I just saw the SNL opening skit.
That was low.
The following is an explanation of low blog volume for the last year or so for those don't know me in real life, or who for those I haven't kept up with.
Grandma moved in to live with my parents, at the time, she was fairly mobile using a cane and walker. In the year to come she will become unable to leave the house without the use of a wheelchair. She will have minor falls in the house two or three times. She has lived her whole life with untreated scoliosis all of her life, now exacerbated by age. Vertebrate pinch nerves and she is often in a great deal of pain, exacerbated by every time she falls.
If I were to take one mealtime portion of her daily prescription regimen I would be out of it for two days due to the narcotics.
December 18, 2009 - Day before the first fall of Snomaggeddon
My dad had an accident while at my grandma's place in Bel Air, putting away her lawn mower, and swapping out a snow blower that was in storage. He called me at work in Wilmington from the ambulance to tell me that he lost the tips of a few fingers. (Portions of his index, middle and ring finger on his right hand.) He insisted that my Mom and I not come to the hospital until he could be picked up when they're finished with him, but instead, finish getting the snow blower back to the house. It took an hour and a half from Wilmington to get back to their house.
There were a few surreal moments that night. Although she knew what had happened, Gran could not contain her impatience with my mother for a delayed dinner, or her irritation that my mom wouldn't stop what she was doing to sit with her and watch the TV.
I drove Dad home from the Curtis Hand center in Baltimore as the first snow began to fall. Mom was in no state to drive. We put him to bed, and drove out again to the pharmacy for Dad's antibiotics and pain medicine, the man in front of me sold his place in line to me for $10 there was only one pharmacist on duty at midnight.
I will be forever grateful to the neighbor who was kind enough to help dig my family out in the days after his accident.
After several weeks of a hand guard, xeroflow gauze, sterogauz bandages, coban gauze, epsom salt water soaks, and physical therapy starting on Christmas eve though February, he regained a lot of function, but his damaged fingers to this day are a little cold. Luckily he still had enough of his index finger so his nail could grow back.
We still kept my Grandma's doctor appointments in December and January, and Dad took over the task of lifting the wheelchair out of the trunk and setting it up for her as soon as he could.
I went back to work in Delaware a couple weeks into January, but tried to come home at least for Sundays getting Gran to Sunday school when she felt up to it.
In the spring, my parents worked on painting the inside of Gran's house, stripping wallpaper, replacing carpeting, and fixing wiring so it might be ready for sale at some point.
Less and less of that occurred as my Gran's frequent doctor visits increased and her anxiety when my parents left the house became more pronounced.
August 23rd, 2010 - In the middle of the night, Grandma fell in the bathroom, fracturing her C1 and C2 vertebrae, treated at Upper Chesapeake Hospital, then at University of MD shock trauma. Luckily, her C1 did not fully collapse, so she was not paralyzed and she can still use her walker for very short distances. She was sent home within 24 hours with a neck brace prescribed for 24/7 for 8-10 weeks.
Grandma started saying some rather reprehensible and clearly untrue things about my father to my mother and clearly favoring me to spite her. If she wasn't as lucid as you or I, it would be a whole lot easier to dismiss. After that fall, Grandma no longer permitted my parents to close their bedroom door at night, nor will she allow the hall light to be turned off even though a baby monitor was installed at her bedside in the event of another fall. My mother cannot sleep more than a few hours a night as a result.
It is painfully obvious that my parents who are in their 70's cannot care for Gran who turns 95 this November. The bathroom does not have clearance for a walker, and my father cannot carry her up half a flight of stairs to get in or out of the house as it is increasingly difficult for her to lift her legs in her frail state.
Labor Day - she fell in the bathroom again. I was spending the night and I thought part of the furnace had fallen in downstairs until I heard Gran crying out. She did not want to go to the hospital. I couldn't sleep the next evening at all, listing for the sounds of a walker in the hall and realized that was how my Mom had been sleeping for over the ten or so days.
Over the next few weeks, Grandma expressed her fear about losing control of her medication in a nursing home, and protested the idea of being placed in one.
Two weeks ago, her GP checked a spot that they found her lungs when saw from the neck x-ray from her last hospital visit. She has tumors in her spine. It's bone marrow cancer.
Last week she was hospitalized for four days for pain management. She may be in rehabilitative therapy for 20 days.
Now in full time nursing care a few miles away from my parents, she finally has her pain managed by professionals, shots and/or narcotic pain patches and her pill medications. She seemed pleased with the food, the staff, and her care and not quite as opposed to the nursing home idea.
Monday, my parents took her to her pain doctor again. Usually after a series of evaluations they do spinal injections to reduce her pain. This they will not do while she is still wearing the neck collar. Out of concern for her low weight and reduced kidney function, they will not increase her dosages. Instead, they prescribed weaning her off the narcotics.
Yesterday, my mother spent hours on the phone with Blue Cross Blue Shield that is denying all reimbursement for my Grandma because her birth date and birth year were transposed in the paperwork.
Today, Gran called my mother in a panic demanding her to force the nurses to do something, to give her the pain medicine she wants and demanding to be picked up immediately. My mother explained that she cannot write prescriptions, nor could she come get her because her doctor had prescribed the rehab which was not yet complete there.
I think the next step is hospice care, or permanent nursing home care. Her assets have to be liquidated, and the house sold.
My parents want me to stay in Wilmington and not move back in with them, working remotely. Mom said she will not permit me to be consumed with her care the way she and Dad are.
I don't know how much time my Grandma has and I do visit when I can.
Pain has changed her from the woman I knew only a year ago, and the difference between who she is today from her optimistic 90-year-old-self prior her first fall where she needed to be hospitalized is a stark contrast. My mom has had to set aside her role as daughter, and take up the mantle of caretaker in instead. Her brothers and father all died before I was born and she has no siblings to share the load. It's worn on her physically and emotionally and I only feel that I serve as a place for her to vent.
It's been a tough year, and blogging has taken a bit of a back seat to real life for a while.
If you care to, I ask that you keep my Gran and my folks in your prayers. I appreciate it.
I realize that this is childish and not terribly logical, but tomorrow I will not vote for ANY CANDIDATE who has robocalled my cell phone!
OR anyone who has tweeted me!
OR anyone who has robo texted me!
I refuse to participate in any poll where the pollster refuses to tell me who funded them.
Watch up to 1:46
I was driving from Bel Air back to my parent's house after finding the lines too long to donate blood when I heard this on the radio.
It was a moment when all that divided us ceased.
We were all Americans.
We grieved together, we resolved together, we stood firm together, and we were one people, united.
I will never forget.
“Opinions should be formed with great caution – and changed with greater” – Josh Billings