caregivers · Personality

Doughnuts

My sister and I received calls in a very early morning hour last week from a CNA and then the head nurse at my mom’s place letting us know that she had to be sent to the hospital for what was later termed a “manic episode” with “aggressive behaviors”. After speaking with the CNA on duty, I got a pretty clear picture of what had happened and it was not pretty.

By the time my sister got to the hospital, my mom was calm, all the tests that they ran for a possible physical problem were negative, and my mom was ready to go. When she returned to her place, she ate breakfast, had no memory of anything that occurred, and ended up going on the bus for an outing!

My sister and I went out to get something to eat, some coffee to calm our nerves, and then some doughnuts – two dozen in fact. On our way back to the facility with our peace offering (the doughnuts), the humor made its way into our still somewhat-disbelieving minds. We imagined the conversations with the staff going something like this.

“So, you were woken up with a phone call from your staff at 4 a.m. because our mom was screaming and waking up the residents? We are so sorry. Have a doughnut.”

“You were hit over the head by our mom with a clipboard, of all things, as you tried to calm her down? Here, have a doughnut.”

”You were hit, bit, yelled at with really bad language, and almost had a plate thrown at you by our mom? Well, we got you a doughnut!”

Though we have seen our mom get angry and panicky, it is still very hard to imagine her in the state she was in and exhibiting these violent behaviors. There is a thought that she might not have slept and was scared by the night staff who she doesn’t really know. She could have also been hallucinating. We will probably never know.

Mom dramatically singing an ode to the trees as we took a walk on the day after the “incident”.

What was amazing was how the staff there took it in stride and did not seem too worried about it. As difficult as it is for us to understand, it is a common reality for them. We are so thankful for the night staff for doing their best to help our mom, enduring her wrath up to the point that they could.

After moving her three times, my sister and I still harbor the fear that she will need another move – although we don’t know where she would even go from here. None of us, including our mom, could take that. The staff was very reassuring that she is still fine there. Even so, several large pizzas may be showing up soon!

caregivers

Caregiver Chaos

This is how I sometimes feel when trying to keep all of the caregivers straight!

Imagine a scene of the musical where the daughter caregiver goes to visit her mom and caregiver chaos ensues. A big musical number begins with the daughter expressing her total confusion because the nursing staff has let her know that the OT and PT are coming, but it is the same time as the psychologist, and then the massage therapist shows up unexpectedly, and all the caregivers are expressing their frustration (in harmony, of course) as the mom is not even there because she actually got up early that day and went on the bus ride!

This scenario is not far from the reality of my life right now. We just closed out a behavioral nurse only to find out that the doctor had ordered occupational therapy and physical therapy from the same home health group. This is after the speech pathologist came to do an evaluation. We signed her up with a mental health professional and got in a massage therapist at the suggestion of the doctor. These are mostly visit weekly, in addition to the nurse or doctor and the daily caregivers. That is a lot of caregiver visits! And, I was just informed that none of these people should come certain days at certain times because that is when outings or activities occur! Thankfully, my mom is now participating in things, so that is a good problem to have.

With these many caregivers, I cannot be too hard on myself for the recent confusion I had when I received a phone call to evaluate a caregiver. I was told the name of the company, but there have been so many companies that I didn’t really pay attention. I figured since we had just released a caregiver, it must be an evaluation of her. We went through 15 minutes of questions and answers. Suddenly, I got a strange feeling, mostly because of the types of questions, that I was evaluating the wrong person. I asked when we had last used this person and was told back in May. Well, that was an entirely different caregiver at an entirely different place. That was a companion we had brought in for my mom, which was pretty much a disaster. I told the person doing the evaluation that I made a mistake and asked if we could start over because I had totally different answers. I actually had to hang up and have her call me again to start the whole thing over!

It is good that my mom has a team of people there to support her and help her in many different ways. It is good that so many different specialists are available. It is great that she is participating in activities. I just have to get better at keeping track of it all!

(I am imagining the caregiver actors and the daughter all collapsing from exhaustion at the end of the song and the mother coming in from her outing looking at everyone lying on the floor as if they are crazy!)