Posted by: morrowsl | May 14, 2015

I will bring you flowers…

These last few weeks have been the wildest of roller coaster rides.  I had no more started on my list of things to get finished ahead of Mo and Matt’s visit, than Mom found herself in hospital with another UTI and over-oxygenated blood.

Stop everything!!

I remembered having the same reaction to each of Daddy’s hospital stays.  The world as you know it ceases to matter and you focus on the task at hand.  Appointments get moved or cancelled outright.  Headaches and ailments are medicated and/or ignored.  “No” becomes as commonplace an answer as “Yes” had been.  There is no time for whatever it is you thought was important.  Your family will have to fend for itself.  You can’t be in charge of anything anymore.
Fortunately, I have two sisters and a niece who pick up more than my slack with Mom.  They have been the round-the-clock tenants of the chair beside the bed this time.
Belinda, especially, has kept an eagle-eye on all that goes on in and around our ailing mother.  And it was her diligence that probably saved Mom’s life.

Once the Medicare allowance is depleted, the tendency is for the hospital to suddenly declare the patient well enough to go home.  Or into rehab, as the case was with Mom.  We hadn’t tried rehab the last time.  It was likely only mentioned in passing anyway and we felt we could better do for her ourselves in her own home.
But this time it seemed she was responding well enough to the increased physical therapy and so the idea of a place where that would continue, and increase with her increased abilities and strength, made better sense.  At least, until we had her in the facility and realized how limited things were really going to be.
Initially, the response to a push of the call button was quick and Mom’s needs were met.  But as the days passed, it seemed they wanted to leave the door to her room closed more than open and the call button became something they disregarded, if not ignored outright.
At some point, B noticed Mom staring off into space and gradually losing her ability to respond.  This isn’t something Mom does, so anyone would notice it.  Most, myself included, would just assume that the most recent turn of events had taken more out of her than we’d initially realized.
B, however, isn’t one to just let things happen without understanding the root cause.  Her first avenue of investigation was the pain meds Mom was taking.  Sure enough, the dose prescribed by the staff doc at the facility was double that of Mom’s normal prescription.  B took immediate action and the script was corrected.  But one morning shortly afterward she came into the hallway leading to Mom’s room in time to hear the nurse asking Mom if she wanted pain medication.  Not only was Mom not yet out of bed, she was just barely awake!  Why would she need pain medication if she was still asleep?
At this point, a sort of panic sets in because you see and feel your parent being over-medicated into a Zombie so the staff doesn’t have to do much more than open the door and peek in to see she’s still in bed apparently sleeping.  No need to wake her for meals or bed changes.  I wonder if they’d have stopped her physical therapy entirely, had she been left to sleep her days away?
We watched the same thing being done with Daddy.  Watched as his ward-mates dropped dead literally at his feet.  Watched as he missed meal after meal because nobody bothered to wake him to let him know a tray had arrived.  He lost 20 pounds in less than 30 days.
And we drove down in the middle of the night and removed him from that hospital with the understanding that he may well have been looking death in the eye, but he was damn sure going to do it from the comfort and care of his own home and family, sitting in his recliner watching boats crossing the lake.

And so…

Mom was home in time to be here for Mo and Matt’s visit.  She got to spend some time with her kids and grandkids and great-grandkids.  She got to eat barbeque and drink sweet tea and play Chickenfoot.  And she gets to spend her mornings sitting at her big kitchen window watching birds on the feeders.  That’s where she belongs.  For now.  For as long as it is humanely possible.

Daddy died at home.  After a day of family and meal of Mom’s wonderful beef stew.  I hope it can be the same for Mom.  My absolute hate for facilities that are understaffed and poorly managed makes me want to keep all of my family out of them and away from that danger.  I know not all families have that option and I pray for the loved ones they must surrender to such chance.  It should not be this way, but it is and has been for as long as I’ve understood elder care in this country.  Not all facilities are houses of horror, but rarely do you get to make that determination ahead of time.  So, more and more families are opting, as we have, to do what we can while we can.

I’ll be out to see you on Friday, Mom.  I’ll bring you flowers.



  1. This is quite a change from the pics! SO sad that it went this way. Big love.

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