Sunday, August 30, 2009

How the Amish do it

I wrote recently about how we have become a 4-gen household in the Feedin' Mama house. Back in the days before Social Security and IRAs that was the way it was done, elders lived in the homes of their children or other family members. Personally, I feel that we have lost something important as a society once families were relieved of that responsibility. These days, multi-gen households are an anomoly. But I digress... here's a post about how the Amish folk build additions onto their homes for their elders along with links to other construction/arrangement possibilities. We here at FM house don't have the resources for construction projects at present, we've just rearranged and squoze in where we could but I think we all have seen the benefit of extended family living in spite of the few inconveniences so far. I guess my point is that with a little creativity, flexibility and a spirit of cooperation it can be done and I think it's worth it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Respite Rocks!

One of the first things you hear in the pre-flight speil is if you are traveling with a small child or someone who is dependent on you that you need to remember to put the oxygen mask on yourself first if such is required because you can't help anyone else if you've passed out yourself. This is analogy often used when counseling caregivers... take care of yourself because if you get sick or drop dead then you aren't going to be of any use to anyone anymore. Sadly, it's one of the least heeded pieces of advice that they get. Granted, sometimes it's due to a martyr complex that the caregiver has adopted. Very often the caregiver isn't comfortable leaving anyone else to tend to their loved one, especially if they have particular needs that someone else may not be able to meet. But most often, a caregiver doesn't get a break or respite time simply because there isn't anyone available to take over for them or they don't know how to go about finding the help that they need.

I am so very blessed to have family and friends to back me up. I got away this weekend with my all-female work group from church the Tool Time Girls(TM). My sweet sister came over from Trenton, FL where she lives on five acres out in the middle of God knows where. She took over Mama-care duties at the nursing home for me. Our dear friend Steve (the bf of one of the group) offered us his lovely home on a canal in Palm Coast. He came up to Jax and stayed at her house because one rule of TTGs is no boys allowed. We had just the best time eating and sleeping and watching movies and we even got to watch the Jaguars game on a station out of Orlando. We didn't go to the beach because of the weather and the runouts but we did go see the estate of a Russian Princess out on Matanzas Bay. Even though we didn't do anything crazy this year like get tattooed or anything, it was just what we needed, me especially and a fabulous time was had by all. I did get a text Saturday morning from my sister telling me that Mama had gone back into congestive heart failure and had been moved back to the hospital but she wouldn't let me come back, she had it under control. She's such a peach. And Mama is doing much better today, she may be discharged tomorrow and we'll be bringing her home this time. I think she's had about as much rehab at the nursing home as she can tolerate and I felt like they weren't as concerned about the sodium levels in her food as I would have been. See... there's that "nobody can do it as well as I can" complex happening there just a little bit.

For folks who are not as blessed as I am to have such great support there are agencies that provide respite care. I know that the VA was very good about giving Mama respite when Daddy's care became a full-time job for her. Catholic Charities and Urban Jacksonville both have local respite programs as do several nursing homes and home care agencies. Help is out there for you and if you need my help finding it in your community just e-mail me and I'll do what I can to point you in the right direction. But please do remember to take care of YOU. It's important.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bad to the Bone

Now that's just funny. I don't care who you are...
thanks to my friend Sandra for this morning's chuckle!

Florida Biker Bar

Monday, August 17, 2009

Channeling Nancy Regan

Let me begin by saying that I admire and respect Nurses with big, ginormous admiration and respect. And CNAs and Social Workers and all the other folks involved with health care, especially in hospitals. I know it's a difficult job and they are not responsible for staffing levels that stretch them thinner than Mr. Clean's hair follicles. But for the love of all that is holy, why would anyone see the need to inform an elderly patient who is black and blue and traumatized from being stuck repeatedly with all manner of needles for a solid week that she might have to have a blood transfusion and that her current IV needle is too small for the job? Especially in light of the fact that the procedure has not even been ordered?

Poor Mama called last night in quite a state because the night nurse, (not our wonderful, capable super-fantastic day shift diva) had told her just that. Mind you, she had just had her IV replaced earlier that evening and it had been a trying a painful experience. I just wonder at folks who don't seem to think about things before they start yapping, especially to an older person who has been through the wringer and does not need any more stress, especially about things that are only in the faint realm of possibility. It's like those people who just have to spread any bad news they hear because they gain some perverse sense importance from doing so. Grrrr. Anyhoo I confered with one of the sibs and we agreed that there wouldn't be any danger in refusing the procedure until this morning when her regular, fabulous, amazing primary care doctor would return to make the call. And when I called Mama back to talk to her about it that is exactly what she had told the nurse herself. Yay for her! It's often very difficult for her to assert herself but that is exactly what she had done, I was so proud. We are both learning that it is, very often, more than okay to just. say. no.

Now for the best news... she is being discharged to the nursing home next door for a little bit of rehab to regain some strength and should be home very soon. Thanks be to God.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spa Day on 5 West

I came up to Mama's hospital room after church today armed with a plethora of items for a "Spa Day." I had some no-rinse foam to wash her hair left from a previous hospital stay. (You never know what you're going to get in the way of personal care products, now they're using these nifty sponge-like cloths that soap up when you wet them for bathing but I thought the foam would work better for her hair. I must say that St. Vincent's is really good about providing that sort of thing. I had a friend who had surgery in another local hospital [one of the for-profits] and all there was to bathe her with was a bar of hotel soap and a basin. I'm not kidding. I was appalled.)

Anyhoo, she was bathed and in her new robe when I got here so we got her hair washed and I sprayed lavender oil around, put a relaxation CD in the laptop and lit the little battery-operated tealight I had brought from today's church service (it was VBS Sunday and they handed them out with the closing song, "This Little Light of Mine") So we had the spa vibes going and I gave her a hand/arm/foot/leg massage, oiled her cuticles, filed and buffed her nails. By then her hair was dry so I cranked up the curling iron and worked a little hair magic. I remembered to check to be sure the oxygen was off before I used the hair spray because you don't want to take any chances on blowing up the place. She lookes fabulous and feels a whole lot better, it's amazing what a little primping will do for a girl. I took a picture on my cell phone to send to the sibs, I told her to put her hands up to show off her manicure and she crossed them up near her face. I said that made her look like she was dead and we didn't want to scare the sibs and she laughed about that which made for a very nice picture. After a week of scares and traumas, hospital smells and noises and folks poking at her from every angle I think she appreciated a little bit of pampering. She's watching golf on TV and working the Sunday crossword puzzle. If we weren't here it would be just like any other Sunday. Maybe we'll get home and back to normal soon.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mama Update

We're happy to report that Mama is doing much better, she's sitting up and taking nourishment. The nurse just went over all her labs with me and they're mostly looking a lot better. We've got a great RN today, she's really on top of things and communicates with us which is wonderful. The ACP who's assisting her today seems stretched pretty thin, though. Guess you can't blame her for being a little bit crabby when everybody wants something and there's only one of her for who knows how many patients. But that's why I'm here, or one reason anyhow, to take up that slack. Dr. G says you really need to stay with your loved ones in the hospital as much as you can these days. So I'm here to fetch and carry and do whatever she wants done. And there's wi fi so yay!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Godspeed Captain Speicher

I was privledged to witness the procession as Captain Michael Scott Speicher's remains traveled from NAS Jacksonville toward the Veteran's Memorial Wall downtown. I took these pictures as they came up over the Ortega River Bridge on US 17. Godspeed Capt. Speicher and may God bless you and your family for the enormous sacrifice you have made for our country. Mama and I will always be grateful.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Adventures in Elder Health Care

Or Mrs. Mama's Wild Hospital Ride

It's been a wild couple of days for Mama, me & the sibs to be sure. They found the source of the bleeding and were able to fix it, thank goodness, but because they had to take her off of the coumadin and all of her heart meds she went into congestive heart failure again. That hasn't happened since we started really watching the sodium in her diet so of course that was not a happy development. They have since gotten her back on those meds except for the coumadin which she will not ever be able to take again. IMHO that's a good thing but it could admittedly be a problem in the future with her various cardiac conditions.

Anyhoo... they should be moving her out of CCU and to a regular room today so that is good news. But they have found an active staff infection so it's gowns and gloves and we can't take anything into her room that we want to bring back out, like say, purses, cell phones, laptops... They finally got wi fi at St. Vincent's and now I won't be able to use it unless I leave Mama and go out in the waiting room. But that won't work either because I can't just leave a laptop lying around our there. Meh. Oh well, we're just mostly glad that Mama's getting better and narrowly escaped bleeding to death, it was way too close for comfort this time. Her 91st birthday is in less than 2 months and we have definite plans to celebrate it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Prayers for Mama

Please keep Mama in your prayers. She went to the hospital yesterday with internal bleeding and is now being moved to ICU. Thanks, Betsy

Sunday, August 9, 2009

She never ceases to amaze....

So... what's Mama up to tonight you ask? Well, she's in on her computer using Skype to video chat with my brother in Milwaukee. I know older folks who are 20 years younger than she is who won't even try to learn to use e-mail and here is Mama creating her own facebook accounts and video chatting and what not and she'll be 91 in less than 2 months. I'll let you know when she starts IM-ing her bff....

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Everybody Was Cane-Fu Fighting....

...those canes were fast as lightning... (apologies to those who know the song that is now stuck in your head as an evil ear-worm)

I just ran across this article on a new trend in self-defense training for seniors. LOVE it! I'm sure it also helps with balance and flexibility not to mention the tremendous boost in self-confidence.