Sunday, January 23

on the mend

The day started with a shower for Mom
(I put a kitchen chair in the shower for her to sit on as I wasn't at all sure that she was steady enough to stand-the new shower in the addition will be wonderful with it's teak bench), after a night of much more sleeping hours than non-sleeping hours. And the day is ending with Mom sitting up in her usual chair in the living room, sipping soup and watching the Australian Open. She is very clear and making jokes and enjoying herself again. I am so glad to see her bright-eyed face back in place. I am so glad we are cosily at home and not elsewhere....when the doctor told me on the phone yesterday that she thought Mom had a virus and that I should take her to the emergency room if she got any worse....what a dreadful feeling those words inspired. But we were lucky enough for it to go the other way.

Mom spent much of today sleeping, and I knew she had turned the corner when I found that she had slipped around the bed gate and gone into the bathroom all by herself. I had forgotten to take the monitor with me into the kitchen when I washed the dishes and in those few minutes she woke up and made a break for it. We bought the bed gate last year to keep her safely in bed when she was so disoriented and unsteady after the fall. When she is unwell, just seeing the gate usually stops her from trying to get out of bed by herself....if she is getting a little better, the sound of gate being used to pull herself up or the rattle of it as she tries to figure out how to open it gives me time to dash to her side....and when she is all well, it is an oddity to her that she simply goes around. I will probably use the gate overnight tonight and then put it away again, until next time.

Tools have become so important as we try to keep this caregiving life in healthy balance. I was able to spend much of the day resting on the sofa watching tennis with the audio-video monitor always in view so that I could be at my mom's side just as soon as I saw or heard her awaken. It was my constant companion yesterday and spends every night next to my bedside. The video component makes it possible for me to watch in the night when I hear that Mom has woken up and see if it is just a little trip to the bathroom, or a walk to the window to part the curtains to see if it is still night-time (not that that has significance anymore) and then back to bed, or if she thinks it is time to get up and begins to make her bed and get dressed. It saves me alot of trips up and down the stairs, and gives my mom a little measure of independence that I don't think she would have if I was constantly popping in her room to redirect her. When we bought the monitor last year after her fall and I watched the green light that stays on whenever it is on and listened to the constant hum of the speaker as I tried to fall asleep, I was so depressed, thinking how the sacred quiet and darkness of our bedroom had been invaded and that my life would never be the same. Well, my life will never be the same, but I have come round to being usually thankful for the monitor and all the other tools and strategies that help my mom and I make this life-that-will-never-be-the-same the best it can be.

PS Thank you for your kind comments and emails. They are so appreciated.


melissa said...

I feel for you more now than I've been able to in the past months because my mom has had a fall herself this past week, and broken her arm. She's still able to live alone, but requires around-the-clock care now. Not sure how long that will last, but it does put a different spin on life. Keeps me *on alert* when it's my turn at her house, and that in itself is draining. But, my situation is no where near as constant as yours.

Noticed your photo of your Joan Anderson book and the pad of sticky notes, and wondered if you tucked them inside the pages when you find a quote you love. :) I read her books this past year, after seeing your mention of them.

Well, I've chattered enough. Hope your day is sweet and peaceful.

Anonymous said...

Such a relief to find this post, as you have been so on my mind. I am relieved your mother is on the mend, relieved that you have not come down with the virus. These can be passed so easily, and come on so quickly. Horrid bugs. Take good and gentle care of yourself. I know you try to. :-)

Anonymous said...

That little video monitor is a brilliant idea. I think a lot of people will benefit from reading about the way you're using it. Never would've crossed my mind.

Take care-

Lesley Austin said...

Melissa....I've left a note at your blog, but wanted to also take this opportunity to mention my changed feelings about Joan Anderson's books. Tho' I can still appreciate much about them, my enthusiasm for her work changed when she described in one of her books her attitude about her mother that allowed her to accept her mother going into assisted-living. It is not the going to assisted-living that bothered me, but her attitude that her mother's life was basically over and that it was her turn to do what she wanted to do without compromise for her mother's needs. That and the fact that even in this book that purported to be about finding ways know and be your best self in our everyday, it ended up going over the same ground as her first book with yet another trip to a place apart to discover better knowledge and understanding of ourselves.

And it is not that I haven't sought solitude and newness for the good of my soul, but even before I became a caregiver, those times had to be short and sweet. For me, the trick is to discover all that I need and want to within the beautiful confines of my day-to-day life.

Dori...thank you for your always kind concern. We have all stayed well here!

Meg...I do hope the monitor information will help someone, that is why I wanted to share it. I am a pretty logical person (when I am not being dreamy!) and it was my first thought after a night or two with mom's wakefulness. They are pricey, and I am concerned that the little toggle button is wearing out, but I will buy another one the same day that this one gives is that useful.