A Break in the Storm

Goodness. It’s been so long since I’ve posted, I’ve almost forgotten how to do it.  And how ironic that in the midst of my long drought WordPress sent me notice that someone I don’t know liked my PostADay for 2011 entry, reminding me of just how dismally I’m failing to fulfill that  goal. But then it just goes to emphasize the truth of James 4:13, 14 –

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away…

 How could I have predicted my mother would have a seizure and I’d have to move in with her and then she’d fall and have to go the hospital again and after a week there, spend another two weeks at a skilled nursing facility.

Yes, she was two weeks at The Forum. And as it turned out, all my angst about the Villa Compana debacle, was unnecessary. The Forum had no openings over the weekend, or apparently all day Monday, since at least one other person was at St. Joe’s waiting for them to respond, so even if I hadn’t delayed everything with my brief infatuation with Villa Compana, it wouldn’t have mattered. In fact, five people were admitted around 5 the same Monday evening my mother was. I found out a week later that they had hired a new person to handle admissions and that Monday was her very first day.  (I also received a number of confirmations that I had chosen correctly: VC was NOT the place to have gone.)

The Forum was about fifteen minutes from my home so I went over once a day and stayed for an hour or two. Even though it had a five-star Medicare rating, that did not prevent confusion from reigning. In retrospect I think it was designed to be that way, not by the administrators but God.

The first problem was that  no one could really say what was wrong with my mother, and having a parade of doctors enter and depart the scene (none of whom were familiar with her situation) did not help. In the three weeks, I believe she had 4 different doctors. And SNF rules dictate your primary care can’t be involved. So, among other things they took her off the medication her oncologist had prescribed to stimulate her appetite (in fact, that was done in the hospital because apparently, it causes blood clots). As a result, after three weeks of not taking her, her appetite vanished. She lost three pounds in the last week because she couldn’t force herself to eat the food, which wasn’t all that appetizing to her anyway. She thought it was awful, horrid “crap,” but to be fair, I don’t think it was all that bad.

Anyway, because of some confusion at the hospital, which I’m still pursuing, The Forum was given no discharge orders regarding the broken bone in her left hand (fifth metacarpal). She had a huge club-like splint on it and she’s left-handed. So it was incredibly difficult for her to eat, and writing was out of the question. I had mentioned to the nurses that she had problems with dehydration, so I guess the compensation was to serve her at least three 4oz glasses of liquids at each meal. From what she told me she didn’t know why there were so many glasses of liquid and spilled at least one of them every day.

Anyway, about two weeks in, it dawned on me no one was doing anything about the splint on her arm. No x-ray, no doctor visit. So I asked and learned about the absence of discharge orders which meant no one at the Forum, could even touch it. I had to scramble then, going back to the orthopedic surgeon who’d worked on my arm and put the rod in my mother’s leg. His office was close to The Forum, so I stopped by on the way home that Friday afternoon.

Long story, short (and minus the confusion and oddness that has become seemingly inevitable in this affair) the club is gone and she’s wearing a forearm brace, we went for x-rays yesterday and will see the doctor on Thursday. She left the Forum last week.

But, weight loss or not, bad food or not, confusion or not, it did her –and me — good. Because she came out far stronger than she went in. In fact, she came out of both the hospital and the SNF stays better and stronger and more alert than she’d been when she went in. And she seems to be improving every day.

My sister arrived last week, the day after Mother was discharged from The Forum and has been staying with her, while I try to get caught up on sleep, housework, her taxes and just letting my brain rest from having to juggle so many things at the same time. I knew I was reaching my limit not only because I was constantly struggling to find the right words for things in order to speak, but I was also beginning to forget things, some of which were important. 

We were thinking a couple of weeks ago that we’d probably have to find an assisted living place for my mother to go, even though she had remained steadfastly against it. Now it turns out, she’s probably going to be okay at home. Right now the biggest problem is that she cannot prepare her own meals. It would help if she would consent to have a microwave, and be more flexible regarding food choices, but since  she won’t, we’ll have to work around this. My sister’s going to be here through the week at least, and after that… we don’t know. Though at the rate Mother’s been improving maybe she’ll be sauteing her own spinach sandwiches before the month is over.

So that’s a quick and greatly summarized update of what’s been happening. You’d think that given I’ve been sleeping at home now for almost a month I could have gotten a post off earlier, but it seemed like I never had the time, and on the few occasions I did, I was too tired and didn’t have the words.

5 thoughts on “A Break in the Storm

  1. Donna Hagan

    Hello Karen:

    Glad to hear things are working out okay with your mom. I am sure you have heard about those non-medical services that could visit with your mom – do light housework and prepare some meals, as well as companionship. It gives the family a break and also enables people to stay in their own homes longer – in lieu of a nursing facility. As long as they are coherent (i.e. have a mother-in law with early alzheimers – so that would never be an option in those cases) that may work and be less expensive right now – a win-win. Also those alert necklaces (if they will wear them that is – hah) add independence also.

    I have heard sometimes when you get older food tastes differently – especially as a side effect of some medications. When my grandmother lived alone she kept insisting perhaps she could use foil in a microwave – so we didn’t bother getting her one, as it wasn’t worth her setting it on fire while weren’t there. I think you know you can get “hot spots” in food and also not everyone waits to eat food once it comes out – like is suggested.

    So again – forgot all the specific names, but maybe one of those services like Visiting Angels would help you and your family out. They do intense background checks and they will even run some small errands. Sometimes you’re not a prophet in your own city – so you must bring one in (chuckle!).

  2. Loren Warnemuende

    Hi Karen!

    It was so good to see your post pop up in my email today and to read that things are improving with your mom! I’ve been praying for you, and I’m sure others have, too. You and yours are not forgotten.

    Your busyness sounds like my life except that my running around has to do with the other end of the age-bracket: kindergartner, almost-4-year-old, and 18-monther 🙂 . I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten to the end of a day and wondered if I actually got anything “productive” done…. But I’ve been reminded many times that being a godly mom to these little ones is one of the most productive callings out there! I’m sure your help with your mom is a pretty amazing ministry, too.

    Looking forward to hearing the updates.

  3. Lelia

    God bless you Karen.

    My dad went into assisted care living….. and likes it! He likes not being afraid of falling and wonder of wonders, says they feed him too well; he likes the food. And he is going to chapel. I am just amazed.

    Our houseguest fell for the last time at our house. He is in rehabilitation and will move to assisted living when he is able. Thank God someone else in the church is taking care of that part.

    I hope your week of rest revitalizes you.

  4. Lori

    It was good to see your post in my e-mail today. I’ve been praying for you and your Mom and am glad she is getting better.
    I have been reading “The Return of the Guardian-King” and I wanted to tell you how uplifting this whole series of books has been to me! Keep up the good work and remember:
    “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13


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