Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wildlife in More Ways Than One

Awesome bear butt photo found on the North American Bear Center website, here. 

So the flight path between Portland and Minneapolis continues to be well travelled by yours truly. Actually I'm getting rather used to it since John, the sweetie, has sprung for business class tickets which make an enormous difference in leg room and location near the front of the plane. Highly conducive to in-flight napping which helps enormously in the need to hit the ground running in order to help my siblings care for the needs of my recently widowed and even more recently stroke-inflicted mother. Mom's needs are considerable and required placing her in a nursing home for rehabilitation after her hospital stay.

About a month ago, after medicare coverage expired and private pay requirements kicked in, and in deference to Mom's continued requests to return to her home, we were able to happily inform her that, "Mom! We're bustin' you outta here!"

She seemed really happy to hear that. With her memory issues, she doesn't remember this from day to day, but that means she gets the good news every day. Smile.

So my brother and brothers in law have remodeled her bathroom to include a wheelchair shower, elevated toilet, and grab bars everywhere. They've also put in a wheelchair ramp from the garage to her door. The biggest hurdle to bringing her home though was finding skilled caregivers to be with her 24/7 since at this point Mom isn't safe when left alone for any period of time. She's wheelchair bound and unable to do any of her own personal care which means these caregivers had better know their stuff. But Mom continues to be a real sweetheart in personality and temperament, so we're confident that she will be a pleasant person to take care of.

I was able to hire one of the caregivers last visit home, and yesterday my sisters delivered the great news that another had been found. Which means that we're on the home stretch in Mom's making the great escape from the nursing home. Not that this nursing home is particularly bad -- but by it's nature, it's ......well..... a nursing home. And for some residents, it's absolutely appropriate for them to be there. The building is new, clean, and furnished attractively. The residents each have a private room and bath, and are provided meals in small dining areas. It has a large activities staff who do their best to provide ways to keep residents engaged, active, and entertained.

But the bottom line is that it is still a nursing home. And Mom, after several months, just hasn't made the adjustment. She's becoming severely depressed and withdrawn. So we decided that as long as her care was now private pay its time to use the same amount of money to attempt to make her happy at home. I think that if I lived where Mom's home is, I would feel the same way.

Her little ranch house was built as Mom and Dad's retirement place just up the hill and in the woods located at the corner of their farm. From her dining room table, Mom has spent countless hours watching the seasons, the farm animals, and the deer and animals playing. [Insert Home on the Range melody here.]

Oh, yeah. It's a beautiful serene place. There's is not any nursing home on this planet that could compete with that.

Making a move like this happen for someone with complex medical needs could be a tricky process. Especially when there is a possibility that there will be days that Mom may not even recognize this house as her own. But it's a risk that we're willing to take.

Getting Mom home will be the first step toward helping Mom return to the wild woman that she used to be. And she really was one. wild. woman. Up until a few months before her stroke, she was harvesting an abundance of produce from her garden and canning, freezing, or pickling every bit. She was the primary caretaker of a local retired priest, a member of a crazy busy church group, and loved being part of a team on a bowling league. There's actually a zillion other things that this 82 year old lady would do to occupy her very busy day, until in one unfortunate minute when a stroke changed everything. Like I said earlier. She was a wild woman even at an advanced age.

Our goal is to get our favorite wild woman back home viewing the local wildlife as soon as possible. We're shooting for Memorial Day weekend but it may take as long as mid-June. It's all good.

And speaking of wildlife? We found out recently that TWO BLACK BEARS have taken up residence on the farm.

Yes. Bears. Plural.

So it turns out that a gentleman that works for Dad and Mom was walking into one of the machine sheds on the farm. He stopped to look up at the ceiling when he heard a strange sound and found himself looking at a small furry bear cub peeking over the edge of a very old horse carriage suspended from the rafters. And then spotted the mother bear walking along one of the rafters toward her baby.

Yes. Bears living in a horse carriage. Hanging from the rafters of a very old building. I'm telling the truth, honest.

We don't know if Dad knew about the bear nursery on his property, but I'd kind of like to think that he did. It would be just like him to get a kick out of bears hanging around........and I wouldn't be surprised if he was leaving jars of peanut butter around for them.

But that's pure conjecture.

Once we get Mom home she may have more wildlife to see outside her window than her expected squirrels and birds. I was thinking we should name the mother bear Bernie. Or Bernice. You can read these very reassuring statistics about black bears like Bernie here. We're told that she will probably move on once her cub is older. Bummer.


Nicole said...

Hey Julia,

I'm so glad that your mom can move back home! The bears sound adorable. We have a few that visit our (very secure) trashcans on occasion. I know it's a lot of work to set up care like that, but with the right people on board it will work out fine.

Glad to hear about business class. That does make a difference!

Marion said...

Wonderful! Just, wonderful!!!

Anonymous said...

Delightful to read this. Like a letter from a friend!

Bear61 said...

Very happy that your Mom can move home. For those of us that like to watch the nature outside, it is such a joy that makes us soooo happy! I am sure it will be very therapeutic for your mom. I would be tickled to have a mama bear and baby out on the property-I just saw my first two black bears in their natural habitat about a month ago in the Smokey Mountains------was the highlight of my trip!!!! Thoughts and prayers that your Mom will be happier at home! Hope that things will slow down for you as well. I am looking at a knee replacement in my near future-not concerned with the replacement, but had a small stroke a few years ago after another surgery, so that is my main concern. Life throws so much at us-just have to take it a day at a time!!!!!

Carol said...

Hi Julia. I have a comment on the business class seats that you got. I was traveling last year and asked for wheel chair assistance from check-in to the gate. It's hard for me to stand for very long, and I get muscle weakness sometimes while walking. I was surprised when my wheelchair attendant by-passed the long security line and went in a side door putting me basically in the front of the line. When I got to the gate, I told the desk person that I was traveling with disability assistance and asked if they had any business class seats available that had more leg room. I was upgraded without charge on outbound and return flights. It was non-stop from San Francisco to Orlando, so that was a bonus for me. Of course it was based on availability, and I was traveling alone without my family. Too bad it wasn't first class!