Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Walking Chuey

Today I stopped by to visit with Kristine.  It try to go when John is out of town although I am not as diligent as he is.  Kristine has been dizzy the last week, but seems to be feeling better today.  She hasn't been walking Chuey which makes it tough on him.  So I took him for a nice long walk.

Kristine's overall health is pretty much the same.  She still has the pain in her leg which is pretty constant and keeps her from being active like she should.  We are going to ask (again) if there is a surgery that could alleviate some of her pain.  She has more trouble with her shorter term memory and forgets things she does or says. She usually uses her phone to call whomever happens to be on the Recent Call list, so she will call John 5 to 10 times a day.  Yesterday she left him 6 messages, all about 2 minutes apart, where she repeated the same message as if she hadn't already left one.

We got a journal for her room that we ask people to write down their visits in.  This has really seemed to help as she can look back through and it will jog her memory of who was just there.  She used to tell us that we hadn't been by for weeks, so it is nice that she can look at the journal and know that someone was just there.  She gets regular visits from other family and friends besides us and that is really nice for her.  They will take her to lunch usually.

A few weeks back she had a dizzy spell and fell.  It was enough for the staff at her home to call the doctor.  She coincidentally had an appointment to see that doctor later that day, but the doctor told us to take her to the Emergency Room instead.  Now, call me naive, but I always thought Emergency Rooms were for Emergencies.  Silly me.  That is just where the doctor sends you to have a bunch of tests taken that they can't fit into their office hours.

I sat with Kristine in the ER for almost 5 hours through a couple of simple tests just so they could tell us she seemed fine.  Talking with the ER doc, we are guessing that she has been taking too much Vivarin. For some reason, she is obsessed with Vivarin and asks people to take her to the store to get it all the time.  She is not allowed to have any pills unless the staff at her home give it to her, even if it is over the counter.  I now understand why.  Kristine takes a Vivarin, then forgets that she has, and takes another.  We think that is what got her to the ER.  She has gone to great lengths to hide the Vivarin in her room (in pillowcases or hidden in drawers) and is really mad when the staff goes through her room to search for it.  She gets very frustrated because she cannot remember.  In fact, she doesn't remember that we spent the whole day in the ER.  But sometimes she remembers things just fine, so we aren't sure what the difference is.

Sometimes I feel bad that she is in an Assisted Living home and I ask John if we should bring her back to our house (she lived in our basement for about a year, and in a trailer near our house for a couple before that, and in a house through the woods before that).  He reminds me how much she told everyone she didn't like living with us and wanted to live on her own.  And I know he is right.  It is good having 24 hour care with medication, food, and any help she needs.  She recently has been hatching plans of how she can get out living in a trailer again.  She asked one friend to take her to look for land, and asked a cousin if she could live beside their house.  It is hard to explain to her that she cannot live alone anymore.  We just try to tell her that this is the best place for her without telling her all of her physical and mental limitations.  We remind her that she is in the nicest senior apartments in the whole county. That seems to help for a while.

I know it must be so hard to not be able to remember anything and not understand why you can't do what you want to. I never cease to be amazed and the endless patience my husband has.  He never sounds irritated that she just called him 5 minutes ago and is repeating herself.  He is genuinely attentive to her continued comfort.  He is never condescending and talks to her in a way that makes her feel important.  I have also seen how it has blessed our children to have her to look out for. They have had to develop patience and compassion as well. They love Kristine dearly which helps when it is inconvenient to help her.  Gabe and Seth, for example, get up early every Sunday on their own so that they can go by and pick her up for church.  They leave a good 40 minutes before me and the little kids so they can get her and still be early enough to do the sacrament.

But it is hard.  It takes a lot of our free time.  It takes a lot of extra effort to bring her along when we do things.  It is a whole extra life and lifestyle with it's bills and appointments to manage.  It can be frustrating when Chuey pees at our house every. Sunday. ;) But overall I am glad our kids get to see the older side of life and remember to honor their Grandma.  And I am glad all of my kids are learning how to treat me when I am old and forgetful!


Lucy said...

Oh, MIchelle, this makes my heart hurt. For you and Kristine and Chuey and John and everyone. But, I want you to know that when I see all you do as a family to love Kristine and help her and include her and bring her to things, I think of that line from Les Mis "To love another person is to see the face of God." You are doing it. It is pure love.

ShelleyG said...

Thank you Lucy. I know I have a lot to learn about love and I know this is helping me to understand it. W
hy do things have to be hard for us to learn and grow? ;)