Saturday, August 24, 2013

Never Mind

There's nothing funny about this last week. In fact, there were many moments of heart-wrenching grief and anxiety. Now that it is over, though, the first thing that comes to mind is ... never mind.

If you watched Saturday Night Live in the late 70's, you would have seen the skits with Gilda Radner playing Emily Litella, going on and on about some melaproprism (I got that word from Wikipedia) until someone pointed out her error. My favorites were her diatribes on "violins on television," and "endangered feces." When she was corrected, she would turn to the camera and say, very meekly, "Never mind."

So, remember all that stuff I talked about in the last post? Never mind.

You see, we couldn't do it.

From the very first minutes of admitting Mima to the nursing home (let's call it what it really is), it felt wrong.

Her room was not ready. The only item of furniture was the hospital bed. The light in the bathroom did not work, and the door handle had to be turned a specific way to open, or it would feel as if you were locked in the bathroom.

All of the little things that would have made a difference in keeping her anxiety levels to a minimum were missing. None of the nurses or aids spoke Spanish, did not even attempt an "Hola!"

The first thing they wanted her to do was strip for a body check (and they sent a male nurse to do it). I insisted they find a female nurse, and asked for her to be introduced to a Spanish-speaking staff person. The nurse they sent was very kind, and abashed at the condition of the room. The staff person they found spent two minutes in the room and when she realized we did not need a translator (we just wanted someone to make Mima feel welcome) she asked to get back to her station.

Call us naïve, but somehow we thought there would be a smoother, softer admission process. We were not prepared for the fact that in this kind of facility Mima would be treated more like a patient than a resident.

We stayed through lunch, and were able to seat Mima with the only other Spanish-speaking resident, a very nice gentleman recovering from a stroke. Mima perked up and we decided we could leave for a couple of hours to go pick up more items from home, to make her room more welcoming. Also for a sanity break.

When we called to see how she was doing, they said she was crying in her room. One of the nurses did walk her around a bit when they found her crying, but she was now back in the room.

We came back as soon as we could, and prettied up the room. Dinner was not as pleasant as lunch. Our nice gentleman was nowhere to be found, and Mima was already anxious and sad.

Thanks to a not-so-happy coincidence, some dear friends stopped by. The husband's mother had fallen and was being checked for injuries (she was OK, thank God). Our friends suggested I spend the night to get a feel for the place, and to give Mima some comfort. They moved a recliner from his mom's room, and stayed with Mima while I went home to gather some clothes to sleep in. They also brought me down from my high-level anxiety. They have had very good experiences with the facility, but their parents are English speakers, and until the father's death two months ago they had each other.

The night was awful. No one prepared us for the 3-day admission process which involves assessment of the individual's physical condition. That meant the door opening and light turned on at 2:30, 3:30, 5:30 and 6:00, for various blood-lettings and blood-pressure checks. Once again, all in English, and although no one was mean there was little attempt at communication with Mima. This assessment was done even though Mima's primary care physician had examined her the week before and sent in all the required reports.

I did not sleep. I cried. I imagined what it would be like for Mima to be here all day, every day, with only the visits of friends and family to break the communication wall. We knew the language would be an issue, but it did not become REAL until I put myself in her place, and saw how limited the facility was in being able to bridge the gap. By morning I knew we could not leave her there.

I felt very foolish, even embarrassed at first. I should have known they could not provide the kind of care she needs. I should have researched more facilities. I should have ...

Now that we are home and she is happy, I don't care. I had to bring my mommy home.

I've learned a lot from the experience, and in spite of how painful it was I was reminded of something very important. I love this woman very much, and she is incredibly precious to me. Some days I fail to treat her that way; I look at her as a burden. Those 24 hours at the nursing home reminded me that being able to care for her is a blessing.

Mima at her 75th Birthday Party

Your prayers and God's love saw us through this terrible day. Please continue to pray that we can find the right balance for our family. We will look more purposely into home-based care for Mima so that I can get on with my work, and so that we can have more flexibility for travel and respite.

So, never mind. God's got something else in store for us.

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