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      Tuesday, January 01, 2008

catstuff
08:50 PM - 01/01/2008

The topic: It’s TUMMY TUESDAY #74!

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Well, better late than never, I guess.  With Brian home today, we went to breakfast and did a little shopping.  It wasn’t until this afternoon that I realized that it was Tuesday, the first of the new year.

So, I grabbed the camera and went in search of a belly.  And I found a rather substantial one…


click for a larger pic

The gentle giant, Marco was giving himself a bath out in the yard.  Darling, isn’t he?

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If you’ve got a Tummy Tuesday blog entry, feel free to post the link in the comment section or trackback to this entry. And if you put a link back to this page, then more kitties will get to show off their tummies!

tales from the parkside
08:53 PM - 01/01/2008

The topic: My mom

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She’s not trying.  You know that party?  Well, yesterday morning, she said she was going.  This morning she tells me she didn’t go. 

Then she gets pissed off at me because I’m showing concern for her wellbeing.  Well, fine, then.  No more showing concern.  It doesn’t help and if she wants to just sit there on her pity pot and feel worse and worse about her life, then fine.

I’m not going to call her tomorrow.  Because to do so, would show that I care, that I’m concerned.  And heavens, we can’t have that now, can we?

I also told her how rotten it was to find out that she’s been lying to me for so long. She didn’t care a bit.

I’m still going to take her to the doctor.  She has it in her head that the doctor will agree with her that it’s okay for a woman her age to just sit there and starve to death if that’s what she wants to do.  Yeah, okay, mom, we’ll see what the doctor has to say. And she says to me “and this time, I’m not going to lie”.  Yeah, lying is so ingrained in her at this point, good luck with that.

Argh.  I wish I didn’t care.  Life would be so much easier if I didn’t care.

      Wednesday, January 02, 2008

catstuff
12:06 PM - 01/02/2008

The topic: A sad goodbye

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This morning, around 9:30, Lonee jumped down from the window where we keep the water in the dining room. When she landed it looked like she hurt her left leg.  She went under the bookshelf and finally came out. 

She made it into the living room and tried to jump up onto a ledge, but couldn’t make it.  I pulled cat trees out of the way, got a hold of her and put her in the bathroom and shut the door.  I ran and got the carrier, called the vet and they said to bring her in, they’d fit us in.  (They were very busy today.) 

I put her in the carrier and went to the vet.  Waited for a while and finally got in.  I told Cassie that I thought either she’d hurt her leg/back or had thrown a clot like her brother, Red, did last year.  The vet came in shortly after that and he said that from all of the signs he said it looked like a blood clot.  The way she walked (he put her on the floor and watched her move), the way her paw was starting to get cold, the fact he felt no pulse in that leg….

I said goodbye to her. He said it was the best decision that could be made, under the circumstances (blood clot). She went peacefully.

She was a good old cat.  I’ll miss her very much.  She was our first true feral and she’d come a long way since we got her in 1996. 

God speed, sweetheart.  I’ll always remember you.

      Thursday, January 03, 2008

tales from the parkside
07:50 PM - 01/03/2008

The topic: A visit with mom’s doctor

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So, I make her cry before we’ve gotten to the second stoplight.  Hell, she’s ready to cry before we’re even out of her driveway.

See, our car has heated seats. She likes the heated seats because they make her back feel better. I tell her to push the button at the side (before I’m in motion). She gets all pissy, opens the door and turns on the seat. Makes a really uncalled for comment about “why don’t you get a car I can get into?” (One of the considerations when we bought this was the fact that it was fairly low to the ground and roomy.)  Oh, boy, did that hit me wrong and I got sharp with her. Especially since hitting that button was for her comfort. She mutters under her breath, but obviously loud enough for me to hear “this is going to be a great trip”.  I told her that it wouldn’t be bad if she’d quit bitching about things.  (I don’t think I’ve ever said anything like this to her before in this tone of voice; I think it’s to the point where I’m done playing along with her…I’ve done it for too long and look where she is now.) She denied bitching.  I repeated to her what she said to me.  And asked if that wasn’t bitching about it, what was?

She got really quiet, stopped talking to me altogether.  I let the silence go on for about five minutes, then started talking. When she answered me, her voice was weird.  I start thinking of Tom Hanks’ character in “A League of Their Own” (“there’s no crying in baseball!”).  I ask her if she’s crying.  “No!”  She said.  I asked her another question and she answered, but I could tell she was still on the verge of tears.  As she talked it got better.

She told me that the doctor’s office had called her house yesterday asking for me.  Great.  I had called and requested the doctor call me at home, gave them my phone number and they call my mom’s house looking for me.  I wanted to discuss my mom before we went in.  She said “I guess they just wanted to remind me of the visit”.

We got to the medical center early enough that I parked right up front.  She took my arm and we walked in.  I double checked the directory for the location of her doctor and we got into the elevator and went up.  There were two people ahead of us in line. She sat down in one of the chairs and I took my place in line. They weren’t open for business yet.  My mom starts to get antsy in situations like this and she has a tendency to talk loud and make stupid inane comments to anyone who’ll listen.  And I know she’s watching me to see if I’m an attentive audience.  I’m not.  I wait for about ten minutes and the women start to process the patients. I have my mom’s card, I pay the bill when they ask for the co-pay.  It was fifteen dollars.  We’re sent over to another waiting room and mom starts in with “how long is this going to be?”  I ask if she has something more pressing to do? Knowing full well that her days consist of sitting on the sofa, watching television.  “No.”  She sits. Mom gave me twenty dollar bill and I gave her back five.  She didn’t take it, said “maybe we can stop for a donut on the way home”.

We’re called in before too long and they take her blood pressure.  It’s high on both ends.  It was taken three times before it finally got down enough to prevent them from putting her in the hospital.  156/96 She seemed to think this was a good reading.  I looked at her and shook my head.  “No, mom, it’s a horrible reading. And that’s one of the reasons we’re here.”  She was then weighed in.  “Can I keep my shoes on?”  Yes, she could.  And she weighed a whopping ninety-nine pounds. big surprise

One of the questions she’s asked is about smoking.  “Oh, maybe two a day.”  I’m thinking to myself “I thought you said there would be no lying today”.  That didn’t last long.  Anyway, we’re sent into the examining room and before long, the doctor comes in. A very nice woman, very gentle.  I tell her my observations. She asks mom questions and mom starts hemming and hawing and not being forthright.  I tell this to the doctor.  That mom will say whatever she needs to so that she can stay out of situations that are uncomfortable for her.

The doctor tells mom she’s malnourished and that she needs to eat.  She tells mom about taking vitamins.  I tell the doctor that mom has always been resistant to supplements because she “already sounds like a bottle of pills, because of all the pills she takes”.  The doctor says again, that mom should take a daily multi-vitamin, she suggests Centrum Silver.  I go down the list of the complaints mom has had about her stomach.  Queasy, painful, diarrhea, constipation….  The doctor tells mom that these signs all can happen because she’s not eating.  She tells mom again that she’s got to eat.

I told the doctor that one of the scary things for my mom is the loss of her independence.  That she doesn’t want to go into a home or have someone come live with her.  The doctor told my mom that since mom doesn’t seem to be taking care of herself, that maybe she should consider having someone in her home.  I wonder if any of this is making any impact on mom.  My mom, being sarcastic to the doctor says “well, maybe I should get some baby food and she can spoon feed me”. The doctor, ignoring any sarcasm, replies to my mother with complete honesty “maybe that would be a good idea.”  When my mom complains about the role reversal, of me taking care of her, of me being the parent and she being the child, the doctor tells my mom “it’s her turn; you took care of her when she couldn’t take care of herself, now it’s her turn to take care of you”.  This is all new thinking to my mother. I can tell she’s not completely comfortable with it. 

And then she tells my mother that I’m doing this because I care for her. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be there, I wouldn’t be doing this.  My mom is at a loss for words at this time.

Then we start discussing the pills mom takes.  And that she drinks beer.  This alarmed the doctor. See, almost all of the medications my mom is taking, say right on the bottle “don’t take while drinking alcohol”.  She told my mom that it’s quite possible the reason the blood pressure medications she’s on don’t work is because the beer is interfering with them and that this could be very, very dangerous.  Hopefully, this will get through to my mother.  And the doctor stressed that many of the problems mom is having right now, is because she’s not eating.  And the doctor doesn’t feel the beer helps. 

Anyway, the doctor refilled all of mom’s medications (four) with the exception of the cancer meds.  And she added three more.  When we went to the nurse’s station, mom got her flu shot and I got all of the paperwork.  Today’s diagnosis?  “Depression, major, recurrent”.

We went down to the pharmacy and I gave them the paperwork from upstairs and mom’s medical card.  He said since there were so many to be filled, that it would be around a half hour before they were ready.  I said “okay” and sat next to mom.  I asked her if she had a pill thingy, where the days of the week are listed and you’ve got a week’s worth ready to go.  She said she thought maybe she had a couple, but didn’t know for sure.  I started looking around the pharmacy/quasi drugstore and I found some and there were four different colors.  I brought them over to mom, asked her which color she liked best. She chose the green one.  I put the others back and saw that they also have the Centrum Silver for sale there.  I knew I could get it cheaper at CostCo, but we were there and I figured might as well get it now and I can start the pill thing as soon as we get to her house.

We talked a little and she pointed at a woman in line.  “I look better than she does.”  I look at her to see if she’s serious.  “Uh, no, mom, you don’t look better than her. She looks great compared to you.  If you looked that good, you’d be celebrating.”  The woman had at least twenty to twenty-five pounds on mom.  This took mom aback somewhat. I’m starting to realize she really doesn’t know how bad she’s gotten.  This woman who I always considered the vainest woman I knew.  I think my fleeting idea of taking a videocam to her house might be a good idea. 

A little after a half hour later, her name showed up on the board.  I got up, waited in line and paid for the pills and the pill keeper.  We were ready to go home.  This time, she pushed that heat button on her own and started making happy noises as it heated up.  On the way home, I asked her if she truly wanted to do this.  If she’d rather just sit in front of the television and starve to death to please let me know (sometimes people just do not want to live; Brian’s father was like that).  She said she really wanted to try, no, she really wanted to do this.  I told her it would take a while, things wouldn’t get better overnight.  But that I’d be there for her as long as she was willing.

We got to her house and I started dividing up the pills.  When I realized there was none from her oncologist, I asked where those might be.  She brings me out a bunch of bottles that she had in the medicine chest.  I look at them, surprised.  I check them out and they’re duplicates of the pills she just bought. And none are from her oncologist. She finds that one and brings it to me.  I take seven pills from that and add one to each day of the week. 

Then, curious about the other pills, I put the new ones in alphabetical order and line the others up behind those.  For the blood pressure, there is one duplicate of one med, two duplicates of another pill, and no duplicates of the other two.  So, she’s been taking three pills (one of one kind and two of another kind) for her blood pressure when she should be taking four pills (all different).  This right here might be one of the problems with her BP. 

I made her take the pills and asked for her best friend’s phone number.  I wanted to speak with her.  Mom found the numbers and I wrote them down. Then I sat with her for a while, letting her talk about the past and her neighbors.  This seemed to relax her somewhat.  I offered to scramble her some eggs, but she said food wasn’t really something she wanted right now, she just wanted to rest and relax.  I can understand that, she had a very rough morning.  I asked if it was okay if I left, or did she want me to stay around a while longer. She said she’d be okay, I could leave (I think she was glad once I was gone…*lol*)

Once I got home, I called her neighbor and left a long winded message. So long that my time ran out.  She called me back later this afternoon and we spoke of my mom.  I mentioned to Joan my mom’s depression, and that I thought it started when Thelma left, then Joan (the neighbor) got married. And how it’s just gotten worse over time.  That she was at a point now where she couldn’t get out of it by herself.  I told Joan about the meds and the anti-depressant that mom was now taking, would Joan please check in on my mom during the day until it’s clear that she won’t be one of those who has suicidal thoughts when taking AD?  She said she’d be glad to. And she asked if my mom’s leg pain was real or was it just an excuse to get out of things.  Joan is the one who had the New Year’s Eve party that mom didn’t go to.  I answered that the doctor told me this pain was very real.  But hopefully it would get better if mom started doing what she needs to do to help heal herself.

I did find out some surprising things.  Mom had a couple of barstools in her small kitchen, at the counter.  Brian remarked on this when we’d gotten home from Christmas Eve.  I asked her why she had them there.  She said “when company comes over, they sit up there.”  I asked her when the last time she had company was.  She didn’t remember.  I moved the chairs.  Anyway, I mentioned mom’s housekeeping to Joan and she said “hmmm….that’s interesting.”  When I pressed her on this, she said that mom never let her in the house anymore. When Joan would bring food over, mom never invited her in.  Now she knows why. And another little tidbit I got from Joan is that mom hides her beer in the dryer.  Nice, huh?  This came out after I told Joan about the no alcohol rule with the meds.  She told me not to let my mom know where I heard this (I still don’t know what I’m going to do about it; on the one hand I want to go over there and pour it all down the sink, on the other hand, I feel if mom really wants to do this, she should be the one to get rid of it).

I’m taking her in tomorrow for blood tests.  I’ve called her a couple of times today and she seems to be doing alright, she just sounded very tired.  I understand.

      Saturday, January 05, 2008

tales from the parkside
06:31 PM - 01/05/2008

The topic: Yesterday, lab work…

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I get to mom’s house around 7:40. She’s having a very hard time walking.  She felt fine when she got up, then all of a sudden her left leg started to hurt badly.  We got her out to the car and as the trip progressed, she was having a very hard time getting comfortable.  It reminded me of when my sciatica went out.  Anyway, she’s panicking.  And the thought crosses my mind that she could be thinking about what happened to Lonee on Monday. My mom’s like that. It’s not a fun way to be (more on that later).

So, I dropped her off at the front of the building and she sat on the bench, holding her thigh (which isn’t even as big as a soda can is round).  I parked the car and walked her inside.  After talking to two or three different people, I was finally able to get a wheelchair for her.  The chair came from the same area of the building that her doctor is in.  They hadn’t officially opened for the day, but they were able to bring out a chair.  I was reminded to bring it back when we were done.  (Hey, I’m the one who always returns her cart at the shopping center.)  I took it down the elevator and we got mom in it.  Then we went in to wait for her turn to have her blood taken.  (Man, they took a bunch.)  She was still in pain for her leg, so we went upstairs and I parked her at the side of the area and waited in line.  There weren’t many people there and I walked up and explained the situation.  I was told there were no openings that day.  But my mom was in pain, and I needed advice on what to do with her.  Meanwhile, the other clerk was trying to politely deal with a woman who had made and appointment for that day, but one of the other employees set it up for Monday.  This woman was extremely aggravated and rude and I wanted to smack her.  The woman who was helping me kept asking the other one questions (I told her it was okay, I could wait) about getting a nurse to screen my mom and let us know the best course of action (like take her to ER).   Anyway, Bea, the older worker finally took care of the belligerent one and told the woman who was helping me that she (Bea) would help me.  I went over to her and we had a little discussion of the woman before me and she asked if we minded waiting for a nurse to screen.  I had no problem with this, after all, I have no life.  And mom’s isn’t much better.  She apologized that we had to go into the same waiting room as the other woman.

Well, the other woman was loud.  I really had the urge to remind her to use her “indoor voice”, like you do children. I could tell my mom was starting to get aggravated (my mother gloms onto negativity for some strange reason, it feeds her).  We’re in the room for about ten minutes, when someone comes to the door and asks if there’s anyone with an appointment who hasn’t been seen. The belligerent woman asks when the nurse will come out to see her since she needs a written excuse to be paid for the day off.  The Kaiser employee said she knew nothing about a nurse coming over. Oh, crap, I’m watching my mom, she’s starting to get upset.  I tell her to calm down and go outside to speak with Bea again. 

I didn’t have to wait long and Bea was checking something when another woman came up to speak with her when she asked me what my shirt meant.  It was my “Ailurophile” shirt.  Hey, don’t we all know what that means?  Yes, we do.  I tell her “cat lover”.  She says “me, too, we have three” and she goes on to tell me about her latest who caught a ride in the undercarriage of a neighbor’s vehicle.  Just a kitten, it jumped up at a fast food restaurant, the neighbor started to leave, someone told him about the cat who’d jumped up, they looked around and didn’t see it, thought it had left. 

The little bugger hadn’t and jumped out once at this guy’s home.  When this woman saw him and how friendly he was, she knew right off someone owned it and she tried to find his owner in her neighborhood when this guy told here where he came from.  She said “what could I do?  I kept him.”   I told her about the catcam and Bea was busy on her computer.

She looked at me and said “we just had a cancellation for 10:40, do you want it?”  Oh, yeah, buddy, I want it.  I don’t care that it’s not even 9:30, my mom needs help.  I paid the co-pay and went back to my mom, who was getting really nervous that I’d been gone so long.  I unlocked the wheels on the wheelchair and wheeled her out of the room, over to the waiting room for her doctor.  I explained what had been going on.  We were checked in within minutes, with the hopes that mom could be seen a little sooner.  Mom had lost a pound since the day before (told you she’s not eating and they’d taken about a pint of blood from her).  Her blood pressure was way down (something like 90/56).  We went back to the waiting room.  She ended up getting out of the chair and laying down three chairs with her jacket under her head.  At one point, she got up and I had to grab a trashcan for her to throw up in.  There was just a little bile, the cats hork larger hairballs than she did.

We weren’t able to get in earlier, but we did get in.  The doctor was very concerned, her first comment was “did you fall?”  She doesn’t think mom should be living alone.  Then she asked mom if she’d been drinking.  I’m sure the doctor has seen a lot more alcoholic elderly people and she knows what she’s looking at.  Mom denied having had anything.  There was some more discussion and the doctor told mom she’s prescribe some pills for her, a muscle relaxant and a pain reliever.  But that it was very, very important to eat before taking the pills.  And the doctor looked at me and said “she needs to have someone with her, she shouldn’t be alone” because these pills might make her disoriented and she might fall and badly hurt herself (something that happens when your bones suck because age and the fact that you haven’t taken care of yourself properly).  Oh, God, I’m not ready to take care of my mom. I never had kids, I’ve never had to take care of anybody, I’m not ready to take care of my mom.

The doctor suggested I get the wheelchair from the waiting room and she’d take care of the prescription. While I was gone, she had a few words for my mother, which the doctor told me about. That she told my mom to listen to what I told her and to do what I asked, because I only had my mom’s best interests and her health in mind. She looked at my mom and said “remember what we talked about”.

We get downstairs to the pharmacy, I checked in and then the wait for the prescription to be filled started.  Mom was starting to get ants in her pants and I’d remind her “mom, if I can sit here and wait patiently, so can you”.  Amazingly, this worked.  At one point I told her I was going outside, I had to make a call.  When I got outside I called Brian and told him what was going on. He told me to call him when we got to her house. Then I called my friend in Texas, who not all that long ago had to take care of her mother.  At one point I started to cry. This was overwhelming for me, I just didn’t know how I was going to handle it.  I didn’t want to be gone much longer and went back inside.  Mom’s name finally showed up on the board, I went in and within another ten minutes, I had the pills in hand.  When I went out to where she was waiting, she grabbed the bag and said “give me one” because the pain was bad.  I shook my head and told her “with these pills you have to eat before taking them; we’ll stop at a drive through on the way home and after you eat, you can have the pills”. 

Now, I still had the medical center’s wheelchair and my mom was still in it.  I took her out front, set the brake on each wheel, went and got my car, drove to where she was waiting, pushed the chair over to the car, and she was able to get into her seat.  I shut her door, set the brake on the wheelchair, got into the driver’s seat of the car, drove it over to a parking spot, then locked the car and went back and got the wheelchair and took it back upstairs.  I thanked them for all of their help.

Then back downstairs and outside and home we went.

I drove through McDonald’s, got a number two.  Two cheeseburgers, fries and a drink.  She didn’t want any fries or anything to drink.  When we got to her house, we got her inside, I called Brian, and I gave her a cheeseburger.  This was just a little burger, no big thing loaded with lettuce and tomato and mayonaisse, it was just mustard, ketchup, a pickle chip and a small burger with cheese on it.  And she ate the entire thing.  It took her about fifteen or twenty minutes, but she got it all down.  The last bite she just set on the table, I picked it up and handed it to her and said “finish it”. She gave me a really annoyed look, took the bite and shook her head as if it was the nastiest thing she’d ever tasted. 

Honestly, at this point, I’m not looking forward to the next couple of months.  This isn’t something I want to do under the best of circumstances and it appears that she’s not going to make it any easier. 

But she finished the burger, I gave her one of each of the pills.  

When we first got to her place, before she ate, the first thing she did was to turn on the heat (did I mention she keeps it at about 85°?)  She actually walked outside, down some steps to where the heater is, she opened the door and looked in.  “Is there heat coming out of that thing?” she asked me once inside.  And I’m looking at her wondering about this sudden surge of energy and the ability to make it down stairs and up stairs and to be able to walk back inside.  One of those little things that mom does that makes me wonder exactly what she’s feeling and how much of what she’s said to me is for show and back to her habitual lies to me.  While we waited for Brian, mom and I had a few words.  She started doing the rolling eyes and the tossing of the hands in the air.  I told her to quit being such a drama queen.  I hit a nerve, she yelled back at me that I was the drama queen. I just shook my head and told her “no, the drama wasn’t coming from me”. And I told her again, because I don’t want her to get the impression that this is enjoyable at all for me, that anytime she wanted me to leave, I’d be gone.  I’d walk out the door and not look back. If she didn’t want to do her part on this, no sense wasting my time, too.  I’m hoping I say this enough, it will sink in.  One of my little head voices, because of our history, keeps whispering “she’s playing you….this is a game with her, a contest about who’s got the stronger will….”  I’m not going to play.

Anyway, the place is starting to cook and Brian gets there.  The problem is I do not want to spend 24/7 with my mother. I do not want to spend 24/7 in her home.  I call the manager’s office, wondering if there’s a line on anyone who can stay with her.  There are 30 pills in each of the bottles and they’re to be taken “as needed”.  The manager was out sick, but the assistant manager would call her and see if she had any suggestions.  She did call shortly after and told me about a woman who took care of her elderly father who might be able to help.  I said I’d love to meet her.  Brian had already gotten there by this time and the woman came up.  We talked for a while and decided we’d try to have her for a little while (not long term, though).  She’d get mom dinner, give her pills at night and make sure she eats in the morning.   Brian left, then I left to do some grocery shopping.

When I got back I put the groceries away and went over mom’s schedule with Annette.  Then I asked if she’d be okay and she said things should be okay.  She doesn’t drive, though.  She did have to go home to take care of her father (he’s 91!), then she’d be back after he’d eaten. 

Mom had a few hours by herself last night, but she did okay. And I had to keep reminding myself that I can’t be her policeman.  She knows what she’s not supposed to do and if she does it anyway, it’s not my fault and it’s not my responsibility.  You know that old saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”.  This is the same situation. 

I call over there this morning, yes, I called too early.  And mom started to get sharp with me, go all harpy on me.  I told her to “calm down, calm down” and she did. Brian asked if I’d like to go to breakfast and that sounded okay to me. We went out, then over to WalMart where I bought a purse because I had so much stuff to take with me over to mom’s or to doctor’s visits and I just didn’t have enough room in my pockets for all of it.  *lol*  We’d talked about getting mom a walker and Brian said he was pretty sure his mom had one (his mom is in great shape, she takes wonderful care of herself, the walker is left over from either her mother or my SIL’s mother).  On the way to WalMart, we drove through a manufactured home lot and looked at a couple of granny flats.  Nice little places.

Once we got home, Brian took the newspapers in for recycling and then went over to his mom’s to get the walker.  When he got home, I got all of my stuff together, went over to mom’s and brought the walker inside with me.  Mom was still in bed, but she was very happy to see the walker.  She knew this would be a huge help to getting around without the fear of falling.  She wanted out of bed. We got her set up on the sofa and she wanted a soda.

I took Annette home and went back to mom’s.  Before she left, Annette told me that mom was out of it, that possibly the pain killer was too strong for her.  But that mom had slept through the night (which she’s not done in a very, very long time).  We decided, since the pain killer was an “as needed” med, splitting it wouldn’t do any harm.  Annette offered to bring a pill cutter with her when she came back this evening, but I checked the pills and they were scored and easily broken in two.

When I got back, we talked about how she was feeling. She was frightened because she called Annette by manager’s name this morning.  I reminded her that she’s been through a lot the past forty-eight hours.  Seeing a doctor, being told she’s starving to death, getting a flu shot, doing the walking she did, starting a regular med regimen, taking a anti-depressent, then having the hurt leg, being told she couldn’t care for herself, having a stranger spending the night in her home….it all takes it’s toll.  I asked about what she’d had for dinner the previous night and she said one of the TV dinners (us oldtimers remember “TV dinners”).  She didn’t finish it all, the rest was in the frig.  I look. Because that’s what I do. 

I inwardly sigh.  She barely touched it, she just smushed it around the container. No wonder the pills hit her so hard.

“Mom, you hardly at any of this, you need to eat more if you want a pill.”  I put it back in the frig and we watched a little election coverage. Around noon, mom asks if I could heat up the leftovers from last night.  This was a surprise.  I said sure, no problem.  I heated it up and the bowl it came in got a little soggy, so I put it in a bowl and heated it in that.  She ate well over three quarters of it.  About halfway through, she said “tastes like wallpaper paste”.  I kind of laughed and asked her how she knew what that tasted like.   “I tasted it a long time ago.”  Then she laid down and asked for her blanket.  I got it for her and she dozed off and on.  I did the dishes and a little clean up.  I found a can of beer in the frig, opened it and poured it down the drain (it sure smelled good).  While I was in the kitchen, she requested that the next time I was at the store she would like me to get her a jar of mayo, because she likes it with tuna sandwiches. I pulled out the mayo I’d bought the day before and told her she had some. (Is she really asking because she intends on eating a tuna sandwich or is this another game?)

She ate a Nutri-grain bar and had asked me to make her a ham and cheese sandwich around two this afternoon.  I didn’t get her ham yesterday, vaguely thinking she didn’t like ham unless it was skinny, so I got a mix of turkey and chicken cuts.  It was a simple sandwich, with just mayo on whole grain white bread, one slice of turkey and a slice of processed cheese (with extra calcium!).  I cut it in two and gave it to her on a plate.  She had water by her and she started eating.  She ate the entire thing (well, she did share a little with her kitty, Bobby).   When she’d asked for the sandwich, she’d been saying something about having pains.  I reminded her of needing to eat first. That’s when she asked for the meal.

When she was about halfway through, I asked how the pain was.  She pointed to her belly and said “it’s here”.  Then she let out a humongous burp.  I watched closely, concerned that she might want to puke.  Keep in mind she’s not been eating and her belly might rebel at all this food.  But nothing happened and she kept eating.  I got her another of the prescription Pepcid and told her she could take it anytime.

When she was done, I asked how her belly felt. It felt fine, no more pain.  I put the med back in the bottle.  We talked some more about how she felt and how the fact that her body wasn’t working right because it hadn’t been getting the necessary fuel to work properly.   I keep thinking (hoping, praying) that if I repeat myself enough, something will sink in.

She laid back on the sofa and we covered her back up with her blanket. She put her hand under the cover and in the top of her pants.  I’ve seen her doing this a couple of times.  She’s feeling her belly.  She said something to me about how her belly stuck out.  “Mom, remember the commercials of the children in Africa who were malnourished?  Remember those? How they had tiny, skinny arms and big bellies?”  She said “that’s me?”  Uh, huh, mom, that’s you.  You need to keep eating.

About a quarter to three, I asked if she’d be okay if I left.  I know that I can’t watch her every minute and I’ve got to trust her to be able to look after herself, at least for a couple of hours.  If I can’t, then it’s not healthy for me.  She said she’d be okay, could we get her back into bed?  Sure, mom, we can do that. 

She pulls the walker over to her, uses it to pull herself up, then gets back into bed.  She asks for the remote (you can see the television from that room) and I make sure she can reach the telephone.  I hugged her (oh, my God, she’s so thin), told her I loved her and kissed her cheek.

Then I came home.

Brian and I talked about her future this morning.  Hopefully, she’ll be able to get around by herself after the drugs kick in.  (Today, she had no back pain at all.)  If she can get back some of her movement and get to the point where she actually will feed herself and not drink, it’s possible she won’t need 24/7 care. I know I could talk her into getting the Life Alert system if it means she can keep most of her independence (I’ll still go over and check on her).  And if it comes to the point where she cannot take care of herself, well, I guess she’ll be moving in here.

*sigh*

I’m so not ready for this.

Oh, almost forgot…

Mom told me yesterday that she’s lost twenty-eight pounds in six weeks.  See, the thinking is that people with cancer lose weight.  Mom thinks she’s got cancer, therefore, her weight loss is proof positive she has cancer.

Uh, mom?  Not everybody with cancer loses weight. And lots of people with cancer eat and still lose weight.  You, on the other had, are losing weight for sure because you’re not eating.  Chances are, you eat, you’ll reverse the weight loss.

      Sunday, January 06, 2008

tales from the parkside
07:32 PM - 01/06/2008

The topic: A “sniff”?

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That’s where my mom is right now.  Otherwise known as a Skilled Nursing Facility. 

This morning when I called to see how the night had gone, I found out that at sometime during the night, mom fell. She said she had to piddle and got up and tripped and fell.  But she made it back to bed alright.  I told Annette I’d be right over.  I brushed my teeth and hopped in the car and off I went.

Mom was still in bed when I got there.  Her room was in disarray.  The closet door was off the tracks (Brian had just put it on the day before).  One of the drawers had been pulled out and not pushed back in right.  The walker was where it had been the day before, didn’t look like she’d used it at all.  I looked in the kitchen sink and the only bowl looked like it was from the leftover pot pie she’d originally started on Thursday night. Like I said yesterday, there wasn’t much there. 

This morning she complained of back pain, because she fell.  Annette, who hadn’t even been six feet away, and who wasn’t completely asleep, claimed to have not heard anything.  Mom said she didn’t say anything because she didn’t want to bother Annette.  I asked about the drawer being open and the closet door being off the track. Mom blamed them both on Annette, saying Annette had been looking for mom’s meds.  I asked Annette about this outside of mom’s hearing and she looked at me like I was nuts.  She said “no, I know where her medications are”.  I just looked at her and said “that’s what I thought, she’s lying to me again”.  But Annette had talked mom into the idea of going to the hospital.  Mom was still complaining of back pain.

I asked her if she wanted to go and she said “yes”.  I called Brian and told him.  Since I figured I’d need the papers from mom’s doctor visit last week, I went home and found them, and we both went back to mom’s.  Brian took Annette home and I got mom dressed. Kind of.  Anyway, we got down to the hospital and I went in first to wait in the check-in line and Brian pulled up front and they brought out a wheelchair to bring mom inside.  We were there for about four hours.   I was able to convey that I felt my mom needed more help than I was able to give her.  We were sent in to wait for a doctor and when the doctor checked mom out, he couldn’t find anything wrong, other that her age related problems.  He had absolutely no problem when he manipulated her legs.  She didn’t scream or kick out in excruciating pain. And when he felt her lower back for pain, when he asked “does it hurt here?”, you could see her thinking about it.  He looked at me as if to ask “why is she here?”  I explained about why we were there, that she’d told the person staying with her that she’d fallen and hurt herself.  And that she didn’t try to wake the woman up.  That mom needed someone awake 24/7 to make sure she was okay.  I think he started to get it.  Then he said “so, do you feel she needs to be in a skilled nursing facility, something along those lines?”  Ah, yes!  Yes!  I told him just until she gets strong enough to get around. That I didn’t want mom to lose her independence, but that she needed some help at this time in her life.

So, he got the process started.  While we waited, mom tried playing some of her head games with me.  Like telling me “I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve”.  Or “how soon is it until Christmas?”, because she gives us money at Christmas.  I know damned well that was her message.  I told her “we don’t care about your money, mom, we want you to get better”.  Brian, bless his heart, usually doesn’t respond to her goading.  I get irritated with it when it doesn’t stop and I do respond.  At one point, she said “I can take care of myself”. I told her, in a soft voice, although matter-of-fact, shaking my head “no, mom, you can’t, otherwise you wouldn’t be here right now”.  This time she got pissy and turned to Brian who was out of her line of sight.  Since he was on the other side of the bed, I mouthed “please, answer her this time, help me out!”  He told her “No, you can’t take care of yourself right now.  Dianne is right”.  What does she do?  She said “I guess you’re right”.  If it had been me who said it, her reply wouldn’t have been as polite. 

Once the paperwork was ready, we took her home, and got her into some different clothes (this woman really needs a wardrobe overhaul, or at least a good washing of all of her clothes, when I saw the state of her underwear, I started to cry, I tried not to, but it just made me really sad). 

Surprisingly, she wasn’t resistent at all about going.  When we got her sort of checked in (we’ll do all the official paperwork tomorrow) and the nurses came out to meet her, she didn’t even look back.  Which, I guess was good.  Or she was really pissed off at me. But we’d be back, because I’d been told they didn’t have the meds she needed, to please bring them back in. 

When we got back, we were taken back to her bed and she seemed to be doing fine.  She was all bundled up and happy.  She said that she knew she’d have lots of company because all the people would have seen the ambulance go to her home and get her.  I looked at her and reminded her that Brian and I brought her.  She had asked the nurse about a sleeping pill before we got there and she was told they’d take care of all of that.  This really surprised me because mom has never been one to pop pills.  Maybe she’s finally starting to understand that food, water and sleep are what she needs right now. 

And there will be rehabilitation.  Probably to help strengthen her muscles, because it’s been so long since she used them.  Oh, and while her blood pressure was high last Thursday, it was low on Friday and low today.  I hope they can get it regulated. 

Okay, why do I think what I do about her supposed fall this morning? Because I found out this evening, she hides her beer under the bed. So, she might have been looking for it.  And I wonder if maybe the doctor thinks her problem is alcoholism.  I dunno.  I do know that the vet told me that when a cat is dehydrated, it’s almost as if the cat is drunk.  This is because, without enough water, the body retains the toxins that should be flushed out. And it makes you ill.  And the lack of food most certainly doesn’t help.

We’re just hoping (wishing/praying) that mom comes home healthy enough to take care of herself and we don’t need to take more drastic measures.

Oh, and we’re bringing her two cats home to live with us.

      Monday, January 07, 2008

tales from the parkside
07:52 PM - 01/07/2008

The topic: Cats and other stuff

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We just went over and got my mom’s cats.  The older one, Miss E, Lisa’s half sister, older by six months, has quietly found a space under the loveseat.  Next to Gracie Ann, who moved there from the garage.  But Bobby wasn’t nearly so mellow.  When Brian first put him in the crate, he let out this gawdawful yowl.  Never heard such a noise from a kitty cat. And he yowled all the way home (less than a mile). Then I let him out and he went crazy.  Actually tried climbing a wall in the garage and climbing the mirror in the bathroom.  Knocked a picture off of the mirror, made a bunch of noise. I was able to get a hold of him and pet him a little, try to calm him down, but wasn’t really successful.  But he didn’t try to kill me, either, he’s just really scared. He finally found his safe spot under the sofa.  I don’t think it will take long for him to come around, the other cats want to sniff, but that’s about it.

And my mom seems to be doing a little better.  I had to go to Walmart this AM to get her something to wear (going through her drawers wasn’t something I really looked forward to and having to find something that would fit wouldn’t be easy; new was easier) and while I was gone, she called home.  Told Brian she didn’t know how she got to where she was, she must have taken a wrong turn (God bless her).  And she told him she didn’t belong there, it was a hospice (the woman in the bed next to her was pretty bad, just had some major surgery and was in a lot of pain). 

Brian told me about it when I got home.  I got the new stuff washed (I won’t wear new stuff until it’s been washed) and we went over to the care center to fill out forms and visit with her.

She was a little more lucid than yesterday, Brian said she was better than this morning.  There was a nice doctor with her, he works at UCSD hospital and his specialty is geriatrics.  He asked her some questions about where she was, what year was it, things along those lines and she didn’t do well at all. He told me he wanted to run some blood samples that he felt would tell him more than the ones run last Friday and possibly take an x-ray. I don’t have a problem with any of this, she’s got a problem or problems, she’s had them for a while and maybe we’ll finally get to the root of them.

The doctor left and I wanted to show mom her new clothes. She was happy to see us, not angry or fussy at all. Previously, when I’d mentioned getting her something new she was adamant about not needing new clothes.  When I told her I’d gotten them, she was put out.  I took her robe (a nice heavy thick one) out of the bag and told her I’d washed it just that morning.  She was thrilled.  Then I took out the sleeper bra I’d gotten.  I showed it to her and she said “oh, good, thank you!”  Then I pulled out the new socks and the new underwear and the new sweatshirts and sweatpants.  She was happy.  I asked if she wanted to change (she was still in the clothes she put on yesterday morning) and she said “no, I want a shower first, before I put on clean clothes”.  And she told us that she can’t shower without help. They won’t let her. And I got the impression, she felt this was a good thing, even though she didn’t say it. And I was pleased to hear her say that she wanted to be clean before she wore clean clothes. A thing of hygiene.  And it was so good to hear that she still knew that clean clothes were better when the body was clean.  Maybe she’s had a hard time taking a shower on her own and just didn’t want to say anything about it, as if it were an admission that she needed help. It sounds like such a simple thing to most of us, something we wouldn’t even think about. Not until we come face to face with someone who can’t.

She got a little sharp with the physical therapist, but that girl held her own.  And mom mentioned something about the woman who’d been in the bed next to her’s and the therapist told her “I got rid of her for you”.  Mom really liked this.  (I guess the woman had had surgery and was very, very vocal about the pain.  Screamed, I guess. Anyway, the therapist asked mom again to stand up and walk.  Mom did her little pout thing, said she wasn’t going to.  The therapist put her hands on her hips, looked at mom and said “you think so?” The next time she was asked, mom did as she was told. Mom made it over to the walker, then they left the room and were gone for about ten or fifteen minutes.  We had to fill out a list of what we’d brought (I’d labeled it all before we went) and we told them we’d be bringing the laundry home.  Less chance of anything getting lost.  They made it back to the room and mom plopped down on the chair.  The therapist asked her a few questions about how her legs felt, then said goodbye to my mom, said goodbye to us and left.  Mom was looking worn out.

She got back into bed when one of the nurses came in and the nurse raised the bar at the side of the bed.  Mom watched with interest and the nurse explained it was so she wouldn’t fall out.  Mom understood.  I went and sat by mom and she asked about the television a couple of times.  The one that was there belonged to the screamer and there was none now. (Mental note, find old television and bring it in.)  It was past her lunchtime, so Brian and I said goodbye.  On the way out we asked about filling out the paperwork. 

We had a nice talk with the administrator and found out that cable is $30.00 a month, but that was okay if it would entertain mom.  And they have an onsite ombudsman and tomorrow we’ll get the Power of Attorney and Living Will taken care of.  On the paperwork, there was a page about critical care, what did she want and it was hard to think about.  If her heart stops, she wants it left at that.  If she needs a tube to be fed, then don’t do it.  It’s different to talk about it, but now, there it was, on paper.  At a care center.  *sigh*

We got home,  checked the mail, made some phone calls, then went to CostCo.  While at CostCo, the doctor called.  He wanted to change the anti-depressent she was on to one that also had an appetite stimulant in it.  Fine with me. Since she’d only taken a couple of the others (started Thursday, had one Friday and Saturday, none that I knew of since), he felt it wouldn’t be a problem changing over.

We got home, unpacked and I went in search of the television.  Guess what? Brian told me there wasn’t one, that I’d taken the old one from the extra room and put it in the office when we got the new one for the exercise room.  I don’t know if I really think that’s what happened, but it sounded good.  So, off to WalMart again.  There was a 13” for under $95.00, a 14” for under $120.00 and a 13” with a built-in DVD player for $130.00.  Brian had said that he’d like to get one for up at the property, since he’s planning on getting his little wind generator going soon.  He said you can pick up three stations over the air and a TV might be nice.  I called him and described the choices, because when I’d left, he requested I keep it under $100.00.  I got the one with the DVD player.  *lol*  I also picked up a table to put it on.  I knew I had to take it out of the box, because I didn’t want mom thinking we went out and bought her a new tv.  I wanted her to think it’s one we had here at home, that we weren’t using.

So, I get home, test the television, it works.  Time to get the cats.

I tell Brian.  He’s reluctant.  I said I’d like to get it over with.  He got the carriers, put them in the car and off we went.  And now the cats are loose, and things have gotten quiet.  Miss E and Gracie are under the loveseat.  Ross and Bobby are under the sofa.  I’m here.  Brian’s feeding KittyMeeze and I’m finally feeling relaxed. 

I think it might be okay.

      Tuesday, January 08, 2008

tales from the parkside
06:21 PM - 01/08/2008

The topic: I found out this afternoon

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That major signs post to my mother being an alcoholic.

I drove over to pay the woman who stayed those two nights with her, then drove up to mom’s to check the mail.  The manager followed me up and we had a long talk, probably over an hour.  I found out some interesting things about my mother, but this knowledge went quite a way in explaining why she’s been acting the way she’s been acting.

I did call the care center and let them know what I’d found out. 

As for me, this changes a lot.  Now, I’m not feeling so sorry for her being in that place.  I don’t feel guilty at all right now.  I did, you know, thinking my poor mom in that place alone without her cats.  That’s gone.  Kaput. She’s where she needs to be.

I don’t think she’s admitted to anyone yet, that she drank as much as she did.  But right now, I feel more strongly that she’ll be able to go home.  And that we’ll do whatever we can to keep her dry. 

In the time between now and then, I think we’ll be able to come up with some pretty compelling reasons for her not to drink.

      Thursday, January 10, 2008

tales from the parkside
04:50 PM - 01/10/2008

The topic: The latest

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After my visit with my mother yesterday, I started to realize she may never live by herself again.  When I got there she was being taken to physical therapy. I watched a little television while they were gone, not doing much.  They wheeled her back into the room and told her she had to sit up, that it was part of the therapy.  I was told I could walk her around if I liked.  I took her outside to the parking lot.  It was a nice day, still a little cool.  She liked the feeling of the sun on her face. 

I brought her back in and she wanted to get in bed.  I told her the therapist said “no”.  She got a little petulant, but stayed put.  She started complaining of stomach pains and leg pains.  She spit up some bile, then said her legs really hurt.  And the pains in her stomach were getting really bad. She wanted to lay down.  I spoke with a nurse and she told mom it would be good for her to sit.  Within a half hour, mom threw up her breakfast.  After that was gone, the pains in her legs got really bad. She told me she needed to pee and I called for a nurse.  They were helping someone else and mom had to wait.  By the time they were there to take her in, she couldn’t stand at all.  She had no strength in her legs.  None. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

We got her to the toilet and with some difficulty, got her undressed.  She sat down on the toilet and couldn’t adjust herself on the seat. And she couldn’t go.  Finally another nurse came in and mom was allowed back to bed.  Her lunch arrived, she took a couple of bites, then puked that up.  I figured there wasn’t much I could do at this point, so I kissed her goodbye and left.

On the way home, I stopped and picked up Lonee’s remains.  When I got home, there was a message wanting to talk about releasing mom.  I called them back and was told that the insurance would only pay through Sunday.

 >:-(

Not good news at all.  She was on her way to a meeting and would call back later. 

I called Brian and told him I wanted him home to take the call.  Then I started looking for mom’s cats.  Found Miss, but couldn’t find Bobby.  Anywhere.  Miss was outside, she’d figured out the catdoor.  And if she figured it out, chances were good that so had he.  And even though I couldn’t believe it, he’d gotten out of the yard.  I called Brian again and he came home and helped look for Bob.  He looked everywhere I’d looked, checked the barrier on the fence and could find nothing. 

Damn.  I lost mom’s cat. One of her dearest possessions and I lost him. I kept hearing a dog bark in one of the yards behind us, I just knew he was over there.  We got all of the cats in and I left a bowl of food outside.  I checked outside sporadically to see if the motion sensor had been triggered.  It hadn’t.  I went outside with a flashlight, hoping to see the nighttime reflection of cat eyes.  My hopes were dashed.  We went to bed around nine and I woke up at 12:30.  Went back outside, still no sign of him. Came back in and walked through the house with the flashlight.  Went into the garage and flashed it around and who do you think I saw?  Yep, Bobby.  Whew, what a relief that was.

Brian stayed home today, we’d been planning on going to Disneyland today, staying the night and coming home tomorrow. Fortunately, the hotel let us change the date on our reservations instead of penalyzing us for the late cancellation.  He went with me to the facility.

We had a long talk with mom’s doctor.  I saw him on his way out.  I stopped him and reminded him who my mom was and intro’d him to Brian.

He said he was on the way to a meeting, but he’d talk with us. Brian told him of our concerns, with mom due to be released on Sunday. He went through the litany of tests they’d run on her and they couldn’t find anything (besides the malnourishment) wrong with her. No cancer, no pancreatitis, overall, no measurable organ damage. I shook my head and told him had bad she’d been the day before. He said “she’s looking great this morning, would you like to see her? She’s in physical therapy right now.”

Oh.

My.

God.

This couldn’t be the same woman I left yesterday, the one who had no strength in her legs, who was puking up her breakfast and lunch, who couldn’t sit right on the toilet because she couldn’t move her legs. It just couldn’t be the same one. (Funny, this morning I asked God if He could hit her really hard with His miracle stick….)

She was sitting in a wheelchair bouncing a gigantic ball to a therapist on the other side. She was present. And accounted for. Mind and body. The doctor asked her if she could stand up. Yeah, no problem. And she stood right up, not using her hands to push herself up at all.  Then he did a little foot stomping in place. Left, right, left, right, almost like a little dance. He asked her to do that. She did. She said “there! ya happy?"

yippee

Unbelievable.

And that’s why they said she’d be okay to go home Sunday.

I went back into the lobby with the doctor, just shaking my head. I wanted to know who that woman was I sat with yesterday. She most likely had been a little sick, that’s why she threw up. They hadn’t heard about the fact that she couldn’t stand up or sit on the toilet or anything like that. The doctors stressed that it’s possible her memory will never be good. (It never really was, mom has always had selective hearing, which leads to seletive remembering. Ever since I was a kid, if it didn’t pertain to her, she didn’t remember it. Very often.) But her current memory loss might be due to the alcohol addiction. (I can hear mom “but it’s just beer, not alcohol”.)

And you know how I said my mom plays me? Remember her legs going out and being so painful that she couldn’t stand up or get herself on the toilet? The nurse who was there when her legs went out told me this morning, when I left, mom got up and walked to the bathroom. Sat on the pot, did everything by herself without any help. 

And on the list of why she should live with us, this is on the why she shouldn’t side.

Now, Brian and I don’t think she’s good enough to be on her own just yet, not strong enough, so we’re going to see about having her stay a week or so longer, in the same situation she is now, getting fed and physical therapy. She actually was better today than I’ve seen her in months. And as long as she can get around, I really don’t see an immediate problem with her living by herself. But right now, it’s too soon to make that call.

The place she’s at is $205 a day, for the treatment she’s getting. She’s never been on a cruise or treated her to anything special, she’s just been socking away the money. Time to start spending it if it makes her well.

As long as she doesn’t start drinking again. But this time, I’ll me a lot more visible in her life. And mom, that’s not a threat, that’s a promise.

      Sunday, January 13, 2008

tales from the parkside
08:23 AM - 01/13/2008

The topic: Well meaning “friends”

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If one more person tells me that they knew there was a problem with mom, but they didn’t want to interfere, by the way, how is she doing?  I’m gonna find the closest stick and poke them in the eye with it.

I’m getting really annoyed with this.  If you considered yourself such a “good friend”, then why the hell didn’t you contact me when you suspected things were getting bad?  Why didn’t you tell me when you first noticed she was shitfaced at five in the afternoon?  Why didn’t you contact me when you saw her stained clothing and her difficulty in standing up?  And now you say “if there’s anything you need, just let me know…”

Oh, you were afraid she’d get pissed off at you?  Well, guess what? She’s not pissed off, I am.  And I most likely won’t be so polite the next time someone lays that kind of crap on me.  Does it ease your conscience? That you thought about taking action? Fat lot of good that did. Tell ya what.  You feel badly enough about it, about your fear of Vi, how about kicking in for her hospital stay?  Insurance runs out in a couple of days, it’s $205.00 day.  I’ll be waiting for your donation.  Oh, you can’t donate?  Then do me a favor.  Bugger off.  Lose my phone number.  You see me at her house, just stay the hell away from me.

I just found yesterday that our phone service has a feature “Call Screen”, where I can block up to ten numbers from getting through to my home.  I set the first one up last night.

      Tuesday, January 15, 2008

catstuff
08:58 AM - 01/15/2008

The topic: It’s TUMMY TUESDAY #75!

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Today’s tummy is brought to you by the lovely little Rory Gilmore, showing how to play the game. I recently cleaned up one of these toys (oddly, every single one of them has ended up on the patio, I have no idea how this happened) and brought it inside.  The cats love it.

This morning Rory took a turn.

 


click for a larger pic

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If you’ve got a Tummy Tuesday blog entry, feel free to post the link in the comment section or trackback to this entry. And if you put a link back to this page, then more kitties will get to show off their tummies!

tales from the parkside
03:17 PM - 01/15/2008

The topic: I think mom’s gonna be okay

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I was pretty concerned yesterday, so much so that last night, I called and found out the name of the antidepressant she was on.  I did some research and many of the things going on with her sounded like side-effects of the Remeron.  This morning, I called her doctor and left a message.  I wanted some more information about this.

I went in to see her and she was up and walking around.  By herself!  She looked great and her mental acuity was obvious.  Sunday, she asked me where my dad was, why hadn’t he come to see her.  She asked about her sister, Cora.  Yesterday, she asked me if I was dating anyone. 

Today, all that fuzz was gone. There were a few iffy things, but she was so much better than the day before. 

And on Sunday and yesterday, she was sleeping when I go there, today, as I said, she was up and about.  If she keeps going like this, I don’t doubt she’ll be home before the month is out.  And it makes my heart sing, to know she might well be able to go back home, her home of twenty years.

Keep the fingers crossed and the prayers going up.

      Wednesday, January 16, 2008

tales from the parkside
07:01 PM - 01/16/2008

The topic: Mom probably won’t be going home

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not to the place she’s called home for all these years.

She was doing so great yesterday. Today, she told me about the family of the woman in the bed next to her, having a seance last night. With candles, wearing sheets to look like ghosts, the whole thing.

She also started to threaten to tell on me.  She’s done this more than once and I have absolutely no idea what she’s talking about. I asked her today again and she points her fingers at me and said “you look back into that brain of yours, look real deep until you find something”. 

Oooooo-kay.

Her doctor was there and he said it’s possible she also has some dementia on top of the underlying cause (alcoholism). That her brain is damaged because of it. One of the doctors said maybe she might be okay in six months, but maybe she won’t. 

Brian was with me, he took her for the walk (I was very aggravated with her, I know she can’t help it, but that knowledge really doesn’t sink in when she’s getting on me, because she’s done it my entire life and I fail to differentiate between the nasty woman in that bed, the sick one, and the nasty woman who raised me) and at some point she told him “I can get a beer anytime I want one; I don’t want one, but I could get one if I wanted”. 

She can’t live alone. She is not a functioning alcoholic. And there’s the possibility a “friend” would feel sorry for her and buy her a beer. Even though it interferes with her medicine, I think we all know someone who would like to help out in a situation like that.

We went over to her house to find out what exactly her financial situation is and the park manager came up.  She gave us a card for a woman who helps place people in assisted living. She called the woman and gave her Brian’s cell. And Brian got a call from her, and it looks like she can help.

We think she’s got enough income to pay for a room with a roommate, which we also think is a good idea. Mom is a people person (just not a daughter person) and she would be better off around other folks.

catstuff
08:31 PM - 01/16/2008

The topic: Meet our new kitty cats!

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click for a larger pic

Meet Bobby.  Bobby found a nice spot in the rafters.  He finally started coming down three nights ago.  Early this morning, he actually came into the bedroom and got a little petting from the two of us.  He’s nocturnal, which would lead me to believe that contrary to what she told me, mom did not get him in at night.  A neighbor told me that’s the reason she left one of her car windows down.


click for a larger pic

And here’s Miss E (as in Elizabeth).  She’s very quiet and reserved.  She’s also Lisa’s half sister; just six months older (same mom).  I think she likes it here, although she’s not overly fond of the other cats.  She’s started sleeping in the bedroom. I find it telling that she stays in the open now. When she was at moms, she was always hiding.  I think because mom could be loud at times. 

It’s a lot quieter here.

I think they’ll do okay. Miss has already been outside a couple of times, the last time she hightailed it into the house when she was a little nervous about being outside.  Bobby hasn’t been out yet, we aren’t going to let him out until he’s more secure being inside first.

There are more pictures of these two over in the album (link at bottom of page).

      Thursday, January 17, 2008

tales from the parkside
06:43 PM - 01/17/2008

The topic: What can I say?

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Mom was having a good day today.  And when we got there she was sleeping.  Usually takes her a while to focus after I wake her up. 

Yanno, I told Brian that I’m glad he was with me yesterday and today, because if he hadn’t seen the huge change with his own eyes, I don’t doubt that he’d think I was crazy.  One day she’s good, the next day, she’s bad.

The memory isn’t good, but it seems to be getting better.  Meanwhile, we got our first call about someone who has room for her.  Brian will be checking them out next week.

      Saturday, January 19, 2008

salestuff
10:55 AM - 01/19/2008

The topic: Valentine’s earrings

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Now up at the store.

tales from the parkside
12:58 PM - 01/19/2008

The topic: Someday

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mom will be going home, back to her house on the hill.  I just know it.  It may not be next month, it may not be the month after, but she’s had three good days in a row now.  She’s looking much better and this morning, she actually told me “I’m starting to feel human again.”

Yesterday, she brought up going home and we told her that we didn’t think she’d be well enough by the end of the month and that we felt it would be better to move her into an assisted living situation. Still pay the rent on her mobile home, so she knows we think she will go back to that eventually.  But right now, she’s not strong enough, either mentally or physically to handle being there on her own.

We’ve been getting calls from local assisted living places and next week, Brian and I will go check them out and choose the ones we feel might be best for her, then let her make the choice.  I talked with her about that this morning and she’s okay with it.

She told me “not everybody gets a second chance; I’m lucky.  I’m not going to blow it this time.”

      Sunday, January 20, 2008

tales from the parkside
08:49 AM - 01/20/2008

The topic: After falling back asleep because

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Bobby is still on his nocturnal outdoor time, and he prowls the house, crying, while we’re trying to sleep, the phone rings at 7:20.  Not a good thing to hear.

It’s the care center where mom is.  They ask to speak with me.

“You’re mama was smoking in her room this morning, did you give her cigarettes?”  banghead

*sigh*

No, we didn’t give her any cigarettes. I was told they took away her lighter (WTF?) and told her not to smoke in the room.  And if we brought her cigarettes, to give them to the desk and not to mom. 

Brian and I think she got them from one of the other patients.  She doesn’t have that many visitors.

Brian will bring this up with her, though, not me.  And when she gets defensive and says they shouldn’t have called us and tattled on her, he’ll tell her they were just doing their job and she’s the one at fault.

If she does this with cigarettes now, what will she do with beer when she’s back on her own? 

I won’t go through this again if it’s because of drinking.  I just won’t do it.  She’ll be on her own.

tales from the parkside
07:37 PM - 01/20/2008

The topic: Brian was wondering

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if my relationship with my mom will be any better once she’s clean and sober (if she gets clean and sober).  You know, how much of the crap in the past, the hurtful things, is because of the alcohol.  

There were times that we had fun and I felt the bond that so many mothers and daughters seem to have, a closeness that I’ve often not felt with her.  Not because I didn’t want it, but because I’ve often felt, even when I was a kid, that she just didn’t like me very much.  Yeah, sure, she loves me, but she just doesn’t like me.

We visited her today and the smoking thing seemed to be a huge fun lark to her.  Forget the fact that she was smoking right next to the oxygen that was at the end of the woman’s bed next to her. 

And for the first time in almost a week, the rails of her bed were back up in place and she was hooked up to the alarm so she couldn’t get out of bed and walk around without supervision.  She was doing so well.  She says she doesn’t remember where the cigarette or lighter came from.  We think she does know, she just won’t say.  I don’t think it was anybody in the care center, I think she had well meaning company Saturday night. 

I wish people would quit doing her favors.  *lol*

      Monday, January 21, 2008

otherstuff
03:08 PM - 01/21/2008

The topic: Tax time

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I had to get W-2 forms for Mark.  It sucks that the least amount available is ten forms. 

Over seventeen bucks. That sucks.

      Tuesday, January 22, 2008

catstuff
07:29 AM - 01/22/2008

The topic: It’s TUMMY TUESDAY #76!

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click for a larger pic

Today’s tummy belongs to Richie Cunningham.  He’s snuggled up in a favorite chair with Rory Gilmore. 

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If you’ve got a Tummy Tuesday blog entry, feel free to post the link in the comment section or trackback to this entry. And if you put a link back to this page, then more kitties will get to show off their tummies!

      Thursday, January 24, 2008

tales from the parkside
04:45 PM - 01/24/2008

The topic: Mom’s slowly getting better

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It’s great to see her making connections that she couldn’t make two weeks ago.  I took pictures at her place yesterday and made a slideshow from them.  Took it in this morning and there were places she knew right off.  “That’s my front door.”  “That’s the kitchen window.” 

And she’s remembering that I was there before.  That’s new this week.  The first couple of weeks, she didn’t remember me being there the day before. So, that’s good.

I’d like to make a request.  If anybody who reads this would like to send her a card while she’s where she is (probably through the end of February), it would sure be appreciated.  As the years have passed, her circle of friends has gotten smaller and I think cards from fellow cat people might make her days a little brighter.  If you want the addy, just leave a comment and I’ll send you the information.

      Friday, January 25, 2008

catstuff
05:55 PM - 01/25/2008

The topic: If you’ve never visited the lolcats website

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I think you should.  Some of the pictures and captions are hilarious. 

The spelling is atrocious, but it’s supposed to be from the cat’s point of view, so it’s okay.  This is one of the most recent photos and I think it’s one of the funniest things I’ve read in a while

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Icanhascheezburger and *lolcats* website

      Tuesday, January 29, 2008

catstuff
10:30 AM - 01/29/2008
We found two pennies on our walk this morning

The topic: It’s TUMMY TUESDAY #77!

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click for a larger pic

When I’d missed many tummy opportunities due to the fact the camera wasn’t readily accessible, I did a quick dash this morning when I spied Sammy taking a little cat bath. 

Good job, Sammy Bo Bammers!
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If you’ve got a Tummy Tuesday blog entry, feel free to post the link in the comment section or trackback to this entry. And if you put a link back to this page, then more kitties will get to show off their tummies!

      Wednesday, January 30, 2008

catstuff
11:32 AM - 01/30/2008

The topic: Vote!

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funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Click on the picture to vote for it, get it on page 1!  Click the fifth burger. 

kthxbai,

Rory Gilmore

      Thursday, January 31, 2008

tales from the parkside
04:57 PM - 01/31/2008

The topic: Mom update

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She started getting cards last Saturday.  And she got one card on Monday, but none since.  I knew they should be arriving, so I figured today I’d ask.
More on that later.

I’d been trying to get in to see mom at her midday meal, so I could make her eat more than she’d been eating.  Monday, Tommy, the guy who brings her meals said he was going to try to get her on another meal plan, one that would be easier for her to chew.  She wears dentures, got these a while back and they’ve never fit right, in my opinion, they never looked natural like her previous dentures did.  Because of the bad fit, she has a hard time chewing, I found this out last year when we went to WalMart and she couldn’t eat the muffin on an Egg McMuffin. And he said he’d watch her eat to make sure she ate enough. There’s actually a name for that, he called himself a “feeder”.  I’d brought my camera with me and I took a couple of shots.  I had an idea.

Mom has pictures of herself all over her home. I’ve always found this a little strange, but she’s always done it. Maybe a little on the vain side? Anyway, I’d wanted to take a picture of her at the beginning of this and she said “wait until I feel better”.  I wish now I’d taken one.  Tuesday morning, after I put up the Tummy Tuesday entry, I printed out one of the pictures and cut the extra off.  I found a push pin and planned on putting this picture up, where mom could easily see it.  I don’t know about you, but looking in the mirror everyday doesn’t drive home the fact that you need to do something about yourself like a picture does.  Pictures are why I started watching my diet last year.  (God, when did I get that fat?)  When I got there to see mom, I put the picture up on the wall by her bed.  She said “I’ve gotten so skinny!”  Yes, you have.  “I’ve got to start eating!”  Bingo!

The Kaiser doctor came in (the one who told me my mother was “dingy” - I guess a clinical term?) and spoke with her about her eating and the dentures were mentioned.  He told me he advised getting her to the dentist to have them checked out.  And also about getting the softer food (she was still on the normal diet).  She did a fair job of finishing the chicken and then we went for a walk to the lobby, she using the walker.  When we got to the lobby, she sat in one of the nice overstuffed sofas they have and just rested, then we went back to the room.  I don’t know how much physical therapy she gets on a daily basis and I hoped that having her walk in the afternoon would be a good addition to her current regimen.  Exercise helps circulation, circulation helps healing.  And the exercise might tire her out and give her a better sleep, a more restful sleep.  Besides strengthening her muscles (what muscles?).  It certainly shouldn’t hurt her.

When I got home, I made an appointment with her dentist for yesterday at 1:30.  And yesterday, mom got to go on a little outing.

At the dentist, she was found to have two cavities and the doctor advised bringing her in for a teeth cleaning, have the cavities filled and be fitted for new dentures.  This will happen next Thursday. 

After the dentist, we brought her by her house, so she knew it was still there, it hadn’t been sold and no one was living in it.  She walked up to the back stairs and up them without a walker!  We hung out for about an hour, she just laying on the sofa.  She did get up at one point and we got her to a bathroom where she shaved the whiskers off of her face.  Then we went back to the care center. And while Brian parked the car, mom and I went back into the facility, mom still walking without the walker (I was very close to her, though, so she could grab on).  We went back to her room and she laid down in bed.  She was one tired lady.  I put her laundry away and had Brian give her the calendar to mark off the day.

Today I went in a little later than usual, since I had paperwork to catch up on.  She was laying on her side, not sleeping, but her eyes were closed.  I said “hi!” she got up and I said “do you want to sit up?” since the bed was flat.  She said “no” and I just looked at her and she said “okay” and I raised the head of the bed for her.  We talked a little, I asked if she remembered what she did yesterday and she kind of remembered going to see a doctor, she said “it wasn’t Russell” and I said “yes, it was”. So, her memory is getting a little better.  We went for the walk down the hall, to the lobby and I tried to find out why she wasn’t getting her cards.  They were arriving, they just weren’t making it to the patient’s room.  They’d be delivered later.

While were sitting there (she likes those sofas), we talked and out of the blue, she said “I don’t know why I always tried to pick a fight with you”.  I told her “I thought it was because you never liked me”.   And then she talked of the bad financial situations dad would get them into when I was growing up and she’d look at me and think “if it wasn’t for you, I could leave this mess”.  She resented me. I told her she’d always picked on me and when she’d was drinking, it was even worse. And that’s why we never had a very good relationship, because I wanted to steer clear of her.  She said “when I was growing up, I vowed that no matter how many kids I had, I’d never treat them like my mother treated me; I think she treated me the way she did because I was the oldest”.  And I could tell she felt bad. She started to cry, but I changed the subject. I don’t know if I’ll ever be in a place to tell her it’s okay, what she did. Maybe never.

Anyway, we walked back to her room and she got back into her bed.  And shortly after that, the mail showed up. 

I handed mom the four cards that arrived this week and the first one was from England. Like before, I had her read them out loud to me. Her reading was better today than last weekend.  She smiled at the pictures on the card and said “that’s very nice” when finished. Then we went to the next one, full of pictures of kitty cats.  She read the back of each card and made comments on all of the cats.  Then she read the card to me.  Next was a card from another internet buddy and when mom got to the part where it said “I pray for you”, she started to cry.  It really touched her that someone she didn’t know would offer up prayers for her to get well.  And then there was the card from Texas, another beautiful card. She was overwhelmed by how nice they all were.

After each card, she was very careful to put it back in the envelope. She’s going to hang them up when she gets home.

And that was another thing about today’s visit.  She’s starting to talk in terms of “when I get home”. 

It’s good to hear.

So, I think there are a number of factors working together right now.

The antidepressants are finally kicking in.
She’s drying out from alcohol and nicotine.
She’s getting much needed rest.
She’s eating.
She’s getting more exercise.
I’m there every day.

I showed her on the calendar the day that we hope she’ll be going home.  February 29.  I hope it’s sooner.

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lisaviolet is sixty something, married with no kids, takes care of lots of cats, likes taking photographs, loves Southern California weather and spends altogether too much time avoiding her responsibilities.

In her spare time, she makes pretty things to sell in her store.

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