Sunday, October 10, 2010

Who Decides?

By the time beauty shop/errand day rolled around, the week had already been quite busy.  On Monday night, Greg and I hosted a "family dinner" for everyone - Mam-ma, my mom and her husband, my sister and her husband, and my niece, her boyfriend, and baby Timothy.  Afterward, Timothy spent the night and most of the next day with us.

Tuesday evening, Greg and I had an appointment at our church to have pictures made for the new church directory.  I had scheduled an appointment for Greg's mother 10 minutes after our appointment, so she rode with us to the church.  But when we got there, her name was not on the list.  I told the volunteer, "I know I scheduled her for an appointment," and then Greg's mother said, "Yes, I made one, too."  "What?  You made an appointment?  Why didn't you tell us?"  Her reply... "Well, you said you made an appointment, so I just didn't think I needed to worry about mine."  I went to the church office and tried to find her name on a schedule sheet for another day, but I was not successful at first glance.  Meanwhile, she and Greg decided that we should all three be photographed together, which was fine ... and that's what we did.  I am still not sure why she felt it was unnecessary to tell us that she had made an appointment and duplicated our efforts.  In the end, the pictures turned out really well, and it will apparently all work out just fine.

Friday, I got to Mam-ma's house, and she was working on the new baby quilt.  Mom had taken her to Wal-Mart on Monday evening before coming to our house for dinner, so that Mam-ma could pick out new quilt batting and backing material to replace the fabric she ripped off the week before when my sister tried to help her.  Apparently this quilting set-up is still not perfect, but working much better than what my sister helped assemble.  Mam-ma had already quilted around several of the Winnie-the-Pooh characters.

I sat down at the kitchen table to dispense medicine, and atop the grocery list was an old, used tube of some sort of prescription cream.  I recognized the tube, and on the grocery list was "itch cream".  I told Mam-ma, "We've already tried this... the pharmacy said the prescription was so old that they could not refill it without asking the doctor, and when they called him, he said we would have to come in for a visit first."  Mam-ma glared at me.  I continued, "I am not taking you to the clinic for itch cream and risk you catching the flu or some other bug."  "But I need it!" she whined.  I reminded her that we had talked about this before, and I had gotten her hydrocortisone cream as a substitute. 

She glared at me and said, "Well, if you itched like I do, you'd understand how bad I need that!  It works so much better."  I told her, "I itch nearly every day because of my allergies - I do understand.  Use the hydrocortisone cream."  She said it "wears off."  I countered... "Re-apply!"

I suggested that the next time a Home Health nurse comes by, Mam-ma should ask her to call the doctor's office and see if she can get the cream refilled.  But I am not taking Mam-ma to the clinic for an itch cream.  I would not take myself for that reason, and it's not worth exposing either one of us to the potential germs and viruses that might be represented at the clinic.

I took the name of the cream with me to the pharmacy at Wal-Mart and asked what OTC substitute he would recommend - hydrocortisone.  So she has a new tube.

Meanwhile, I'm doling out the meds, and Mam-ma says that her friend Ruby is "going stir-crazy."  She added, "She's like me... she needs to get out and go somewhere and do something."  I laughed and said I guessed I was just different, but I can stay home for days on end and never get bored.  Mam-ma said, "Well, that's because you don't like flowers."  I do like flowers - but I don't care about gardening, and I told Mam-ma this.  She replied, "Well, I love to work in my flowers, and I feel better when I garden.  My muscles are not as sore, and I just do better."  I replied, "You know...  they said you could garden at Southridge."  She retorted sharply, and at a loud, high pitch, "I'm not a-goin' to Southridge!"  I laughed and said that was fine ... I was just saying that the lady told me they had two gardens and that Mam-ma could bring her shovel and other tools and "garden" there. 

Mam-ma came over to the table and stood over me and asked, "Do you want me to move to Southridge?"  I told her no... I wanted her to be happy - and to be safe. If she is happier in her own home, that's where I want her as long as she can live there safely.  She then asked, "Well, just who decides whether I go to Southridge or not?"  I told her she does.  "It's your decision."   She glared at me, and I just smiled at her.  "MINE?" she asked.  "Yes..." I answered, "whose did you think it was?"  "YOURS!" she retorted.  I explained that as long as she was mentally capable of making decisions, the choice was hers.  Should she become unable to think clearly, then yes, I would decide.  But for now, the choice was hers.  She replied, "Well, I'm not a-goin'!"  I told her that was fine.

Later that day, I saw my sister at Wal-Mart, and she said, "Oh, I had quite a conversation with Mam-ma last night.  She told me 'Y'all have taken away all of my privileges, and I've not been able to get it together since.  I can't cook any more, and you know I love to cook!'" (another thing she could do at the assisted living facility)  My sister tried to remind her that she could still cook - but only when someone was there with her to help.  She didn't acknowledge that.  Then she told her "A lot of that food they got for me (meaning Meals on Wheels) I can't eat."  My sister chided her about how she probably wouldn't starve. 

For clarification purposes, my sister is the "golden one" who can get by with saying things to my grandmother that I cannot.  On a few occasions she has filled in for me when I was sick and taken Mam-ma to the beauty shop and run the errands.  Mam-ma usually cooks my sister lunch beforehand - and buys her groceries at the store afterward.  I neither want nor need the lunch and/or groceries, but I think you get the picture of how this all goes.

So my sister said that she tried to explain to Mam-ma that we are only trying to keep her safe and out of the nursing home by asking her not to use her stove any longer - and she pointed out that she can still use her microwave and toaster.  Mam-ma flatly told her she had no intention of going to the nursing home!  This all gave me huge insight into why she had so quickly flown off the handle to me about going to the assisted living facility... it was continuing the thread of the previous evening's conversation!

After we had church pictures made on Tuesday, we went by my grandmother's to check on her.  Catching her off guard, she was more alert and able than when she knows we are coming!  She was smiling and happy to see us - and of course, a lot of that was because Greg was with me.  She told us how good the Meals on Wheels lunches were, and that she had really not had anything bad yet. (She told my mom that her lunch on Monday - chicken strips - was "horrible - the worst one yet!")  She is telling us the lunches are good - but she is telling everyone else how bad they are - sort of a reverse of the way she normally complains to me and tells everyone else how things are fine.

Mom and I tallied this week alone, and Mam-ma had a big dinner at our house on Monday, pork chops and gravy for dinner at a cousin's on Wednesday, and Mom took her butter beans and cornbread another night for dinner.  Then Saturday night, Mom made vegetable soup and took her some.  Mam-ma had already re-heated the rest of her Meals on Wheels lunch, but she told me, "I'll toss that in the dirt - I ate the soup instead.  It was delicious!"  So she is eating well - and in no danger of starving!

An elderly cousin telephoned me one night last week, and we talked about the situation with my grandmother.  He lives in a condo on the campus of the assisted living/nursing home facilities.  Before his wife died, they shared an apartment in the assisted living facility for a while, so he is quite familiar with the facilities and what is available.  He told me, "Anyone in town with any sense would wonder why on earth your grandmother is not already at the assisted living facility."  He was not being unkind, or implying I am using poor judgment - he knows my grandmother about as well as anybody.  He was merely pointing out that I should not feel badly if she has to move there. 

I asked him, "Does this mean you are on my team if I need reinforcements to encourage her?"  He assured me is is indeed in my corner.  I took this as one more sign that I am not off base in making preparations. 

Honestly, we are feeling like it may be sooner than later that this move occurs.  My cousin said, "Two weeks of living there, and I bet you wouldn't be able to get your grandmother to move back home."  He thinks she would really enjoy the company of others and the activities there. My mom doesn't buy it for one second.  I am just not sure.  I want to think my cousin is right, of course.  And I know that Mam-ma will never admit to me that she likes it, even if she is having the time of her life.  But I have to believe that my philosophy is right for now - as long as she is relatively safe and able to live in her home, she should live there.  The minute that changes, she should move.  The question of "who decides" will be determined by these factors.  Ultimately, the decision maker will probably be me... and I'm okay with that.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law has returned to her family physician for a follow-up visit.  Her sacroiliitis is better, but her dizziness is not.  The doctor changed her blood pressure medication, added a diuretic, and scheduled her to see a cardiologist and a physical therapist.  There is apparently new therapy that may help with vertigo, so the doctor wants to try it and see if this helps with the dizziness.  Three mornings this week of therapy, then another doctor's visit at week's end.  Greg maintains that the doctors will find something to treat, even if there is nothing really wrong.  He is monitoring this closely, because our past experiences have made us wary of all of these tests, diagnoses, and treatments.

Friday, I was running errands with my grandmother while Greg was taking his mother to doctors and therapists.  And so the cycle begins anew.  Friends came from out of town to visit us this weekend, and they asked, "So what have you been up to?"  Grandmas and babies... with "life" sandwiched in between.   The complexity of the layers changes daily, but the components stay pretty constant... at least for now.

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