Monthly Archives: December 2014

The best things happen while you’re dancing…..and then……..

Recovery from a crazy weekend symbolized too much drinking, eating, carousing and not enough sleep. Good times. Recovery in the baby boom lexicon foreshadows peculiar changes.

Last weekend my husband and I went to two dinner dances. We love to dance. In fact, we took three different ballroom dancing classes this year.  Since ballroom dancing is one of the top five things you can do to stave off dementia, we figured a thrown hip or knee was a better choice than Alzheimer’s. You wouldn’t recognize ballroom dancing if you watched us, but we just love to dance and that was a legit way to get off the couch, do something fun together, and laugh at our mutual lack of skill.  Then we go back to our lounge lizard moves.

Now at our age, two late nights of dancing, in a row, is pretty risque. The problem is not the actual dancing. It’s the recovery. Saturday night’s gala lasted until midnight. Traditionally, at this affair, we are the last couple on the dance floor with our best friends. This is a country club affair, and if my husband is the recipient of an award  (which is often, because I married a winner in every sense of the word) then we dance more, he drinks more, we talk more and we recover more slowly.

Yes, he won.

Recovery now means we were up too late (past midnight!), too much physical activity

What dancing really looks like
What dancing really looks like

(dancing?) plenty of sleep (because we pass out in our bed as soon as we fall into it) and at least one person who was the designated driver and is only recovering from too much water. And yet, the morning after….the bones creak, the legs move slowly, napping is scheduled as a high priority the minute one wakes up, and the thought of grooming to a high level all over again is daunting.

The next day we both tried to lay low knowing full well our other set of best friends would expect dancing mania, especially since they just completed a course of ballroom dancing with us. We did not disappoint. Although, with 30 minutes of rock and roll left, I could see my intrepid husband slowing down.

“My legs are giving out,” he whispered, as he twirled me in towards him.

“My feet are killing me,” I said quietly, as I did the cha-cha around him.

Now I know what Ginger Rogers meant when she said something like: You try doing this in high heels and backwards….and Fred gets all the credit.

As we limped to the car, the second night in a row, I said to my dancing partner and life partner, “I don’t think we can do this again.”

He mumbled something back which was either, “sure we can, we love to dance,” or “I think we can refinance.”

Drinking coffee at the breakfast table the next morning, I hear my husband coming down the stairs mumbling, “Ow, Ow, Ow.”

I would have gone to the bottom of the staircase to help him, but I had just crawled over to the coffee pot and wasn’t about to do that again.

“You just have to Laugh…”

©Cathy Sikorski 2014



I always tell the truth. Even when I lie……Al Pacino

There is a Medicare rule that requires your Part D (which is prescriptions only) provider to now call you before they send out your medications.

Many of these Part D providers also require, or at least push for you, the patient, to purchase your medications through the mail. The insurance provider wants you to have your doctor order these medications directly from them and then the magical pharmacy in the sky sends the medications to your home.

This process has its ups and downs. On the up side, your medications are delivered directly to your door. For many a senior, ill person, or caregiver, this is a blessing. Nothing is more delightful than not having to go to the pharmacy a million times a month for meds that run out at random intervals.

However, often our elder parents, aunts, and friends are frustrated by their inability to have that paper prescription in their hot little hands, take it to Phil, the Pharmacist, and go home knowing they have the correct meds as confirmed by Phil, and they don’t have to wait days or weeks to see the meds they need.

Now that Medicare has added this ‘protective’ provision that your insurance company must call you on the phone and confirm that you or your doctor ordered this medication, that you actually want the medication and that you wish it to be sent to you in a 90 day supply, another fun-filled element has been added to the mix.

So for me, it goes like this.

My brother-in-law struggles a bit with the phone, pays no attention to his meds anyway, and has for 5 years, relinquished any responsibility for anything. So, I leave a message at my brother-in-law’s doctor’s office requesting they order the medication.

I get 2 or 3 emails from the Part D insurance company confirming that a mysterious prescription has been ordered. They can’t put the name of the drug in the email, so I have to go to the Part D website to see if the correct drug has been ordered. My brother-in-law takes 40 pills a day. So I have to wade through the list to make sure all is correct.

Then Part D Insurance Company calls you on the phone. I never know when this call is coming. If I  miss the call, I put the process behind until I can respond. Now, for all of you who may need acting lessons in the future, I was a theater major in college for a bit, and I will be giving lessons. Now.

When the caller asks you if you are your brother-in-law, drop your voice three octaves and mumble a reply that sounds something like, “Yus.” You’re only talking to a machine, never a real person. Every other question, as his Power of Attorney, I have answered a million times, so I have the answers. But remember mumbling and voice alteration are your friends.

You will be pleased with the results when they conclude the call telling you your drugs are on the way! Just in case you don’t remember this conversation, they send you yet another 2 or 3 emails to confirm that the mysterious drugs, whose names shall not be mentioned in an email, will be delivered shortly.

You’re welcome, and remember all my caregiving thespians….

“You just have to Laugh…..” but don’t do it while mumbling and dropping your voice a few octaves.

©2014 Cathy Sikorski

A Caregiver Confesses…………

Not every day in a caregiver’s life is worthy of a pat on the back. Last week the visiting nurse called me with her weekiy update:

“Hi Cathy, all is well with your brother-in-law,but I’m calling today as his advocate.”

Uh-oh. What does that mean? Immediately, my hackles go up. I don’t actually know what hackles are, if I have them or when they go up and down. But I do know that some red flag is waving behind my eyeballs, and I have become defensive before she even says her next sentence. And here’s why. I am his advocate. Not you. First, I am a professional advocate. Second, I am the one who goes to bat for him almost on a  daily basis. And third, if you are telling me you are advocating for him to me….that must mean you are about to tell me what I’m doing wrong.

“Okay,” I say calmly, “what’s up?”

“Since you’ve put him back on bed rest, he is frustrated and really angry. He doesn’t want to be in bed most of the day. He needs to be in his wheelchair and out and about with his friends. He needs to go to the dining room for every meal and have that independence.”

And here’s where I’m not so happy with myself….but this is only the first part of my confession.

“Let me tell you something (not a good way to start an open-minded conversation). He  just returned home from 10 months in and out of the hospital with 6 of those months straight in a nursing home.In just four days after being home, he began to have bed sores again and problems with open wounds. I feel pretty certain that he does not want to go back to either of those places and so since I know that bed rest was the only solution, I instituted that. Within 10 days of you seeing him, those wounds have significantly healed and he is almost able to return to his normal routine.”

“Well,” she replied, “I’m sure that’s what he needs.”

“I am not trying to make his life harder. Quite the contrary. But I will be sure and let him know that you have advocated for him.”

“Okay, thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!” she said as she got off the phone at breakneck speed.

The Thanksgiving remark sort of slapped me back to reality as well. I was feeling less grateful for her help and more needy of explaining my part in this Passion Play.

And then I misbehaved.

I went over to my brother-in-law’s apartment to discuss his advocate. I waited until the next day, so I could explain to him that I’m not a monster, I’m not insensitive to the fact that lying in bed most of the day is boring, not fun and makes for a long day. I only have his best interests at heart, and I don’t want him to end up back in any place but his home, where he is as happy as he can be.

When I arrived, he was watching TV in his chair.

“Hey,” I said, “your nurse tells me your mad at me.”

“Yeah,” he said, “I don’t want to be in bed so much. ”

And this is where all my sensitivity training, my caregiver’s heart and I’m pretty sure my 26 years as a Mom comes in to soothe and explain how all my hard work for him is truly in his own best interests, that I love him and want him to be healthy and safe and happy and that sometimes that road is a little bumpy.

“Get over it, ” I said.

I thought he would just have to laugh…..and guess what…he actually did………

©Cathy Sikorski