On Sunday and Monday I had the chance to spend several hours with my mother. Lee has been sick, Kim was working and Mike did a great job chipping in for a couple of days last week. So what happens during our time together? Basically two shifts of walking. I showed up between 9:30-10am at the rehab/retirement center. I work my way quickly down the hall because mornings after breakfast the facility is filled with bad odors wafting from open rooms. Knock Knock! She was there, waiting on the edge of her bed with tray table pulled up. Shot glass sized cups of yogurt with morning medications divided between them sit in front of her. She spoons them into her mouth and swallows them down. Not a bad system, one we will certainly employ when she moves home. After she gets the pills down, has another trip to the toilet, then we can get busy with pulling on pants (which can take 5 min. or so). She directs me to get the gloves hidden in her coat pocket, pick up an emergency diaper and set the brakes on the wheel chair. With pants in place, gloves pulled on, jacket zipped and hospital gown flowing below to her calves we set off in the wheel chair. Oh, don’t forget to bring the walker! We weave our way down the crowded hallway, shifting around Patty in her PVC movable chair, cleaning carts, other people in wheel chairs, nurses, CNA’s, aids…. a very busy place! Nearing the elevator things clear out and we load up without incident. Downstairs things are clearer, to a degree. Sunday was ultra quiet and Monday was filled with staff members, aids, housecleaning and maintenance. Still it was the quieter level to walk on. Evelyn directed me to stop at a particular location. She helped lock the wheels and unfolded the walker. After some deliberation, she shifted her body forward and pulled herself upright and was off. My job was to follow along behind with the wheel chair for when she needed to stop and sit. One doesn’t hold a conversation during walking time because she is concentrating on the workout. We walk to the end of the hallway by the laundry and turn around and walk past the nurses station at the other end. If she walks the full hallway, it takes about 10 min for a lap (we did it in 9 min on Monday afternoon). Since the laundry facility was in full operation Monday and she dislikes the smell of detergents, we cut off the dog-legged end of the hallway. When she is feeling strong, she can walk 4 or 5 laps with just short standing breaks (up to 50 min total). Unfortunately she was still feeling the effects from horrible intestinal upset, gas and other things. This seemed to slow her down and she took more sitting breaks than normal. When she sees any of the staff she always greets them by name and they do likewise. I wonder how things will go when she returns home to the quiet of her house? Having the extra people around seem to help keep her brain really working.
When she decided the walk was finished we quickly folded up the walker and headed back upstairs. Toilet time again. We made it 3 out of 4 times before problems arose. Once she had settled back into the room, stripped off her pants, deposited the gloves back into the coat pocket, chair in place and our conversation complete, I could wander off to Lee’s house for lunch and a break. Next walk time was scheduled for late afternoon around 3pm. Just enough time to sweep down the spider webs and vacuum the house for Lee.
Lee is now healed and taking over the “walkies”. Having not seen her for a full week, he was startled to see a regression in abilities. The family was hoping to shift her back home next week but it might have to wait a tad longer.
Friday will be a visit to Dr. Amean and her first scheduled trip in a car. She was feeling skeptical about the upcoming journey via car but I kept reassuring her it would be fine. Lee is probably getting the same uncertainty from her now. It’s hard to believe that back on September 20th Evelyn, Dave and I were out on her banks pulling weeds. Where did this determined woman go? Will she regain that ability again? We would like to think so….