Sunday, October 30, 2011

Where Has Another Month Gone?

I knew it had been a long time since my last post, but almost a month... really? That should tell you something about how things have been going. It has at least seemed like an unusually busy month, and certainly there has been no time to get bored! But isn't that the life of all of us who are members of this Sandwich Generation?!

My sister finished her CNA classes and began a job at a local nursing home, working the 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. shift. Thankfully (and to my amazement!), the daycare that Timothy attends opens at 5:15 a.m. I asked his teacher, "Do you really have children come that early?" She nodded her head and said, "Oh, yes!" So Timothy arrives at 5:30 a.m., and my sister picks him up in the afternoons, sometime after her shift is over. So far, he is doing well... he certainly enjoys that late morning nap for 2 hours or more! But he is thriving at the daycare and really loving his teachers and his new friends.

When I last posted, my grandmother had just had her monthly visit from the facility physician. She had given him the same complaint she has given me for years, "I can't pee." If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that we even made a visit to her previous family physician for this once, and he tried to explain that she takes Lasix and does not need to go on the hour, every hour, all day long. But still, she continues to complain. So in an effort to appease her, the new doctor ordered an "in and out cath" to see how much urine she retains after going to the bathroom... and to show her that she is really emptying her bladder.

When I arrived for a visit, she said, "The doctor has been here, and he told that nurse they would do surgery." I questioned her... "Surgery? On what?" "Well, on my kidneys... I can't pee." That's when I found the doctor in the facility making rounds, and he assured me it was not surgery - just this "in and out" procedure.

The catheterization showed little urine in the bladder. But in the words of the LPN who administered the procedure, "It looked nasty." A culture was ordered, and we were told that there would probably be medication forthcoming... but not until Monday.

Meanwhile, Mam-ma began to complain of burning and being uncomfortable. The nurses kept telling me, "The doctor cannot prescribe any medication until the cultures are conclusive as to which bacteria is involved... and that will take 3 days." It took roughly four, since the pharmacy that serves the facility did not deliver any medication until late Monday night, and somehow there were no orders from the nurse (or any that were seen by an aide) for the medications to be administered. I now have a box of AZO tucked away in Mam-ma's bathroom that the LPNs or I can administer for the burning, if she has problems again.

In retrospect, this is what has been dragging my grandmother down for weeks. She had a UTI in late July/early August and was on antibiotics. When she became dizzy and disoriented in late August and we transported her to the ER, the attending physician's first idea was, "She has residual infection." But the labs came back clear. Now we realize that this test was probably a "dip stick" in a cup of urine... and without a culture, the underlying infection was not discovered.

At any rate, injections of a very strong antibiotic were ordered for 7 days, accompanied by 7 days of oral antibiotics and something for burning. And... over the weekend, the nurse telephoned and said, "We think Polly has pink eye. Her eye is red and swollen this morning. It's either that or allergies... or she slept on it wrong. We're ordering an antibiotic for that, too!" For seven days, Mam-ma took THREE antibiotics. Now she says she feels better from the UTI, but she is still trying to recover from taking so much medicine.

During all of this, we continued to keep Timothy a day or two here and there. One Saturday morning, I took him to his first birthday party... for a fellow daycare attendee who was turning three. This was a "prince and princess party" - about four little girls in princess attire, and two little boys. Timmy did not go in costume. The party was held at a local playground, and the parents had added a "bouncy castle" and a pinata, as well as a craft project, a cake that looked like something from the Food Channel programming, and party favors that went on for days. The bar is set high for future parties!

My 2 favorite boys... Timothy's
first football game!
Timmy had a ball, but he came home exhausted and really cranky and ready for a long nap. We've also taken him to a couple of local high school/junior high football games lately, and he has loved that... especially the band. It seems that we're learning to take him along wherever we go and continue with our plans as much as possible... knowing full well we may be leaving early. One night we didn't make it to halftime... Timmy fell asleep in my lap during the 2nd quarter!

With the routine of daycare and my sister's job in place, we were actually able to take a few days to help with a conference that was held in our community by the company we developed and sold six years ago. We still stay in touch with the new owners and try to keep up to speed on what is happening with our "baby," and this gave us a chance to renew some relationships and see firsthand how the business is doing today. But it was a hectic, tiring string of days/nights, and then it was back to our "routine" with our own family and household.

After several days of bouncing back and forth between caring for Timmy and seeing about Mam-ma and the conference, I had a chance this week to finally work on our house and get it cleaned and back in some semblance of order. I realized that it had been several weeks since I had actually done laundry for us, so that in itself took a full day or more. When you are washing towels and baby clothes and pajamas every day or so, it is easy to lose track - until you don't have any clean underwear!

We kept Timmy for a couple of days last weekend while my sister worked, and all day Saturday, he was fine. Saturday night we were watching videos on the computer when he suddenly erupted... vomiting everything he had eaten for three days, it seemed. Greg helped me get him stripped and to the bath tub, then watched him while I changed MY clothes and cleaned up the mess. Yes, if you are following this posts, this is twice this month that we have had these events.  This little boy has had a rough few weeks!

After that, Timmy seemed subdued, but okay... until the next morning, when he was sick again. I watched him closely all day and monitored his food and drink, but by Monday morning, he was better and fever free, so I took him to daycare. He did pretty well all day, but that evening, my sister said he threw up all over HER... her first foray into this side of our precious charge! Bless his heart... he is so pitiful when he's sick... and it scares him - he does NOT understand what is happening. My sister had Tuesday off, so she kept Timmy at home and made sure he was feeling better.

I managed to get our house cleaned, laundry washed and ironed, and everything in place before the weekend. Greg had cousins visiting from out of state, and we were planning to spend time at with his family. I made a visit to the ALF to make sure Mam-ma was okay. I picked Timothy up on Friday afternoon at the daycare and brought him to spend the night with us. Greg's family came to our house for a visit and take-out pizza, which made it much easier with the baby. Yesterday we went for a brief visit at Greg's brothers... Timmy in tow... before my sister picked him up when she was finished working.

Today my mother has taken my grandmother for an afternoon drive to see the fall color, which will help her spirits tremendously. Tomorrow, Timmy will Trick-or-Treat at her apartment (I left candy there for her to give him), and next weekend, we will take her to lunch to celebrate her 99th birthday on Saturday. I am hoping that the days in between will be uneventful. The doctor will return for a monthly visit on Friday, and I anticipate that he will declare her to be greatly improved... if not completely well.

I feel like for the moment we are settled into something of a routine... helping with Timothy as needed while my sister works... checking on Mam-ma several times a week... and trying to have a life in between. My husband is so good to go and visit my grandmother, refill her bird feeder, and spend a few minutes with her - just the two of them. She loves that. I already know of at least two people who are planning to visit her from out of town on her birthday, and that will be huge, also. For now, we're trying to make the most of every day... savor the special moments with our little nephew AND my aging grandmother. So far, so good! Yeah, what am I saying?!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On another note, I still have some checking to do, but it looks like I will not have to change Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Insurance providers for the first year since the program was implemented! Thank you, LORD!!! I think I have had five providers, so far...and that doesn't count the one that Medicare so nicely switched me to on their own the first year! (I got it switched back, since their plan covered virtually NONE of Mam-ma's drugs!) I am glad that at least once, it looks like I won't have to go through all of the shenanigans that are involved to transfer to yet another provider. I will make a call to the pharmacy to doublecheck this tomorrow, but it is looking pretty good at this point! Yippee! See how little it takes to make us Sandwich Generation "fillings" happy?!

AND... a cousin recently suggested to me that I needed to have a DNR order handy for my grandmother, so that no heroic measures will be taken to keep her alive, should something happen. These are her wishes, and I mistakenly assumed that the Living Will covered this. It does not! So... we now have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order on file at the ALF, along with a copy of her Living Will. With both of these in place, no life-sustaining measures should be enacted, were she to have a stroke or heart attack, etc. If you do not have these documents for your aging loved ones, I encourage you to get them. You can download the forms online, or talk to your attorney and ask him/her to supply them.

I talked with Mam-ma about the DNR paper to be sure these were her wishes. She insisted they were, saying she did not want to be a vegetable. "And besides," she added... "the sooner I'm off your hands, the better!" I told her emphatically that she is NOT "on my hands," but I had assumed she was after a "one-way ticket." She said, "Well, I AM!" Gotta love my grandmother!

I hope things are well in your "Sandwich" this week!

1 comment:

Mich Magness said...

LOL... Poor Timmy. I was really good at throwing up when I was a little boy. My two grandmothers, Grandma Been & Granny Magness, took turns taking care of me while Mama taught school. I'm grown, with grandchildren of my own now, and when I'm sick at my stomach (and I was really sick last week) I Want MY Grandma or Granny to put a cold washcloth on my throat. Being sick is not a happy time, for anyone in the family. But I must say that the feeling of being safe, comforted, and cared for when we were sick little kids is an indelible memory.