What have I done? That is the question that haunts me daily now. Mom is at the General Hospital in a quiet part of the Emergency Dept. After 2 days there we are no further to any answer to the question of what to do with Mom than before. The doctor says there is no way Mom will be admitted but offers very little help except to say she has to go home to which I retort that that solution is not possible. We banter back and forth our voices raising. Mom watches from her bed, eyes wide but not really understanding what all is going on. My brother has his say but to no avail. We are at a standstill. Enter stage left an angel. No visible wings but a twinkle in her eye. She is a social worker she says. And she is here to help. She suggests putting Mom in a retirement home respite room while we wait for an emergency bed in a nursing home. It will cost she says but my brother quickly speaks up and says he will pay. We agree to try this and this lovely lady (aka angel) bustles to the phone to find us a miracle bed. And a miracle we get. The only bed in our whole city is ours to have that day! God is in our midst, despite the lack of hope we have felt. God is our hope, our answer when there is no answer. One small thing. Mom will have to have an assessment done by the retirement home to make sure she qualifies. It is scheduled for the next day. I pray, I get my church to pray and my friends to pray. At this point she can hardly stand up on her own, she is so weak and often not too lucid. We shall see. The next day, Mom is still very weak, kinda out of it and I feel my heart flutter as I wonder how she will do and what the options are if she is not accepted. The lady comes, big smile on her face, joking and very pleasant. She starts asking Mom questions and as we listen with trembling hearts, Mom rises to the challenge and does remarkably well. I am blown away. She jokes with the lady and remembers stuff I do not remember. Mom then stands on her own, not buckling at the knees. She transfers from the bed to the chair with little problem. I can only say that another one of God’s angels helped her a little, no, a lot. God again, showed up in a miraculous way! The lady, tidied up her papers, stood up and said we had the bed! I was ecstatic! Mom, exhausted, fell back to sleep. We ordered the transfer ambulance, and I went home to gather up her stuff. My friend helped me take a load out to the home as my brother was heading back to his home out of town. It was a lovely room, with a huge TV, a big window and her own bathroom. And it was right across from the nurse’s station which assured me somewhat. When Mom and me arrived later that day in the transfer ambulance, I busied myself putting her things away while she napped and got used to the room. When I left that night, she said, ” I think we hit the jackpot”. I thought we had too although that same question kept rearing it’s ugly head. “What had I done?”
Mom was in that room 3 weeks. During that time, I filled out all the papers to get her on an emergency list. I believe Mom helped herself get a permanent bed quickly by falling and hurting her hips and getting a goose egg on her head. She had to use the bathroom and pulled her bell and when noone came fast enough for her, she took it upon herself to take herself to the bathroom – a big no no. It just confirmed to everyone how much she needed a nursing home bed and soon.
Despite being happy to have the room, this was no easy transition for either of us. Mom struggled to understand why she could not go home. Almost every night when I left her, she begged me to either stay with her or to take her home. My heart was broken and I felt sick most of the time. Mom had a lot of her “bad days” where she was almost bedridden and sleeping all the time. The staff, who still did not know her well, prodded her to get up and get dressed for meals etc. – something Mom was not capable of doing when in this state. I had to do a lot of advocating for her and explaining what she was and was not capable of. She was in a retirement home where most of the people were mobile and active. This was not a permanent solution for mom and both we and the staff knew it. She had extra PSW support as well as extra nursing care. It took it’s toll on everyone. Mom and I had to also get used to doing things the institution’s way and not our way. When Mom fell, they could not give her a Tylenol because she did not have doctor’s order for Tylenol. What??? She can’t even have a Tylenol?? The nursing staff finally agreed I could give her a Tylenol but they would just look the other way. I stayed to way into the night that night to make sure Mom was comfortable – giving her a Tylenol every few hours. You can bet I got hold of the Doctor the next day to get her to put in an order for Tylenol. Simple things like this were overwhelming to me. Protocol, everywhere. I was used to looking after Mom, knowing her body as well as my own. I knew what she needed before she even asked. This was a whole other world I had to get used to. They gave her Senecot because she was on a drug that could severely bind her up. At home we had no problem with just having Mom eat a few prunes each day. I told that to the nurses but they continued to give her the drug and then wondered why she was having severe diarrhea! I was doing a large load of laundry every day for her as she was having numerous daily accidents. I again had to advocate for Mom and explain that the senecot was far too strong but the nurses would not stop it because they did not have a doctor’s order to stop it???!!! So we had to get a doctor’s order for that too. Protocol.
Mom liked the big TV but had no idea how to use the remote which was different than the one she had at home. I tried taping all the buttons she didn’t have to use but still she could not manage it. She had trouble with her meals. She could not cut her meat, or other food items and often gave up trying to eat her meals. It was a constant job to keep informing the staff of what she was capable of and what she would need help with. I guess this would happen anywhere but this was all new to Mom and I. I struggled with trying to keep things as smooth as possible for mom, coming out every day to see her for several hours. It was a long bus ride for me to get to her place but I could not leave her for long. The guilt of what I had done weighed heavily on me each and every day. I saw her struggle to get used to her new surroundings and hear her as she lamented about not being at home. My body ached emotionally and physically for her as I watched this unfold. I cried often, I was weary. What had I done???????????????