I dearly love the people who care for Mom, but when I arrived at Piedmont Place late this morning, I’d walked into a storm. For starters, an Easter egg hunt was underway and kids were crawling all over the place. Staff was assisting ambulatory patients to dining rooms for lunch. The noise level was unusually high, as you can imagine. Additionally, it’s Good Friday and some staffers were out practicing their faith in commemoration of this day. So it seemed as if the place was quite short of help.
But the shocker was that Mom was still in bed, still asleep, still in her nightclothes. I immediately wondered if anyone was caring for her.
I started at the top. The Administrator, who knows everything about every patient, began to hook me up with top-level nursing, dietary, and physical and occupational therapy people. My main questions were, “Who’s in charge of Mom’s care?” “What’s her care plan?” “What has taken place thus far?”
As I worked through each question, I learned that Mom had refused breakfast, refused physical therapy, refused to get dressed or out of bed. She wanted nothing but to sleep. I found the house psychiatrist and asked for an evaluation which will have to wait until next Wednesday.
Lunch arrived. Beef tips. Yum. But to Mom it was repulsive. I ordered oatmeal and fed it to her. She wobbled as she sat at the edge of the bed; her body strength is non-existent. Her vocal strength is much less than a whisper and she is able to say only a couple of words at a time. I asked her what she thought was happening. She said: “My brain is shutting down.” Then she slept again.
The head of the Physical Therapy department later told me that he had evaluated Mom yesterday and that she was able to walk about 300 ft. without a walker. He then had a positive opinion of her prospects for recovery. Today’s news mystified him.
I talked with the head nurse – a close friend – in the Assisted Living section where Mom ordinarily lives. After describing my observations and thoughts, I found that I was complaining. I was complaining about the whiplash that occurs to this caregiver when, day after day, the patient’s condition changes so radically — as if she had any control over it. Embarrassed, I slunk out of Piedmont Place only to find that I am also angry; not at Mom but, rather, at the situation. This isn’t how Pop left the planet. Why is this experience so much different?
Of course, if this experience is any guide, Mom’s planetary departure could be light-years away.