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      Saturday, January 05, 2008

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

The topic: Yesterday, lab work…


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.


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.

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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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