17

Toeing the Line

Quick Note from the Eldercare Underground:  Grooming Edition

When my mother was still at the nursing/rehab facility the week before Christmas, they had a big party for all the residents. 

I wasn’t aware of the festivities because my brother (“What’s-his-name,” as my mother now calls him) was down from Colorado to see her and I hadn’t been by the home for a few days, mainly to let him get the full brunt of her focus for a change. 

I’m not dumb.

I was surprised to find, a day or so later, that my mother’s fingernails had been professionally done.  They were all filed and painted a pretty, deep red and the ring fingernail of each hand sported a decorative design. 

She said they had taken her to the beauty salon room the day of the party and did her nails, hair and even makeup for the Christmas big wing-ding. 

I’d noticed that her fingernails had been getting kind of long and ragged looking, so I was glad that she’d had that attention.  But it was her toenails that had caused me the most concern.

I hadn’t really had occasion to see her feet sans socks for quite some time and I have to say that when I did see them in the nursing home recently, I was pretty taken aback.  It was quite apparent that she hadn’t cut her toenails since maybe Kate Gosselin went on her pretend camping trip with Sarah Palin.

My mother was about to be transferred to her new digs at the “Hotel,” so when we saw her physician prior to the move I asked if someone would cut her toenails for her.  Please. 

Apparently, and probably with good reason, nobody wants to do that, so the job is referred out to a podiatrist. 

(Now, I was a dental hygienist for over 20 years and I have to say I’d rather muck about in people’s dirty mouths than fiddle around with their feet. )

Brief digression: 

When I was in college before getting accepted into the dental hygiene program, I attended some classes with pre-RN nursing students, many of whom already had been LVNs and had experience in the medical field.  When they found out a group of us were applying to the hygiene program, they told us they would rather “wipe a poopy bottom” than have to clean someone’s teeth.  To each her own, I guess.

Anyway, the doctor told us that there were two podiatrists in town:  one who made “house calls” to the nursing homes and one who didn’t.  Naturally, I asked for the one who would come to the Hotel and do the deed.

But several days after her move, the nurse at the Hotel called and said my mother had an appointment Jan. 5th with the one who didn’t make house calls.  Whatever.

So yesterday when I was walking from the parking lot into the Hotel, a man carrying a medical bag passed me on his way out.  It immediately struck me that this must be the “house call guy.” 

I have never personally encountered a doctor actually carrying a “little black bag.”  I always thought that was just on TV, like in “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”

When I opened the door to my mother’s room I found her sitting in one of the lovely chairs we’d brought from her house, leaning over and picking up something off of the carpet.

It was toenail clippings.

She was surrounded with them.  It reminded me of when we used to get our old pony’s hooves trimmed by the local farrier.

I helped her pick up the detritus and was grateful that the doctor had saved us (by us, I mean me) the trouble of another doctor’s visit and all that entails.

I’m just glad she didn’t get this look for her Christmas party: