Mark Twain

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Through My Care Giver Eyes - Roller Coasters

I don't really like roller coasters. They make me vomit, and I hate to vomit.

But elder care giving is a roller coaster ride - the only difference there is no vomiting, only sleep deprivation.

If you read Thursday's post you would know that on that day I was choking and mom was falling. I recovered quickly. Mom did not.

Friday we took an ambulance ride to radiology to confirm that she did not have any breaks or fractures. Great news. Based on a stat read of the films she was able to go home instead of the hospital. Woo Hoo!!! Happy me!

Of course I should have been a little more observant of the situation on the way to radiology. It took the medical transport men (2 big guys) 40 minutes to get mom from her den to my first floor (maybe 30 feet). That should have been the first clue that she was not too good. As the guys were passing by me in my front yard with mom strapped on the gurney (finally) and heading to the the ambulance, mom says to me with a poisonous look, "I wish they were putting me in a wooden box." Nice. :-(

I reminded her in front of total strangers that only God could put her in a wooden box and that she needed to adjust her attitude a bit to make it easier on the people who were taking care of her while she was on this earth. And I had to say it loudly because her hearing aids weren't working too well. As they all passed by, one of the transport guys gave me a thumbs up and said "good one" under his breath! I think God made him say that just to give me a little boost! :-)

That was Friday.

Since she fell I have been sleeping nearby. Thursday night I slept in her den adjacent to her bedroom. I told her I would be there and she should call if she wanted to get out of bed. She never called me when she got up to urinate. In the morning I was upset and reminded her she needed to call me so I could help her. The Thursday night passed without problems. I assumed the same for Friday night.

Friday night she called out at 2:00 am (good). I leaped off the air mattress and turned the corner to find her hanging from the bed rails by her hands, legs bent, feet inches from the floor - unwilling to put weight on her legs because of the pain. I ran over to her, put my arms under her 155 pound body and lifted her dead weight onto the bed. I have a slight frame and weigh 140 pounds. We both were panting with the fear and effort. I am still not sure how I did that. My back hasn't been the same since then.

And then, standing by the side of the bed, the anger set in. I was TOTALLY and BLINDING angry at her for not calling me to help her get out of bed, and I was even more angry at myself for letting things get to this level. Since mom's fall she has been unable to raise herself from a chair and unable to walk - all due to muscle and or ligament injury. There were no broken bones, but tissue injury can be just as hard to deal with.

Once she was safely back in bed, I sat in her den - wide awake and filled with adrenalin. I came to the conclusion that she was officially beyond my ability to cope, and I was angry that I hadn't seen it before. I was up until 4:30 am that night sorting out my feelings.

I sent an email to the doctor asking her to return and assess her mobility (or lack of mobility). And after talking things over with my family, we decided that she needed to be placed in rehab again.

The doctor suggest 4 to 6 weeks in rehab. So that is where we are heading this week.

Until she is admitted into sub acute rehab, I am now sleeping on the floor in the hall outside her bedroom where I can see her. Attached to her bed rail is a coke can with coins. She can shake that can if she needs help, but if that fails (and it will) I will also know if she is trying to get out of bed on her own by the noise.

And what do you think she asked me this evening while sitting placidly in her chair?

"Do you think we can go to Mass tomorrow morning?"


This care giver life is a roller coaster. I hate roller coasters.

I think I am going to go vomit now!!


Retired Knitter
Care Giver and Daughter

PS - postings will be episodic this week. A lot needs to be done to get mom settled where she can get well. I'll be back!

PPS - you may also remember that my dear Maxima, Maxine, was failing. We needed to get another car pronto if we wanted to be mobile ourselves. We did, thanks to my dearest daughter who took care of her Grandmother for 6 hours on Saturday. But that is another post!


  1. Oh Elaine, I am so sorry to read all this. You must be exhausted.
    I give you a thumbs up too!!
    Hope your mom is feeling better soon.

  2. Was wondering if in all the excitement you had managed to get a car. Hoping this rehab goes smoothly for you both.

  3. Oh Boy.....try to get some rest before you burn out and get sick. Holding good thoughts for all of you.

  4. My heart goes out to you! I know from my Mom's cancer illness when she was alive the roller coaster you are on. You have the patience of Job, hang in there. If I can be of any help or support, don't hesitate, just ask! I'll keep your family in my prayers for better times to come.

  5. Hi Elaine .. life is just not easy .. and I feel for you both .. I hope you can get your mother into an easier existence. Glad you've got a new/newer car that is more reliable .. with thoughts - Hilary

  6. Elaine, another great post that speaks to me. Caretaking is surely up and down. It seems I'm rarely on the same page as my mom, in particular. Her life is very small and in her head, she has all these things going on that I'm not even thinking about. From her perspective, I'm not with the program most of the time! It's so hard.


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