Chat @ Caregiving: Downhill Fast, But Not Fast Enough

Some things happen fast. Some too fast. Others not fast enough.

A week ago I made a deposit on an assisted living facility. Today I’m trying to wrap my mind around the idea of palliative care. The changes are coming more quickly than I can grasp, but not fast enough to bring my mom the peace and relief she’s longing for.

After my midnight ramble last Thursday night, my husband and I slept in.  We were enjoying our morning coffee ritual, the one where I make him coffee and we spend about half an hour together trying to focus on the positive aspects of our life. Our brief interlude was interrupted by a couple of phone calls.  Mom had been suffering from nausea for several days and nothing seemed to help it.  One medication would put her to sleep, but it didn’t get rid of the nausea.  A crisis was brewing.   The doctor was coming after one and there were decisions to be made. Coffee time was over.

There’s been a lot of doctors in my life lately.  There’s Dr. Alan Kaye, Mom’s personal physician.  There’s another doctor, at the nursing facility, we call Dr. K, because her last name is unpronounceable.  Then there’s Dr. M.  I’m not trying to be mysterious. It’s just that no one can pronounce her name, either.

Dr. M had been the physician who dropped by during my midnight ramble.  Dr. K was the one I was supposed to meet with.  Dr. Kaye is the one I know and trust.  So I put a call into Dr. Kaye and got myself ready to go to the facility.  The next few hours were awful.  Mom was really sick and thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, no one could do anything.

I wasn’t sure what to do, because I was waiting on a call from Dr. Kaye and waiting for Dr. K to show up.  Mom just wanted someone to knock her out, but it wasn’t quite that easy. The nurses on the floor couldn’t do anything without Dr. K’s say so. Taking her to the hospital might have gotten her a little pain medication, but would have opened up another can of worms.  I didn’t want to open that can without Dr. Kaye’s approval.  For all the advances of modern medicine, I longed for the day when the town doctor just dropped by daily and administered laudanum.

To a certain degree, Mom didn’t care what category her health givers put her in, she just wanted some relief.  She was only sure of one thing, she didn’t want that relief to be called hospice.  In her book, that relief was synonymous with giving up and Ruth Cave doesn’t give up.  I have rarely felt so helpless in all of my life.

Finally, at three, Dr. Kaye’s assistant returned my call, but all she did was get the details to pass on to Dr. Kaye.  Within twenty minutes he called.  One thing he was sure of, Mom should not go to the hospital.  He peppered me with questions and I turned him over to the charge nurse. While he was on the phone with the nurse, Dr. K breezed in.

I’m very respectful of the medical profession – from the aides to the doctors .  I respect the training they’ve gone through and appreciate their desire to be in that line of work.  I know I’m not equipped for it.  I’m also very respectful of the fact that these people have lives and cares of their own.  However, I didn’t have much respect for Dr. K.

Dr. K had requested that I be there to discuss my mom’s situation after one.  It was almost four, when she arrived.  I didn’t think Dr. K was showing me much respect.  And when I said she breezed in, I meant it.  I was at the nurse’s station listening as the head nurse talked to Dr. Kaye.  I saw a woman with long blonde hair, a white gauze Indian shirt with beading and clogs.  She looked like she didn’t have a care in the world and I wondered who in the world she might be. As she flung her long blonde hair over her shoulder, someone told me she was Dr. K. The nurse turned Dr. Kaye over to Dr. K, who disappeared around a corner. The charge nurse returned my phone and I was dismissed down to my mother’s room.  Surely something would happen now.

Something did.  Dr. K came in and decided Dr. M had been wrong to put Mom on an IV for dehydration.  I heard her order the IV stopped and lasix to be dosed intravenously.  Some RN came into do that, but he decided the fluid should continue and added the lasix to the drip.  I gave the LVN with him a significant look and as soon as the RN left the room, she shut off the IV and went for help.  She returned with another pair of RN’s who removed the IV and gave the lasix as the doctor had requested.  Can you imagine how my head was whirling?  All this while, Mother is moaning in misery.

Lasix aside, what were we going to do about Mom’s nausea?  Dr. K returned.  I don’t remember her exact words, but she certainly didn’t approve of Dr. Kaye’s opinion of things. She gave me a list of things that she thought could be excuses for overriding Dr. Kaye.  I’ll spare you, but I reminded her that Dr. Kaye had been Mom’s personal physician for decades and that Mom had just been in the hospital.  They said there was nothing else modern medicine could do for my mother and all we were looking for was some relief from the nausea.  Dr. K told me she had other patients she had to see about on another wing.  She stopped at the door and turned to me.  I do remember what she said there, “Hospital or hospice – you’ve got a tough choice.”

She was gone before I could say, “We already made that choice.”  I looked at the clock and it was five.  Five on a Friday afternoon.  Friday on Rosh Hashanah and Dr. Kaye is Jewish.  I sat down to talk to mother.  I laid it all out for her and she said, “I’d put up with anything to get some relief.”  I said,”Then I’m going to call hospice.”  Her only reply was white noise.

The next two hours were excruciating.  Thankfully, I’d followed Dr. Kaye’s request and signed up for hospice without indicating a start date during the week before.  Within minutes, Mom was on hospice, but it was five thirty on Friday and we were waiting for Bernard.  Though I’d been doing everything I could for Mom since I got there at eleven, she was still miserable.  I can’t blame her for her anger and accusations as we waited for Bernard, but that didn’t take the sting out of them.

When he arrived, he got the smile and sweet words I’d wished for all day.  After taking a few vitals he got on the phone and started the ball rolling.  When he left, Mom still hadn’t gotten anything for the nausea, but she felt like something was finally happening.  A continuous care nurse showed up.  I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I was glad for her.  I finally gave up and went home.  Mom wasn’t talking to me anyway.

The next few days were a blur.  Exhausted, I was operating on pure adrenalin.  Were I put on the witness stand right this moment, I could not provide a time line.  I could relay a number of vignettes, but they don’t make any sense.  I know I was there Saturday for a while, but there were no sweet moments for me to cling to.  I know that Saturday night  they called me.  Mom’s temperature was at 95 and her feet were mottling.  We thought this was the end.

I went through all of the motions I’ve been told to go through.  I told her what a good job she’d done in all of her roles.  I told her I loved her.  I told her everything was in order, just as she’d requested.  I told her it was OK for her to let go.  She’d done her job well and she deserved her reward.  But she wasn’t ready to go yet.

I stayed with her through the night.  For a while, I held her hand, hummed her favorite hymns to her and continued the one way dialog about the excellence of her life.  Finally, exhaustion took over and they brought me a recliner.  I went to sleep holding her hand.  I’d done the same with both my father and my aunt during their ordeals.  This felt familiar.

But Ruth wasn’t through.  Her temperature went back up, her feet were no longer mottled and another day began.  For lunch she wanted me to go to Wendy’s to get her a hamburger and a frosty. I fulfilled her request and she had a bite or two.  How many times was Ruth going to go to the brink without letting go?  I took a few hours away from the hospital, but then I packed up a bag and went back for the long haul.  When I returned, they said she’d been asking for me, but now she had nothing to say to me.

Monday morning I handled a few pieces of business and picked out a room on the third floor.  I’d been frequently reminded that Mom was still on the recovery floor and they weren’t really staffed for hospice.  Monday evening the continuous care ended and I was left alone with Mom.  Sure there were nurses out there, but they didn’t seem any better equipped to deal with the situation than I was.  Meanwhile, Mom floated along in a drugged state, rousing occasionally to go through the farce of a meal.  We’d get her up, put on her bib and give her a few bites that she’d chew on but rarely swallow.

Tuesday, around lunch time, they moved her.  I’d been told they would move her on Saturday and so I’d packed everything up.  We’d already lived out of suitcases for three days and by ten thirty I was tired of it.  I got ugly, but I got her moved.  On the nursing floor, I expressed my concern over the way they’d been medicating her. I feared they were over-medicating and she was in there somewhere cursing me.

So they backed off the drugs a little, but if she had been in there, she wasn’t anymore.  She was desperate to leave – telling me her girls would be home from school.  She remembered me as someone she knew, but she sure wasn’t certain who that someone was.  Before the night was over, we were back on morphine.  Less this time, they’d been giving her too large a dose, but it was still her only friend.

In the morning, I met with hospice and put her on palliative care.  I still don’t know if anything I did was right, but God knows, I’m doing my best.  I slept in my own bed with my husband last night.  I must balance the checkbook before I go check on her.  This has all happened too fast, but the rest is not happening fast enough.

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Chat @ Caregiving: SSUURRRRE You’ll Be Back

You know it’s the small stuff that makes you crazy and I’m beginning to think making you crazy is the primary purpose of health care facilities.  Why else would hospital employees wake a patient numerous times throughout the night to draw blood, weigh, take vitals, etc. etc. etc.?  Now that Mom’s moved over to skilled nursing, there’s a little less of that going on, but they haven’t abandoned the most frustrating phrase in all of medicine, “I’ll be back.”

The medical world introduces you to various forms of this promise long before you find yourself in a nursing facility.  Like when you’re sitting in that paper gown on the end of an examining table. “The doctor will be right with you.” Yeah, after I have frostbite.  At least when you’re at the doctor’s office they do eventually appear.  They like to clear out the office before they go home.

In May, this medical odyssey began with a broken arm.   The arm had to be belted to Mom’s waist, rendering her virtually helpless.  Helpless and Ruth don’t belong in the same room.  Theoretically, she was supposed to call someone every time she got out of bed, but once she figured out that she could maneuver the wheel chair with her feet, she was through with that.  However, the task of dressing herself was a little more than she could manage.

Each day, whether by phone or in person, our first conversation of the day included a frustrated rant about people who promised to be right back, but weren’t.  They’d wake her up to give her meds and then promise to help her dress, but they’d never return.  She spent the whole day scheming about how she’d trick them into helping her dress on the following day, but those pesky aides would find yet another way to avoid her.  I began to think it was a part of the rehab program:  frustrate the patient enough and they’ll figure out how to do it on their own.

She did go home after a few weeks, at which time the rehab case manager informed me Mom was a little stubborn.  Oh really?  What was your first clue?

Then there was the first bout with congestive heart failure.  At the rehab facility, some anonymous person would come in and tell her something. Then my job would be to find out who it was and make them do whatever it was they said they were going to do.  The most elusive was a female doctor in a hijab.  In all the weeks Mom was at this particular facility, I never saw a hijab, but every time the woman came to see Mom, she’d leave some question hanging.  Mom put a marker in her brain and would wait impatiently for her return. Had the nurses not confirmed there was indeed a doctor in a hijab caring for my mom, I could have been convinced Ruth was hallucinating.

We’ve been in and out of the hospital a few times since the hijab, but folks are still falsely promising to return.  Mom’s current venue is not ideal.  I bet the “I’ll be back” thing works with a lot of the patients.  I’ve hung out with them.  I’m not trying to be cruel, but the fact of the matter is, some of them don’t know who they are, much less where they are. As soon as they hear “I’ll be back,” they forget it. But that’s not Ruth.

Yesterday was shower day.  Mom hates dressing for breakfast and then undressing for her shower, so she requested breakfast in her room.  When the aide delivered the tray, she asked, “Do you want your shower now or later?”  DUH!!  Who wants to get a shower while their breakfast is chilling in the next room?  So, the aide said she would be back.  Someone else came to pick up the tray and Mom was back in “be back” hell.

Since we seem to be able to regulate everything else when it comes to healthcare, I propose that we regulate, “I’ll be back.”  It should never be an open ended statement.  It should be, “I’ll be back in ten minutes,” or “I’ll be back at seven thirty” or something measurable – and then they should be back.  Heck, the world is so electronic, why don’t the have a channel on the TV that shows where the patient is in line.  Imagine how many calls to the desk that would eliminate.

I can hear all the healthcare personnel defending themselves and I’m not unsympathetic to your plight.  With who knows how many patients, all demanding your attention, I don’t know how you get anything done, but that little “I’ll be back” is part of the problem.  I was only there for a short while, but Mom talked to at least five people about her pending shower.  I have no idea how long ago the shower had been promised, but it was almost ten and breakfast is served between 7 AM and 8:30.  She’d been waiting more than ten minutes.

Someone might argue, “What’s the big deal?  It’s not like she’s going anywhere.” Right – with that attitude you probably have a great future in the geriatric healthcare industry.

OK – I’ll get down off my hobby horse.  “I’ll be back,” isn’t the only phrase that should be erased from human communication.  “No problem,” “Have a nice day,” “How are you,” and “I’m fine” are all pretty useless, too.  Every time a waiter tells me what I want is “no problem,” I know they’re cussing me all the way to the kitchen.  And there’s a new one, “My pleasure.”  Sure and I’ll be back.

Chat @ Care-giving: A Vote for Continuing Care Facilities

A few years ago, when I began the search for a retirement facility for my parents, I had a preference for continuing care.  No one else did. So we struck the criteria from the must-have list.

Eventually, we found a great independent living facility and even though Mom moaned and groaned about giving up her home, Whiterock Court proved to be a good place for them – for awhile.

Fast forward a year.  Dad fell and after a month-long hospital battle, he passed away.  Suddenly, Mom’s complaints about “giving up her home” turned into gratitude.  My primary reason for getting them out of the house had been the realization that I could lose either of them at any time.  They were barely getting along in the house together and I knew if I lost either of them, neither of them could stay at home by themselves.  I wanted to avoid having either of them adjust to concurrent lifestyle changes – losing both their life partner and their home at the same time.

For exactly six months I had the luxury of hearing I’d been right to get them out of the house.  Mom realized just how lonely that house would have been without Dad.  She ate meals with her friends, joined a travel club and enjoyed playing bean bag baseball and chickenfoot dominoes.

Then she fell and broke her arm.  A few weeks later, she had congestive heart failure.  For three months our lives were a circus of emergency rooms, hospitals, rehab and skilled nursing.  Now she’s back in her apartment juggling home health care and I’m remembering when I agreed to take continuing care off the must have list.

See, Mom’s not quite ready to give it up and move to assisted living, but she’s not exactly up to independent living either, and the parade of home health care providers marching through her apartment is about to drive her crazy.  Were she in a continuing care facility, the trauma of moving between independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and rehab would be much reduced.  The services she needed would already be right there.  Home health care is great, but it’s not the same as walking into a fully equipped rehab facility.

When I moved Mom and Dad out of their house, I knew I did the right thing, but I wish I’d stuck to my guns when it came to continuing care.  Mom needs to be monitored more closely than home health care can provide, but the mention of assisted living sends her into fits.  I know her emotional stability is as important, if not more important, that her physical condition.  I can’t bring myself to upset her apple cart anymore than it’s already been jostled.

It’s just a matter of time now.  Congestive heart disease is an enemy you can fight, but you can’t win, unless you’re young enough to have the necessary surgery.  Someday, probably sooner rather than later, I’m going to have to disrupt my mother’s life again.  I have to rip her out of a place she’s learned to call home and take her someplace else.  I’ll be disrupting the lives of other people, also.  Fourteen of her friends have moved to Whiterock Court because Mom is there.  It would be so much easier if I could just move her to another part of the facility and know that, if she did improve, we could move her back.  It would be nice if her fourteen friends could walk across a courtyard to see her or have a meal with her.  Instead, they’ll promise to come visit her, but the enormity of the task will keep them away.  They’ll feel guilty and Mom will feel forsaken.

There are drawbacks to continuing care facilities, one of them being a large financial investment.  Most of the money is returned to the family after the resident passes away, but letting go of the money was the hurdle my family members could not tolerate.  Now they stand ready to support me in any decision I make.  I wish they’d felt that way three years ago.

Chat @ Care-giving: Starting the Down-sizing Search

After years of gentle hints, a little cajoling and not a few terse exchanges, Mom finally agreed she and Dad need to downsize. She’s not ready to move yet, you understand, but she will participate in a little research.  I have some knowledge about retirement living.  I’ve discussed it with friends as they made decisions about what to do with their parents over the years.  My favorite aunt lives in a retirement center I frequently visit.  The novel I’m shopping to literary agents is set in a retirement center.  However, I hadn’t started any specific research concerning my parents until I had a green light.  I knew my Mom wouldn’t budge until she was absolutely ready and I didn’t want to waste time collecting information which would become obsolete before I needed it.

Even though I’d anticipated this job for quite a while, actually getting started was somewhat daunting.  Some people would call up a friend or read a book.  I had some materials that I’d casually collected over the year, but I started on the internet.  Typing “dallas retirement living” into my browser returned such a deluge of information that I spent the first few hours shifting through websites to get the lay of the land.  I discovered this task was not dissimilar to finding accommodations for a vacation.  Finding familiar footing, I began in earnest.

Retirement living falls into several categories.  Retirement communities of the Del Webb variety are not what Ruth and George want.  They’re past their days of tennis and golf.  Many apartments for senior citizens are available, but  Mom and Dad need a little more help.  However, they aren’t quite ready to move to assisted living, either.  That narrowed down my choices to independent living and continuing care.  Continuing care means that, whatever level of care they choose now and whatever they need in the future, it’s all there.   This has some reassuring aspects to it, but most of these facilities are vast acreages and I feared they’d be a little overwhelming.  Which left independent living.

Independent living is a catch-all term that might mean anything from an apartment with social activities to facilities barely distinguishable from assisted living.  Many independent living facilities also offer assisted living and perhaps that’s the reason the line between them becomes blurred.  Though I wanted Mom to at least visit a sample of each type of community, I felt our solution would most likely be an independent living facility, which also offered assisted living.  I also thought a continuing care facility would deliver peace of mind, if I could get Mom past the initial shock.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  After a few hours of research, I felt like I’d taken that step.  As I move forward in this project, I’ll keep you abreast of where we are.  What advice do you have for me?

Chat@Caregiving: Does Remington Take Reservations?

If you’re a faithful follower of this blog, you may have noticed that I haven’t been very faithful this year. For several months there were no Friday blogs. I grew up with the “if you don’t have anything good to say” mantra and since I really didn’t have much to say either way, I just kept quiet.

Then there was Travel Here.  I had a good run of it for a while, but then I had digital failure.  Though I planned to write a post while I was on the Lemonade Tour and even knew what I was going to write about, I was  new to my smartphone and didn’t have it set up right to blog on the road.  I tried replying to comments, but my blog thought I was Anonymous. Talk about a humbling experience!  Even my own blog didn’t recognize me!!

Well, I fully intended to have a blog last Monday, but then life happened.  You know that stuff that goes on when you’re out making other plans.  I planned to spend Saturday the eighth getting caught up, but then the phone rang. So, I spent the week at Presbyterian Hospital with my Mom – congestive heart failure on top of her broken arm and the still unresolved bladder issues.  They’re getting to know me pretty well over there. About mid-week they started making noise about sending Mom to skilled nursing for convalescence and rehab.

Unfortunately, I know more than I really want to know about health care facilities – in McKinney, in Dallas and in Temple.  If it hasn’t been my own family, well then I’ve been holding the hand of many of my friends as they go through the same sort of thing. I gave the social worker a list of the places I definitely never wanted to walk in again and a few suggestions of places we’d consider. Then the transition coordinator from Remington showed up and she impressed the heck out of me.

First, she had the credentials – registered nurse.  I wasn’t talking to some marketing schmuck who’d just tell me what I wanted to hear.  Next she looked professional.  I’m so over the casual, sloppy, yet still too-tight look that people call fashion these days .  (If you’re with me on that, you’ll enjoy this: Nation of Slobs .) This lady’s hair was neat.  Her feet had been informed of what the rest of her body was wearing.  Her shirt tail didn’t hang out from under her jacket. (I don’t care if it is fashionable.  I hate that look.)  Her clothes actually matched and were not two sizes too small. First impressions count, but you need to do more than look good.

A couple of days later, the transition coordinator did just that.  There was some glitch on the day they transported Mom.  I don’t get bent out of shape about glitches.  I was in the office equipment industry too long.  It doesn’t matter how well you prepare for something or how well equipped you are to handle things, stuff happens – especially if more than two people and a vehicle are involved.

So, when eleven thirty arrived and we were still waiting for orders from the hospital, in spite of the fact we’d been told we’d be transported at eleven, I didn’t get too bent out of shape. The hospital flailed around and seemed to be stymied, so at twelve thirty, I called the transition coordinator.  I didn’t have to explain who I was. She recognized me immediately.  She also knew exactly what was going on.  Then she really impressed me.  Instead of wasting time, trying to assign blame, she just told me the wheelchair van was on it’s way and the driver would be there shortly.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to know exactly who dropped the ball on Benghazi and why our government fed us a bunch of horse manure, among other things, but in my opinion, entirely too much energy is wasted in everyday life on the exercise of assigning blame. JUST FIX IT! I’ve got a recent Nordstrom’s story I could use to demonstrate what I mean, but I’ve already rambled enough for today.  Anyway, Remington and Nordstrom’s both get it.

So, why do I want to make reservations for a stay at Remington Medical Resort?  Well, if the transition coordinator wasn’t enough to convince you of their superiority, come back next week.  You’re not going to believe it!

Chat@Caregiving: Why I Want to Recuperate at Remington.

So, back to how superior Remington Medical Resorts are! When their driver showed up, he was as appropriately attired as their transition coordinator had been.  He was perfectly groomed and wore a tan polo embroidered with Remington’s logo.

The wheelchair he pushed looked pristine, not like it had been banged around by several hundred people previous to transporting my mother. He was professional, courteous and quite pleasant.  He handled the move from the hospital bed to the wheelchair like someone who knew what he was doing.  He drove a crisp black van that screamed “properly maintained and carefully operated.”  Then he made sure I knew how to get to the facility and warned me of current traffic hazards that could cause a problem.

I keep a pretty close eye on Mom, but I sensed she was in good hands, so I felt like I didn’t have to follow the van all the way.  I got my car from the valet and headed to Remington at my own pace, even stopping at Chikfila for a to-go lunch.  The transition coordinator had assured me that Mom would have lunch upon arrival – and I believed her.

From the outside, the Remington Medical Resort looks more like a mid-sized suite hotel than it does a medical facility.  I found a parking spot and entered the lobby, expecting to be overwhelmed with opulence.  That’s what I’d seen at a few skilled nursing spots I’d been to recently.  Unfortunately, their opulence hadn’t been an omen of the services rendered, but the Remington lobby was all business.  Then they pressed a button and allowed me inside.  That’s where they’d put the opulence.

The first things my eyes latched onto were tiled garden, expensive carpet and rich woodwork.  I know from experience that appearances can be deceiving, but a thing of beauty is a joy – even in the short term. Next, I caught a glimpse of the first floor rehab facility.  We’re talking more Lifetime Fitness than Gold’s Gym.  And what was even better was that there were patients of all ages.  Mom’s had a pretty rough year.  I was afraid “medical resort” was some modern speak for “old folks home” and it was apparent that this wasn’t the case.

Upstairs on the second floor, I found a large, tasteful library.  Some folks were sitting on sofas chatting.  Others sat at a table with their laptops.  I saw a secondary rehab facility on this floor, smaller, but just as well equipped.  There was also a beverage station with something in a condensation-covered dispenser.  I felt cooler just looking at it.  For you non-Texans, the outside temps are already in the nineties.

A little further down the hall I found Mom.  Her room, like the exterior of the building, looked more hotel than medical.  She was tucked up in crisp white linens and was happy to see me.  I noticed that they’d put her right by the nurses station.  That transition coordinator hadn’t missed a lick.  She realized Mom was going to need more than the average level of skilled nursing.

As I took in the upscale upholstery, the drapery with sheers and the writing desk, I nodded with approval.  Immediately at my elbow was someone from food services to make sure that what they were serving was something Mom wanted.  Pesto grilled catfish, dirty rice and fresh Brussels sprouts sounded pretty good to me, but I’d already had my Chikfila.

Mom got her food and I started to unpack.  It may seem like a small thing to you, but I want to commend the Remington for providing a really nice luggage cart for transporting things from my car to Mom’s room.  I’ve encountered everything from nothing at all to a cart that looked great, but had a mind of it’s own.  This medical stuff is a hassle. Yes, I love my Mom and I’m not really complaining, but just because something is medically-related, I’ve never understood why it also has to be a pain in the watusi.

The word that keeps coming to mind when I think of Remington is well-maintained. If you are familiar with the facility, you might point out that it’s fairly new, but I’m here to tell you that even new places need maintenance.  My dad went to a very self-congratulatory facility that was brand-spanking new, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that it wasn’t going to be new for very long.  The culture of the place was just wrong.  Nothing worked exactly right.  The furniture was new and fancy, but not good quality. If you complained about something, you got excuses and blame shifting.  They had a great big brass luggage cart, but it’s wheels were crazy, it was too big for me manage successfully and I wish I had a nickel for every ding on it.

So like I said, the Remington’s luggage cart was perfect.  It looked like I was the first person to use it since it was unwrapped. It was large enough, but manageable.  It had lots of bars and hooks and such, so that whatever kind of luggage you’ve packed, the cart could accommodate it.  A luggage cart is a small thing, but it can tell you a lot about where your Mom will be staying.

But why do I want to check in?  We haven’t exactly gotten around to that yet.  Well, maybe if you come back next week, I’ll tell you.

Chat@Caregiving: And Tuesday is Margarita Night

Ah, now we’re getting to the crux of the matter at Remington Medical Resort. Mom had gotten her delicious looking meal and I was unpacking her stuff. Suddenly a man in a very expensive suit strode into the room and greeted my mom.  His shirt, tie and shoes weren’t bad either.  He was the CEO of the facility.  If they wanted to impress my mom, they’d finally managed it.

Ruth was so taken with this guy she completely abandoned her lunch.  He was giving her his schpiel and she was using both hands to gather it in. I was impressed by the impact of the title. “Hi, I’m the CEO.  I’m glad you chose us.  Here’s my card.  Call me if you need anything.”  I’ll have to admit, though, I’m a sucker for good marketing.  How brilliant of them to have a “CEO” greet each “guest.” I realize that every Remington facility has it’s own CEO greeting new patients, but I love it anyway.

Here’s how brilliant they are.  One thing my mom needs is nourishment.  By constantly nagging her, I kept her in the neighborhood of 110 pounds before this latest event, but after her hospital stay, she was down to 95.  Everybody, from waiters in restaurants to nurses in hospitals, asks my mom what’s wrong with her food or why she doesn’t like it.  And she can always tell them.  This guy realized my mom’s appetite is just off and no one is going to get her to like what’s on her plate.  He offered her some ice cream and asked her what flavor she liked.

He completely negated the opportunity for Mom to imprint her initial negative opinion of the food on her psyche.  What’s more, he brought her THREE ice cream cups and put two of them in the mini-fridge.  All of a sudden she loves the food at the place and she’s interested in packing on more calories.  Should she be getting those calories from catfish and Brussels sprouts?  Well, of course! But when you’ve got someone disappearing into the sheets, you get credit for every calorie they ingest.

Another thing I liked about Remington is that someone with a brain put the room together.  I actually had enough space for the ten days of clothes, pjs and unmentionables that I brought for her.  There’s room and to spare for everything.  The bathroom has counter space.  There’s a recliner.  There’s a writing table and comfortable chair.  They’ll bring a roll-away if I want to spend the night.

Then it was time to use the restroom.  The nurses answered the call before Mom had time to take her finger off the button.  They joked with her and teased her through the process rather than acting as if she was the biggest burden they’d encountered all day long.  Mom had waited overlong to call though and there were linens that needed changing.  They made it seem like nothing – a pleasure to serve.  Give these girls medals!!

I decided it was safe  to head home.  They’d be coming in soon with the evening meal and Mom was in a great mood.  If I’d wanted to, I could have gone to the wine and cheese party in the lobby, but I was tuckered out.  On the next day, there would be a movie and popcorn.  Another night was board games.  No bingo and bean bag baseball for this crowd.  They have activities that even I would be interested in participating in.  And on Tuesday nights it’s Margaritas, so you’ll know where to find me.

Now you know why I want to check into the Remington.  They have gorgeous facilities, an exemplar staff and Margaritas on Tuesday nights.  The last few years have been tough on this caretaker.  When is someone going to welcome me to a facility and bring me a cup of chocolate ice cream?