When I arrived at my mom's assisted living facility, she was in fairly bad shape, and I decided to take her for a drive. Her facility is located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and she has an amazing view.
Before we left, I talked to the head administrator. I learned that the nurse hadn't just left but was going back to school and taking on a new position elsewhere. I explained my concerns. She said that the doctor is very receptive to their nurses and she appreciates it. I still told her that I felt he was pompous, he hadn't returned my phone calls promptly, and he'd never examined her--none of which was acceptable to me.
Still, I said I would meet with him to explain my expectations and to see if he can meet them. I also said that I felt bad when I had expressed my concerns to the nurse, planned on meeting him last Friday, and wasn't told that he was leaving.
While she didn't respond (don't you just hate it when people can't say, "I'm sorry. He should have told you he was leaving." Or "I'm sorry that no one told you he was leaving."), I let it go. This is a relationship we need to continue and I'm willing to be flexible as long as my mother is receiving good care.
I decided to wait and discuss her bruises when I returned from our drive. Within a few minutes, we were in my van driving up the Pacific Coast Highway. I only wished I had a Mamas and Papas album in my CD player. I was hoping that once mom saw what an extraordinarily beautiful day it was, her spirits would be uplifted.
The color of the ocean was splendid--ranging from an almost cobalt blue to teal. Even though I've driven this stretch a thousand times, it never ceases to amaze me. We headed toward Malibu, thinking it would make Mom feel better if our destination was an ice cream shop. She's diabetic but every so often, we buy a sweet for a treat. She's 85-years-old and very good about her diet but a little deviation goes a long way.
We stopped and got a piece of coconut cake. It didn't make mom feel better, but the drive made me so much more relaxed. When we returned to my mother's home, and her caregiver and I tried to get her in the wheel chair, I realized what the problem had been. Because my mother has been unwilling to participate in physical therapy and unwilling to walk, her mobility has decreased in a major way.
So, in order to get her into the wheelchair, I almost had to lift her out of the car. Even with the two of us working in unison, it was very difficult to get my mother into her wheelchair and she "cried" out that we'd hurt her. I apologized but explained that since she wasn't helping us, we were doing the best we could.
The bottom line was that I now understood why Mother had so many bruises. No one was hurting her. It was true that she was "hurting herself." By refusing to help us, we couldn't help but bump her around a little, and with her thin skin, this translated into bruises.
As I drove home a few hours later, I felt that I had handled things as well as I could. While I had been worried and angry before I talked to the administrator, I calmly presented my concerns and listened to her answers. I didn't accuse anyone. Rather I listened and then tried to figure out what happened.
Tonight, I'm far more relaxed. I realize that my mother is getting the best possible care but sometimes things happen. What makes it more difficult is when people don't tell me the truth or don't follow through on what they say. But all things considered, my mother's level of care is better than most--by a long shot.
The lesson I learned--for myself--is that if I don't want to end up the way my mother has, I have to continued to remain in top shape, physically as well as emotionally. I'm working hard on both!