We got my dad to IH Monday. I went over about 8 o’clock and he was lucid enough and mobile enough that mom had gotten him up and dressed and he was in his chair eating Malt-O-Meal. Mom had called IH about our change in plans. She had explained to him that she was no longer able to take care of him by herself and that we were going to take him to a place where he could get the care he needed. It’s difficult to know how much of it he really understood, or how aware he was of things. He seemed to accept what she told him.
We waited until about 10 o’clock for the going-to-work and going-to-school traffic to die down. I had two suitcases and his shower chair in my car. Mom had his transfer wheelchair, his walker and a bunch of bed linens and pillows in her car. We got my dad in the car. We got him in and settled in one of the really nice recliners they have in the common room, where they also had a TV on. Once we got him settled, we moved all his stuff in and mom put his clothes and stuff away in the chifforobe that was in his room. That and the little single bed they had provided until his hospital bed comes, was the only furniture in his room.
When she had gotten his stuff squared away, she came in and sat with him. At one point he did ask, “When are we going to be done with this?” obviously meaning when were we going to put him back in the car and take him home. My mom, in her instinctive wisdom, told him, “When you get stronger.”
I went back to my mom’s house to wait for the chair guys who were coming to move my dad’s lift chair. While I was there, one of her church groups that she had had to give up when he got to the point where she daren’t leave him alone brought her by a meal.
Then his nurse JME from the home health agency called for mother. I filled her in on what was happening and that we had decided to move him early. We talked a bit and she broached the idea of hospice, which can provide a higher level of care for him, and when we came back to IH with the chair, I told mom later that JME had called and had mentioned hospice, and that mom needed to talk about it with her.
We got his chair moved in, and got it set up, and that one thing made things better for him. It’s his chair. He’s used to it, and it was a piece of home. My mom stayed through lunch and trying to feed him, but he couldn’t chew the food, and coughed and choked per usual trying to eat and drink. She stayed with him most of the afternoon. She is still all in a heap about this, accepting that he needs to be where he is, but unable to surrender his care to others. She knows in her mind that they are not going to provide the one-on-one care that she provided, but in her heart, she just can’t let go. I can appreciate the struggle she is having. He has been the love of her life for 69 years.
Tuesday, my friend JT came by with his pickup and we loaded the table I had covered with the table cloth on. I led the way and over we went. We got his table set up and it is just right. I’ve known JT him for over 30 years (where does the time go?) and he is fighting his own war with grief, having suddenly lost his partner of 33 years two years ago. It’s an uphill battle that cannot be won, only fought to a draw. The three of us, mother, JT and I, sat and visited for a while. We could not communicate to my dad who JT was, and at one point he though he was my BFF.
After I left, I went to get a piece of glass cut for the picture that fell off the wall, and then to get groceries, and I got in about 7 o’clock and put my groceries away. I had told mom that I needed a day when I could sleep until I got tired of it, and that today would be that day. I had a good long sleep with a long lie-in and I feel much better. (If I could just get her to do the same . . . ) We had talked about “what day I was going to go over to IH and sit with him” so that she could have a day off, but we hadn’t decided which day that would be.
Our friend CK, who is throwing her 90th birthday party for her, had urged my mom to let them feed him, and to just go for a couple of hours at a time, but when she went by this afternoon, he was sitting in the common room in his undershirt and was “responding to internal stimuli” again. (He was concerned that my mom had been put in jail because she had stabbed somebody.) The IH attendants had put him in the common room so they could keep an eye on him.
He has hardly been able to eat anything since he’s been there, and he is no doubt dehydrated. Mom took his dentures out (they don’t fit, they can’t be made to fit, and the upper ones fall down every time he opens his mouth) and was able to feed him some pudding. She made the comment that he ate better without them, which is a no brainer, if you ask me. All his dentures accomplish is to get in the way. If they left his dentures out and fed him pureed food, it would be a lot easier for him and everybody else, and he would get more food, but he is so attached to having the dentures in, even though they are useless to him. Personally, I think mom needs to bite the bullet and tell them to stop putting them in and leave them out all the time. But I know part of the reason she doesn’t is that it makes his face look all sunken in around his mouth. It’s hard to look at him like that, but there it is.
I heard about all of this new development when mom called me at about 4 o’clock on her cell phone and told me about it. She sounded upset, which is not surprising, and she was clearly on a guilt trip about the situation (how could she not be?). The IH people seemed to think that it’s partly due to the disorientation of being in a new place and the shock of bringing him there, but he’s been going in and out of this state for months now, and they have been slowly but surely increasing in frequency, which is what prompted putting him into care. Lately, they’ve starting to happen at least once a week, and his periods of lucidity in between are growing shorter. She had been undecided whether or not to go to choir practice, but she finally decided she was going to go, which she needs to do. She has long-time friends there and she needs a little rallying around at the moment.
This whole business with my dad is and cannot be anything other than a no-win situation.
Now that we had gotten him in IH, and I was not having to be “on call” to go stay with my dad, I had put out some applications to medical transcription positions and I was right in the middle of answering a recruiter’s email to set up an interview when she called this afternoon. Mom insisted that I go ahead and take the job if it was one I thought might suit. When I do interview, I’m going to just have to lay my cards on the table and tell them the situation. I’m afraid we’re reaching the point where he’s going to go downhill fast. Hopefully, arrangements can be made with hospice and/or the VA and things can be set in motion quickly. My poor mom needs some breaks here. I called her house at about 8 o’clock and left her a message to call me. Right after I hung up from leaving her a message, I thought, she’s going to freak when she sees the message light on the phone, and I wish now that I had waited to call after choir when I knew she’d be home. Oh, well.
Last night, I got a plugstrip with a longer cord — the plug is so high up on the wall and the cord on the one mom took over Monday is so short that the plugstrip just dangles on the wall. I’m taking it over in the morning, as well as a nice placemat I got for the table. It’s not for him. He can’t see it. It’s for the caregivers.
It was fairly clear for Monday and most of Tuesday, but Tuesday evening, it started raining again. It was dark and lowering all day today, and about 5 o’clock, it started raining in earnest, complete with lightening and thunder. It’s calmed down now, though. Here directly, I need to take my bath and wash my hair, and then I need to commit a flower “derrangement” to put in my dad’s room. Again, it’s not so much for him, as for the caregivers. A way to say, we care, so you care, too.