Friday, June 20, 2008

Another Week, Another Paycheck.

And I do appreciate those paychecks. I'm glad it's Friday, but my weekend will not be Off.

Last night I came home from visiting my mother in the nursing home and all the stress and awfulness, to a Smell in the house. It took me a little while to find the source - Boris had projectile vomited on the (new) bedroom carpet. Between the barfing and the snot and the picking at himself, this cat is a poster boy of allergies. We have a vet appt. tomorrow at 11. I will visit my mother either before or after or both. I also have to do something about my hair, because the gray roots are now approaching Crazy Bag Lady. The house is a mess. I am tired, I have headaches, I am holding on by my fingernails, which also need attention.

I don't want The Internets to think I don't take my mother's situation seriously. I do. It is the focus of my life right now. I started out worried that there would not be enough money for her continued nursing home care, now I am not worried. If she doesn't respond to PT and eat and rally to live, she isn't going to last long enough to run out of money. Blunt, I know, but that's how it is. I know going downhill when I see it and if the brakes don't slam on soon, she is not going to last like this.

I do not want her to stay in that nursing home - it's a perfectly competently administered warehouse, but it is not what she deserves. I have my eyes open - if she is going to rally, to fight to live, to respond at all to PT, she will do it in the next two weeks. I will be her cheerleader, her deliverer of Starbucks White Mochas with extra whipped cream,I will bring her whatever she wants, whatever it takes, but she lost two pounds in the last week, and that is over a 20% weight loss in six months. She was little to begin with, and now she's barely 90 lbs.

Failure to thrive. No single diagnosis - just wasting away. It started last December with vague things and the weight loss, hit critical mass when I went to her house and hauled her to the ER in BFE, and since then it has been a steady downhill slide. She lived alone, isolated, which is the worst thing to do, and I'd hoped that assisted living would maybe slow the slide, but it didn't. She's not "confused" like we think of dementia, but she's also not reliable about anything. She told me a story yesterday, that a very pretty young woman came to her, she had a name tag on, she doesn't remember her name or title, and told her that she had a broken hip. My mother is lucid and can say things very convincingly. Ask her the day, date, her opinion on current events, she's sharp. But she then says things that just ain't so.

My mother doesn't have a broken hip. She has been x-rayed and CT scanned and MRI-ed from stem to stern. Then she told me that she thinks she had a stroke. No, she didn't. I can't tell you how awful this is - when my husband died, the reason was clear and he was mercifully out of it. When my father died, the decline was slow but the actual end came on fast and he also was mercifully out of it. My mother is not out of it and she is looking for answers. So am I. She is imagining a broken hip or a stroke, while I am trying to wrap my brain around the nothingness of the reason. Failure to thrive - a catch-all diagnosis that means we don't know what the hell is going on but we hope it stops.

If it doesn't stop, I will ask the doctor if she's a candidate for hospice. If she's not going to benefit from PT, then that nursing home is no place to just exist until the end. If she doesn't show signs of a rally in the next two weeks, I'm going to work on moving her to the new in-patient hospice built by the wonderful organization that was there for my husband and me. The building didn't exist when he needed it, he had to go to a nursing home at the end, because he needed 24 hour care and they couldn't staff it. But now the building is there and it is 10 minutes from my house.

But while my husband accepted hospice care with grace and humor, and actually lived long enough to sign himself OFF hospice and then back on again a year later, I don't think it will be that easy with my mother. She freaked out when it was suggested for my father, convinced that it would mean that he would die. (He never got signed on, he died before it was an issue.) If that is how this is going to go, I will need them more than ever. This is not a do-it-yourself project at this level, she is way beyond a solo caregiver.

So, internets, please join hands and send energy to the Bossy Little Dog's Grandma, who is weaker every day. We want her to get strong enough to live a happy life with support from AL, and go to lunch and go shopping and be there with us, as I had hoped. If she is not able to get physically strong and is dwindling away, we want her to have peace and wonderful supportive care. I can't take her home - they can't offer the support that we need, even if I didn't have to be gone 60 waking hours a week minimum. Inpatient hospice would be the next step. If it helps to know her name, her name is Florence.

Please send good energy for the best, right outcome.


caroline said...

I'm sending Florence and especially, YOU, Catherine, all the love and light and energy possible.
You've managed the impossible, the intractable, the immovable and I'm in awe whilst wishing you didn't have to do it. Many, many hugs to you both. Tell Florence she can't give up now because SOMEONE has to keep you in line, eh?

Donna said...

Hands joined, energy sending, many prayers in the direction of you both.

Anonymous said...

Good thoughts coming your way from the Land Down Under.

On another topic - don't you just LOVE the accuracy of choice when a cat or dog needs to upchuck? We have sheet vinyl flooring, with a couple of rugs here and there - the victim will hang on until on one of the rugs before letting fly............

Take care of yourself,

Gae, in Callala Bay

Bess said...

good juju, wrapped in white light - on its way to you both. many hugs too.

zippiknits said...

I thought it might be a failure to thrive. What a worry. You have been on top of everything for her, right there when she needed you. This new development is something that she has to decide.

I echo the others, you must take care of yourself, too. Thank you for letting us know who to pray for. Many prayers for the both of you, sisters of the heart.

Marion said...

Praying for you and your mother. Please take care of yourself.

carlarey said...

Failure to thrive is exactly what happened with my grandmother. No real problems or illnesses, it was as though one day she just gave up. Isolation is a big factor, I think. Social people thrive in almost any situation, those who aren't just don't have the emotional resources.

It's all the more frustrating when you see those around them who have real chronic conditions, and yet face each day as something to be enjoyed.

dragon knitter said...