• Lisa

caregiving never ends

Yeah, late again. New Year’s Eve was fine, very relaxing, but the day after New Year’s, things began to come unwound. Place K called to tell me mom had become unresponsive at the breakfast table & they were sending her to the hospital. Cue dropping everything and racing across town. (Thankfully, the hospital is almost within walking distance of her place; not so thankfully, the whole thing is on the opposite side of the county from me.)

She was better by the time I got there, pretty much her by-now usual pleasantly confused self. They wanted to keep her overnight, because her blood pressure had tanked, probably why she blacked out; observation and efforts to stabilize it seemed in order. The next few days, I was back on pins and needles. It’s easy, when she is moseying around the hallways at her place, talking to her nurses and techs and the other residents, to relax; then when this happens, I am reminded forcefully that my role as caregiver never stops. I’m also reminded how hard it’s going to be to find a full-time job that will allow for the aforementioned drop-everything mode. I probably can’t. And as her only child and primary caregiver, that leaves me over a barrel. Let’s face it, I really need to win the lottery, or at the very least, publish a best-seller or three.

Anyway. Mom stabilized and went back to her place, but only for a couple of days. The nurse practitioner called me on Wednesday while I was helping my aunt finish cleaning out my grandparents’ house, and my phone was in my purse kicked up under some furniture, so I didn’t get the message for a while. By then, they had already sent her back to the hospital; her blood pressure was through the roof and her oxygen levels were low. They had noticed her having more trouble swallowing, and I okayed them changing her diet to puree, easier usually to manage because no chewing is required. A chest x-ray showed a touch of pneumonia, and when the hospital checked, she had a urinary tract infection again. I think I’ve shared how a UTI can whack the heck out of even a normal elderly person; stack that on top of dementia and pneumonia, and you have a recipe for calamity.

Upshot of the whole thing: hospital called yesterday evening to say they were having trouble getting meds safely down her, and wanted to know if it was okay for them to put a temporary feeding tube in her nose, for a few days to keep her up until they can get the antibiotics she needs for the infection into her system. I told them I hoped she would not fight them on it but that they could try. It’s an indicator of how sick she is that she hasn’t given them any trouble. Fortunately, the staff on the floor where she is being cared for are great, they listen and talk to me, and they really like her. I see them being very gentle, explaining to her every time I see them doing something with her what they are doing and why, reassuring her and taking her normally impaired mental status into account. So, I can relax a bit and feel she is being well served.

Okay, in other news, the cute coffee maker died after a week. I should have known, because when I checked the online reviews, several other purchasers had complained about it. The past poor track record may be why Amazon gave me no grief whatsoever about returning it. I am a little miffed that they issued the refund in the form of an Amazon gift card; I offered to give my aunt her money back out of my own, but she won’t hear of it. So I’ve got a good bit of credit with them now. Guess my next half-dozen tins of face cream are covered, LOL. Or I could spring for a really nice fountain pen, or a ton of ebooks! (I really need the money for groceries and bills, though. Wonder if I asked, they would transfer the funds into my paypal or something…can’t hurt to ask, right?)

From the grinding noises it made, I’m thinking the pump went out. Good thing I kept the box and receipt and all. so packed that up, and in between the mom-drama, shipped it back. Then I hit Wal-Mart and found a plain coffee maker that does everything that old shellhead did (for a week) and costs like one third. It makes great coffee, too, and that’s really all I wanted.

The cleaning out of the grandparents’ house is going well. Since most everything my aunt and cousins wanted to keep has already gone with them, I had free rein to keep pretty much anything I found that I thought I could use. That includes a glass cutting board with non-skid feet that fits perfectly under said coffee maker and catches splatters; one of those sparkly ‘mermaid’ pillows; and a great purse. The fall one I had been carrying was a great deal, $15 and still had the original $100 price tag on it, but the handle broke just before Christmas. I wired it back together with a paper clip (as one does) but it was living on borrowed time. I found a great little Stone Mountain leather bag at the thrift store up the hill for 6 bucks but it was a bit too small; I couldn’t get everything into it that I need, like the little folder that carries my coupons, mom’s insurance cards and my POA. So I took this one home from my aunt’s and changed it out, barely hours before the hospital called. Talk about providence!

I promised to share the crazy dream I had, so here it is.

I dreamed I was running a food truck! It’s crossed my mind before, but I never had a concept that could go with it. we have a lot of trucks here in town & it seemed like most every idea I had, had already been done. In the dream, though, I ran a truck that sold fried pies. If you live in the South you know what those are, turnovers that usually contain sweet filling. They aren’t always fried, either; granny’s were filled with dried fruit, and she baked them. These in my dream-truck, though, weren’t all sweet; some had savory filings, and were very popular because they were easy to hold in your hand and eat. Think calzone or empanada.

I woke up all excited and banged out several pages of notes, then checked. Sure enough, there is no such thing in Nashville! Yes, I am a doofus, but yes, I am researching; checking out library books and sending emails to ask questions of those in the field. (there is, I’ve found, one such truck, in the Boston area, and the owner kindly answered some of my ignorant questions.) I don’t know that it would work, or even all the steps to go through, but I’m going to look into it. I know it is said to be a ton of work, but it would be fun too, I think. If anybody has name suggestions, I’m all ears!

#dementia #caregiver #family #work

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