Daughter's Eulogy

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Life is Good Again

On Wednesday morning, Ron and I were worried about one of our pups, Mr. B., Baci, Baci Boy, we have so many names for him.  Ron was taking him to the animal hospital to have several biopsies done.  His sweet little body has suffered from major allergies all his life.  Unfortunately, he is now having several different types of growths attacking his body and even with all the medication, ointments and steroids we are having a hard time controlling their growths and his itchiness.  Hence the reason for the biopsies, we want to make sure we are treating whatever he has properly.  Our goal is to make Mr. B as comfortable as possible for as long as we can.

I share the info about our little guy so you know that we were already worried about one of our family members, when I received a phone call at 7:30AM from The Community* to make me aware that mom had fallen out of bed last night.  I was informed that mom was OK and she had not hurt herself.  However after mom fell out of bed at Midnight, she refused to go back in bed.   So they allowed her to sleep in a recliner for the rest of the evening next to the nurses’ station.  Before hanging up I asked the aide to please let mom know that she called me  and that I would be coming to see her.

When I arrived, mom said, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Me, too, mom, how are you feeling?”

“I’m sore.  Take me to my room; I want to show you what happened.”

I wheeled mom to her bedroom.  She showed me that she has a different bed.  Mom used to have a normal mattress, but in the last week they decided to change mom’s mattress to an inflatable one that apparently has a security rim around the mattress when it is inflated properly.  Mom is frail and an inflatable mattress cuddles her more, but mom does not like the feeling she has lying there.

“Julienne, lay on the bed, I want to show you.”

So I lay on the bed.  I have to admit the bed seemed a little slippery. In addition, a section of the bed was not inflating properly leaving an opening. 

Of course Murphy’s Law, when mom turned in her sleep she must have found that opening and slid right off the bed.
“Julienne, I turned in the middle of the night and I slid right off the bed.  I started screaming ‘help me help me’ as loud as I could but no one heard me.  I couldn’t stop myself from falling.”   Mom does not have a lot of energy and although she was angry and telling me her situation I knew that mom’s voice could not be heard even to the edge of her own room.

“Did you push the nurses’ button for help?”

“I tried; I couldn’t reach it.”

“I waited for hours on the floor crying.”

I contacted Dana* and the assistant to the nurses, Kim*.  I asked them to come to mom’s room.  I explained what mom just told me.  I learned that mom did not have to push a button to get assistance; when she slid off her bed the nurses’ station was immediately notified that mom is getting out of her bed.  

Although I felt reassured that mom did not wait for hours, regardless Mom lying on a cold hard floor had to be extremely uncomfortable for any length of time.  I am sure even 5 minutes seemed like forever in mom’s situation. 

Kim* said, “I was told that when your mom fell she took the pillow with to comfort the fall.”

Mom spoke up, “I pulled the pillow down after I fell.”  Mom was of sound and clear mind, but she was angry and anxious.

I turned to both Dana* and Kim*, “I want mom’s evening medications to go back to what had been working beautifully and making her feel good.  Do you both notice that mom’s extremely anxious today?”

They both shook their heads that they agreed.

“Believe me I have seen her depression and anxiety when her meds are wrong or tampered with; life is not pleasant for mom or anyone around her.  How can we help mom?”

Kim piped up, “I know your mom well and you’re right her personality has changed with the medication change.  I will call her psychiatrist and let him know her reaction to the medicine change immediately.”

“Without the proper medication especially at bedtime mom may become restless.  I want her to sleep soundly so she can wake up feeling as good as possible.  We all feel better with a good night sleep.  Mom is no different.”
Mom piped up, “I refuse to ever sleep in that bed again.” 

Kim* said, “The bed frame is the same; the mattress is what is different.”

“Kim* can we please give my mom a normal mattress again?  I know that The Community* made the decision to give her the inflatable bed for her comfort, but mom doe not like the inflatable bed.”

“I can change to the mattress, but you will need to sign that is what you what us to do,” Kim* stated.

I looked at mom and said, “Mom, would you be happy if we changed your bed to a  regular mattress?”

“Yes, I won’t sleep here otherwise.”

“Where do I sign?”

I followed Kim* to the nurses’ station and signed the proper paperwork. 
 “Kim*,  when you call the doctor could you please ask him to give mom something right now that will take the edge off for her; ideally, one or both of the reduced medicines ?”

I waited with Kim* until she received approval for mom’s bedtime medicine to be reinstated, as well as, a small dose of anxiety medicine right now. 

Kim* had mom’s new nurse bring her the medication.  When I say ‘new’ nurse, she is a staffing nurse that comes in to fill in when a regular nurse is unable to be there for whatever reason: vacation, leave of absence, maternity.  I managed a professional staffing office for many years and totally understand the need for supplemental staffing.

Mom initially questioned the additional medication because mom is very adept and knows she does not normally receive medication at this time of day.  I assured mom that I had requested the medication.  I promised her that she would feel better before I left if she would take the medication now.

The nurse put mom’s pill in apple sauce since the size of the pill was so small.

“Apple sauce is sour.  I can take pills by themselves with water,” mom said.

“Sorry I didn’t know.  I thought this would make it easier to swallow.  I already mushed the pill up so you will need to swallow the applesauce to receive all the medication.”

Mom agreed but asked, “Could I have some water, too?”

The staffing nurse wanting to be accommodating went off to bring back a Styrofoam cup of water for mom.    When she handed the water to her mom said, “Where’s my straw?”

Being new the staffing nurse did not realize that mom needs a straw to drink from any cup.  Mom has severe hand and mouth tremors. In addition, she was not notified that mom needs someone to hold the cup and straw so she could drink without spilling all over herself.  Fortunately, I relayed the information to her and she was only too happy to help mom.

Unfortunately mom’s regular day nurse whom mom adores will be out of the country due to a family emergency for a long period of time.  I have confidence that The Community* will make sure everything runs smoothly and I will keep checking.

Later that morning, I saw Dave*, who has helped mom on many occasions, going into her bedroom with a regular mattress.   Mom and I were still with Dana*near the nurses’ station.  “Dave is changing your mattress.  Mom, you will be able to sleep well tonight.”

“Take me there; I want to see my bed.”

We waited till Dave* came out from her room.  “Ok, mom, we can go Dave* is finished.”

Mom looked down the hall as Dave* was walking away and spoke as loud as she could, “Dave, Dave.”  He turned around and stopped to look at mom.  “Thank you for helping me.”  Dave* smiled and waved. 

Dana* wheeled mom into her room, mom’s smile brightened as she saw as regular mattress. 
Mom put her hands together pointing to God just as I was taught when I was young and said,   “Thank you, God, for hearing my prayers.”

I smiled at Dana* and said, “Life is good again  . . .   right mom?”

Mom said, “Oh, Yes!”

Everyone meant well.  Regarding the medication the medical team just did not want mom to take medicine she might not need anymore.  I understand and that makes perfect sense.  Concern not to have patients over-medicated is a real one for rehab facilities.  Each person’s body chemistry is unique and decisions have to be made on a case by case basis.  Mom has never been over medicated; she has been receiving exactly what she needs to feel good.  Thankfully we are all in agreement.

The Community* is always looking out for mom’s best interest as they try for all their residents.  Being an advocate for mom is an important job that I take seriously.  And during mom’s last chapter, my goal is to make mom’s life as pleasant as possible for her.

Special note:  On Friday, I received a call from Dana*saying, “Your mom is so happy.  She says she loves her new bed.”  And to that I say “Life is good again  . . .  Thank you, Jesus.

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