I feel like I'm living in a movie. Like Nebraska.
If you've never seen it, it's about an elderly man who gets tons of mail telling him he's won a million dollars. The movie is funny and sad and true. It didn't take place in a nursing home, but it could have. Maybe he should have been in a nursing home where he might be protected from what I think is elder abuse.
Ok, before I start this story, I want to say that I am privileged to know many wonderful nurses. And I know this is part of their job...because if they didn't give us all this information and something happened...just don't want to go there. If we can't laugh about these things (after the fact) we would go crazy. So on with the story...
My dad lives in a wonderful assisted living facility. My sister Donna and I came down to visit since he was having a procedure that his doctor described as "complicated". It was outpatient, and I'm wondering why they don't keep people at least 24 hours - since we were told "the first 24 hours are critical. "Here is what you need to do when you get him home."
Really? Critical and we (who have no medical knowledge OR training) are supposed to make sure that we know what to do if he starts bleeding. "He can bleed to death in less than 5 minutes. Here's how you stop the bleeding. Press down on the bleed with one hand, press your fist on that hand and call 911" I even asked why they don't keep them - after they scared the shit out of both of us - Oh. "Because it only happens in 1 out of 100,000 cases."
I realize that even with pharmaceuticals they have to list every side effect even if only one person had that side effect. It's crazy. I remember when Melissa would be on a new chemo. The doctor would hand her a brochure that had information about the meds. It also listed all the side effects (at least a full page of side effects usually). She would hand it to me. "Here. If I read it, I will get all the side effects!" If she got a head ache, a rash, or any kind of ache or pain, I could tell her - "it's ok. It's one of the side effects".
That's why they scared the shit out of us. Because dad might be the 1 in 100,000.
But I'm getting off the subject here.
This story is about my dad and his friends where he lives. It is a WONDERFUL Assisted Living place. And there is LOTS of material for a great movie.
It started with dad's procedure. When it was done - he was in recovery for four hours. That's when the nurse gave us the "here's what you need to do when you get him home" speech. And oh. By the way. "Can you spend the night with him? You really don't want to leave him alone tonight". He shouldn't walk very far. He can't cross his legs. Or his feet. He can't sit in his recliner. He can't bend at the waist. If he does "it could break loose and he could bleed to death in less than five minutes" (that's what we kept hearing. maybe she only said it once, but that's all I was hearing)
He has to sit in a hard back chair (he doesn't have one) "How about a firm couch?" "Ok".
Ok. We are visiting because he is having this procedure. We'll spend the night. She hands us several pages of paperwork and helps dad get dressed. I get his clothes out of the closet give her his shoes - which right away he picks his foot up to put his shoes on and she yells "NO. Put your foot down. You can't lift your foot. We don't want you to bleed! I will pick your foot up." So she puts his shoes on. Then his shorts. Then shirt.
We are scared to death to even take him in the car. Will a bump cause him to bleed? Will the seatbelt cause him to bleed? What if he coughs? and oh my god, what if he has to poop? "Don't bear down" How do you NOT bear down when you are pooping? (I am laughing about this now, but it was NOT funny yesterday!) I pray that he doesn't have to have a bowel movement in the next 24 hours.
Ok. So we head to the hotel (the nice hotel on the beach with a balcony where we can see the sunrise every morning that we will be paying for even though we won't be staying there one night) to pick up our something to wear, our toothbrushes and some reading material. They are gracious enough to loan us blankets and pillows since dad doesn't have any extras in his little apartment (which is beautiful by the way!)
We get to his place, they have a wheelchair waiting for him. The nurse, the CNA, some of his friends welcome him. They are WONDERFUL there. We get him in the wheelchair...ok, he PLOPS down in the wheelchair. I panic - OMG - look for blood....whew. No blood. He's ok. Start heading toward the elevator to his room, the CNA says "Where is his pendant?" (that's like a life alert) "It's going off. Where is it?"
I don't know. Dad says "The nurse put it in my shoe when she took my clothes off and put it in the closet at the doctors office. Did you get it?"
"No dad. I didn't get it."
Did you get it Donna?
So we head up to the room. His pendant is still going off at the nurses station. It only works at his assisted living place. It has to be here somewhere. They take him up to his room. It's STILL going off.
Alright. I'll go down to my car. Maybe it fell out of his pocket. If he put it in his pocket. He forgets things sometimes. I'll bet he put it in his pocket and he dropped it somewhere. I head down to the lobby - search the lobby. Not there. Search my car. Not there. Where the hell is it???? It's got to be here somewhere!
I go back up to the room. Donna says "I called the doctors office. They are closed. We have to call in the morning."
The thing is STILL going off. It's here somewhere.
We are stymied.
Then I remember. When we were walking out of the doctors office, dad says "My heel hurts. Why would my heel hurt?"
"I don't know dad. I don't know why this procedure would affect your FEET."
I go over to dad. "Dad. Let me look in your shoe."
And whadda ya know... there it is. In his shoe.
And that was just the beginning.
Another side note. Melissa started walking when she was around 11 months old. Back then, you bought your babies hard soled white shoes (anyone remember this?) when they started walking. Donny was putting Melissa's shoes, she kept crying saying "Cockadoodle! Cockadoodle!" as he was struggling to get her foot in the shoe. Finally he pulled the shoe off and out fell the rooster from the Fisher Price Farm set - small enough to fit in a tiny shoe....History repeats itself.
ROUTINES & Hearing Aides
As we get older, we all get into certain routines. My morning routine is a cup of coffee, read the paper, take a walk.
I think routines help our memory. They give us something to look forward to.
Whenever I call dad and I ask him what he's doing, he always says "Let's see. It's Monday. Today I have..." whatever. It's the same every week. Mondays are trips to the grocery. Tuesdays are doctors appointments. Wednesday's are Mass and Communion in the morning and Happy Hour at 4.
He has something to look forward to every day. When he goes to the dining room for meals, he sits with the same three guys. Four branches of the service are represented, Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines. They have something in common.
When Donny and I visited in June, we had dinner with dad and had the pleasure of meeting all of them at dinner. As soon as we sat down, the question was directed to me "Where is Irv's car? We need transportation." (I brought dad's car home after we moved him into Assisted Living because he wasn't released to drive). Not sure, but I think they must be planning an escape...although I don't know why. I love where they live. A view of the Indian River, a nice dining room with a chef, transportation to appointments and the grocery, entertainment, they do their laundry, clean their apartments, give them showers...I want to live there!
Another routine - sitting at the same table, same seat at every meal. He gets there half an hour early to get HIS table. And save seats for his buddies. We got there for lunch yesterday, we were late, because he was sleeping and we didn't want to wake him up. Someone was sitting at his table. That didn't go over very well. But we got the table right next to it. After the people who were sitting there left, one of his buddies came in and sat at their table. Dad looks at us and in a VERY loud voice says "his daughter must weigh 300 pounds. She can't even fit in the chair!" Loud enough that everyone in the place could hear him. But no one seemed to notice. Maybe none of them wear their hearing aides. Maybe they just don't care.
There were five women sitting at another table next to us. One of the women leaned over and said to us "your dad helped me with Wii bowling. I threw three strikes after he helped me". Then one of the other women got up, walked by dad and said "She was flirting with you". Loud. Dad didn't even react. I'm sure he didn't hear her.
Donna was walking down the hall and two men were ahead of her. The one right in front of her said to the guy in front of him "why are you walking so slow? You got a load in your pants?" No reaction.
That's what I am looking forward to when I get older. You can say what you want because no one will hear you.
We are having such a good time with dad. It's always hard to leave him. Still have a big day ahead of us - my cousins from Utah, Texas and southern Florida will be visiting tomorrow. I know it will be good for dad to see all of them. A mini family reunion.
But I also know as good as it will be to see everyone, when we go, he will go back to his routines. He isn't even asking about his car much anymore. He is settling in. And nothing makes me happier.