Monthly Archives: August 2014

Pizza, Pizza……………

Arising at 4 A.M. to get to my brother-in-law’s apartment before the ambulance transport so that I could quickly give him his medications before surgery, as archly instructed by the hospital staff, may have fuzzed up my mind. I’m pretty certain this was the conversation I overheard while watching and waiting for three hours before they took him into surgery:

Nurse on phone: “Yes, those were the instructions. Yes, no food or drink after 8:00 P.M.  last night.  Well, I will have to call the doctor and see if they still want  you to come in.”

Nurse on phone to Doctor:  “Your surgery for 8 AM just called. She wanted to know if she should still come in if she had pizza for breakfast.”

Nurse back on phone to patient: “The doctor says he wants you to still come in. You won’t be his first surgery, but he wants you to come in and see if he can fit you in. What? What’s that? Okay. Well, I will inform the doctor of that, but you still need to come in.”

Take with Pills in AM
Take with Pills in AM

Nurse to any other nurse who will listen: “So she just told me that she also took some opiates and some alcohol this morning too. I don’t know if that was while she was waiting for me to get back to her, or if  she forgot to tell me the first time.”

A different nurse to my brother-in-law, who has a rash around his lips from no liquid for  the last 15 hours, is starving, and has a second nurse stabbing him all over the place trying to get the IV line in so they can administer drugs to make him happy: “Your surgery has just been moved up, lucky for you the first patient had pizza.”

“Oh yeah,” says my brother-in-law, “I was feeling all kinds of lucky today.”

To their credit, not one nurse ever violated HIPPA by revealing the name of the pizza-eating, opiate-taking, breakfast-of-champions alcohol-drinking patient who cleared the way for everyone to move up the line.

“You just have to Laugh…..”

©2014 Cathy Sikorski




A Gentleman is simply a patient wolf…..Lana Turner

A while ago, I commented on how, at least in the senior community, I felt like quite a catch (I still got it…sort of… ) I learned yesterday, that in those same communities, I’ve got quite a bit of competition.

As the winner of a basket of cheer at a local assisted living facility, I was invited to take a tour and claim my prize. For those of us in the writing profession, this was the mother lode: two huge coffee mugs, two pounds of coffee, flavored creamers, Starbucks Frappuccinos and European biscuits.

My daughter was home for a visit, so she went along for the ride. While we were waiting for the tour guide, a beautiful 81 year old resident stood behind the sofa, greeted us warmly and chatted all about how she loved her new living space. Jane entertained us for 20 minutes with her life story, the benefits of assisted living, and smarmy little secrets about her fellow residents.

A lovely blue eyed blonde aide appeared by Jane’s side and joined us in our lively chit-chat. Then Dr. H came along in his walker. Jane was compelled to tell us he was a physician and very brilliant.  Our blonde friend had a different take on the matter.

“Watch out for Dr. H,” she said, “he likes to grab your butt.”

“Well, yes, dear,” said Jane, “that’s true, but he’s not nearly so obnoxious as Karl.”

The aide scooted around the other side of Jane to get as far away from Dr. H as possible. With that, the good doctor comes over and tells us:

“I’ve been around a long time, but I’m never too old or too busy to appreciate a beautiful woman.”

A collective groan reverberated from all the women in the lobby…..of which there were about ten of us. Ugh.

The aide backs out of the room and Dr. G. follows her as fast as he can, but the walker just can’t keep up with the runner.

My daughter, who is in her twenties, can’t quite fathom that this is her plight well into her octogenarian years, turned to Jane and says: “So what’s the deal with Karl?”

“Oh, most of these men are harmless, even though every one of them is a dirty old man. But Karl, yes, dear you really have to watch out for him. I tell all the new ladies to stay a good distance from Karl.”

“But how much harm can he do in here?” said my daughter.

“Well, it’s like I tell all the residents. Don’t be so stupid and go into his room by yourself. He lures you in there and then he sticks his hand up your shirt. I can’t believe these girls would be so dumb as to go into his room.”

And there  you have it. We all still got it, even if we don’t want it.

“You just have to Laugh…..”

© 2014 Cathy Sikorski


Does your right hand really know what your left hand is doing?

A million and one times, caregivers are told “take care of yourself,” “take time for  yourself,” “you’re going to have to put yourself first.” All of this great advice theoretically has benefit, but putting it into practice can backfire.

My Mom is a 45 year old in an 85 year old body. She is my right hand with much of my caregiving responsibilities. So when I had to include her in my caregiving queue, it was not only distressing but a bit of a last straw.

The first time it happened she broke her hip….no….she corrects me every time…she did NOT break her hip like some old lady. She fell while power walking and broke her femur at the top near the hip. While in rehab, Mom worked like a trained monkey to get out of there. But I still had to bring her laundry to rehab, go and check on her, help take care of her bills and her home, etc. As caregiving goes, it was one of the easier gigs.

Two years later, she needed a caregiver when she went to her cabin in Canada and within hours of arrival, she fell and broke her arm. She forced my brother to drive her  eight straight hours back to Pennsylvania for medical care because she didn’t want to get stuck in a Canadian hospital .

This time I was already inundated with caregiving for my brother-in-law, my mother-in-law and my friend who had recently experienced a traumatic brain injury.

My mother basically has 8 children. I put my foot down. I called a family  meeting and told my sisters (yeah the smart brothers lived far away) that I was not going to be the go-to person this time. I live the closest to my mother, but the rest of my sisters live within 15 or 20 minutes.  My oldest sister, Tina agreed to be the daily coordinator. All my other sisters divvied up the jobs of grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, bathing assistance, etc.  Doctor appointments and pharmacy runs would be done as needed. Any mission that was not set in stone would require a call to Tina, who would either do it herself or ask someone to help.

My go-to Girl!
My go-to Girl!


My mother attended this caregiver summit. She understood everyone’s mission and consulted the chart of who was coming when. Since Mom had been assisting me with all the other people on my caregiving list, she was well aware of the time and energy commitment a caregiver puts out.

The last thing I said to her was, ‘if you need anything, you call Tina first. She will make sure it gets done pronto.”

The first week my Mom was home, I was so busy I barely noticed a week went by.  Day 8 my mother calls me:

“Hey, Mom, how are you? Is everything going ok?”

“Yes, everything is pretty good. I’m feeling good and I can do more than I expected. The doctor said I can’t drive for 6 weeks, but we will see about that.”

“Ok, we’ll see, but don’t do anything crazy.”

“Well, that’s why I’m calling you. I wanted to know if you would take me to the grocery store.”

Now normally, I would just say, “sure”, or ask what she needed so I could pick it up for her. But some little devil sat on my shoulder and shouted, “TINA.”

“Aren’t you supposed to call Tina?”

“Well, I didn’t want to call her because she lives so far away and you’re just around the corner.”

Through gritted teeth,  I said, “I’ll call you right back.”

And then I called Tina.

Don’t ever think that anyone, even your right arm, really understands caregiving. Which is why……

“You just have to Laugh….”

©2014 Cathy Sikorski




Caregiving is Coconuts!

I was lucky enough to be asked to podcast all my fabulousness on the Happiness Recipe radio podcast!
Please, dear readers, give these great gals a shout out and check out our fun day talking about caregiving comedy and coconut cake. What could be better? Click below for a start to a Happy Monday!

Confessions of a Serial Caregiver at The Happiness Project


Caregiving…It’s ra…..dic…u….lous

Caregivers are known for not taking care of themselves. I have let this stiff neck of mine haunt me for about 10 months. It took me at least 3 months to get myself to the chiropractor (who is my dear brother-in-law and treats me any time day or night, so here’s a shoutout to Yucha Chiropractic).

He tried tirelessly to get my neck to turn left and right. Because I had waited so long, my arms  tingled and it felt like hot pokers travelling along my triceps. This made removing T-shirts, sports bras and getting coffee cups out of the cabinet a Herculean task. Now, I don’t mind skipping the gym because of inappropriate clothing, but don’t mess with my morning coffee.

After serious chiropractic care and therapy, dressing, bathing and coffeeing were markedly improved. My neck was still stiff. Big deal. I taught myself to turn my entire body when merging into highway traffic. I made my workout buddy always take the elliptical to the left because that hurt less to turn and chat. I learned to sleep on my back because if I tried to sleep on my stomach, I had to keep my head lifted. My husband got spooked every time he turned towards me to see the Sphinx lying in wait.

So truthfully this wasn’t working. Six months go by, after I have an MRI, where I totally freak out on Brenda, the tech, and make her take me out of the MRI machine three times during a hellacious hot flash which turns into a panic attack. This is new to me. I believe I could watch my own open heart surgery and not freak out. Menopause and a stiffy (not that kind, you naughty reader). Ugh. So fun.

My chiro suggests a pain doctor. I finally get in to see him after a three month wait (no, I don’t go to the VA hospital, nor do I live in Canada). He says, “yep, you are a great candidate for cortisone shots.” Yay.

Shots were administered yesterday. It’s a mini-surgery. I warned them that I freaked out in the MRI, and they kindly called in a prescription for valium.  MRI freak outs surprise you with added benefits.

Post surgery on way to lunch…yea, I made my husband take me out for lunch. Even mini-surgery qualifies for staying out of the kitchen… I was turning my head like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. At least that’s how it felt. The nurse warned me that between the valium and lidocaine this could be a false positive.

After a night’s rest, it’s a bit painful, but I seem to remember sleeping on both sides last night, so that’s an improvement. It’s far from perfect, there is still pain, but they told me to wait a week to see what happens.

In the meantime, I read my MRI report.  I suffer from ridiculitis. Of course I do. I think the MRI doctor must have read these blogs.  Ok it’s radiculitis….but that just means I’m a humorist who cheers for myself…Rah Rah.

“You just have to Laugh…..”

©Cathy Sikorski