Tag Archives: Rehab

Mothers and Daughters…..Part 131

My daughters have come from far away cities to visit for a few days. It has made me reflect on Mothers and Daughters. I could do entire blog just about Mothers and Daughters….daily.

Last week as we were leaving the rehab center where my brother-in-law would be departing for surgery never to return, Mom and I began to take the few personal belongings from his room.

As we were leaving, my Mom picked up the three little mylar ballons each on its own stick, that people had given my BIL for his birthday the month before. I thought she was going to throw them in the trash. But she clutched them to her bosom like she had just discovered a new grandchild.

“What are you going to do with those,” I asked, ok accusingly. I asked accusingly. The whole point of this exercise was to leave behind the crap and just take what was absolutely necessary.

“Well, they’re his. I don’t want to leave them behind,” she said by way of obvious explanation to her idiot daughter.

So I turned to my BIL:

“Do you REALLY want these crappy balloons?” I asked. Ok, I asked sarcastically.

“What balloons?” said the guy in rehab who was getting ready for surgery and clearly was not in a festive mood.

“Ugh. Mom, throw that crap away. What does he need it for?” I asked her.

“Well, I could give them to other people with birthdays. Like Jeannie, it’s her birthday soon. I could give her one.” said my Mom innocently.

With that the guy in the bed pipes up, “Yeah, give one to Jeannie and tell her it’s from me and Happy Birthday.”

So home with us the balloons go.

This is the same woman who three days later calls me and says:

“Okay, I’ve cleaned out all of your BIL’s clothing from his dresser, and gave away everything he’ll never wear. I took all his medical supplies and meds and stored them in my house until we figure out what to keep in his new apartment. And I’m going to start taking pictures off the walls next week.”

“MOM!,” I said with the crazy attitude that every daughter wants to say to her mother every time they talk.

cell“What are you doing? We don’t even have a place for him to live yet after surgery. If we can’t get arrangements made, he may have to go back to his apartment temporarily. Let’s not make it look like a prison cell. There’s plenty of time to throw things away.”

Of course, I’m thinking, “at least he’ll have some nice balloons to look at, wherever he goes.”

“You Just have to Laugh….”

©2015 Cathy Sikorski

 

 

Something’s Fishy……….

Two years ago, my brother-in-law’s son purchased a fish tank as a gift for his Dad. My BIL had built a very elaborate fish tank in the home he had long ago shared with my sister. He really loved that fish tank. I do believe it gave him hours of joy. But when he moved and as he became wheelchair bound with Multiple Sclerosis, a fish tank was out of the question. It was just not feasible for him to take care of it the way he would like to, or be able to buy the fish he wanted.

Fishtank fish just don’t live very long. And my BIL likes to buy a variety of fish and tank creatures to populate the roost. So it would have been more of a burden than a joy.

But this gift from his son truly came from the right place. He knew how much his Dad would love this treat. What he didn’t know was how in God’s name any one was going to take care of it.

This is where I turn into the caregiver from hell. This is where caregivers do things they regret, but not really.

I took the young buck aside and said, “I know you live more than an hour away, but you have to be responsible to take care of this. I cannot take on a fish tank. It’s like a puppy to me. I just can’t put one more thing on my plate.”

He just looked at me and nodded, telling me not to worry,

sushi-190565_1280Really? Not worry? This made me so nuts, that all I could think of was, this may turn into a sushi buffet for my BIL, because I am NOT taking care of these damn fish.

The son came pretty regularly for about a year. The following year, my brother-in-law was and has been in and out of rehab and the hospital for almost the entire  year. Those fish were on their own. Again, or so I thought.

But the one thing I didn’t consider or count on was that my BIL’s caregivers, those blessed women and occasional man who come to get him ready for the day and tuck him in sweetly at night were angel(fish) in disguise.

angelfish-24669_1280angel-8186_1280

Every once in a while, over the months, I would get a text from one of the caregivers that I should not worry as they were taking care of the fish. Like I was worrying. Things that float are things that flush as far as I’m concerned. I know this is not animal PC, but I just could not and cannot go a half hour or an hour in a different direction every day to check out a gold fish.

So again, the caregivers who are in the building every day for other patients, not my BIL, take a minute to feed, clean and funeral direct, if necessary.

I am really, really grateful. Not in the ,”wow, I should take care of the fish, ’cause it makes him happy” kind of grateful. More the “I’m hopeful that he will know, he’s got good people in his world and sometimes it ain’t me …….” kind of grateful.

“You Just have to Laugh………..”

©2015 Cathy Sikorski

Nailed it……………

I am getting a mani-pedi tomorrow.  First, ballroom dancing and now mani-pedis. Who is this so-called caregiver? But I have to because I’m going to a Masquerade Ball where I can use my new and improved dancing skills.

This brought me to the conclusion that my brother-in-law could use a mani-pedi himself. I just can’t get him to the salon. No one will transport him in his humungous wheelchair if it is not a medical necessity. Now actually, it is a medical necessity. Because he is diabetic, he must have his nails taken care of as a function of keeping infection and fungus away. The podiatrist will come to his apartment and take care of feet, but not fingernails.

Conveniently, there is a salon in the building where he lives. After 6 months in a rehab nursing home, wanting to feel clean, and groomed and just as much  a regular guy as possible, we made an appointment for my brother-in-law to get a haircut and a manicure at the salon in his building.

Sorry.

The manicurist won’t cut his fingernails. They are too hard to handle and she’s afraid of hurting him or cutting him. Albeit, she is supposed to be a professional manicurist. She suggests I get the visiting nurse to do it.

I text the visiting nurse. This is our text conversation:

“Hi cathy…We r not allowed to cut nails due the (sic) the risk of infection with diabetes..Sorry :(”

“Thank you for telling me. Do you know what other people do?”

“A podiatrist for the toes and I guess they do the fingernails themselves.”

I know. Already you are saying…………but Cathy, if he could do it himself you probably wouldn’t be asking this question…..to a nurse.

I can only come up with two possible solutions:

1. Pretend he is a bride and make arrangements for a personal manicure on his “wedding day.” I know some manicurists will do that. They may require an entire bridal party, but I’m sure I could get my mom and sisters, maybe some nieces and girlfriends to show up.

Or

2. See if I can get him a mail order bride that is a manicurist.

Either way the word bride seems to be the answer to my problems.

“You just have to Laugh…..”

©2014Cathy 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 blows hot and cold….

I’m entrenched in the rehab cycle right now. Many days to the rehab center every week are required to watch the progress of my brother-in-law, keep an eye on his care, and to make sure he’s behaving like a human being to the overworked, understaffed people running around trying to please everyone, and pretty much pleasing no one.

The very first day he entered rehab,in the dead of summer, he wasn’t there two hours and protesting royally about the heat. Now, MS sufferers really do need to be temperate. So his complaints were absolutely legitimate. To my amazement, the staff relocated him immediately to a bed where he would be next to the window and air-conditioner.

His first two roommates complained bitterly because they were freezing. My loved one had the thermostat at 60 degrees because he was alternately too hot and too cold. Ya’ think?

But the third roommate hopped on board with my brother-in-law, lickety split. They conferred daily, maybe even hourly, about how freakin’ hot it was in their room. The good news was that one guy wasn’t bundled in a sweat suit and blankets, while the other was half naked in a hospital gown embarrassing anyone who walked down the hall and peeked in mistakenly.

Flat Stanley in PA
What they want it to feel like

Every time I entered their room, the two gentlemen of Verona were commiserating about the unseemly state of the weather in their room. No matter how many times I reset the air conditioner, it wasn’t cold enough……for them. Meanwhile, anyone on the staff who was in  menopause was hanging out in their room to cool off.

By the third day of this, I was at my wit’s end trying to make these two guys happy. The only saving grace was they were enjoying the mutual complaint department. Sort of an “us against them”, giving rehab a fun kind of flavor.

Yesterday morning I entered their room and noticed that the staff had pulled the curtains closed during the night. The curtains were romantically billowing in the window forcing  the air conditioner to blow all the cold air straight up to the ceiling. I went to the window to draw open the curtains and let the cold air directly into the room. That was when I noticed the window panes had quite a bit of condensation. Looking closer, I saw the window was actually open. In fact, both windows were open. Open.

All night long, the July heat was drifting in through the open windows, allowing all the humidity to circle around and settle on their hot sweltering bodies. Ugh. Really? Someone came up with this idea as a way to cool these guys off?  I closed the windows. I asked the gentlemen to tell the staff to keep the windows closed.

The roommate quickly informed me that he thought the open windows constituted a good idea. It would allow circulation and air into the room at night. This logic reminded me of my mother-in-law.  Every time she left the house in tropical heat, she turned off the air conditioner. We told her she might as well turn off the refrigerator every time she left the house too, as that logic goes.

I return the next morning and the condensation is just waiting for me to put “Cathy was here” on the window.

Okay, so … I give up…..

“You just have to Laugh….”

Cathy Sikorski