Monday, September 3, 2007
It's almost 11 a.m. I'm sitting by the phone waiting to hear back from Kings Manor about whether they will be able to get someone to stop by the facility where Aunt Tod is staying to do an evaluation on her today. Tonya (Tanya?) says she will call me back when she hears anything. She has a call in to someone's cell phone.
I've been waiting almost two hours. If I don't hear back pretty soon (I called again after one hour) I will call again and let her know I'm heading out to the facility to visit with Tod for the afternoon and to call there and leave us a message if anyone intends to come by today. If not, I think I'll take Tod for a drive again today.
Yesterday one of Tod's friends from Sequim, Linda Benson, came by to see Tod. Linda's daughter drove her. They are wonderful people and were teary as they left, asking me to take good care of their friend. That's the plan, for sure!
After Linda and her daughter left, I drove Tod to Jackie's for dinner. She felt awfully sick going there (had taken a pain pill on an empty stomach), but after a while she got to feeling much better.
Jackie, Wendy and I positioned Aunt Tod by the kitchen sink and washed her hair -- something she has been missing since the ordeal of hospitalization and rehab began over ten days ago -- and then Jackie blew-dry it with a diffuser. That small kindness, alone, seemed to do a great deal for her spirit and well-being.
She ate more than she has in weeks while at Jackie's, and by the time I got her back to the facility she said she felt hungry, still -- an alien sensation to her over the past few weeks -- so I fetched her a renal drink and she ate a few crackers. I left a much-revived, smiling lady last night and enjoyed a good night's sleep as a result!
I'm eager to get back to her today and spend some time with her again. I may take her on a drive to Point Defiance or something -- anything to get her out of that facility -- if Kings Manor can't come by and evaluate her today to let me know if she can move there... (If she can't, another rehab facility with a sterling reputation will evaluate her tomorrow and will take her.)
The facility shes' in now is very bad for one's emotional state, not to mention their physical state. The people who work there are hard-working and lovely -- the place is just severely understaffed and nearly every bed is full. Some patients have serious conditions and need more attention, so those who are better off get less attention unless they have a family or a friend who can advocate for them. I so want to "rescue" all of them and get them somewhere else so their sense of self-respect can be nourished...
I wonder how bad it will get before things gets better. The baby boomers (me included) are going to be entering hospitals and rehab places in record numbers in the not-too-distant future, and if it's this bad NOW, I shudder to think what kind of help or nurture we'll receive unless we have someone (a family member or good friend) young enough to go to bat for us. It's a crisis already!!! What will it be later? It scares me more than a little to think about it... I think I'd be suicidal if someone placed me in a facility like the one Aunt Tod is in right now. I want to kick the hospital's butt to the curb for placing her there. What were they thinking -- or were they thinking at all? A person with a port in her chest should not be in a facility where the bathrooms smell like open sewers... I'm going to write a letter to the hospital and complain.
The facility also lost her upper denture, so she will have to spend at least $500 to have it replaced. I'm just totally frustrated and disgusted by the entire situation -- and because it's a three-day weekend, all I can do it keep taking her outside the facility and promising her I'll fix it as soon as I can. Thank God she totally understands and knows I will do what I say as soon as it's possible -- even TODAY if, by some miracle, that's possible!
I reiterate: If you have a loved one in a hospital or rehab facility, be there as much as you can to encourage and assist and advocate for them. Become an extra pair of arms and legs. The nurses will thank God you're there -- as will your loved one. Anything you can do to lift the heavy load from the staff and be a blessing is HUGE.
The patients in these places are scared. They've lost control of their bodies and of their destinies in so many instances. Anything you can do to let them know that someone is there and that you care about them on an individual basis will be miraculous in nature.
Just being there is the chief ticket. Just be there. It's huge! And stay positive and encouraging. Not falsely so; don't make promises you can't keep, but let them know you're praying for them and that you will do whatever is do-able to improve their lot while they're there.
Your presence will be the best part of their day and the memory of your visit and eventual return will fill their nights with better thoughts.
Update: Kings Manor will evaluate Aunt Tod tomorrow morning at 10 to see if she's well enough to move in. Please pray for that! Thanks!