Monday, April 30th, as I walked into The Community* the double doors to mom’s wing were closed. The Community* closes these doors indicating that they are quarantining this wing due to a potential or immediate health risk. By taking this precaution they hope to prevent an illness from spreading and creating an epidemic. When I pushed open these doors, I headed down the hall. I first stopped by the nurses’ station to see what the issue was and how many residents were sick. A nurse informed me there was only one person who had loose bowels. The medical staff was just being cautious. I was glad to hear that they take such precautions.
I immediately marched back to see Anna*, mom’s nurse. She informed me that mom’s roommate had loose bowels; they had taken her blood and did some other tests and they were waiting for the results. Until the results come back, the staff was watching her closely. Due to mom being her roommate, they must confine them both together. Anna* said that mom was doing well, but she was confined to her room for the past two days. She said I could go and visit her.
As I walked in mom’s room, she was sitting in her comfortable lift chair. She was just looking at the TV, but she had not turned the TV on. I hugged and kissed mom. She was happy to see me. I moved mom’s four-wheel walker so that I could sit facing her.
She was troubled to tell me that when she woke up this morning she was not sure where she was. She told me that she did not like that feeling. Mom could not understand why she was so confused. I tried to reassure her that she might have been having a dream and became confused when she woke up.
She understood why she couldn’t leave her room to join in any of the other activities, but she was bored. She also told me that her roommate was not feeling good and not talking.
I asked her if she had spoken with Anita, her cousin. (Anita had called me the day before and asked me if she could call my mom. I told her all you can do is try.) Anita has always been one of mom’s favorite people. Mom said, “Yes, Julienne, but I told her not to call me again.” I was startled, “Mom, why would you say that? You love, Anita.” Mom answered, “Yes, Julienne, I love Anita. But you do not understand. She asks me questions. I do not know what to tell her. She talked about Guilio; I do not want to hear about his illness and death.” (Guilio was Anita’s brother, mom loved him very much, too. When he passed away just recently, she was very sad that she could not honor her relationship with him by attending his funeral.)
I said, “Mom, Anita called me yesterday and asked me if she could call you. She misses you and cares about you.” Mom said, “I do not want people to call me while I am in here.” “If that is want you want mom, I will try and understand”, I said hesitantly. I knew I was not going to reason with her so I just have to learn to accept her wishes.
Then I turned her TV on and asked mom what she would like to watch. She did not care so I put on Days of Our Lives as I know that mom only a short time ago enjoyed watching soap operas. She especially liked All My Children, but the show recently went off the air. I am even embarrassed to admit that occasionally when I am having lunch, I will sit and watch Days of Our Lives. Now I hoped she might become interested in Days of Our Lives and start following the show on a regular basis to give her something else to look forward to do. If she did, this would give us something else to talk about and take her mind off her present situation.
I told mom that I had a few small presents for her. I brought her an eye glass chain so she could keep her eye glasses around her neck. She said, “Oh, I like the chain, but I think someone stole my eye glasses.” I said, “Mom, I placed your glasses in this top drawer near your bed. Let’s check and see if they are still here.” As I leaned over her, I removed them from her drawer and handed them to her. “Here they are, mom. “ She grabbed her glasses; put the hooks from the chain on the stems of her glasses; and then she hung them around her neck.
I said, “Mom, the last time I was here, you had asked me for an emery board so I brought one for you.” She immediately raised her hands to show me her nails and said, “Anna* had a nail file. She filed my nails for me this morning.” I smiled and told her that her nails looked perfect.
I also brought her The Living Bible which was always in her drawer near her lift chair when she was back in her own place. I suggested that she should leave The Bible on her table. When she feels like reading or if she ever feels discouraged to open The Bible to any page and read. I know that reading has never been something mom has enjoyed so I said, “Mom, try even reading one sentence and think about what that sentence and what they are trying to say.” She shook her as though she liked that idea. I thought maybe, just maybe, she might try someday.
Mom told me again that she was bored. I asked her if she had tried to do some of her word puzzle books. She could not remember where her puzzle books were. I reminded her of the drawer where I place all the things that she might want including the puzzle books. I suggested when she needs or wants something to look in there first.
So I grabbed the biggest one of the three books, as I thought that might be the largest print and easier for her to hold. I opened the book up to a page. Mom said,” Let me see if I can remember how to find the words.” I sat there and watched her. She said the words were too difficult. I looked at the words. I agreed that this book seemed too advanced having huge double words. I looked through another one of her other books that had smaller words and asked her if she wanted to try that one. She said, “OK, I will try.” She found two words pretty quickly and then said she could not find any more. I didn’t push her. I suggested putting the word puzzle book on her table in case later she felt like trying again.
Initially I thought mom only having half a room to call her own would be difficult for her to accept after having her own spacious place. Now I realize that in mom’s world even half a room seems big and some of her things seem so far away from her. My goal today was to try and make her world within her reach.
Mom was disoriented today; I think the whole confinement issue played a number on her brain. She told me before I left that she was going to go to the washroom. I said, “Let me get your nurse, I will be right back.” Mom said that she could go by herself. I have helped mom several times to go when she has her portable oxygen tank attached to her walker; and she does well by herself. However, she was hooked up to a major stationary oxygen tank since she was sitting on her lift chair. I did not know how to change her tubing to the portable one so I said, “Please wait mom; I am confused how to unhook your tube and how to hook up the portable unit. Let me get your aide or your nurse.” Fortunately for the both of us, another aide saw us and came in to assist mom.
When I went to leave her today, I hugged and kissed her and told her once again that I loved her with my whole heart. She said, “Julienne, I love you so much, much, much.” She looked very sad. I said, “Mom do not be sad; I will be back.” I smiled; she gave me half a smile; and we both blew kisses.