Thursday, August 16, 2012
Leaving the big country house was an exercise that could have been portrayed in a Stephen King movie. It was a nightmare. All of my careful planning and organization, hiring of the handyman and housecleaner, and hiring a professional moving company turned out to be a comedy of errors. The plan was all about timing. I packed everything I could and then the movers were to pack what was left. As they emptied each room, the housecleaner, handyman and I would clean and make any repairs. I had separated certain boxes and a suitcase for the movers to take to my grandson’s house rather than go to storage. The “storage room” stuff was totally separate from the “grandson house” stuff. The boxes were clearly marked with red tape. I needed the movers to take them because my van was totally packed.
But, the timing was thrown off when the movers called to tell me they could not get to my house until 3:00 p.m. I thought – well OK – it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours for the truck to load and we’d be completely done by 7 p.m. It was not the best scenario because it meant the cleaners and handyman would have to come back the next day to finish the job. But I needed to move forward.
To make a long story short – the moved was complete at 4:45 a.m. the NEXT morning. To top it all off, my careful separation of storage and house stuff was totally lost. Everything was simply thrown haphazardly into the storage room. By this time I had been awake for more than 30 hours and was not up to arguing or fussing with the rude workers. I just wanted it to be over.
I picked up Riley at the nursing home the following day and took him to our new temporary home – my grandson’s house. Riley and I are now sharing the master bedroom. It is an uncomfortable situation, but it is only temporary. I can handle this.
I had been given specific directions from the nursing home about how to take care of Riley. He was not to be left alone for any small amount of time. He needed his meals at regular times. Bathe him daily but he was not to get into the shower. Do not allow him to try to walk – he was to either be in bed or in his wheelchair. I wasn’t sure how I was going to meet all the requirements. My grandson’s wife had been searching for a personal aide for him, but had not had much luck.
The first 24 hours were very unpleasant to say the least. By the end of the day I decided that I would try to help him regain some ability to walk. He had had NO physical therapy at the nursing home and I thought maybe with a little exercise and practice, he might be able to become at least a little more mobile. I was right. He can now get to the bathroom and he has discovered that he can make it to the toilet in time which means I don’t have to change messy diapers. He still wears the pull-ups in case of an accident – but for the most part he takes care of that by himself. This takes a HUGE load off my shoulders.
Riley has not expressed any interest in leaving the bedroom. He watches his TV, eats and sleeps. That’s his day in a nutshell. When everyone is home, the rest of the small house gets chaotic and he cannot handle the noise and confusion.
On the way home from the nursing home, Riley told me he couldn’t wait for a sandwich and a beer. I told him I was happy to make him a sandwich, but that there would be NO beer – or any other alcohol for that matter. As long as we are living with the kids, he would be alcohol-free. And – since we are looking for a larger house to share with the kids on a permanent basis – he better get used to the idea of not being drunk. He did not argue and has not asked for anything to drink since.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had to leave him alone for short periods of time. When I returned everything was fine. I did not find him on the floor or stressed or drunk. So it seems, I am able to do things like grocery shopping or running some errands. I’m never gone for more than two hours – but it is a welcome time away from the house.
Sleep is a different story. Riley doesn’t sleep well through the entire night. I hear him gasping for a breath of air. I suspect he has some sleep apnea – which I will address with his primary care physician. I wake up each time I hear him make a noise that doesn’t sound “right”. As a result, I never get a full eight hours of sleep.
I keep a small supply of my own medication at my grandson’s in case I get stranded here and can’t get to my regular supply. I had been using my emergency supply because my suitcase containing my prescriptions ended up somewhere in the storage room. I thought that I could get my grandson to get them out and that it would not be a problem. However, when the boys went to the storage room, they had difficulty even getting into the shed to find anything. They did the best they could to move boxes around and still – there was no suitcase.
Because I couldn’t find my medication, I started making phone calls to the doctors who had prescribed them. I got nowhere. I left messages. I talked to the nurses. I was told that I had just had my meds refilled and if I wanted another prescription, I needed to make an appointment to see the doctor. I didn’t want to drive two hours to a doctor that I didn’t like when I knew those meds were in that storage room. But, basically, I was without my meds for the better part of two weeks.
I made an appointment with a primary care doctor here in the new location. I thought, I’d just start over with a new doctor. I explained my situation and the new doctor was happy to see me to get a prescription for my meds and then give me a physical later on in the month. This was good. I felt I had found a solution. I was exhausted and feeling generally yukky, but this would all be resolved.
Like any new patient, I expected the appointment to be lengthy. What I did not expect was the medical assistant coming in looking at me with concern and asking if I felt OK. She didn’t wait for an answer, but took my vitals and said she’d be right back. When she returned with the physician assistant, we talked a bit and then I was told they had called an ambulance to transport me to the hospital. I was confused and found that I was having difficulty answering the questions. Why was I going to the hospital? I just needed my prescriptions refilled. I couldn’t be gone that long from Riley.
The next thing I knew I was in the ambulance with a couple of EMT’s named Bruce and Eric. Bruce was talking softly to me and asking me questions. I didn’t feel like I could answer him. He told me not to worry they would take good care of me. I tried to tell him that people don’t “take care of me” – I take care of them. But we were now moving on down the road to the hospital.
When we were finally in the emergency room, my daughter came over. She told me that my blood pressure was extremely high and the doctor suspected that I was going to have (or having) a stroke. I remember hearing the numbers 200 and something over 100 and something. I repeated that I just wanted my prescriptions refilled. A doctor came over and asked some questions. My daughter talked to her because now I was so distraught that nothing was coming out of my mouth that made any sense.
I was given some medication and almost immediately I felt more relaxed. I was whisked off to getting a cat scan. By the time I returned to the room, I was dozing in and out. I was tired and just wanted to get to sleep.
The scan showed that there was no NEW damage. I got enough medication for two weeks and was sent home. I was told to make sure I took ALL my medication everyday as prescribed. I was instructed to get plenty of rest and make sure I avoided stress. If I do that, I should be fine.
My search for a personal aide for Riley continues.
at 9:06 AM