Caregivers are not permitted to take vacations. But good ones do so anyway. If you can get out of the country and be completely incommunicado that’s ideal (being incognito doesn’t hurt either).
My husband and I took a bucket list trip to Macchu Pichu in Peru. We nearly killed ourselves hiking mountains in high altitude and then melting with sweat in the Amazon jungle. No phone, no lights, no motor cars, not a single luxury…not really true, we stayed in some damn fine five star hotels for about five hours a night. But the only way to communicate with this caregiver was through email. In a country where you are not allowed to flush your toilet paper and must use bottled water to brush your teeth….WIFI is not high on their list. This caregiver was thrilled to be almost completely unplugged from the world for ten days.
I made sure the folks in my brother-in-law’s rehab knew that they must call my mother if any decisions needed to be made about his care. My mother gave them my sister’s phone number as well. They had enough phone numbers to start a new yellow pages under “caregivers for Cathy’s brother-in-law.”
When I returned from conquering mountains and tarantulas, on a Saturday, there were six messages on my home phone and four on my cell phone from the rehab center. Insurance and Medicare had determined that my brother-in-law could be discharged from rehab to home, where he lives alone, even though the doctor insisted that he must remain on complete bed rest for 2 or 3 more weeks. The rehab center wanted me to know that his coverage was now terminated, three days before I returned from the jungles of Peru.
Even though they tried to call me TEN times…. with no response from me, they seemed to decide that I’m an irresponsible person. No one looked at the file to see if there was any indication of who else to call. No one took one teensy weensy step further and thought: “Gee, this is weird. That lady is in here several times a week bugging all of us for anything from therapy updates to a single sugar packet. I wonder why she is ignoring our phone calls?”
I called on Saturday and was surprised to find that at the very least, they kept him in his room, assuming he would pay for it. Now they are working very hard to see if they can get his insurance to reconsider.
So the good news is we checked a square off our bucket list. The better news is we didn’t die doing it, no malaria and no altitude sickness, no death by diarrhea, no tarantula bites. The best news is my brother-in-law isn’t home in a bed wondering if anybody knows where he is.
You don’t get a vacation and….
“You just have to Laugh…..”
©2014 Cathy Sikorski