Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mom's Adventures in Rehab Part II

Some people choose a nursing home facility based on the quality of care, while my mom's choice was based on the quality of snacks. This was my mom's third stint in rehab after her five day hospital stay. Her last visit was about two years ago, so we knew the schedule by heart. The old fashioned ice-cream parlor was open every day until 4:00, and on Friday afternoons they served pizza, and had live music. All of the activities took place in their Main Street area which was located next to the beauty shop.

Last Friday, I stopped off at my mom's room to drop off  her laundry before I met her at the beauty parlor. I noticed her roommate was just sitting there looking at the wall, so I asked if she'd like to go listen to the music downstairs. She was eager to leave, but was worried that her husband wouldn't be able to find her. I wheeled her over to the front desk and left word where we were going. Then I checked with her nurse to see if she had any dietary restrictions. After we got the okay, we ran into my mom's dear friends. I invited them to join us on the elevator, so they could surprise my mom. I felt like Dorothy leading her friends down the yellow brick road.

As I escorted the couple inside the beauty shop, I set my mom's roommate near a table, so she could listen to the music. Then I told her I'd be back in a minute to get her something to eat. She decided to also have her hair done in the beauty shop, so I brought her inside with us. She politely offered to wait until the beautician was available.

Though they had shared a room for three weeks, this was the longest conversation her roommate, and I ever had. It may have been the very first time she and my mom had actually spoken to each other. Their room was separated by a tall cabinet and curtain. Since they were both in wheelchairs, their paths only crossed on the way to the bathroom, or coming or going from the room. My mom was in charge of the windows and the air conditioning, while her roommate was in charge of blasting her TV loud enough, so my mom never had to turn on the volume on her set.

As my mom was busy socializing with our close family friends in the beauty shop, my first job was to keep the snacks coming. I brought in slices of pizza and a root beer float for the happy couple to share. My second job was to translate over the noise from the blow dryer, and background music. Meanwhile, her roommate was pleasantly perched on the opposite end of the room.

Suddenly, the mood changed as the hairdresser started whispering to the manicurist. When I asked what was wrong, she pointed to the oxygen tank on the back of the roommate's wheelchair. I didn't think it was a problem, because it wasn't in use. Then both the beautician and the manicurist explained how oxygen tanks and blow dryers do not mix.

After I apologized and offered to remove her from the beauty shop, she asked if my mom would mind taking a break, so she could quickly comb her roommate's hair before we all blew up. I distracted my mom with another slice of pizza, while she worked her magic, and then I whisked her roommate back up to the room. All the while, she couldn't stop thanking me for transporting her to and from the beauty shop. She kindly added, "Your mom is adorable, and she's way too young to have you for a daughter."

Fortunately, everyone made it out of the beauty shop alive. Then I noticed my mom's bangs were in her eyes, and asked why she didn't have the hairdresser trim them. She replied, "Do you think I could trust her to cut one hair on my head?"

My mom asked me to bring her a pair of scissors, but I thought it would be better if she waited a week to go to her favorite beautician close to home. A few days later, I noticed there was something different about my mom. Then it hit me. When I brought her caregiver for a visit, she must have slipped her some contraband scissors, so she could trim her own bangs. I told Mom she would be an ideal prison inmate, and without missing a beat she quipped, "Well, I do look good in orange."

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

IWSG: Reflections On A to Z


My first A to Z Challenge was in 2011, shortly after I began blogging. I couldn't believe how friendly everyone was. Not only did they willingly read my stories, but non-family members actually began to follow me. I signed on again for the next two challenges, and decided to take a break in 2014, as we were leaving on vacation toward the end of April. During the first few weeks before we left, it felt strange not participating in the challenge. As difficult as the challenges had been in the past, I missed the camaraderie of moaning and groaning with all of my blogging friends.This year it had an opposite effect, as it proved to be therapeutic in an unexpected way.

During the last few months my mom has groan progressively weaker. Though she has been using a walker for years, her legs have become more wobbly, and she has been relying more and more on her wheelchair. I took her to the doctor in March who in turn, referred her to three other doctors: a cardiologist, a rheumatologist, and a hematologist. I told my mom she didn't need to waste time visiting all of these specialists, but she insisted on seeing them anyway.

In early April she was scheduled for a lying down stress test with her cardiologist. By this time, she was so weak, that it was very difficult for her caregiver and me to get her in  and out of the car. After the results came back fine, I asked the cardiologist to test her legs for blood clots, check her for a urinary tract infection, and to also see if she was dehydrated. Though these are normally jobs for an internist, I thought he could send some orders down to the lab, since we were already at the hospital anyway. After he declined, we wheeled her over to her internist's office, but as my mom expected, it was her day off. After I dropped my mom off at home, I paged her doctor who made arrangements to have these tests taken by a visiting nurse the following day. For reasons unknown, all of the tests came back negative.

Over the next few weeks we went to the other doctors on her list. One of the offices was so filthy, that I refused to take my mom in. This building was so rundown that it only had a one person elevator that looked like it was on the verge of collapse. It was getting to the point where every time I saw my mom, I wanted to check her in to the hospital. My brother, and her friends in the retirement community were also quite concerned.

On April 17th, I picked my mom up to take her to the beauty shop. She had grown considerably weaker, and her doctor had ordered some follow up tests to be administered by her visiting nurse. During the ride home, I told her that this would be a great time to check herself in to the hospital. She refused again. I knew my brother would be visiting shortly, and mentioned that she would  probably be going at some point that day. Several hours later, my brother phoned me at 9 PM, to tell me they were heading over to the ER.

My mom spent a few days in the hospital, before she was sent to a nursing home for rehab. It turns out that she was suffering from dehydration, a urinary tract infection, and blood clots in each of her legs. She still likes her doctor, and plans on continuing to use her. Fortunately, she hasn't lost her charm, and has deservedly so mouthed the words, "You are dumber than dirt," to both my brother and me while the nurses weren't looking.


Being called "dumber than dirt," has unleashed a whole bag of insecurities for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.  I can't tell you how helpful it was to read through the encouraging comments during A to Z. It really was such a welcome diversion. I'd like to blame these events on getting so far behind in following up on the comments, but truth be told I still would've fallen behind. In any event, I hope to get back to everyone this week. Not only did your comments cheer me up, but my mom got a kick out of reading them too.

Thanks to Arlee Bird for another successful A to Z Challenge. I'd also like to thank Alex,  Rhonda,  Hilary,  Delores,  Joanne,  Robyn,  Yvonne.  Lee,   Chrys,  Cherdo,  Dixie,   Birgit,  Sue,  Jo,  Julie, and Al  for all of your support.

I'm also thankful for having this wonderful group cheering from the sidelines: Arleen,  Stephen,  Robin,  Gorilla,  Debra, and  Shady.  I also appreciate everyone else who took the time to pop in and say hello. I'm sorry if I left anyone out. Thanks for making my fourth A to Z truly memorable, and for keeping me sane in the process.