Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Sandwich Adds a Layer

Our "sandwich" added a new layer last week.  One week ago today, Zola Claudette - Timothy's baby sister - was born.  She weighed in at 5 lbs, 15 oz. - 19 inches long.  She is the tiniest thing I have ever seen!

Zola was born on a Tuesday afternoon.  My husband and I picked up Timothy the night before, and he stayed with us for a week.  His PawPaw picked him up yesterday morning.  I was sad, but also very tired and ready for sleep and a chance to regroup.  I have no doubt he will return soon, as his family will need a break.

I am so thankful for my husband.  I truly do not know how single mothers do it.  I got pretty good this last week at sneaking in a shower and other tasks, but there were times when it was great to know that someone else was "in charge" while I stole away to the water closet for a few minutes uninterrupted!  I learned quickly that some "play time" in the bath tub in the morning could buy me enough time to dress and "put on my face," wipe down the bathroom, and maybe answer an e-mail or two on my laptop.  Night-time baths included time to play while I did my Bible study and answered more e-mail.

One morning, while my husband and Timmy ate breakfast, I slipped away and showered.  When I returned to the table, my husband said, "I'll watch him while you shower."  He was astounded that I already had managed to accomplish this.

Timmy is not always a good napper or night-time sleeper.  He sometimes has night terrors, and we count ourselves lucky that he has begun to sleep through the night - although that is relative, since "through the night" means about 6 or seven hours.  So if he goes to bed at 9:30 p.m., he is awake by 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. at best.  Yesterday morning, he was awake at 4:15 a.m.  We watched "Jack's Big Music Show" in bed for an hour, then we went outside to play with his tricycle and blowing bubbles.  However, he was not in a good mood... and not wanting to wake the neighbors - or my husband still sleeping in side -  I decided we should "get outta Dodge."  So we loaded into the car and went to Wal-Mart to shop for groceries.

I was barely dressed... Timmy was in his pj's and sandals... and I didn't care.  I slapped on a little powder from the compact in my purse, added some lipstick... ran the comb through my hair, and we headed to the store.  Timmy slept on the drive there and back and was a perfect angel while we were in the store.  I unloaded the car at home while he continued to doze in his car seat.  We were back inside by 7:30, with the groceries unpacked and breakfast underway.

Thankfully, my grandmother is doing so well at her new apartment in the Assisted Living Facility (ALF), so I was not having to worry about her well-being and safety this past week.  Timmy and I visited her twice, and both times, she was doing incredibly well.  She pushed Timmy around the facility on her walker (which has a bench seat), and we printed pictures of her new great-great-granddaughter for her to share with her friends.  One nurse said she had shown them to everyone.  I am hoping that she will get to meet Zola in person soon.

As luck would have it, I had scheduled an appointment at the hairdresser for the day after Zola arrived.  Since those appointments are like gold and hard to secure, I asked my mom to watch Timmy while I got my hair cut and colored.  She gladly obliged.  That morning, my husband and I drove Timmy to the hospital in a city 30 miles away, so that he could meet his baby sister.  Then we returned in time for me to take Timmy to my mom's before my appointment.  Luckily she only lives a block from the hairdresser's salon.

The next day, Mam-ma had a six-month checkup scheduled with her cardiologist.  The visit was to happen at our local hospital, which is about 5 minutes from our house.  Again, there was no way to change the appointment.  But this time, my mom was not available to help.  My husband rearranged his schedule to watch Timmy, and the appointment didn't take that long - and we were able to mark that off our list!

My grandmother was "dressed to the nines" and looked like a million bucks when I picked her up for her 10:00 a.m. appointment.  This was her first visit with a new cardiologist - an associate of her previous doctor who actually sees patients at our local hospital's outpatient clinic, which saved us the 30-mile trip (one way) to see the original doctor.  None of this new guy's staff could believe that Mam-ma was 98.  She looked so good... was spry and able-bodied, and she hopped up on the scales to be weighed - she'd lost a pound and a half.

Why is it that doctors feel they simply must find a problem?  My grandmother is doing fantastically well.  Her left ankle was slightly swollen.  The doc noticed it and made mention - which opened up Pandora's box with Mam-ma.  I tried to discount the swelling - it wasn't as bad as she has many other days, and I surmised she had probably eaten something salty.  The doctor launched into a campaign for Mam-ma to go on a low sodium diet and be more active.  Goodness, if she were any more active, we'd have to take extra vitamins to keep up with her!

Mam-ma told the doctor her food was "terrible" - no seasoning.  For the record, my grandmother salts her food before she ever tastes it.  Anyway, the doctor finally asked, "Do you see your family physician regularly?"  "No," Mam-ma replied.  I explained that we do not see him unless she needs to... and she is remarkably well.  BUT... the staff at the ALF is in contact with him, and he was consulted when she got the stomach flu recently.  I also pointed out that, while most residents were in bed at least 4 days to a week with the bug, Mam-ma was back eating in the dining room within 2 days... a testament to how well she is doing these days.

The doctor asked if Mam-ma's kidney function had been checked recently.  "No," she told him.  "Yes," I countered.. "you had a complete physical in January to prepare to enter the ALF."  Oh... she forgot.  The doctor said, "Well, Mrs. Chandler, since you are doing so well and seeing your doctor here regularly, let's just see you again in six months and not change anything now."  He hinted at upping her Lasix for the ankle swelling, and I told him that this is how we get into trouble - when doctors start tinkering with her meds.  That's how she ended up depleting her potassium, falling, and staying 3 months in the nursing home a few years ago.

The doctor asked, "Do they check your blood pressure regularly at the ALF?"  "No," Mam-ma told him.  "Yes," I countered... "they do... at least once a week."  The doctor said, "Okay, so since they are keeping close tabs on you there, let's just see you in a year."  Mam-ma slumped her shoulders, looked forlorn, and said, "Well, don't put me off like that."  He laughed and said, "Okay... come back in six months.  I just don't want you to spend all of your time going to doctors."  She looked at him and wagged her finger and said, "I don't go to doctors unless I have to!"  I just didn't comment.

While we were waiting, we visited with friends of my grandmother... the parents of a schoolmate of mine.  Both are in their eighties and are declining in health.  On the way back to the ALF, I told my grandmother that my friend is really struggling with the care of her parents.  Her father is very ill, and her mother is lashing out and not always cooperating.  Mam-ma never missed a beat... she said, "Well, Leon is just like me.  All his life, he's just done whatever people told him to do and not complained.  He's just gone right along with it."  I had nothing... given Mam-ma's history, what do you say to that?!

I told my husband that I am so grateful that Mam-ma is settled and safe.  If this had happened even six months ago, I don't know what might have transpired.  I know that Mam-ma is less self-absorbed now... and less demanding.  She is busy, involved and active... and thinking of others.  And she has been a great sounding board for me in recent weeks as I've experienced some personal frustrations.

Meanwhile, my"birthday buddy" - a dear lady who shares my birthday and will be 93 in a few weeks - has moved to the ALF.  Physically, she is not doing as well as my grandmother, but Mam-ma is doing all she can to encourage her and to comfort her daughters, who are struggling with her decision to make this move.
So this has been a week of blessings and new experiences... and lessons learned.  I've learned that I can still multi-task... and I am glad I've been working out for the last few months!  Timothy is a tall 34.5" two-year-old who weighs 29 lbs. - and my back would be screaming if I had not done strengthening exercises in the last few months.

I've learned that I can survive a trip to the store with a kid in his pj's and myself in some semblance of disarray - and that it's okay if the house is a wreck and the dishes don't get done but once a day.  I've learned that it's okay for a 2-year-old and his great-great-grandmother to share a Three Musketeers and get melted chocolate all over both of them... and old people need to see babies more often.  Timmy is always a hit at the ALF... and Mam-ma loves to show off how handsome he is!

I've also learned how precious a good night's rest can be.  I've slept and napped and rested most of the last 24 hours since Timmy went home... because I know that Mam-ma will be calling - and Timothy will be back... and I need to be fresh and ready for both!

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