Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What's New in the Zoo

Last week was another of "those" weeks. It seems like we have a "good" errand week, followed by what I will just call a "less than good" one! Last Thursday was less than good. I went to my grandmother's house early, so that I could dispense her medications into her daily pill boxes and see what, if any, refills she needed. She sat with me, saying, "I could do that myself." I tried to smooth it over... "It's like your old mantel clock that works best when only one person winds it," I explained. "If only I do this, then we know who did it if something isn't right."

I noticed that her Wednesday night medicines were still in their little box, and it was now Thursday. "Mam-ma," I asked, "did you not take your medicine last night?" She said she did... INSISTED that she did. "Well, it's still in here," I replied. She muttered something about starting with Sunday and going through the box, and ended with a loud, "I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING AND WHAT I'M SUPPOSED TO TAKE!" Obviously she is not paying attention to the fact that you take Wednesday's medicines on WEDNESDAY, but I decided to let that go for now.

I determined that my grandmother needed one prescription, but several others were running low, so I decided to order refills on those at the same time. I phoned the pharmacy from my grandmother's kitchen. I gave the clerk scrip numbers for most of the medications, but there was no number for the Coreg. The clerk asked, "Do you have a number for that one?" I explained that no, I didn't because my grandmother had poured the prescription into a bigger bottle that had no number. From across the house I hear my grandmother screaming, "IF YOU WOULD JUST LET ME HANDLE THIS, I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING!" I gently explained that it was okay, that we would find a number. By this time, she is in the kitchen digging through a box of receipts from the pharmacy atop her refrigerator. However, the receipt for Coreg was last year's and she now has a new prescription number, so that didn't help. I just didn't tell her... I talked to the pharmacy and put the receipts back on top of the fridge.

I left my grandmother at the beauty shop and went to the grocery store and pharmacy. When I returned, she was ready to leave, and as she walked toward me, she shook her finger at me and said, "Why didn't you tell me it was your momma's birthday?" (She had forgotten my mother's birthday on April 19th. She forgot it last year, also, along with mine in July, my husband's this May, and my brother-in-law's back in March. She also forgot my dad's, which would be April 18th. In fact, this year on April 18th, she noted the date as she recorded her BP reading, and I just didn't comment. I felt if I mentioned it, or my mother's birthday the following day, she would be upset - particularly that she forgot them.) Apparently one of my mother's friends came into the beauty salon and announced that she and Mom had just had lunch to celebrate Mother's birthday. So, I muttered something to her about not realizing Mam-ma forgot this year (a bit of a lie), and that it was okay. Well, it wasn't okay with her, and she has gone on and on about it for days to me, my mom, my sister, and who knows who else! Her comment is always, "I've NEVER done that before. I don't know why I forgot! It just breaks my heart." See why I didn't tell her she had forgotten? Mom said that yesterday a card arrived in the mail with $25 in it - the exact amount Mom had given Mam-ma for Mother's Day! So, they traded money! ha!

Just recently my grandmother told my mother that she had been talking to the man who mows her yard, and he said he was in his late 60's, and she told him that her son (my dad) died two or 3 years ago, and she couldn't remember how old he was. My dad died in 1999 at age 63. Mother said she would have figured Mam-ma could tell to the day, hour, and minute how long her only son had been gone - how old he was when he died and how old he would be now. We see signs her memory is fading.

Friday evening there was a Mother-Daughter tea at my church. I took my mother, my mother-in-law, and my grandmother. Friday afternoon, Mam-ma called and asked if it would be okay for her to wear a teal colored pantsuit. I told her to wear whatever she liked. She said, "Well, I don't really have anything 'springy' to wear." I asked about a beautiful purple pantsuit she has that looks great on her, and she said, "You mean that lavender outfit? It has to go on over my head and will mess up my hair." I told her not to wear it - the teal would be fine - "don't mess up your hair." She said, "Well, I don't want you to be ashamed of me!" I assured her that would not happen. When I picked my grandmother up for the tea, she was decked out in - you guessed it - lavender! Someone told her at the tea how pretty she looked, and she said, "Well, Debbie said to wear this lavender, so I did what Debbie told me to do!" But the kicker was when a dear friend of my mother's came to our table to visit. As she turned to leave, my grandmother said to Mom, "She is crazy as a loon. She won't remember a thing you told her." Thankfully, IF this woman heard - and Mom is certain she did - it won't phase her. But my husband said, somewhat in gest, "You can't take your Mam-ma out in public any more!"

Tomorrow, I have to go early and try to contact Humana about coverage of two of Mam-ma's medications. She has to give permission over the phone for Humana to talk to me! Mam-ma also got a bill from the hospital that is worrying her - I don't think it is something she truly owes, but she believes she does, and she is worried about her money. She also got new eye glasses this week, and there was a glitch in that order, and she owes money for tinting. I'm sure she will remind me about that payment. And she is wondering where her Economic Stimulus check is... I saw last night on the news where she will be getting it around July 4th. Whew, boy... wish me luck!

I know I am not alone in this journey. My sister-in-law went to her parents' this weekend to celebrate Mother's Day and to help them clean up their yard. Recent storms damaged their roof and some trees in the yard. While they were working outside Friday, my sister-in-law's mother fell going into the house and broke two ribs and injured her shoulder. She is 90. She insisted she was okay until Saturday, when a trip to the walk-in clinic and x-rays revealed the broken ribs. Because this lady is on Coumadin (a blood thinner), she was only given Extra Strength Tylenol for pain, and she is really hurting. My sister-in-law is making the four-hour trip to check on her this weekend. She is an only child, but thankfully, there are lots of relatives, friends, and neighbors in her home town to fill in the gaps with her mom.

Another lady in her 90's - a dear friend of ours from church, got HER Coumadin out of whack last week and fell. She hit her head, and her husband said she "looks like she lives with an abuser!" He got her to the local ER, but she lost a lot of blood because of the Coumadin making her blood so thin. I think it was a pretty scary event. I asked the husband if I could help them - they have no children - maybe bring some food, and he said, "Lord no! Please don't bring food! We will never eat all that has been brought already!" Give God a praise for a great church family who are seeing after these two dear souls. They could be us someday!

And finally, there is my cousin's wife, who brought her aunt to the tea Friday night. This 87-year-old dynamo has been battling a bronchial infection and was worried about coughing and feeling poorly during the tea, but she really wanted to go. Her solution? "I'll just take a big dose of my cough syrup!" My cousin said this cough syrup was loaded with all sorts of "goodies," and could easily cause her aunt to be unsteady on her feet (i.e. "drunk!") or possibly fall. She nixed the cough syrup idea!

I look at these folks, struggling to maintain their independence as their lives start to spiral out of control, and I think, "Someday that will be us!" I wonder, are we learning anything in this journey?

No comments: