Tag Archives: Visiting Nurse

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



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.


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.


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


When naughty is nice……

I have done something very naughty. I must even go so far as to admit I have done it on purpose. You will probably not agree with my decision, but in the end, was I right? If you’ve read any of my blogs….you know the answer to that.

Being a caregiver puts you in the ‘decider’ seat  more times than you care to admit. And sometimes you don’t want to be George W. Bush….you WANT someone else to be the decider. But alas, you’re it. You are the caregiver.

The hired caregivers, who do all the hard stuff, the bathing, the dressing, the cleaning up, keeping the list of needed items, they gladly call on the decider when well, when decisions must be made.

So, I get a call from Susan, head honcho caregiver:

“Cathy, your brother-in-law, is acting weird.”

“Weirder than usual,” I say, hoping that this is just happy conversation, knowing all the while that I am in for a project.

“No, not usual weird—- cranky, mean and kind of ‘out of it’ weird”, she says weirdly, knowing that I KNOW she wouldn’t call me unless there was a problem to be solved.

“Hmmmm, that sounds like, ‘you-know-what’, doesn’t it,” I say with regret.

“Yup,” she says, ” a UTI” (everyone’s worst caregiving enemy…the urinary tract infection). ” He’s weird, he’s ornery and his urine looks a little tinged with brown. So that ‘s not good.”

“Okey doke,” I say with false upbeat. “I’ll call the visiting nurse he has right now and get her to call the doctor.”

Now the reason I have to go this Chutes and Ladders way is because I have no medical authority to call the doctor and beg for an antibiotic, but since he just happens to be suffering from a bed sore right now, he has a visiting nurse once a week who I can ensnare to do my dirty work.

“Hello, Visiting Nurse? I want to ensnare you to do my dirty work,” Okay I really don’t say that.

“Hello, Visiting Nurse? I got a call from the caregivers and they think his behavior and his urine suggest a UTI. I would be ever so grateful if you would call his doctor for a prescription because it’s Friday, I can’t get him to the doctor for at least three days, and if it gets too far gone, he usually ends up in the hospital.”

“Ok,” says the Visiting Nurse, “I will call this morning and get back to you.”

By 4 o’clock, I haven’t heard from anyone. So I call the pharmacist to see if there is a prescription waiting. No, of course not. So I call the doctor’s office.

“Hi, I’m call because I know the Visiting Nurse called and the pharmacy  has no prescription.”

“Yes, we see that the Visiting Nurse called this morning, and it’s in the doctor’s inbox to process.”

“I understand that the doctor is busy,”I say patiently (really  I do) but it’s Friday afternoon, and these UTI’s can be very dangerous for this guy….so if you could just see if he can get it processed tonight……”

“I’ll put a reminder on it,” says the receptionist.

So, of course, at 8:30 that night the Visiting Nurse calls to tell me they called in a prescription, with the caveat that the nurse would take a urine sample and have it to the lab BEFORE we give him the medicine, just to make sure.

So she gets the sample (that’s it’s own blog, I’m sure). I get the meds into him the next morning, and two days later they call and tell me the sample is negative.

And here’s where I’m naughty.

Years ago, when my kids were toddlers, they would suffer from chronic ear infections. I would see it coming, take them to the pediatrician, no red ears would appear in the otoscope, and the pediatrician would send me home. A day or two later, I would be right back in that office with a kid with DOUBLE ear infections, because the symptoms were obvious to me, but not yet to the otoscope. And pretty much, every time, Dr. MOM was right.

Soooooo………I just kept on giving that antibiotic to my brother-in-law since his symptoms were so obvious to all of us caregivers, he gets really, really, REALLY sick if he gets an untreated UTI, and I just was willing to go for it. I am the decider.

I know. I know. Too many antibiotics, too must MERSA, too many super bugs. I know.

But here’s the kicker. THREE DAYS LATER, the doctors office calls me and says.

“Well, you know the test was negative for an infection, but all the other markers were questionable, and so we thought an infection was on the horizon, so just finish the antibiotic as given.

Yup, DR. MOM!!!!

You just have to Laugh……..

Cathy Sikorski