Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Make It Easy, Please!

Why do some things have to be so dang hard?!

For the past two and a half months, my mother has been in Baptist Hospital in Jackson...except for the week and a half she was in Wisteria Gardens (her nursing home/rehab of choice) in Pearl. A visit to the doctor while she was a patient at WG sent her unexpectedly back to Baptist, where she's been for the past month.

It all started with a little sore on her toe. Those little sores are taken very seriously when one has Type 2 Diabetes. The little sore wouldn't heal, so she was sent to a wound care doctor. He monitored it, and determined it was getting worse, so he ordered intravenous antibiotics--six weeks worth--that my father was to administer at home via a port that was placed on my mom's chest. The strong antibiotics resulted in. well, digestive issues and that left her weaker than usual. A late night trip to the bathroom resulted in a serious fall that netted her an ambulance ride to the hospital.

The next week, off went the "the little piggy that had none." Looking on the bright side, my sister Sarah told Mama that she would now get a 10% discount when she got a pedicure.

Within a day or two, her middle toe began to get very red and swollen, but it was felt the post-surgical antibiotics she was getting would handle that. We believe, even though it was never diagnosed, that she had gout--a very painful condition that is often triggered by surgery.

Finally, she was transferred to Wisteria Gardens to begin rehab to learn how to walk on a 4-toed foot. All was going well there until my dad took her for a follow-up visit for her foot. The doc unwrapped it and it was very infected. Back to Baptist she went.

The gout toe had gotten worse, with a sore as well that would not heal. Back to surgery she went, this time to see if the doc could clean up the sore and save the toe. A week later, she was in surgery once again, this time to cut off "the little piggy that ate roast beef." She woke up from surgery in severe pain and has never really been pain free since, except when she was on large doses of morphine that made her loopy as hell.

Now she's ready to go to rehab again...and there's no bed in the inn (or rehab/nursing homes in the area). Wisteria Gardens is a popular place, and there are no beds to be had there. It's been a finely choreographed dance, because when the hospital says she's ready to go, they want to send her to the first available bed in a nursing home, without considering "the big picture," namely, my father, who is driving to see her each day, which is important because we want to keep my mom's spirits up, which, as everyone knows, helps with the healing/rehab process (take, for instance, NICOLE!!!!!!!). He simply cannot drive an hour or more each way, each day to see her. He did, after all, turn 85 last week!!!

There is a small army of people who have to make this all happen, and they have to be totally in synch with each other. The medical planets must be in perfect alignment. And the biggest patient advocates--the family--must be constantly in contact with them all, walking that delicate line between being very nice and rational or going all Shirley McClaine on them.

So, the bottom line is...if she makes it through OK tonight, then tomorrow morning we will drive her to Brandon Court where she can begin rehab. (Sarah was going to take her for a ride in the wheelchair this afternoon, and Mama was standing with a walker...when Sarah turned to get her wallet so they could make a trip to the gift shop, Mama fell and hurt her shoulder. Having x-rays done now...*holding breath*.)

The time at Baptist hasn't been all bad. We have met some of the most precious people who we hope will be in our lives for a long time to come. Like Nurse Ashley who says Mama has become like a grandmother to her.
And Debra, who we don't have a picture of (I'll see what I can do about that!)...who has been an angel for us--always with a smile on her face and willing to do whatever needs to be done to make my mom comfortable.

There are others, too, and I intend to let the higher-ups at Baptist know how wonderful and caring they are.

SO, if you've read this post, it must mean you care somewhat...and now you will be rewarded with photos of our last two months at Baptist!

Just before Easter, Nicole brought Mama a butterfly wing headband...
The food has not been spectacular, so Mama "hoards" what she likes to save for later. On this day, it was grapes. She's putting them in the plastic bag her silverware came in. (Note the junior Frosty cup on her tray. We had a Frosty party in her room last week!)
She got a nasty bug called VRE bacteria. It's highly contagious, so we all had to wear gowns when in her room. Daddy looks great in his!
Nicole went through something similar while she was in the hospital in New York. She had C.Diff, so anyone who came in her room had to wear gowns, gloves, and even masks.

People have been so mom has gotten some beautiful cards and flowers while she's been incarcerated hospitalized. 
Because she was in the pokey hospital during Easter, we just had our Easter dinner in the hospital's atrium, otherwise know as the Lido Deck.

Sometimes you just have to party where you are. And we certainly know how to do that!

Since Mama's been in the hospital, Nicole has worked on several movies in New Orleans and done a couple of speeches to groups. I've been to Fairhope, Alabama with my neighbor/friend Phyllis Geary, to a writer's group in Memphis with Nancy Kay Wessman (we stayed at Susan Cushman's house in Harbor Town, right on the Mississippi River--beautiful!) and I had my big event, the Walk to Defeat ALS on the Coast. Joe went with me to help, and I am so glad he did. Good thing that was before he BROKE HIS LEG last week. It's always something. My sister, Sarah, has made three (or is it four??) trips down from Nashville to help out. 

So back to the initial question that opened this blog post. Why do some things have to be so dang hard? Our family rolls with the punches pretty well. But the last three days have been insane. Trying to get my mother moved from the hospital (where they tell us repeatedly that they can't keep her any longer) to a nursing home (again, there is no room at the inn) has been a logistical nightmare. It has caused undue pressure on all of us involved. Mis-communication...lack of communication...slow action...arrrrggggghhhh!!!! Why? 

If only I ruled the world...

The moral of this story is to eat right, exercise, be healthy and don't get Type 2 Diabetes. If you aren't so lucky, make sure you have good advocates on your side to hang in there, taking decision-makers to task and holding their feet to the fire. 

Thanks for all your prayers and well-wishes. Come visit at Brandon Court and cheer my mom on as she does her rehab. She'll be there with bells butterfly wings on! 

Blessings to all who read this!

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