Sunday, September 28, 2014

Roller Coaster!

{I originally started this post at least one month [scratch that] three months [scratch that too] ten months ago. Regardless, it has been an array of emotions since it was started.}

At the beginning of November, the first to be exact, Pa went to the hospital in kidney failure. Before they could make a plan about his kidneys, they said they needed to put in a pacemaker since his heart stopped twice the night before and started again on its own. Before I could get to Enid, he had a pacemaker and was on the mend. He was kind of loopy when I got there and started telling me about the papers in the safe and his regular run down of where I could find things. He went in on Friday and had the pacemaker put in on Saturday. By Sunday the nephrologist told me her recommendation was to call in hospice. She thought the rigor of dialysis would do him in. This was a lot for me to take in. I mean, earlier in the day, my dad and I were looking at a new dishwasher for their house. I was also under the impression that the doctor had already had this conversation with him so I went to the hospital prepared to discuss what we would do next.

We sat and chatted and nothing was mentioned about hospice, which come to find out the doctor hadn't told him, she wanted to prepare the family first. I took off work Monday so I could talk to his PCP about his thoughts of after care. I was thinking his primary physician would have a discussion with him Monday morning about the prognosis of his kidneys...but alas he did not. So I left messages for the doctor to call me, the ICU nurses left messages for the doctor to call them but he wasn't returning any of those. After later speaking to a sweet nurse from Pa's oncologist, who ended up telling him there really wasn't anything they could do to help his kidneys, I took myself to the doctor's office and sat in his waiting room until he would see me. You see, I didn't take off of work, and couldn't keep taking off, to not get any answers, so I wasn't leaving without answers. From body language, I could tell his office staff did not think too highly of me just showing up and asking to speak to the doctor. One thing I overheard was, "that just isn't how things work around here." Well, it worked crabby office lady. His prognosis of 6-8 months was quite different than the nephrologists of 6-8 weeks.

I then returned to the hospital where Pa and I further discussed after care. He asked me if PCP doctor had told me the prognosis and I said the nephrologist had. Being a man of truthful words, he had some good ones about the PCP and not being honest with him. After tears, doubt, and reassuring, we decided it would be best for them both to move my direction into a nursing home so Nandy and Pa could be together until Pa's kidneys quit. His biggest concern was that Nandy get settled before something happened to him. He didn’t care that his body was calling it in. He cared that his girlfriend was taken care of.

One of the most heart breaking things I've seen is my Pa telling Nandy that his kidneys are not working anymore and that they will be moving to a nursing home together near me. Her dementia is far enough along that her only response was, "Okay. I'll go wherever with you." Amidst the tears, he assured her he would stay with her as long as he could. He didn't care that he was dying, he cared that he felt like he was leaving his girlfriend, letting her down and not taking care of her. After my Dad left to take Nandy back to the house, I assured Pa that he was in fact taking care of her. Helping make the decision to move was going to get her settled in before the inevitable happened.

I was then instructed to go the house and tell Nandy's sister, who had been staying with Nandy while Pa was in the hospital. Then I headed back home because I had some nursing home research to do. I went to work Tuesday morning just because I needed a little bit of normal...hard to think that 20 kindergartners were what was going to give me normal. By 10:30, I had called my sub to see if she could come in for the afternoon. My mind was all over the place but I knew it needed to be making phone calls so Mrs. Chambers to the rescue! I had asked around for nursing homes that people knew of and spent the afternoon calling about 10 places. From noon to 4:00, I did nothing but call, take notes, research online and wait for people to return my call. 

That afternoon, my sweet PE teacher went with me, in the rain, to visit two nursing homes in Sapulpa. If someone had not seen us walk into the first one, I would have turned around and left based on smell alone. We went ahead and had a quick tour by a sweet lady that was actually on her way out. I was not impressed in any way with what I saw. The smell did get better but maybe my nose just got used to it? You know that feeling you have after going to a bar? You know, where your hair and clothes stink like the bar? We had that feeling after leaving. I don't think we actually smelled bad but it was not good. I was brave enough to ask her if she would go to one more with me and she agreed. The second one was better the moment we walked in. We were toured through the place by the night nurse. She seemed very knowledgeable about the facility as well as the residents. She spoke to many of them by name as we passed and didn't seem the least bit worried we would see something out of the ordinary. There was no rancid old person smell either. This facility was recommended to me by a co-worker that had her mother there recently.

After leaving, I knew where I would choose if there were only two options. I went back to school and prepared sub plans for Wednesday since I called in so that I could go visit some more nursing homes. Sweet Miss Maxwell stayed at school with me until my plans were ready and even offered to take part of the following day off to go with to more places. Wednesday morning, I toured a place in Sand Springs. They have a specific building for memory care patients, which Nandy may need some day. The ladies I spoke to were nice and knowledgeable about the facility.

The plan was that Maxwell was a cousin but I always goofed it up by saying my grandparents. It really turned out that I had all the questions and she was there for moral support. She mentioned feeling silly just being there but I kept saying my and blowing our cover. I am very grateful that she went with me. Not too many friends will volunteer to visit nursing homes with people. It's not like it is the most fun thing to do with your time let alone take off work for. She helped to make it a more fun experience than it truly is. I’d recommend her company any day!

In the afternoon, I picked Maxwell up and we went to two other places. One in Jenks that actually had a pre-k and kindergarten class at it. It was really neat to see the kids out interacting with the residents. Some of the little old ladies were out chatting with the kids and having ice cream with them. The man that took us on a tour of the place did not seem to take me seriously. I felt like he thought I was there for shits and giggles. He told me they currently did not a have room that would accommodate both of my grandparents but they could still be in the same building. Being roommates was one of the criteria that I had to have, after all, the point of moving was so they could be together. Neither one of us were impressed with his demeanor. I felt rushed and I didn't feel like he was really that interested in selling me on the place.

At our next stop, I felt less than impressed when I walked in but was told they had a nice memory unit. We were greeted by a little old man that was very heavy in passing out compliments. So if you want at boost in your attitude… stop on by! The lady we talked to was very nice. She took us through the facility but as I looked around I wasn't impressed. To me, it almost seemed like the family members of the residents didn't care about the surroundings. Many of the rooms were bare, as if they didn't care to try and make this home for their family. Then she took us to the lock down, memory unit. You also may refer to it as the crazy house. People trying to get out as you come in, a lady following you around saying "didididididi" carrying a doll. There was nothing on the cement walls of the rooms. It almost reminded me of a jail cell. There is no way my grandma would fit in there and Pa would tell me I was "bat shit crazy" if I tried to move them in there. I envisioned him telling me he would walk back to Enid before spending a night there.

On the way back to get Kinley, we stopped at the place I had a morning visit with. Their facility is locked down but not to the extent of the previous. It is a newer place where it was obvious the families wanted it to seem like home. We checked in at the main place and they told us to go over and someone would come show us around. We rang the bell but no one came to the door, except the visiting wife of a resident. She happily let us in so I walked Maxwell through. We made it through the entire facility without being spoken to by a worker. Heck, we didn't even see anyone that worked there. Talked to a couple old ladies that were just sitting out in the common area but no workers were to be seen. It wasn't until we were leaving and chatted with the wife about her experience there that someone approached us. That alone did not really sit well with me.

So back to the school we went. Visited with a few people there and tried to feel okay with a huge decision. I mean, my Pa trusted me to pick a place for them to live. I had earlier talked to my Dad. He informed me that he set up an appointment for the dog to go to the groomer. Why couldn’t I have had that job??? Why did I have to make the nursing home decision?! I went back and forth on feeling confident about my decision. What if I got them there and Pa hated it? What if Nandy hated it? What if Pa changed his mind about moving? [insert bad dreams about all this] What if? What if? What if?

Snap out of it, you are 31 years old making the best decision you know how to in this situation. But so much is weighing on your shoulders… A place needed to be decided on and it was a relief to make it but also daunting. The ‘what ifs’ came back but only time would tell.

The next task was getting Pa out of the hospital and getting both of them brought over to Sapulpa. Hubby went to Enid on the 13th, with my brother and niece in tow. Three people (Hubby, Dad and Brother) were told they needed to be at the nursing home by 2:00 (really the deadline was 3:00 but I know my Dad and Brother so I fibbed) so that there was more staff available to get them settled and checked out. 1:30 p.m. I get a text from Hubby that they are backing out of the driveway. Now, do some math with me…. it takes 90 minutes to drive there. Nevermind, you know they did not make it by the 2:00 deadline or even 3:00. I get out of school at 4:00 and got there right as they were getting out of the car.

It took some time for them to adjust. Pa sat and worried about money, the car, the house, Nandy, and the baby and I. Money, the car, and the house were the least of my worries. I just wanted my grandparents to be together. To get settled and feel comfortable for what time they did have left... together. 

After about 8 days in their new place, Pa told me, "I think you did good, kid." What a relief! That is what I worried about! I wondered but didn't want to ask (for fear of the answer) if Pa approved of the place that I had chosen. You know, those 'what if's' I mentioned earlier. Just hearing that gave me some peace of mind.

I feel very fortunate to have been able to spend so much more time with my grandparents once they were moved over here. Kinley and I would go visit after school, almost everyday, depending on our schedule. Nandy and Pa would both get so excited to see her come in. I brought forth a little excitement but it was really all for Kinley, which is sweet to see how much they love her.

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