I promised myself that I would only write about positive events this summer, and I fully intend to do just that. But as I relate the following story, keep one thing in mind: As far as my mother knew, everything was just dandy. I'm seriously happy that Mom had no clue about the crazy chain of events that took place in order to make her homecoming a reality.
It went like this:
At the end of May, I got the call that I was waiting for: it appeared that everything was in place to move Mom, who was living in a nursing home at the time (and wasn't liking it one little bit), back to her own home and her own bed. The bathroom was remodeled, the wheelchair ramp was built, the pantry stocked with her favorite foods, and we had hired two caregivers: one full time and live-in, the other part time on call. I almost broke my arm patting myself on my back as I drove up to the nursing home. We thought of everything! I thought. I pulled the car right under the carport in front of the building, ready to whisk Mom away. I brought our part time angel caregiver Isabel with me and we were smiling and laughing as we headed for Mom's room.
Mom greeted us with a giant smile, dressed and ready to roll. "Going home!" she kept repeating. What fun. Isabel and I began packing up Mom's belongings as one of the nurses stepped into the room.
Funny, I thought. She seemed so pleased for Mom yesterday when I spoke to her about the move, but today she looks downright cranky..
"Stop packing your mother's things. I'm not sure that you have the right to take her home".
"SAY WHAT?! I know for a fact that Mom's doctor was in total agreement with her discharge -- and what the heck could have changed since yesterday when I asked you to get her meds ready?"
"Just don't do anything until you hear from our administrator and director of nursing." and with that she turned about face and trotted off.
I told Isabel, "Oh yeah? Keep on packing everything. We're going home. She says I can't?! Just watch me!"
Thank goodness Mom had nodded off for a nap in her wheelchair and missed the conversation.
So the next few hours were spent prying information out of the staff, which yielded this infuriating and unbelievable tidbit: A patient advocacy attorney was challenging our family's claim to guardianship of my mother.
After I regained consciousness from falling over with disbelief, I was furious. A family that included three RNs, one attorney, an engineer, a teacher with multiple advanced degrees would not be capable?
The legalities would be decided at an upcoming court date, but finally I was told I had permission to take Mom home. ".....for the time being..." Apparently the patient advocate insisted that the only safe place for Mom was the nursing home.
I pushed my anger aside temporarily and breezily told Mom that everything would be fine and finally tucked her into the car. She, Isabel, and I were thrilled to see the building where Mom had unhappily spent the past four months getting smaller in the rear view mirror as we sped home.
Mom's homecoming was everything I had hoped for. Although she didn't have all the words that she wanted on the tip of her tongue, her happiness was evident as she patted her table, her kitchen cupboards, her recliner while saying "Home!"
When we tucked her into bed that night she kept repeating, "MY bed! MY bed!" before drifting off to sleep with a very contented smile.
I was thrilled. I knew that the issues that Mom is having as a result of her stroke came home from the nursing home with her and that just being in her own home was probably not going to provide a miraculous cure, but the fact that she expressed joy, was eating again, and sleeping soundly through the night were all enormous steps toward a much more comfortable quality of life for her.
Which is what this whole adventure is all about.
So the saga continues.......
Very long frustrating story shortened: We won our case. After the advocacy attorney stated, "I have ZERO confidence in this family's ability to manage this woman's health care and finance," the judge raised his eyebrows and asked my sisters to state my and my sibling's education and occupations after which he looked skyward and said with exaggerated patience, "I want the record to state that I have COMPLETE confidence in this family."
So there, Mr. Looney Tunes Attorney who, as we later found out, wanted to gain guardianship of Mom himself and therefore would earn big bucks in legal fees as well as charge big bucks fees to manage her substantial estate. What a crook. What a Snidely Whiplash.
I am so thankful that Mom, all cute in her sweater set and necklace, slept through the entire proceedings in her little wheelchair. She would have been devastated had she heard the outrageous pack of untruths that were spouted by Snidely Whiplash bogus attorney at law, during the hearing.
So we happily packed Mom back into the car and headed back to her home to meet her fully time caregiver who had just arrived. She seemed to be a nice person and introductions were made all around to my siblings, Mom's sister, and neighborhood friends. And after the cake and coffee dishes were put away and everyone had left, she and I began to get to know each other.
I fired her the next morning. For a whole lot of reasons, some of which I don't want to elaborate upon here, except to say that after I saw her feeding Mom her breakfast wearing the same gloves that she had on her hands when she provided personal care for Mom in the bathroom..........egads. It was obvious that this person had exaggerated her abilities and had absolutely no clue how to be a safe caregiver. She was gone within an hour. Good thing she had her own car.
I was so glad that I had been there to manage that little episode, although as she drove off, I wondered who we could get to replace her. My siblings were completely in agreement with my decision although were slightly panicked: WHAT DO WE DO NOW? After closely examining my emergency travel stash of medications and determining that I could probably handle another week with Mom, I volunteered to be her stand in caregiver. But I could tell that what little energy I had was fading quickly and although I was confident in my ability to transfer Mom safely and would be able to take good care of her, I knew that I would pay for it later. Big time.
And then, the heavens opened and beautiful angelic music began to play as Isabel agreed to take the full time live in job.
I love this woman. She had already demonstrated her considerable skills as a CNA to me in handling Mom and discussing her care, so I felt an enormous sense of relief. When Isabel noticed my obvious anxiety, she smiled and patted my arm. "Jul. Everything will be OK." My goodness. She's a keeper.
So finally we arrive at the happy ending: Mom is happily living at home with 24/7 caregiving by a delightful and competent woman.
And that's what matters most. I'll see you in July, Mom.