Expert opinion

A couple of nights ago, I was waiting for the Boo to go down for the night so I could enjoy my sushi in peace.  I was feeling a bit better from my cold but I was still a bit tired.  Then I get a phone call from the home.  Mother had fallen down again but this time she fell on a plate she was carrying and had sustained two large lacerations under her chin.  I put on my coat, grabbed a hot chocolate at Starbucks and went to meet the transfer ambulance at the emergency room.  I walked in just as the ambulance attendant were briefing the incoming nurse.  She was alert and chipper with a huge bandage wrapped around her chin and head. She was even laughing.   Her top was soaked in blood.  By the way, I saw the emergency room doctor we saw a couple months ago and said a quick hello.

It took 12 stitches to close up the cuts and mum handled it quite well.  Of course, I sat in the waiting room while all the stitching was done.  I changed her into a hospital gown as her top was soaked and drove her back to the home.

I called my sister the next morning to let her know what had happened.  She wants to know what the action plan is.  What?  An action plan?  Other than perhaps changing her shoes as the nurse requested, there was no action plan.  She stumbled and fell on her plate.  I don’t know what more can be done since the last time we had a care conference, all medical issues had been addressed and her medications were decreased.  She has improved in both her mobility and balance since then.  I also hired a companion 3 days a week at a cost of about $1500 a month.  All of the medical information was forwarded to her and discussed over the phone ad nauseum.

Then last night, my sister calls and puts her friend on the phone who is some sort of psychiatric nurse or something.  She basically said my mother should be in bed all the time or strapped in a wheelchair or else all we could do was pray nothing happened to her.  What the FUCK?!  I tried to patiently explain to her the reality of taking care of elders in a home and that restricting mobile dementia patients was not exactly quality of life.  There is one nurse and two f/t  care aides on the floor of 30 residents.  They are also supplemented with  a couple of people from leisure services for activities during the day.  Then she suggested I could get advertise for volunteers to take care of her all day long.  Volunteers.  Why, yes, the home does have approved volunteers who visit the home and serve tea and coffee to the residents.  Most of them don’t speak fluent English and none of them are trained to deal with dementia patients.   I got increasingly agitated and then asked her to put my sister back on the phone.  I then proceeded to tell my sister exactly how pissed off I was.  Her response, in the condescending defusing tone that you take with irrational people that she just wanted me to hear someone else’s (read: expert) take on the situation.  Guess what, I’m the fucking expert now.  Then she got off the phone.  Hubby was around to hear at least half of the conversation  and he just about had a fit – well, no, he did have a fit.  Which I kinda hate cause I don’t need his fit taking over my fit.

I have no intention of writing her a long email going into graphic detail about how much I don’t appreciate the opinions of her friend who has absolutely no idea of what it takes to take care of my mother and that thinking that restricting my mother’s ability to move would be in her best interests.  I believe that emails are not the most effective way to communicate sensitive issues.  In fact, it is a bit passive aggressive and should only be used as a last resort.  People tend to remember only what they want to in them. Don’t want mother to fall down?  Don’t let her get up at all!   Great idea.  My mother has a walker, but she can’t remember to use it and she does not have one on one care all the time.  So that’s why I hired the companion.  I can increase the days she works though.

I understand that people care and that people have their opinions.  I don’t even mind hearing them most of the time.  But when someone implies well, then since I won’t listen to her all we have is prayer to rely on – THAT PISSES ME OFF.  #1) don’t put someone else on the phone if you have something to say  #2) if you had any faith in prayer at all, then you should feel confident and relieved.  #3) you have no idea what  you’re talking about because you can immobilize YOUR patients, but you have no right to suggest immobilizing my mother.  In any case, I need to speak to my sister on the phone  and when I calm down, I will.  I will also remind her that she can take over my mother’s  care any time she wishes to or demonstrate that she has faith in my ability to do the best I can.   I understand that she feels helpless and wants to have input.  I get that, but she has to demonstrate a little fucking common sense.  She can’t micromanage the situation.  I am the one who gets the calls, I am the one who has to go the emergency room.  Sometimes I wish she could have moved here because I would have made her jointly responsible and then she could take over and I have a break.  I wish I could share responsiblity but since my sisters are 3000km away, that’s not going to happen.

I just had to get that off my chest.  Thanks for listening.


11 thoughts on “Expert opinion

  1. Oh my gosh 😦 I’m happy to hear that your mom came out of the ordeal okay. I’d be upset at my sister too. I can’t imagine how anyone would think limiting her quality of life would be a solution. Her mobility is important. I’m glad she has you to make these decisions for her.

    You made me laugh talking about your husband’s fit interfering with your own. I’ve felt that way more than once!

  2. Oh man – your poor mom and poor you. It sounds like YOU are the one actually taking care of your mom’s needs. You live here; your mom is here, you are doing all the work and being the human contact and connection for your mom. Your doing a great job IMO.

  3. Ugh. I understand your sister wanting to give her $.02, but you’re the one there from day to day; I think she needs to trust your judgment a little more. And tying your mother to a chair is not the solution. Is that $1500 for the companion coming from your pocket, or is your sister chipping in? If she thinks your mother needs more constant attention, maybe she should help pay for it. (((hugs)))

  4. Wowzers.

    First of all, the woman’s fit is ALWAYS more important than the mans. Hasn’t DH figured that out yet??
    Second, the absolute worst thing that happened to my grandma was having her mobility limited. Long story, ends in a broken ankle. It was the single incident that led to her immediate downward spiral. You are totally right to keep the meds as low as possible and your mom’s mobility as high as you can.
    It’s always easy on the ones not making the decisions or picking up the pieces. You are doing the absolute best you can and no amount of “expert” advice is going to change that. You do it for love, not for your convenience.


  5. So glad your mum was OK, and I fully understand how tough this stuff is. My father in law is severely memory impaired and we live 1500 miles away. The other son (not my hubby) deals with the majority of the stuff and we try to support the best we can. While it might be safer or less scary to restrict your mum’s movement, you just can’t. I agree with you. Your sister sounds like she’s talking from fear and inability to really face what’s going on. And perhaps guilt that she’s not able to help. In our family, it’s caused a few clashes, especially as we move to place him in a 24-7 care facility in the next few weeks. I try to remain calm and chalk it up to the fact that it’s a crappy situation, terrible disease, and everyone has some baggage to deal with. Best of luck and hope you can work through this with your sister.

  6. oh wow, glad to hear your mum is ok. and yeah, your sister needed a little earful. you are totally the expert now.

    and because I’m too lazy to click over to your last post, I’m so glad you had a good christmas without all the hassle (just a little hassle but that’s part of the holly-daze!). xo to you all!

  7. That sounds really, really hard. Not only do you have the bulk of the responsibility, but you have your sister making suggestions like these.

    My grandmother had Alzheimer’s. I know it is very hard. Hugs.

  8. While your at it, why don’t you have them put in a feeding tube…you know, cause it is possible she might choke. After that, make sure she doesn’t have a TV…don’t want her getting any fancy ideas watching television. You can finish up by making sure the curtains are always drawn in her room….the sun causes skin cancer you know.

    Tell your sister to pound salt. My brother pulled the same crap, calling from 1500 miles away telling me what I “should” do. It is a power/guilt trip thing since they really have no physical control and don’t trust the actual caregiver to make the decisions. They only hear what they want to hear, and never see the whole picture.

    Your mom has dementia, but tying her down like a dog certainly isn’t the answer. Yes, in some circumstances it is necessary for a patients own protection but from what I have read here about your mom, restraints would be likely be very detrimental to her overall being. I would bet that it would accelerate her mental deterioration and add significantly to her confusion and would most likely make her combative and MORE likely to get hurt. Without going into details, I had a relative that was restrained “for her own good” and she died because she tried to wiggle out of her posey (a type of restraint) and strangled. This was in a hospital fully staffed with multiple RN’s, LPN’s and aides all over the place.

    You have all of the responsibility and none of the thanks. Has sis thanked you for all the outings you go on with mom? The visits with the little man? The ER runs? Didn’t think so.

    Consider yourself hugged by someone who has walked in shoes similar to yours and know how crappy they can feel.

    2011….needs to bring you only good things. I will put in the order today 😉

    • Yes she has actually expressed her appreciation for me taking care of our mother, but it is in whole guilt/lack of control thing that is motivating her incessant need to micromanage my decisions. Frankly, I talk to my husband and my MIL when I need input and I make the decisions from there. They have also put considerable effort into caring for her as well, which is something that seems to be unnoticed my side of the family.

  9. Yes, you are the expert. Your sister’s friend sounds like the kind of medical professional that gives nursing homes a bad name. I’m glad you are going to ask your sister to contribute financially which would hopefully enable you to increase the companion’s hours.

    Best wishes for the new year!

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