Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thank God THAT'S over...

Greetings all. Sorry that, once again, it's been too long since I posted. Those of you that I'm friends with on Facebook will know some of the reasons why, but suffice it to say that January 2010 is not a month I'll remember fondly. Everything is relative of course...I'm sure that millions of people in Haiti would love to swap places with me right now...but it still wasn't much fun. So, let's break it down here...

I had a pretty decent New Year's while on my road trip, even though the place I went to celebrate was full of people I didn't know. But it was an enjoyable party atmosphere, and I had a good relative Rex's complex has a restaurant/bar called the "country club" that was having an event for residents, and I used his ID to get in there. Rex opted not to attend, which I can understand since if I make it into my early eighties, I doubt I'll be interested in going out to party either at that point. We did watch a good movie on DVD before I headed over to the party (Gran Torino.) I also met an old friend from my commuter airline days while I was up there and we had a good lunch, so you'd think things appeared to be starting off on a good note.

I discovered, though, that upon getting back home, I had no energy to do anything and my cold that I'd caught in Hawaii was still least, the coughing was. So, I headed to my doctor about halfway through the month and got a course of antibiotics...he thought I might have gotten a case of bronchitis, and I guess he was right since the cough went away pretty fast after I started taken them.

About a week after I'd gotten rid of the cough, my desktop computer decided to die on me. I took it into a shop, and they said that some capacitors on the motherboard were bad and that it would cost $300 or so to get it replaced. Since the computer was five years old, I declined to repair it. I did take it home and take it apart to salvage all of the components, and I hope that the hard drive is OK in particular, since it had a fair amount of data on it I'd like to save...nothing really important, mainly music files and videos, stuff like that. So we will see when I get a new desktop if it's salvageable.

After my computer died, I called Rex to see if his sister was still interested in getting rid of her old machine, since she'd just gotten an Apple and her Dell was only about a year old. He said that she was fine with me having it, but warned me about my "internet addiction" (I guess Rex and her think I spend too much time on the computer these days. Who knows, they may have a point...more on this later.) So, I will be returning to his place to pick up that box as soon as my days off mesh with their schedule.

On a bright note, my Mom's old laptop is working like a champ, and I was able to get all of my various peripherals hooked up via a USB multiplier thingy and new printer cable that I got at Radio Shack. If I didn't have a computer coming my way for free, I'd have no problem just using this one until I could pay cash for a new desktop...and I'm surprised how well it's done, since this laptop is hardly brand new either, but it seems to run decently well since I added some extra memory to it once I inherited it from Mom.

Getting back to the internet...the next thing that happened, once my desktop died, is my discovery that some online people I thought were friends were talking about me behind my back, basically playing an extended practical joke on me, in this one chat room I'd been frequenting for a long time. To be fair, I did have some arguments with that room's "owner" not too long ago...but I despise being lied to also, and I've therefore decided not to return. This bothered me more than it should have...hell, it's just an online chat room...and made me think that perhaps Rex had a point about my internet usage, so not visiting there will give me more time away from the computer as well, which should be a good thing. But I'm not giving up my Facebook, Twitter, or blogging habit quite yet. At any rate, that was the most trivial thing to happen this month so, continuing on to the finale...

A week ago I took my mother to a symphony concert. After we attended the symphony in December, we got a call with an offer for some very good seats for a series of four concerts at a very good price. Since Mom had always loved the symphony prior to moving here, I went ahead and bought the tickets. (Actually, after discussing it with my sisters, we used Mom's money to buy the tickets, and agreed that one of us will take Mom to the concerts, and if we can't take Mom for some reason then we'll pay her back the cost of tickets for that particular show.) Anyhow, the concert was a performance of Holst's Planets and Mom really seemed to enjoy it. We went out to dinner afterwards (we'd gone to a Sunday afternoon concert) and she seemed to be doing fine when I left her back at her place that night.

I had to be at work mega-early Monday morning, since I'd signed up to do an overtime shift. It was my first time working this particular shift, which involved a series of international charter flights, but everything was going pretty well. About halfway through my shift, though, I got a call from my mother's living facility...she'd become unresponsive before breakfast and they were calling the paramedics. I called my sisters to let them know what was going on. The facility called back to ask which hospital we'd like Mom taken to...since we had no idea, they ended up using a hospital close to where Mom lives. I checked with Mom's insurance right after that and discovered that the hospital was on the list of approved facilities, so no worries there.

My supervisor told me I could leave if I wanted to. I delayed doing so for a little while, but as one of my sisters told me on the phone, since we didn't know what was going on it would be really good to visit Mom in person and talk to her doctors, etc. I'm glad that work was understanding about me needing to leave...anyhow, when I got to the hospital, Mom appeared to be doing fine. (Well, as fine as anyone with Alzheimer's can appear in an unfamiliar environment, anyhow.) I talked to the paramedics who brought her in as well as the nurse and ER doctor. The nurse apologized for not being able to give out more information on the phone but they are prohibited from doing so by law. Anyhow, I stayed with Mom for an hour or so, but she fell asleep and there was no sign of her doctor, and I was friggin' exhausted from the Adrenalin rush combined with getting up at 2:30 that morning for my overtime shift.

My sister Susan who lives in Chicago was flying in late in the afternoon (yay for sibling pass travel benefits!) and my place was a disaster area, so after getting home and napping for an hour or so, I got up and gave the place a quick once-over. It was mainly the bathroom and kitchen that needed various stuff needed sorting out. As it turns out, I could have just waited until the next day, since Susan ended up spending her first two nights here with Mom in the hospital on a reclining chair...I don't think she slept too much there. After Susan got in we got some dinner at Luby's and then went to visit Mom. They had moved Mom from the ER to a temporary unit that was non-ER but also not open all night, and I stayed until Mom was moved to a regular hospital bed. We were also hoping to see Mom's doctor that night, but he never showed up.

I called in that afternoon and requested the next day off from work to be able to deal with things. Originally, when I saw that Mom was fine, I thought it was likely Mom would be getting out the next day, but her doctor was VERY cautious. (I think partly because he could never figure out what caused Mom's initial episode of unresponsiveness...they did rule out a stroke, however.) He had Mom stay two nights and was talking about sending her to a rehab facility for a few days...why, I don't know. My sisters and I all agreed that Mom would do best back at her place...and they are capable of doing rehab there, if any was needed. Mom eventually got out Wednesday of last week. I had decided to go back to work that day (I probably could have got another day off from work but I hate calling in at the last minute, so I took public transportation to work from the hospital) and my sister took her home in my car, and then came back to my place where she was SOUND asleep when I got home around 10:30 that night. After no sleep for two nights, I'm sure I would have been in a similar condition.

We went to see Mom the next day and Susan got a lot of stuff done with cleaning out my Mom's closet, buying her some new clothes, etc. However, along with severe exhaustion in the hospital, Susan also picked up some kind of a stomach bug there, and after a bad night Thursday, she decided to fly out Friday morning (instead of Saturday, which was the original plan.) The advantage of space-available travel is that it's very flexible, so she was able to get out Friday morning no problem. I seemed to have gotten that same bug as Susan, but only mildly, so I was able to keep working with the help of Pepto Bismol.

One bright note from this experience...we had just gotten Mom signed up with her Medicare supplemental insurance and it went into effect January 1st. We should have found a provider here right after she'd moved, but things were so crazy with selling her house, etc. that we missed the "window" we had to do that in. Mom still had Medicare coverage..but ONLY Medicare coverage, which would have left 20% of the costs uncovered. Since Mom went to the hospital in January, she was fully covered by her plan, and they should pay almost all of that 20% we would have been liable for...which with all the tests Mom had done, I'm sure will likely be thousands of dollars. So remember, if you have an elderly relative move, make sure they get their insurance changed right after they move!

I had Mom over for dinner at my place tonight (we had takeout from Pei Wei, so nothing too fancy) and Mom seemed fine, back to her old self as much as anyone with Alzheimer's can be. Her living facility kept an eye on Gus and let him out while she was in hospital so Gus is fine also...I actually had a vet appointment I took him too one day while Susan was here. He's getting older and arthritis can make him a bit cranky at times, but overall he is very content. However, we are looking for a new home for him, since Mom isn't able to really take care of him on her own any more...but for now, his situation is OK (with help on my end to make sure he's fed and watered.)

Only other thing going on is that I'm thinking of joining a church. Since it would be the first church I've joined as an adult, it's kind of a big decision for me, but I'm not rushing things. I've been visiting for a few months, though, and I like it pretty well so far, so I am leaning towards membership...but time will tell. That is definitely a more positive thing than most of what happened this month, and I thought I'd end on a positive note...I hope everyone's January was better than mine, and I will do my best to update this oft-neglected blog more quickly next time, hopefully with something more upbeat than listing all my troubles.

I am thankful that I have a job that I mostly enjoy, living in a place that has a lot of things to do, and that I can be near Mom since we still have fun hanging out together. Also, I'm glad I'm not living through winter in Wisconsin. Also I'm thankful to you, my readers of this blog, for giving me an audience, even though I don't write enough material for you. See you again soon!


Suldog said...

Wow. Glad to see you're back. Quite an eventful stretch for you. Church is a good thing, of course. I hope the one you've found is excellent. I suppose it would pretty much have to be, if you're considering joining on a formal basis. Well, best of luck in all, and I'll say a prayer for you and yours as soon as this posts.

Anonymous said...

I'm just now catching up (yet again, I know...) but I wanted you to know that I'm glad your month ended a bit better than it began.

Get on over to, and join the forum. Even if you never post, just reading some of the posts in the "caregivers" section of the forum will help you SO MUCH with your Mom.

I am truly sorry about the chat room thing. Betrayal hurts, no matter who/why/where or when.

I hope you have found a wonderful church, one that can be a true spiritual home for you. I can't imagine my life without my "Church Family".

And as far as the alleged "internet addiction" goes... trust me - I know people WAY worse off than you are! LOL!

Thim :)