Mom moved into the apartment on the 18th. We’ve almost made it through the second week. We’ve given Amazon a lot of “Dang, I didn’t realize we’d need one of those, we’d better order one” business in the past two weeks. We’re still in the process of getting it all.
In a way, it feels a lot like having to go back to work, except I don’t get to go home at 5 o’clock and have the rest of the evening to myself in peace and quiet. I have maybe an hour to an hour and a half to myself after I put Mom to bed to read and listen to some music until I’m too tired to keep my eyes open any longer. There’s going to be little if any knitting news for the foreseeable future. I just don’t have time anymore.
I discovered the first day that my drinking glasses are too heavy. Of course they are. They’re glass. She’s been drinking out of styrofoam cups for two months.
I’m having to work on my frustration tolerance. Mom blows me off when I tell her something, but if her various therapist tell her the same exact thing, she will pay attention to them. Both her OT and PT therapists took me to task for waiting on her hand and foot. As they rightly pointed out, all that does is encourage her to vegetate in the chair. They’ve instructed me to make her do as much as possible for herself.
They tell her to get up and walk more and she promises she will. She’ll take a turn about the room on her way back from the bathroom, but then, ten minutes later, it’s “Will you bring me this or that thing.” I’m the one who has to tell her, “No, you have to get up and get it for yourself.” Then I get to take the hit for doing what the therapist told me to do. As I’ve said before, she’s not as helpless as she thinks she is (or, being human, pretends she is) (Yes, she is a bit of a Diva). The Halloween decoration on the door says “The Witch is In.” Yep. Guess who.
We have a TV situation. She has her TV, which is about 10 years old, in her room, and it is hooked up by coaxial cable to the building’s cable service (the same service she had at Carillon House). However, my TV, which is in the “living room” is too new and doesn’t have a coaxial connector, so it can’t be hooked up to the building’s service. My TV only gets the TV shows that are on the streaming services I subscribe to (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Magellan TV, Acorn TV), so (a) “it’s too complicated” for her to operate it and (b) she can’t watch sports or game shows on it (see below). This situation is only temporary, though. Negotiations with an ISP/cable provider are in progress, we’re told, and hopefully we will have a new service by the first of the year. Whatever service they take will require a cable box to get it. The coax cable will connect to the box, and the HDMI cable will connect the box to the TV.
The basic problem is that Mom’s hearing is such that she has difficulty following dialog, especially if the speaker is a woman or a child, and she has never been able to understand anybody with any kind of accent at all, which includes Americans with any kind of a regional accent except Texan. So it’s too difficult for her to watch any show that requires you to follow dialog to know what’s happening. For years now, all she’s ever watched was sports and game shows because neither requires you to be able to understand what people are saying to know what’s going on. So finding anything for her to watch on my TV was problematic. We had been confined to nature documentaries or biographies of composers she likes, and old musical movies like “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “Funny Girl” on Amazon Prime.
About five or six years ago, I tried to get her to use closed captioning, but her TV was about 15-20 feet away from her chair and she couldn’t see the captions well enough to read them, so she gave up. (Rearranging the furniture was “too much trouble. Forget it.”) This Saturday, I suggested closed captions again, we tried them, and as she is now sitting less than 10 feet from a 55-inch TV screen, she can easily see them well enough to read them now, which means she can now follow dialogue. The first season of the old Carol Burnett show is available for free on Amazon Prime, and that was a big hit. Now she’s on season 2 of “Downton Abbey” — which is something she would never have watched before even when she could hear, because she couldn’t have understood the British accents. She’s actually caught up in the story now since it doesn’t matter if she can’t understand the accents, because she can follow the dialog through the closed captions. Win/win.
Her toilet has been problematic. It’s too low. I had some grab bars installed, but the way the surrounding walls are, it’s hard to get grab bars low enough on the one side. The other wall is too short to get a horizontal grab bar out where she can get hold of it, and she doesn’t have the strength in her arm to use the vertical one that’s there. (What she doesn’t realize is that the reason she’s having a hard time getting up is because she’s lost the strength in her quads from spending so much time during the past two months lying in bed and sitting in the chair.) (Two weeks of inactivity is all it takes before you start losing muscle mass.) I’ve already noticed she has had less and less difficulty getting up as time goes by and I don’t have to help her anymore. By having to use her legs to get up from the toilet, she’s building those muscles back. Again, when I tell her this, I’m full of prunes. When the therapist tells her, she listens. Nevertheless, I ordered a bedside commode which came yesterday. I assembled it, removed the bucket and put the seat and frame over the toilet to make it easier for her to get up. I’m afraid it’s going to be a step back, but there it is.
My hair lasted exactly eight days. Because of its length, it took 20 minutes to wash and about five hours to fully dry in the air (it’s too fine and flyaway, and blowing it dry absolutely destroys the ends). I washed it Sunday, and it became immediately apparent that it’s a luxury I don’t have time for anymore. I got it all whacked off this past Tuesday, and now I have to put “product” on it to keep it from sticking straight out from the sides of my head because of where the stylist had to cut the natural curl to get it short enough. (I hate having to put goop on my hair! It gets all over my pillowcase, and then on my face.) But now it takes maybe 15 minutes to air dry, if that long.
About three days after she moved in, at the direction of the therapist, I stopped pushing her around in the wheelchair and told her she has to use the walker now, and get up and go around the apartment by herself. Not a popular rule. Tough Love is hard, y’all.
Yesterday, we started having her dress herself as much as she can — she can’t get her feet into her slacks (even if she could, she is so kyphotic that I’d be terrified she’d pitch forward onto the floor) or put her socks on. That much I will do, but she has to do the rest, including hanging up her gown.
She has a pressure ulcer on the back of her heel from over a month of spending most of her time in bed at The Garrison, and another month of spending too much time in the recliner at Carillon House, and she can’t wear shoes because of it. Neither place got her up on a regular basis and made her walk with the walker. The only time she ever used a walker was when the therapist came. That did her no favors at all.
The other bone of contention is meals. As I’ve mentioned, she has lost her sense of taste. This is NOT due to COVID but is because her poor little 97-year-old taste buds have just flat worn out. The only thing she can taste now is sweet, and sweets are all she wants to eat.
And of course, all her friends who come to visit her bring her sweets — cake, brownies, cookies, candy, etc., and she fills up on that and then doesn’t want to eat the things she needs to eat to maintain good nutrition because they taste so bland. (The dietitian cautioned me that she is about 30 lbs overweight and that all this extra weight is making her back problems as well as her mobility issues worse.) Another uphill battle.
They have a rule here that you cannot walk around sock-footed or in house shoes in the common areas. You have to wear regular shoes. It’s a health as well as a safety thing. I am determined to get her heel ulcer healed and get her shoes she can wear that don’t aggravate the newly healed tissue. Once she can wear shoes again, she can walk with the walker down to lunch and back, and break her dependence on the wheelchair. In the meantime, her mean old daughter is making her wheel herself down to lunch — which the therapist explained is good exercise, not just for her arms and shoulders, but for her lungs and her heart.
We need to build up her stamina again. She was living on her own, driving herself places, and was completely independent in May of this year. I know she’ll never be able to reach that level again, but she can go a long way toward it. The first step is to finally convince her she’s not as helpless as she thinks she is.
Like I say, Tough Love is hard, y’all.