Wednesday, April 27, 2022
My mother-in-law has now lived in our home for three months. There have been many ups, and of course, downs. Routine is very important, as is the need to prepare for the unexpected. My observation skills are put to good use as is my ability to make sound decisions. This is especially important when you are the primary caregiver for a vulnerable person. I also cannot stress enough, not to allow yourself to become lazy with your intent and strength. This not only includes what happens in your private residence but, when the person you care for lives in a facility, be it private or publicly funded and staffed. When Mere arrived in our home, we had in place things that would simplify the transition and make the care she received, easier to perform. My health, emotional and physical, comes above all else. If something happens to me, I am unable to pursue other things I enjoy and value. The occupational therapist was very helpful in procuring all the necessary equipment. We use things like a return, that allows Mere to help us, help her, go from sitting to standing to the bed. It saves my back! The wheelchair is outfitted to her specific needs, which is critical as she has yet to recover the right side of her body. We are realists. We understand this may never happen. They also offered advice as to other equipment and supplies we may find beneficial. While the thought is appreciated, I felt there was an important step the medical staff and those in positions of power failed to grasp. Without a doubt, it was the best decision to move Mere into our home. When she first had her stroke at the start of the COVID pandemic, the care she required was beyond my capacity. There were treatments, medications and professional opinions I have not learned about in enough capacity to be effective. The type of stroke she experienced is best described as an explosion. Many are familiar with blockages and clots. That is the first assumption, people say out loud when we begin to say that Mere had a stroke. These assumptions are dangerous and even plague the medical world. During the first few months of Mere's hospitalisation, she was catatonic. There was brain activity but, limited. There was very little sensation in her extremities but, she was breathing on her own power. Eventually, she recovered enough activity to be transferred to a hospital closer to home because she no longer required the emergency 24 hour care. Unfortunately, she was not verbal enough to clearly state her needs. Once again, assumptions were made. There was visible, weekly progress. Each time we visited, Mere was able to say a few more words and make more concrete connections between objects and names. What I have found most amusing is her choice of language. For some reason, English has come more easiliy than her French, mother tongue. Unfortunately, this has created some issues amongst the caregivers who do not understand English nor, take the time to listen. At this point, Mere is not forming coherent sentences. Sometimes there are a series of words but, not necessariliy ones that can form an understandable sentence. Other times, it may only be sounds. In a fast, understaffed environment, no one takes the time to stop, and actually listen. There are assumptions being made that are hardly ever accurate because it is simpler to form their own opinion. The faults within the medical communtiy are numerous even if based on good intentions. From my own perspective, I have been quite frustrated at the lack of attention and put simply, good manners. I also have this fault of rushing a sentence but, I was taught to listen to the other person. Understand their meaning, then form a response. The key, and this is critical, is to actually listen to understand, not respond. My first encounter was the social worker in charge of Mere's case, requesting a special pair of shoes to aid in her transfers during physiotherapy. No problem, I replied. I will order them. As soon as they arrive, I will deliver them to the hospital. A week later, the shoes arrive. Unfortunately, I did not receive notice until after the post office closed Friday evening. In our small town, the post office remains closed through the week end and does not re-open until Monday morning. That evening, I telephoned the hospital, spoke with social worker and explained the situation. I would deliver the shoes Monday afternoon before I left for work. I had not even finished speaking when I was interupted to be told that I should pick up the shoes that evening and deliver them to the physio staff. All right. You want me to commit a break and enter? She did not understand. I repeated word for word, exactly what I said the first time. I wish I could tell you this was a horrible joke, but once again, I was asked to bring the shoes that evening. This experience lead me to believe that if the staff refuse to listen to someone who is able to speak clearly and concisely, how are the able to listen to clients who do not possess the ability to express themselves to be easily understood? This inability to listen impacts other areas of the client care. I became aware of a serious ramification within the prescribed medication and treatments. Mere is unable to properly explain her needs. She, understandably, becomes frustrated which in turn, becomes sounds with the absence of words. These sounds are then misinterpreted as expressions of pain. Unable to take the time to listen and properly observe, the staff providing care, assume Mere requires drugs to alleviate pain. The strength of these drugs left her in a zombie-like state, further limiting her ability to speak. Now that Mere has been rendered further unable to communicate, more assumptions are being made daily. Now there are prescriptions of morphine, Fentanyl, cortizone injections and Tylenol. Had Mere's power of attorney, primary caregiver been made aware of all the different medications and treatments, those people being us, more questions would have presented and a demand for answers been submitted. I have my doubts we would have been properly informed given my previous encounters. Now we are facing an uphill battle of reducing the pain medications. Cortizone injections have been stopped. The Fentanyl patch will cease by the end of the week. We finally have a doctor that not only made a housecall, but listened to our concerns to initiate the reduction of various medications. It actually gives us hope that there are medical professionals who listen. Hospitals, long term care facilities, private senior's homes, are all understaffed and improperly funded. The people being hired are either overwhelmed, not properly trained, under payed, and poorly supervised. I have had the unique pleasure of working for people who actually listen and pay attention to the needs of their clients and their employees. I wish this was common practice. I have also worked for people who have had no business being in a supervisory position creating distrust and unsafe working conditions by promoting the need to carry out tasks and swiftly in order to move on to the next task. This creates a giant hole for our vulnerable people to become trapped inside because the very simple need to actually listen, takes time. No one seems to have grasped that importance.
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
We are all moving forward one day at a time. Each day, there is a little progress. Each day, there may be a few steps taken back. And you know? That is okay. We have a routine. We wake up. Take meds. Wash up. Have a little breakfast. Watch a film. Today was a really good day. I thought I would share. Today was the first day since my mother-in-law had her stroke, that a little of her shone through the haze. It was nice. I have learned a few things about myself as I devote most of my time to taking care of my mother-in-law. I can be patient. I have a lot I can teach someone. Routine is very important. I must also make sure to look after me. So, we take each day as it comes. We try our best. I hope you are all well! We will share again.
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
We successfully moved Hubby's mother into our home. She has been here for a week and we are starting to develop a routine. She requires 24 hour care and I am pleased to say I can provide it for her. Hubs provides the physio that was lacking in the hospital. After having been knocked back to the mentality of a three year old as a result of her stroke, she is just now re-learning how to move her paralyzed foot. The stroke had taken away her entire right side. We have a long way to go but, progress is progress and we are pleased to see it. Currently, I am still working weekends at the nursing home. I really enjoy it and am hoping to continue even if onlh in a limited capacity. School is going well. I really detest group work. I did not enjoy it in high school and that feeling has not gone away. My brain seems to have accepted I require it to operate a little more abstractly. In all this new, I managed to complete a little painting for the Twitter Art Exhibit. I like this tradition. It gives me joy to create something that someone might enjoy.
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
We have been keepong very busy. Our plan is to move my mother-in-law into our home a little after Christmas. It was not a decision entered into lightly. Our reasoning, based on what we have seen at her current location, is that we can do better. We can give her the one-on-one she needs to re-develope her motor skills. We can provide more active entertainment to enrich her life. We have the time. She needs the care. We can do this. So, we've been doing some renovation to make things more wheelchair accessible.
Saturday, October 2, 2021
We are still enduring the pandemic. To be honest, I hadn't really thought it would last this long. To be fair, our lifestyle has not changed very much. We have never really enjoyed dinning out. While we love watching films, it just seems more enjoyable at home without all the distractions of fellow movie goers. Work has also kept us rather occupied. I have been working more hours but, the change to an evening shift from a night shift has been so rewarding. I have actually been sleeping. Soundly. At night! What a wonderful experience! I have not had a solid sleep in a succession of nights for 10 years. I had no idea how much I was missing, healthwise, mentally and physically. It's like I have finally emerged from this overwhelming funk. The dogs and I have been walking a lot more. It is at night, after my shift. It is more satisfying for all of us. Very rarily do we encounter other humans. We have come across a variety of wildlife. I have been struggling to explain to the girls, we do not need to befriend every being we see like the skunks and foxes. I really do not need that sort of adventure! With a more restful existence, I've been able to draw and paint more! I missed this! I have been playing more with pastels, charcoals and pencil.
Sunday, August 29, 2021
I seem to have taken an unintentional hiatus. A few changes. For the better. As I sit here listening to the rain we desperately needed, I was thinking about them and remembered I've been pretty quiet. A few months ago, I was approached by another nursing home, in need of personal support workers. At first, I declined. I just wasn't ready for any change. I was much too comfortable. A few months passed and I was again asked to reconsider. I thought, why not? I could visit. If it doesn't feel right, I can say thank you but, no. I found my courage, drove to meet the proprietor and decided to see what the vibe was like. It was a good vibe. The proprietor and I got along well and I said yes. Now I work an evening shift and enjoying sleeping at night. After 10 years, it was time! Our garden has produced a wonderful harvest with a surprise as well! cucuzza. The seeds came in a pumpkin seed packet. Imagine my surprise when all these sprouted! Bloody Mary socks!
Friday, July 23, 2021
I recently celebrated my 43rd birthday. That is what started all of the thinking and reminiscing. At this age, my father was diagnosed with Cancer. He died six months later. I have no fear of mortality. I try to do what is right and most of the time, I succeed. When my father was thus age, the world was quite different. Our telephones had cords. Cable was a huge deal. Divorce was an isolating way of life. A woman's worth was whether she could work and be a housewife, quietly. Feminism was really starting to become noticed. I think of all these things and reflect on my life. I'm overall, happy. I have been divorced. I'm nit able to have children. I can pursue whatever career I wish. I have met a lot of people that have made a great impact on my life. I have the relative freedom to do whatever I wish. I believe if my father was still on thus Earth, he would be proud of who I am becoming. I have gone back to school tomearn my BBA. I am doing well in my courses. I struggle but, I am learning all the time. I am so grateful.