Friday, December 19, 2008

Trying to Get Into The Spirit

My mother and me when we lived up in Massachusetts.

This is the 1st Christmas ever that I am having a difficult time with getting in the spirit...which is ever so fleeting. But I am experiencing a great sense of loss and regrets and finances are tight...which is the least of it.

2 people I loved died this year. One... our aunt who has been with us every Christmas for the 33 years we have been married and a lifetime of Christmases for my husband. My dear friend my mentor died in the spring. I know they are both not suffering anymore. And my former neighbor died last month although we weren't close...we were neighbors for almost 30 years.

And Mom recently transitioned to a nursing home and experiencing significant physical/mental decline and mixing things up badly.

Last night when I arrived on her floor, she was sitting alone in the wheel chair by the nurse's station. They were not attending to her need for the commode and she was experiencing pain. I requested help for her THREE times over about a 45 minute period of time. What chance in hell does she or any other resident have of getting help when they may not be able to clearly communicate their needs? Or even if they can... will the staff listen? I am sure they are very busy and it is difficult work in a difficult environment. I also know that not everyone is diligent about their job. It is very difficult to leave my mother there. I find myself saying what seems like a thousand good byes before I disappear into the elevator.

And I'm also concerned with the yelling I hear or people with disturbed mental states and confusion wondering into her room. And my mother doesn't always differentiate that they have an altered mental status and so sometimes yells at them and other times is compassionate. I try to tell her they have Alzheimers and aren't able to process what she is saying and try not to be too upset. I left on a good note last night.

I didn't go tonight, but called instead. I am so disappointed and saddened that she is unable to use her phone in her room. She either can't get to it or doesn't remember. She doesn't use her TV remote and instead had it tucked away in her eye glass case and she can't turn the radio on and off. Also, she does not seem to have the drive to go for her puzzle books or read her books that are there. All this decline in 2 months.

I am not a medical person and so I honestly am shocked at this decline. The doc mentioned maybe she had some mini strokes, but he didn't say that was definite. I feel we are on borrowed time.

Tonight...she was extremely upset and yelled at me when I wasn't understanding her. She was not responding appropriately to anything I was talking about or asking her. She wanted to know when we were picking her up for Christmas and I explained it wasn't until next week. She yelled at me 3 times to get her out of there!!!!

Just rip my heart out and stomp on it!

My mother could be testy with me but this was different. She was angry - mean. It felt like she blamed me for her circumstances. Or maybe...all these years she has been very angry with me and it is coming out unrestrained. ? Or maybe it is just the altered mental status...or all of the above?

When I told her I was so sorry she was going through all this she snarled back, "I'll BET you are!" When I told her I loved her, she didn't believe me.

With all my heart... I am hoping she can come here for Christmas with the family and to see her cat Peachy. I will be so happy to see her unite with her cat. I think that will make her happy. And seeing our other animals.

I am very concerned with how I will assist her into the bathroom if she needs to because the guys can't help with that and my d-i-l is pregnant and I wouldn't ask the others either. Usually we come up from behind, each taking a side under her arm and lift simultaneously. But I watched an aide last night stand directly in front of her, grasp her under the arms, rock her and on the count of 3 rock her upward but then to a quick transition onto the bed. I don't know if that will work with the toilet. I am hoping to get her to use the walker briefly and so I will call PT about her and get her status with therapy.

You know... I'd be very happy to be a person who flits in and out of rooms checking to see if the residents need a channel changed, read to them, turn a radio on... or whatever they would need. I am concerned that nursing is so consumed with the more difficult stuff...that these little things are not always attended to.

And let me tell you...the guilt I feel about her being there is huge... but I do KNOW I could not do all that needs to be done 24/7.

And last week...they were wheeling her down the hall, when a resident suddenly turned their wheel chair and gashed her leg. I have not seen the injury.

But last night...I noticed that the dressing seemed to have blood and what looked like greenish puss... but ever so faintly. I was had to be from the inside because what would be causing that from the outside.

So twice... I inquired about the status of her wound and mentioned the dressing and also wanted to know how often the dressing is changed. The one aide stated they are supposed to be changed every day.

I said because she is diabetic, on coumadin and has vascular problems. Her legs are very, very scary dark... almost black... maybe black...almost all the way up to her knees. They have been discolored for years but NOT that dark. She does not have edema anymore though.

I informed the aide that her legs were ICE cold. She felt them.

So after her needs were taken care of...they put a blanket over her lap.

Now if I was not there last long would she have suffered with an impending bowel movement and how long would her legs be cold?

And tonight when I called...she mentioned really having to go to the bathroom. I asked to speak to the desk person, who did call someone over to assist her. But what if I hadn't called? I can't be there all the time.

I also asked her what was wrong with my mother tonight and she stated that she seems fine. She didn't seem particularly interested in what my concerns were and I know she doesn't usually work at that desk. My mother was not fine. Unless maybe her anger at me was genuine and she let me have it both barrels.

With all my heart and intellect... I believe patients that are either in a hospital or nursing home setting need an advocate to intercede for them if they are incapable of communicating their needs or even if they be there to back them up and see that things are done.

And as I say these things... I am ever mindful of the fact that medical facilities are usually short staffed and over worked... and I do... I really do appreciate their efforts.

So... last night I came home feeling sad and disturbed about it all and after tonight... I feel so powerless about all of this... and it hurts. And then I feel guilty for saying it hurts me...because look at all she is going through. THAT hurts!

Compound that with witnessing that she is not always attended to quickly enough and wonder what happens when I am not there.

And compound all that with the fact that we have had a difficult relationship but have always loved each other and having regrets hurts like heck.

I guess I would not be normal if I was not affected by these things.

I know what the true meaning of Christmas is... but somehow everything feels hollow this year. I have not even finished decorating and I always have it done right after Thanksgiving.

And I found myself questioning the point in our existence this week. I know there is one... but going through all of her things, finding my uncles handwritten thoughts (didn't know he did that) all caused me to think how we accumulate things, we have lives, we work, love, create life and we die. Why? What does it all mean in the end?

I actually am a person who has had a strong faith in God and so beyond all of this...believe there is a purpose to everything.

But these events...well they just stir up some profound feelings that I can't articulate very well.

All I this Christmas doesn't feel like Christmas... but I am trying.


Elaine said...

Oh, Seaspray.

I don't know what to say. In fact I don't think there is anything to say to help.


SeaSpray said...

Thanks Elaine. I am sorry to be a downer and I am going to just write positive things for the rest of the Holiday season. It was just bubbling over.

Hugs back to you. :)

Sage said...

Seaspray, like Elaine I have no idea of what to say to you... only that I feel for you it is incredibly difficult for a child to look after a parent in that way {{hugs}}

SeaSpray said...

Thank you Sage-This is where blogging is cathartic and having this medium to vent/work out my feelings has helped me immensely.

I very much appreciate your support via comments but do not expect it from anyone.

I worry that I am either boring people or being negative. But in everyone's life we have seasons of joy and season's of sadness, etc.

When all is said and done... I know this too will pass. Life goes on.

it helps me to write about it, but I don't want to be a downer for others.

Anonymous said...

When I had to put my mother in a nursing home, the hardest thing to deal with was her anger at me for "doing this to her."

We never got past that, so I don't have any advice. But I can offer sympathy and the knowledge that you aren't alone in the struggle.


SeaSpray said...

Hi Jim -thank you for your kind words of support. Intellectually ... I know that I am not alone, that almost everyone experiences this loss in varying degrees... but it feels like it. Nothing really prepares you for it either... you just have to go through it.

I am sorry that it was difficult for you as well.

Thanks for stopping by.

May you have a Merry Christmas! :)