Lions and tigers and Bear Hugs…Oh my……

Caregiver’s often feel like they have been cast in a Stephen King movie, and no one told them. A scare a day is not an unlikely scenario. One of our scares with my mother-in-law was when she got dramatically ill for unknown reasons. Even though in her 90’s, all her blood work, scans, and any test they could think of continued to come back negative. But she became pretty much unresponsive, landed in intensive care, and her body temp dropped to 90 degrees.

They put a huge piece of bubble wrap around her like a blanket and had a machine pumping hot air into the bubble wrap to try and get her temp to come up from it’s dangerously low hovering place.  They called this contraption, “the bear hug.” I kinda wanted to take one home. It looked so cozy and comfy and you could pop it for fun.

Even though Mom wasn’t really conversant, she would continuously shake her head back and forth and push “the bear hug” off of her and put her arm over top of the bubble wrap ,so that she wasn’t under the heat. Just like anyone would who was too warm under the covers. Whoever was visiting had to constantly put her back under the “bear hug” and hope for the best.

After the gazillion tests, the medical team decided that she was likely suffering from an infection that was coming from her toe. They discussed taking her toe, her foot, or even half her leg. I put my foot down (oh yeah, pun totally intended). I wanted to wait as long as possible before they would do anything like that. I just couldn’t see trying to train my mother-in-law how to walk or use a wheelchair with that kind of disability at her age.

The “bear hug” did it’s loving job, and she was moved out of ICU. Just as the doctor came in to look at the offending infected toe, it fell off right in his hand. Ack! Really, I was there with my teenage daughter. I wanted to yell, “cut!” to stop this horror film I was in, but I was afraid what they might do next.

So we were able to take Mom home in a few days, but she had to wear special surgical shoes to protect the injured foot until it healed. She was in assisted living. They would get her dressed and get her to meals. But as soon as she got back from breakfast, she would change out of those surgical shoes and into her sneakers.

This went on for a day or two and finally, I told the physical therapist to hide her shoes. Oh my God! My mother-in-law, the sweetest, kindest, gentlest soul went crazy looking for her shoes. She was absolutely convinced that my daughter was the culprit and I should  get her to confess and get those shoes back immediately. This was not completely unfounded as my daughter would occasionally take Grandma’s jewelry or refrigerator magnets as a joke when she was younger. But my daughter was 500 miles away in college, and there was no convincing Grandma that that made a bit of difference.

This battle went on for weeks, until the therapist gave the ok to return to real shoes. When the magic shoes finally reappeared, my mother-in-law said, “Well, finally your daughter has given me back my shoes!” Guess she felt like she was in a Stephen King movie.

You just have to Laugh…….

Cathy Sikorski

0 thoughts on “Lions and tigers and Bear Hugs…Oh my……