Phase 50, in which Sue J tries to act like a grownup (again)

So I was logging into WordPress here to see if anyone was still stopping by the blog, given the fact that I haven’t posted any original content in over a month. And there’s a big WP announcement about new features, with the title “Just Write.”  So that’s what I’m doing.

Some of you who know me personally know that I’m juggling a few things right now that are eating up most of my time. I haven’t figured out yet how to incorporate a regular schedule of writing in there yet. But it’s Sunday morning and I’m home and the dog is patiently waiting for me to take him on his walk, and the house is quiet while Unnamed Partner sleeps.

I’ll try to catch you up here.

A couple of weeks ago I got a late-night call from by brother Tom saying that Dad was on his way to hospital because he was really dizzy and couldn’t sit up.  Dad is 87, and that opens up all kinds of possibilities for causes, so I threw some clothes in a bag and headed down to Northern Virginia. It turns out they do a lot of construction on I-95 in the middle of the night but otherwise traffic wasn’t too bad and I got to their house about 1:30 am.

Fast forward a few days and we found out that Dad has labrynthitis, which spell checker does not like, but which is more common than you might think, given the unusual name.  A whole battery of tests ruled out any other problems like a stroke, for example, and he’s been at a Rehab Center for about a week and a half still on antibiotics and getting physical therapy to help with the dizziness.  That has gone from pretty severe vertigo to mild dizziness, but still bothers him when he walks or when he watches tv or reads.

My Dad dotes on my Mom. She needs a little more care, after having fallen in the last couple of years she needs someone to “spot” her going up and down stairs, someone to hold her hand when steps into the tub for a shower. At 89 and with mild dementia, she needs gentle reminders to take medication and to get up and move around during the day.  And despite our repeated suggestions to have someone come in occasionally and help around the house, they have nothing in place. So with Dad out of the house temporarily, I’ve been shuttling between their house and my house in order to take a load off Tom, who is now the primary caregiver for Mom.

Dad’s finally agreed to find someone to come in and help with Mom, so I made some calls on Friday afternoon. Their primary care physician suggested a company he’s had good experience with so I mentioned that to Dad and got the a-ok to proceed. This generation is funny like that, I have noticed. They take the word of the doctor as gold. If the doctor says it, it must be so. That has driven me crazy on many an occasion when I’ve asked them why they didn’t question this or that — the response is always “Well, that’s what the doctor said.”  But now, it’s working out for us.

Dad goes to see an ENT specialist tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll have a better sense of when he’s coming home or what the next step is. I’m diving into a large booklet called “Medicare and You” to see what if anything they qualify for home services.  Feeling very fortunate that if insurance doesn’t cover it, they are in a position to pay out of pocket. So many people are not, and I can’t even imagine the stress that must bring on.

Well, I hear footsteps upstairs, and the dog is giving me the evil eye. (Actually not — it’s more of the pitiful, brown-eyed sad face.) I’m going to spend some time in the garden today, mindlessly weeding. I feel like I’ve entered a new chapter of life, and I’m not sure I’m any more prepared for it than when I was 10, or 20, or 30, or 40.  But I’ll do what’s always worked out for me before: I’ll just do the best I can.

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6 comments

  1. It’s a tough phase to be in for sure but, you are doing all the right things. I like to call it giving back or as my friends say,”we are now the parents and they are now the children”

  2. Best of well wishes to you and yours. And thanks to all the good people close enough to help you and UP out.

  3. Eldercare is a huge drain on life, even when one has the money and loves the parents. It is still not well recognized by society, though that is slowly changing. If only it was as easy as “they are the children now”. It is much more complex, even when they become dependent. Besides, children grow out of dependency, ageing parents descent more into it.
    Hang in there.

  4. Ien, you’re spot on. Eldercare is care giving with all sorts of additional layers of complexities. I really hate the “we are the parents” thinking, because we are not. They always will be my mother and my father, no matter how much assistance they need with their daily living. Helping someone who is no longer able to go up stairs by themselves is not the same as helping someone who has not yet learned how to go up the stairs by themselves. Putting them in the same category negates a parent’s lifetime of knowledge and dignity.

    Sorry for the rant, but that’s a sore point for me. (obvs.)

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