September 6th, 2021

tsmith

Home From Mom's

I had to check back in good ol' LJ to see when exactly was my last visit to see Mom. Surprisingly it was only 3 months ago. In that time there has been a rapid deterioration in her health. Since my last visit she had fallen in the kitchen once again and appeared fine. The nurse who visits her freaked out and ordered her to the hospital where she spent a few days. I also got a very frantic call from Mom one days saying that Alzheimer's had finally hit her. She made it sound like you catch it like a cold. What had happened was that her O2 levels had fallen into the 80% range which causes muddled thinking. I figured it was an oxygen issue, but she couldn't even figure out how to put the little meter on her finger to tell me what it was. Fortunately her caregiver showed up a little while later and found her O2 tubing disconnected. Not too long afterwards she ended up calling 911 since her oxygen generator was displaying a red light. This time there was a major kink in the line which had completely cut off the 02 supply. Her doctor told me that she really needed more care. I upped the frequency of visits from 3 days a week to 5. Soon after I upped that to 7. Her doctor said that she really needed 24/7. Oy. It had finally come to that. I planned this trip very quickly to get out there and get things done.

When Mom lost her ability to drive a couple of years ago thanks to a car breakdown, I was relieved. I really didn't want her driving any more. The decision was made on its own. It crushed her, but I knew it was for the best. Her independence which she prided herself on, was starting to slip away. Now she would have to give up even more. One thing I wanted to free her from was the burden of worrying about financial stuff like bills. I thought I might get some pushback from her, but she willfully dropped the metaphorical keys into my paw and said, "you drive." The 24/7 care worried her, but she knew it had to be done. Her mental state is highly unstable at times, but she had the clarity to put everything into my hands. Easy! Right?

Thankfully her doctor provided a nice outline for me from which I could proceed. She gave me the names of caregiver agencies where I could find a person skilled in long-term care. At this point an assisted-living facility is right out. Mom wants to stay at home. So I set up an appointment to interview someone. Mom also needed to see ear and eye doctors to eliminate problems there for her balance issues. Made appointments. I then tackled her finances. I got all of her utility bills set up for e-payments. Fortunately she had put my name on all of her bank accounts, so getting things online was relatively simple except for sometimes-overzealous security. I also got her health insurance "explanation of benefits" online since they were producing huge amounts of paperwork. Speaking of paperwork, another task reared its head. Mom had started shredding old documents a few years ago. My Dad was a huge believer in "save everything!" so there were statements and receipts going back years (decades?). She never finished the task, so I jumped in. I spent hours destroying documents from 10-20 years ago. My Dad got involved in family drama back in 90's when he was put in charge of his sister's estate. His brothers and nephew thought he was pulling a fast one which resulted in years of litigation and a complete meltdown in family togetherness. After almost 10 years of wrangling, everyone got a few hundred bucks. Was it worth it, assholes?!? My cousin was a huge douchebag. But hey, he's dead. I took great pleasure in shredding all of that shit. I then went through all of her paper files and shredded old worthless documents. In all I filled about 5 trash bags.

I had mentioned that I made doctor appointments for her. That was a chore. She can barely walk with the aid of a walker and needs a portable O2 tank. I hope to get her a portable generator, but that's still in the works. Getting her into and out of the car took some doing. Getting her into the office was another. Sitting around a waiting room for hours as her O2 dwindled was frustrating. But it got done. The good news was that her eyes were fine and her ears were what to be expected from an almost-95 year old. I had mentioned to her doctor that mobility was really an issue. Thankfully she ordered a wheelchair which arrived right before I departed.

The final piece of the puzzle was to find a woman would would live with her 24/7. It would be an important decision, but I was thankful to dexter_fox who provided me with some insight from his experience with finding care for his mother. I went with my instinct which is all I could do. I hired an older Polish woman with 25 years of experience in home care. Kitty eventually joined me for a few days and she was able to talk to the woman. She does have experience as a certified nurses' assistant, so that's a plus. I told Mom we'll just see how it goes. If they don't "click," then we'll call the agency to find someone else.

During this whole time I envisioned myself as a geologist with his rock hammer, staring at a large granite boulder. I could exhaust myself and just beat on it as hard as I could, or I could take a few blows every day and slowly chip away at it. *tink* *tink* *tink* became my mantra as I drifted off to sleep every day. Every time I accomplished something, another chunk of granite would break off. By the time we packed up the Furmobile on Saturday and drove home, I think I got that boulder down to a manageable size. Time will tell. As I said, things have changed so rapidly. I have a feeling they will continue to do so.