Pop looks horrible. In the several hours we spent with Mom & Pop at Piedmont Place today, his eyes were open only briefly — and nobody was home. Otherwise, he slept. His skin looks almost taut and is missing its usual coloring.
The PP medical team is now fighting the diarrhea with a different drug, and is giving him fluids every hour. He refused breakfast, and managed only a small part of a banana for lunch. Anything he’s eaten over the past several days, he’s thrown up. Labs have been taken and results will be returned tomorrow.
Mom is worried. She says it’s because Pop is “losing his function,” but you can easily tell that she’s worried that he’s on the way out. I’ve thought that several times now about both of them; but each time so far, they have bounced back. Things look so serious right now that I’m wondering if, soon, a more lengthy daily vigil will become necessary. I don’t know what to think now. God only knows, right?
On one hand, it’s touching to watch Mom coax Pop into drinking some water, or to do any number of other light things. On the other hand, it’s frightening to watch how much Mom is taking on and how much risk she’s putting herself and Pop under.
Day and night, she’ll walk him to the bathroom and then clean up his mess (if he’s made one). It’s all part of what she considers to be her obligation as his wife. Two problems: 1) he out-weighs her by about thirty pounds. She doesn’t have the physical strength to get him safely to the bathroom. I know; we watched two trained nurses work for ten minutes to accomplish that task just today. 2) when Mom cleans up diarrhea, she’s directly exposing herself to MRSA and other bacteria. Oh, she’s trying to use good hygienic techniques, but she is not capable, and is not a trained professional as are the PP staff we pay to do these things.
Mom perceives that the staff are either too busy or simply not available. In truth, the nurses’ station is right next to M&P’s room and is staffed around the clock. If response time to the nurse-call button isn’t to Mom’s liking, she can walk in her nightie to the station and get the help she needs. I’ve tried for years to reset Mom’s thinking on the subject without success.
In discussion with the Piedmont Place Administrator this evening, I brought up the falling risks Mom was subjecting herself and Pop to. I know that falling is the single most prevalent non-medical problem in any medical facility. A broken hip, a fractured cranium, a broken left elbow (hello?) are among a long list of life-changing – even life-ending – results of a fall. The Administrator was horrified to the point of saying that if this doesn’t stop, M&P would have to be separated again. It’s kind of radical, but the problem is kind of serious. So, tomorrow, I’m going to put the fear of Jesus in her and convince her that PP staff is the way to get Pop to the bathroom, and the way to get him cleaned up. I’ll have to do it gently, though; Mom is quite fragile right now.