10

If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother

I’m sure there are many of you (well, two that I know of for sure) who may be wondering just what’s been going on in The Eldercare Underground.

The answer to that is, briefly, lots.

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version.

My mother suffered three falls in the space of five days.  The last fall landed her back in the ER on the night before Independence Day.  Ironic, no?  Only two hours were spent at that facility this time and she was discharged back to The Hotel, with no broken bones.  Luckily.

The ER doctor, The Hotel’s manager and I came to the agreement that my mother was too risky a prospect to be allowed to stay where she was.  Sandra, the manager, was very concerned for her safety if there were a fire and the aides couldn’t get her out of the building under her own power.  The bouts with pneumonia and the shingles (and her own aversion to staying mobile) have left her with little to no stamina for walking or even standing for any length of time.

So we moved her to the nursing home next door.  This is the third facility she’s been in since her initial fall at home back in October.  The paperwork has become a real snap.  I could do it with my eyes closed.

I got her one of the larger private rooms (didn’t want to repeat the whole Annie debacle again) and I’m very grateful to the owners of the nursing home for taking $600 off the monthly rate on her room.  Their son and daughter-in-law lived across the street from my mother and they had become quite fond of her (yeah, more irony) so they graciously offered to discount the price of her room. 

The whole complex of four nursing home/rehab/assisted living facilities is run very well and everyone couldn’t be nicer. 

We moved my mother in on Friday and I’ve been by every day since then to make sure she’s doing okay and also to get to know the folks who’ll be taking care of her.

Yesterday when I got there, my mother was napping, so I just put away her clean clothes and left without waking her.  She looked very small and frail, lying atop her bed with a white thermal blanket pulled up to her chin.

We couldn’t bring everything over from The Hotel to put in her new room, so we limited it to an antique dry sink/dresser, a favorite chair, her TV, and a couple of pictures for her walls—one of them a still life she’d painted in her younger days that I’d always liked.  There already were the hospital bed (which I covered with the new comforter I’d recently bought her–with matching pillows), and an enormous recliner that someone had left. 

When my mother sat in it, she looked like Edith Ann, of Lily Tomlin fame.

So when I left yesterday, I was feeling somewhat depressed that here it had come down to this:  a life reduced to one room and a few belongings. 

A downward spiral.

But.

Today, when I popped into her room, she was seated in her wheelchair, all pink-cheeked and smiling, chatting away with the activities director about what she likes and doesn’t like to do. 

And, I noticed she’d had a manicure—when just last week she refused to have the one I had set up for her when she was still at The Hotel.  Gah.

She was keeping up her end of the conversation pretty well, except when he asked her if she knew where she was and she said,

“The YMCA.”

Then he asked her if she knew who I was, and she said,

“Yes.  My mother-in-law.  I mean, my former mother-in-law.”

That got a good laugh.

Larry, the activities guy, told me that she had participated in a rousing game of balloon volleyball that morning—and liked it.  He had great hopes that she would become further involved in the goings-on at the home.  My mother smiled and seemed enthusiastic.

Then Larry left and the litany of complaints began.  She told me she couldn’t wait to “quit” this place and that she wouldn’t live in Texas if you gave it to her, etc., etc.

I left feeling much better about the whole move.  If my mother is quiet or indifferent, you know something’s wrong. 

If she’s full of complaints—all’s right with the world.

This is me, not on drugs, but wanting to be.