Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My mom receiving hospice care again

It has been far too long since I wrote an update on my mother's health and condition. I'm afraid if I start, I'll find details I need to include, and it could take me all day, and I never HAVE all day available, so I just didn't say much of anything.

My mom's eating had decreased again, and she had a lot of weepy days, so in early June, the nursing home contacted me to tell me they were sending her to Norwood Hospital for psychiatric evaluation and treatment. (They had sent her to the ER at Morton Hospital a couple days earlier to try to find a physical cause for her not eating and sometime complaints of stomach pain; no physical cause was found.) It's a medical hospital that has two or three psych units, NOT just a psych hospital. This is good, because during her stay, she had increased difficulty with her breathing, and they found she had developed congestive heart failure (CHF). So, they sent her to a medical unit for several days to get the fluid out of her lungs, and when she was stable, they sent her BACK to the psych unit for a few more days, and then she was determined to be well enough to return to the nursing home, and to her great relief, she was finally sent back.

During her hospitalization, they made some medication changes, but there was little improvement. They decided to try electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, shock treatments), and I signed a consent for this on the day before I flew to DC for the SLA conference and TKN meeting. (I was rushing around like a madwoman trying to get everything done -- getting this fax taken care of, plus trying to get refills of my OWN medications, because the ones I'd ordered were coming by mail order and wouldn't arrive till the following Monday, and I was already completely out of two meds. That day was VERY STRESSFUL.) The social worker at Norwood assured me that there are several people involved in the decision to move forward with ECT. The patient's attending psychiatrist makes the first decision, but then it must be approved by the patient or the health care proxy (me), and another psychiatrist, and a medical doctor, and the anesthesiologist. I was afraid my mom would be mad at me for giving my consent, but really, if all these other doctors also agree that it's the best course of action, the patient's relative is most likely acting in the patient's best interest.

In my mom's case, the medical doctor also wanted a cardiologist's evaluation and approval. I thought they had gotten this, but "she'll have her first treatment tomorrow" became "she didn't start that yet," and then it was on hold, and then she developed CHF, and whatever medical approvals she'd received were basically void. During the last few days in the hospital, my mom's mood and appetite did improve a bit. Someone came from the nursing home to review her case, and gave the okay for her to return the following day.

I talked to the nursing home and hospice staff yesterday (before, during, and after my conference call -- yeah, THAT was fun! -- not really), and they said that with her respiratory issues and cardiac concerns, depression and anxiety, and the small amounts of food she's been eating, she IS eligible to receive hospice care again. She was actually the one who initiated the change, apparently asking if she could receive them. The social worker at the nursing home, Sue, said that she hates to see my mom so miserable, that the only time she's close to being content is when my grandmother visits (usually every two weeks), and since the hospice nurse evaluated her and they found she was eligible again, and the doctor agreed, then it could only help her to receive those extra services.

Jerilyn, the hospice social worker from last time, is on vacation this week, but she will be the one working with my mom again. I'm relieved to hear this, because Jerilyn knows Ma and likes her, and Ma likes Jerilyn as well, but more than that, Jerilyn knows the way Ma "operates," and she doesn't hesitate to use some "tough love," or to try to redirect her thoughts and attention, rather than just letting her go on about how bad she feels, and feeling sorry for her. (Wow, that might sound quite terrible.) But the fact that she likes Jerilyn, and enjoys those visits, makes her want to "be better," I think, and having extra visits and additional care led to positive results last year, and I hope it will happen again.

I knew this would not be a short post, I knew it, I knew it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Surrounded by piles

It seems that it doesn't matter how many plates I'm trying to keep in the air. What matters is that I'm fat. I was on a diet and exercise program -- a LONG time ago now -- that enabled me to lose 30 pounds. I've since gained it all back, and can't find a way to that place where I have some will power and motivation to change. And Jeff really, really wants me to.

But life is SO MUCH BUSIER now than the time when I dieted successfully. Kyle was in preschool for two half-days per week, and Ryan was only two years old. There was no baseball, no basketball, no homework, very few school functions and activities with one kid in preschool -- and now two in elementary school, both playing sports, and I've still got a house to keep. I'm just tired, so tired.

I have a conference call today where I have to talk, so I need to spend some time this morning preparing for that -- and of course I feel like garbage and wish I didn't have to be here at all. I have another conference call next Tuesday that I need to lead, will need to draft an agenda and send that e-mail out soon. And the calls are important, we need to have them, we need to try to maintain some of the momentum from our TKN meeting last month in DC, it's critical. But at the same time, none of that work has an impact on the visible state of my library -- and you can see below what a few parts of it looked like two days ago:

Note that none of the photos show my own desk area, except the second photo shows the little wall in front of my desk, with boxes in front of it. The other cubicle shots are where I used to have temps sitting, and one is a patron cubicle that has become a "dumping ground" for donations.

Sometimes, in work and out of work, I think I see some light up ahead, and I think, "Once we get through this," or, "After I finish with that," or, "By that time, things should be in pretty good shape." But there's always something else to crash into when I turn the corner, and the thing that's definitely not in good shape is me. Now I'm sipping cold water, thinking wistfully of snack time, and wondering which pile I should look at first.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

South Carolina's "governor" / How I love Eva Cassidy

Two completely unrelated topics, just what I was thinking about earlier, during my lunch break.

First, Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina hasn't resigned yet. I just read a story on The Washington Post's website that quotes Sanford as saying he intends to remain governor until the end of his term - another 18 months.

When this story first broke about the governor "missing," before his infidelity was confirmed, Jeff and I both had the same thought: this guy is supposed to be RUNNING THE STATE, and no one knows where he is, and then we find out that he wasn't just out of state, HE WASN'T EVEN IN THIS COUNTRY!!! It almost doesn't matter WHAT he was doing in Argentina, or anywhere else he might have been. HIS JOB is to be in charge of things in South Carolina. Imagine a plane crash, or a damaging storm - serious things happen all the time, and it's the governor who declares a state of emergency. You can't be a governor and just go wherever you want and do whatever you want; people need to know where you are and how to get in touch with you.

But NOW he says he wants to keep on working for the people of his state. Doesn't he realize he STOPPED working for them when he went AWOL??? I mean, DUH!!!

OK, enough about that man and his absence of common sense. I was looking for new music some weeks ago -- not "new" music, just new to me -- and thought I'd try a CD by Eva Cassidy. I had heard a couple of her songs on Pandora, and liked her voice. When I found a couple of her albums at the library, I checked one out. I've since checked out three others, and bought Songbird. I can't say how much I love this woman's voice, it's fantastic and amazing.

If you've heard of Eva Cassidy before reading this, you probably know already that she died some time ago -- actually, over twelve years ago, in late 1996. She was only, I think, 33 years old. She had been treated for skin cancer a couple years before that, but ultimately the cancer returned and spread. I've been more forceful with my boys about them wearing sunscreen since I learned these details about Eva. The sun is wonderful, but also dangerous.

There are very few videos available of Eva performing. A lot of the YouTube videos only contain photos of her. But there are a handful of them on there, and most of them are beautiful. This is Eva performing "Over the Rainbow," and I believe it's the same version that's on Songbird. Forget your stresses, and listen to this.