Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's not guilt but it is something

Today, we moved Mummy to the intermediate facility before her move to Assisted Living. Let me just say that the moving business is really rather painful.

Not too many days ago, I posted in Powerball or Bust! that one of the key tests one has to do when selecting a facility is the sniff test. Does the place smell? Well, we were being hastily moved from the rehab hospital to this new place, so no time was available to do a site visit. Upon entering the locked ward for AD patients, I discovered, to my horror, that it smelled. Already, I knew this was the wrong place for my mummy. Strike one.

There are lovely nurses there. Folk smile and talk to patients as though they are still human. These are good things, but clearly there are patients for whom patience has worn thin. I heard one caregiver telling a patient that she didn't work for him. Now, I know not what precipitated that exchange. I know not the history - cuz there's bound to be some kind of history there - but those things aside, the response and the tone were inappropriate. I was not impressed. Strike dos.

Then, there's an issue with her drug delivery. Mummy's eyedrops are delivered thus: blue capped bottle, one drop each eye, twice a day. That instruction got thoroughly mangled at Doctor's Community Hospital and turned into two drops, both eyes, twice a day. The second drop (mint green capped bottle) is delivered thus: one drop, right eye only, once a day. That got mangled at DCH or Laurel Regional and became one drop, each eye, twice a day. What is annoying about this, is that I SHOWED THEM THE DAMN BOX at Doctors'. The instructions for how the drugs are to be administered are on the damn box. Why y'all doing it wrong? Do you  not care?

Given that I've been doing Mummy's eyedrops for about three years, I'm really not feeling this crazy 'let's just slap that crap in her eye' approach to medication. What else are they doing equally slap-dashedly? I shudder to think.

When your people are at home, you know when and how medications are being delivered. When your people are in the care of others, you have to hope and pray that people know what they're doing and that they're doing it right. In this case, they aren't. Strike three.

More than all of that though, is Mummy's aloneness. My mother is at sea, in a leaky boat and there is no one nearby on whom she can call. There is no one who knows anything about her, no one, quite possibly, who even cares. While at home, Mummy's routine was fairly simple. She slept a lot when she was alone with me, but when Ms. Rosa came on M, W and F, she went walking, she did puzzles and she and Ms. Rosa read. When she was hungry or when she was called, she would come to lunch. When she was agitated, I would put on the music that we know she always loved and that would bring her momentary peace. For Miriam Makeba's birthday this year, I gave Ms. Rosa a Makeba CD and they listened and Barbs sang along. The problem with this new facility is that no one there knows her, nor indeed do I imagine, is anyone going to try to get to know her. Strike four. There will be no Miriam M when she is distressed in the future.

It is this last that pains me most. I cannot care for my mother any more. Her needs now exceed my capacity and though I feel no guilt about having to place her in the care of strangers, there is something that I do feel. I think it must be despair.

She is a human being. More importantly, she is MY human being, and there are things that she deserves. She deserves to by cared for by people who know at least a little bit about her. Ms. Rosa knew her. She could make her laugh. She could get her to talk. There is no one at this new facility whose job it will be to draw Barbara out. Whereas Rosa could coax Barbara into a bath even when BIM didn't want one, I don't know that there is anyone with the capacity or time to coax Mummy into anything.

This is a delicate time in her life as she nears the end of the road. Surely she is entitled to coaxing; to shared laughter; to Miriam Makeba or Edith Piaf when she is distressed? Surely she is entitled to have her eyedrops done the right way? Surely she is entitled to affection and shared history? Surely she is entitled to something? Unfortunately, she didn't make a robust enough retirement plan and now, well, she may be entitled but we can't pay for it.

I don't feel guilty but I do feel sad. What's she's getting is so much less than she deserves but there is nothing that I can do to make it different.

Mea culpa Mama. Mea maxima culpa.

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