And that's all for now. I wish everyone a Happy New Year, filled with wild and wonderful things, and above all, filled with joy in the midst of anything bad. I refuse anything less for myself.