Tag Archives: Brother-in-law

No Regrets…..

Hope you enjoy my Grand Slam Story Slam for 2015! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my beloved readers. I am so thankful for all your reading, comments and support. Hope this gives you a chuckle. I have never had one regret putting myself out there for all of you!

 

 

Is your Plug Male or Female……..

Today’s tale is a bit vulgar….but I find honesty to be the best policy.

As my faithful readers know, I, with no training or inherent skills, have become a wheelchair repair expert over the last few years. I was able to get a different BIL (code for brother-in-law) to transport the humungous wheelchair to the rehab center, so disabled BIL would be able to get out of bed every day. By the way, there is no service, or transport that will take an empty wheelchair…well….anywhere….you have to find your own way to get it there.

One day, I’m walking down the hall of the rehab center and the physical therapist is manually pushing the electric behemoth with my BIL in the chair.

“What’s up?” I ask her.

“Oh my God, I’m so glad you’re here. No one can figure out how to get this operational.”

Because it had been a month since my BIL was even in the chair, and memory issues are a part of his disease, he was of no help either. In 2 minutes, I had everyone  operational and instructed for the forseeable future.

Then we went home.

I stayed with my BIL for about 6 hours that day. As happy as he was to be back in his apartment, he was feeling insecure and squeamish and not ready to be alone. I arrived home in time for an 8:00 PM conference call.

At 9:00 PM my phone rang.

“Hello, Cathy, this is the caregiver.”

“Hey, what’s up? Is he okay?”

“Oh, he’s fine, no problems. But we can’t plug in his wheelchair. It seems like a piece of the plug is missing that connects to the battery. So we can’t charge the chair.”

UGH. He needs that chair. He needs to be out of bed and as upright and mobile as possible to have a life where he goes to meals, talks to friends, plays SODUKU on his computer.

“Okay, I’ll come in the morning and look at it.” I must’ve been very tired. I’m still not a wheelchair repair person, what was I going to do?

Before I left the house, I called the wheelchair repair people, who told me the only thing they can do is order an entire new charger which would take 3 weeks.  When I asked what he’s supposed to do in the meantime, wheelchair repair guy thought for a minute or two (really??? no one has ever asked you THAT before?) And told me he could look around and see if they had a loaner charger, but that would take a day or two.

As I set my hair on fire in protest (only in my mind) I went over to my BIL’s apt. examined the plug and set off for the rehab center. I checked his room, as they had just cleaned it, we called down to housekeeping, I went to the nurses’ station, therapy rooms, front desk and had the social worker call the ambulance transport to look for it. No dice.

I went to my book club and my French Class. Mai oui…..I do some things for my self!

Then I returned to his apartment, there was the charger plugged in. But as my engineer BIL told me, truthfully, it was smoke and mirrors. It wasn’t charging at all. I showed the plug to him and hoped he had some brilliant insight. Nope. So I said to him:

“Well, you know what Nana would say?” She had a fine adage for problems when something would just not fit into a hole.

“Yep,” he nodded, “put a little hair around it.”  Yep, that’s what she always said.

Luckily BIL is a fiscal conservative and only used 3% of his power that day.

We then had the brilliant idea to call some local durable medical equipment providers and one dear soul sent me to Interstate Battery. As I was leaving with high hopes and the battery, my BIL said:

“I don’t know how to tell you this, but as an old man would say, I think you’re pissing up a rope!”

So with those axioms under my belt and a big huge 24 Volt battery in my arms like a newborn. I went to a big, ol’ manly grease monkey, full-of-testosterone battery warehouse.

And this is where the Good Samaritan works when he is not out on the road rescuing.

Keith worked for thirty or forty minutes to rig this battery charger so I could use it. The first thing he asked me is if it’s a male or female plug. I considered my Nana’s advice, but that didn’t lead me to any conclusion. I suppose I should have been able to deduct the answer, but I panicked and just looked as cute as I could. In that environment, I was a shoe-in.

By the way, there was never a missing part. It had been so abused over time by pulling it out by the cord that it basically pulled the charging plugs too far down into the casing.

Keith told me he has a few friends in wheelchairs and he sees this all the time, where they can’t get timely repairs and no one seems to care. He told me to just ‘Pay it Forward.’ I told him I try to do that, and he said, “well then, now it’s coming back to you!”

Sometimes…..”You just have to SMILE….and laughing never hurts, either.”

© Cathy Sikorski 2015

Best Notify My Next of Kin…This Wheel Shall Explode….Absolutley Fabulous

The frustration level of caregiving is equal to the dropping temperatures here on the East Coast, which is at a 100 year low.  Pretty sure that’s true.

Finally after spending 6 months in rehab, my brother-in-law was finally home, healthy and enjoying his meals in the dining room with his best pals. Then the flu hit his facility. On Christmas.  But five days in the hospital with the flu, double pneumonia and a urinary tract infection did not keep  him down. Home on New Year’s Eve, he was ready to get back to his normal life.

When he, his neighbors and his caregivers all noticed that he was precariously listing to the right, they called me.

Now this wheelchair has been a problem for several months. A new set of footrests were installed and ever since then, the wheels get stripped. After the second time this happened, I told the repair people to really look at the problem.  The footrests were major culprits and needed a good talking to.

Here we were again only 60 days after new wheels were put on the chair. My brother-in-law looked like he was practicing for a circus act, as he sped down the hallway with his hair blowing in the breeze at a 45 degree angle.

When his caregivers called me, on Sunday, I was firmly ensconced in a charming little Italian restaurant 150 miles away in NYC. Of course, it’s adorable that they think I can actually fix the wheelchair.  I would have to have extra wheels, a special screwdriver, and actual mechanical knowledge. No wonder I have a God complex.

Monday, bright and early I call for repair assistance. I beg. I plead. I offer candy, money and my first born, whatever it takes to get this chair fixed ASAP, since he just got back to a semblance of a real life. What usually requires two weeks, will take two days. Okay, we can live with that.

Two days later, I arrive at my brother-in-law’s apartment for the 10:30 AM appointment. I’m psyched. Chair will be fixed. Man can get in chair and have meals with friends, all will be well in the universe.

10:30 comes and goes.

11:00 comes and goes.

“Hello, wheelchair repair guy, where are you?”

“He’s just a bit late,” they tell me.

11:30 his caregivers arrive to get him dressed to gently place him in his newly fixed chair. Except that it’s not.

12:00 comes and goes.

I have to call again. Why would they call me? I’ve only called them 10 times in the last 48 hours. It’s not like they have my phone number or know that I am waiting for them.

“Hello, wheelchair repair guy, where are you?”

“He got caught up at his last job, he will be there as his last appointment of the day. Sorry, i hope that’s okay.”

Sure. I only have to now order his meals to be delivered to his room, if it’s not too late. I need to reschedule all the caregivers because their duties will now change, since he is in bed and can’t get in his chair. I will have to go to the dining room and tell his dining buddies that they don’t have to set up his place, his tea, and his special condiments like they do every day because they are kind and amazing. But sure, no problem, you just show up when it works for you.

What I say is, “okay, just get it fixed, today.”

Miracle of miracles, I come back early in the evening to find BOTH wheels repaired, the foot rests changed and the chair ready to go. Too late to get my brother-in-law in his chair. But he says, “hallelujah” when I tell him he will be out and about starting with breakfast tomorrow.

On my way to a business appointment the next morning, I’m feeling quite smug as I know my brother-in-law is already at breakfast and I got the chair fixed in 2 days!

My phone rings. I answer with a happy lilt in my voice.

“Hello?”

“Hi Cathy? This is the caregivers. Larry doesn’t feel well. He refuses to get in his chair. He has a temp and should probably go to the ER.”

You just have to Laugh………….

©2015 CathySikorski

Or we’re gonna’ go round and round……..

Sometimes a girl has just gotta’ dance. Whilst deep in the Rumba, the dance of love, according to our ballroom dance instructor, I actually turned off my cell phone. I take this ballroom dancing seriously, since I read it is the number one hobby that can stave off dementia. Plus, my husband can’t believe I have found an activity we can do together where children, siblings, parents, caregivees, nurses, insurance companies and doctors can’t get in touch with me.

After 90 minutes of “slow……..quick, quick” and wine and cookies (okay, there are other perks to ballroom dancing), my husband and I are happily re-connected, refreshed and ready to go home.

As we leave the dance floor and enter the parking lot, it’s snowing like a blizzard out there on November 13th. This should have been my first clue of disaster.

Fine. I’m refreshed, I can deal with the first frostbite of the year. Then I checked my phone.

Two calls from my brother-in-law. Two messages and a few other missed calls and texts from his caregivers. Uh oh.

The good news is my brother-in-law called. At least I know he can dial his new phone. He insisted I bought a completely useless phone that he couldn’t operate. So there’s that.

I cringed for the bad news as I listened to the messages:

Message 1:

“Cathy, this is ‘L’, nobody got me out of bed for dinner, and no one delivered my meal either.”

Message 2:

“Cathy, it’s an hour later. Don’t know if you got my first message. I didn’t get dinner. Wish someone would have warned me that  I wasn’t getting dinner tonight. I guess I’ll be ok.”

It’s now 90 minutes after the second message…the exact amount of time it takes to learn the dance of love with 6 variations. I call him back. No answer. Either he has passed out from hunger, someone came to his rescue, or he gave up and went to sleep.

I text the last caregiver who I know was with him to give him his night meds. No response. I make an executive decision to let it go until morning. Based on his overall weight and eating habits, I’m pretty certain missing one meal won’t end his time here on earth.

The next morning on my way to his facility, I called his caregivers. I wasn’t planning on taking this side trip to see him, but I wanted to reassure him that I received his phone messages and was taking care of business. They assured me that someone had set up his meal for dinner. I’m not so sure. My brother-in-law doesn’t have dementia. He just generally only thinks about things he cares about and leaves the rest to me.

When I get to his room, after breakfast, (I wanted him to be fed and in a good mood………I learned a thing or two from having toddlers), I asked him if he ever got dinner last night.

“You called me twice last night to say no one brought you dinner, remember? Did you have dinner or not?”

He looks at me like I have the head of Medusa, or am speaking in Italian.

“I don’t remember calling you or if I got dinner, but I just had breakfast, so what’s the big deal?

I just Rumba my way out of the room………….slow….quick, quick…..slow….quick, quick.

“You just have to Laugh…………….”

©Cathy Sikorski 2014

Cleanliness is next to Godliness…..

 As of yesterday, I have officially showered with the following elders:

1. My Grandmother

2. My Mother-in-law

3. My Mother

4. My Aussie Aunt

And for several years, when I would go to take care of my brother-in-law, we would refer to him as “Naked L”. Because that was how it would be.

 

 

You just have to laugh…….

Cathy Sikorski