Saturday, August 29, 2015

In which I try to be nice to Doris when Primo hands her the phone

Primo: I'm on my way to the hospital. They thought they were going to do the surgery today so my mom was under orders not to eat as of midnight last night. Then they didn't do the surgery and she didn't get to eat until late afternoon. I am taking her some frozen yogurt.

Me: Good. Lots of calories.

Primo: She doesn't like the high-calorie shakes at the hospital.

Me: Those are nasty. I used to go to Wendy's to get shakes for my dad.

Primo: My dad is starting to get emotional. He hasn't admitted guilt, but when they did the scan today, they had to give my mom iodine. She is allergic, so they also had to give her steroids. They were having a hard time with her veins and she was saying it hurt so much and my dad was by her and he was crying.

Me [long pause]: It sounds awful.

Primo: She told me she was in such pain that she thought she would rather be dead. My dad was shocked.

Me: But she has expressed suicidal thoughts to you many times.

Primo: Yeah, but my dad didn't know that she had shared that sort of thing with me.

Me: Hmmm.

Primo: They might do the surgery tomorrow. They think for sure they are going to put a blocker in her vein to keep blood clots from getting to her heart. They might do the orthopedic surgery then as well.

Me: I hope it goes well. Have you thought of maybe taking a photo of you and Nancy to put by her bed? And maybe some flowers?

Primo: No! I haven't even gotten her flowers.

Me: You've been sucked into the details. But flowers or a plant. Some of her books. And she hasn't had her hair washed for a week.

Primo: The nursing homes I toured have salon services one day a week.

Me: Pay them to give her a pedicure and a manicure. She has never had one and it would be a nice thing for her.

Primo: That's a nice idea. Hey. I'm almost at her room. You're being so nice and supportive - would you talk to her?

Me: Oh man! Really?

Primo: Please. She feels so awful.

Me: Fine. But only for one minute. You break in and say the yogurt is melting.

Doris: Hi Goldie.

Me: Hi Doris. I am so sorry you are not doing well.

Doris: I am in pain.

Me: I'm sorry. It sounds like nobody there knows what's going on, either.

Doris: No. Every day, it's a different story.

Me: I was telling Primo that maybe he could bring you some books tomorrow.

Doris: I can't read. I can't watch TV.

Me: So you're in pain, it's boring, and the food is probably not very good.

Doris: Yes.

Me: I am sorry. I have been praying for a quick, easy surgery.

Doris: I am sorry for ruining your lives and taking Primo away from you these past months.

Me: Well, it's not like you did this on purpose. [Although if they had moved into assisted living two years ago and if Sly hadn't been so stupid, this would not be happening. However, Doris is not the one who got drunk and fell on her own knees. It is Sly in whose face I want to stick my finger and scream, "What the F were you thinking? You let a frail, malnourished woman lie immobile and in horrible pain for FOUR DAYS - after YOU fell on her and injured her - and DID NOT CALL FOR HELP? What kind of miserable SOB are you?"]

Doris: I am sorry.

Me: Let's just get you better and then let's get you in a situation where you will be more comfortable.

Doris: Thank you. And I am sorry for taking your husband away.

Me: Well, he is your son. You did have him first.

Doris: I loved him so much.

Me: Doris, you did a great job raising him. You raised a wonderful man. You have a wonderful son.

Doris [crying]: OK. I better not get maudlin.

Me: No. Don't do that.

Doris: I will give you back to Primo.

Me: OK. Feel better.

In which Doris is going to have surgery and then not going to have surgery and now we don't know

Yesterday, they discovered that Doris had more damage to her knees - yes, plural - knees than they thought. They finally got consensus on what to look at and what not to look at and the news is that it is bad.

However, it was the hand guy looking at the scans and not the knee guy, so the hand guy wasn't sure if it would be plates or screws or what. It would be something. Surgery would be today or tomorrow. Or sometime.

This morning, Primo messaged me. Surgery today.

I told him to tell Doris I was praying for her.

He replied that he was not comfortable using that kind of language. I wanted to shoot something back about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Primo is not a big picture guy and he picks tiny hills to die on sometimes.

I said that quoting is not endorsing and unless he thought Doris would be insulted by the concept, to tell her. Otherwise, say nothing. Sheesh. I DO NOT CARE. I WANT THIS DONE.

We had also spoken yesterday about planning. I suggested that the next steps would be to identify and place a deposit at an assisted living place and get bids from a senior moving place and Primo was all, "Woooo! We don't even have my mom in a nursing home yet!"

So we settled on his putting together a suitcase for Doris for the rehab center. Even that was tough. "We don't know when she's actually going," he protested.

I suggested that the timing would probably not make much difference in what she needed - no matter when she goes, she will need some clothes and her own nightgown and her own toiletries and some books and maybe a few family photos.

Primo agreed and told me I am really good at this, which I am. I am the person you want around in a crisis.

So Doris was going to have her surgery this morning, which was good because it increased her chances of moving to the rehab center either before Primo's planned departure date or after it but not on it. If she needs to move to rehab on the day Primo is planning to leave, he might feel compelled to stay to supervise.

(Me: Is there a social worker or someone at the hospital you can talk to about this? They probably are actually pretty used to doing this sort of thing and can do it without a family member present.

Primo: I don't like her. She is condescending.

Me: [OK SLY.] ][Sigh.] That doesn't matter. Is she competent?

Primo: I don't know. But I guess I either need to trust her or do everything myself.)

But then she didn't have the surgery because she has COPD, there are some issues with her breathing, and because they are worried about blood clots from the knees, etc, etc, etc.

So now we don't know what's happening.

This will never end.

Friday, August 28, 2015

In which Primo thinks he wants to throw cheese again

Did I tell you about the cheese-throwing fight Primo and I had the last time he came home from Sly and Doris?

It was really more of a cheese-throwing tantrum that I watched and thought, "Yeah, he is always super cranky when he returns from his parents' and he always picks a fight and this should last about another 20 minutes, so whatever." I just stood and watched and listened and was bored.

So now Doris has damage in her other knee - both knees are damaged - and they might want to do surgery in a few days but they don't know yet and Primo thinks she might not be in a rehab center before he is scheduled to leave and thinks he should not leave until she is settled.

I just want this whole thing to be done.

He is not happy.

He wrote, "If I need to change my travel plans, I may want to throw cheese."

I suggested he throw it at Sly, as Sly and Doris are allegedly lactose intolerant, even though they are very happy to eat our expensive $24 a pound Carr Valley cheese and make an entire meal of it and then not be hungry for the supper that Doris sighs and says I should not have gone through the trouble to make, although if I had not made supper, you can believe I would have heard about that.

Plus Sly and Doris buy crummy cheese. Throw the cheap cheese. Don't throw the good cheese.

In which I discuss next steps

So Primo and I had an IM fight, I guess, where I was telling him that no, it would not be acceptable for him to take another year off work, and no, I am not sympathetic to his father, who is the one who caused this problem, and really, I have already had my parental medical drama and if my father could have gotten rid of his cancer by not drinking alcohol, he would have, so please do not ask me for sympathy for a drunk who caused his own problems, and no, Primo probably cannot force Sly to hire in-home help, and Sly and Doris need to have a PLAN within the next month.

Primo said, "But my mom is incapable of making decisions and my dad is in shock."

I said then Primo needed to make the decisions.

Primo said that Sly and Doris think they want to go to the place in Atlanta but that would require a lot of work and they would have to leave their doctors.

I said that Sly and Doris were going to have to make some sacrifices - that Primo could not be expected to make all the sacrifices just so they could have things their way.

Then I said that Sly and Doris needed to identify two or three assisted living places where they could live and get on the waiting lists. I also said they need to start interviewing and getting bids from one of those senior relocation services.

Primo didn't know what I was talking about, so I sent him some links. Then I texted a friend of mine who owns an estate sale business, which is related to senior relocation. I asked him what certifications and/or licensing I should look for in such a service - explained I wanted to find three solid services where Sly and Doris live so they could get estimates now and maybe start working now on clearing out some of the clutter.

They can afford this.

It is not Primo's job (he keeps saying he does not want this job, so I am offering him an out) to help his financially-able parents to get the junk out of their house.

My friend wrote back and told me he would have someone on his staff do the research for me and provide me with three good prospects.

I told Primo, who asked, "How come you're so resourceful while I'm all 'Woooooo!'"

I answered it was because I am not as close to the situation, but it's more that I refuse to let this crap drag on for months and months and months. This is not why I agreed to a sabbatical for Primo - he has spent five weeks now (it will be six when he returns next week) at Sly and Doris' in the past six months dealing with their issues, issues that could have been prevented if they had not dithered.

Primo asked, "What if I had still been working while all this was happening?"

I said, "Then they would have been forced to deal with their problems by themselves."

Yeah. I am not a nice person.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

In which Primo declines to assign blame

1. My sister is the only person I can tell the truth to. She is the only one I can admit things to about Sly and Doris.

2. Summary of conversation Primo and I have been having over the past three days:

Me: Has your dad admitted fault?

Primo: It's not about assigning blame right now.

Me: It is always about assigning blame with him and with you.

Primo: Right now, I just have to deal with the situation.

Me: You never want to just deal with the situation when it involves me. Has he admitted fault? It is his fault!

Primo: Even if he knows that, do you really think he would ever admit it?

Me: No.

Primo: He keeps claiming he doesn't remember anything about the fall.

Me: How convenient.

Primo: I think he knows and he will have to live with that knowledge the rest of his life.

3. Primo: I certainly can't be expected to look for a job under these circumstances.

Me: I not only looked for and found a job while my dad was dying, I moved halfway across the country. So. Yes. I certainly expect it.

Primo: This is different.

Me: Yes. My dad wasn't an asshole. Nobody got drunk and fell on my dad and put him in the hospital.

4. Primo: I think my mother might be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life and it's all my dad's fault.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

More stupid Sly stuff and Doris is still in the hospital

1. Did I tell you they thought Doris might have broken some vertebrae? As in, Sly might have broken her back?

Turns out there was no damage, but her knee is pretty bad. She is in the hospital and will go to a rehab center in a few days. Primo spent two days touring the places the hospital suggested and said that Doris agrees with his choices. (I am thinking she is not exactly in a position to be choosy, but whatever.)(If I were Doris, I would be so excited at the prospect of six weeks away from Sly and at the prospect of someone else preparing my food and maybe meeting some nice people and not being criticized all the time.)

2. Sly admitted to Primo that I am not, after all, a golddigger.

"But I am still that c*** who tries to steal your love from him, right?" I asked.

Primo laughed. "Yes."

3. Primo and Sly had to warn the hospital that alcohol withdrawal might be an issue with Doris. Hospital wanted Primo or Sly to spend the night in Doris' room after that announcement and Primo was all, "But why?"

I'm with Primo. My mom, my sister, and I took turns spending the night in the room with my dad when he was first in the hospital. Not comfortable - it was just in a chair - but my dad had gained about 40 lbs of water weight, we still didn't have a diagnosis, thanks to Christmas and an ice storm in Germany where his tests were done (he was medevaced from the base hospital in Sicily to the military hospital in Germany and then to the US), and my dad was in awful pain. We were all scared to death and so upset that we did not want my dad to be alone.

My dad was not going through alcohol withdrawal. Say what you want, but alcoholism is not a disease the way cancer is. If my dad could have stopped his cancer by not drinking, he would have. Anyone would.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I have run out of titles - but let me sum it up: Sly is a big fat jerk who severely injured his own wife because of his drunkeness

  • Primo

    Lots of bad news today. I will copy you on an email to the family.
  • Me

    Oh no. I was getting worried when I hadn't heard from you

  • Primo

    Perhaps I will sing the Song of Something Bad Happened while writing the email.
  • Primo

    I still haven't sent the email. It's really bad. The MRI revealed serious knee damage, and she may have a fractured vertebra (back X-rays were just taken today). She is looking at several weeks in a nursing/rehab facility.

    This is the crisis I've been afraid of.

    I am out looking at a couple of the rehab facilities.

In which Sly, the smartest man in the world, cannot figure out where any laundry but his goes

Message from Primo:
I just tried to put away several weeks' worth of laundry. My dad has been doing the laundry, but he doesn't know where to put the clean laundry (other than his own clothes).

Sunday, August 23, 2015

In which it gets even worse

  • Primo
    I don't know what to do. My dad doesn't want her to go to the ER.
  • Things are still awful this morning. She has to be lifted in and out of the potty chair (and my dad has been doing it, because I'm afraid to). She needs to be in the hospital.
  • Me
    Can you get her to her PCP today instead of tomorrow?
    It sure does sound like she should be in a rehab center
    They usually won't let you leave the hospital if you can't get to the bathroom by yourself, will they?
  • Primo
    We can barely get her in and out of a chair, the potty chair, and bed. There will be no way to get her in and out of a car.
    I think there may be no alternative to calling 911.
  • Me
    holy smoke
    I am sorry, sweetie
    this is an absolute nightmare
  • 4/14, 8:42am
    She hasn't been eating. She's not getting better.
  • Me
    oh no
    I know this is so hard for you
    and this is so unfair for your mom
    she does not deserve this
    I am really angry at your dad for doing this to her
  • 4/14, 8:44am
    When they told me that her knee was hurt and she couldn't walk, I assumed that she was climbing in and out of the chairs and her bed on her own (or with minimal help), but that is not the case.
  • 4/14, 8:45am
    yeah that's why I thought, too
    she sure isn't strong enough for crutches
  • 4/14, 8:45am
    Or a walker.
  • Me
    oh man
    that bad
    I don't know
    I don't know what to do
    she needs to be someplace where people can help her
  • 4/14, 8:46am
    I don't know what to do!
  • 4/14, 8:46am
    Would it be possible to talk to her doctor today?
    or do you think it would be useful to talk to a social worker at the hospital?
    I don't know how these thigns work 0=-
    just wondering where to find expertise
  • 4/14, 8:48am
    I'm afraid that there is nothing between calling her doctor to make an appointment and calling 911 to be transported to the ER.
    If we call her PCP's office, at best we'll talk to a nurse.
  • 4/14, 8:52am
    you know maybe 911 is the way to go
    this is really serious
    it is not a good option for your dad to lift her and carry her
    if she cannot move at all because of an injury
    she should be in rehab
    I vote for the ER
    and you know I don't treat the ER lightly
  • 4/14, 9:28am
    We already called 911 and she is on her way to the ER. There was no alternative.
    My dad talked to a nurse they know and she confirmed that.
    The paramedics were very gentle.
    I will head over to the hospital soon.
  • 4/14, 10:15am
    Yeah I don't know what else you could have done
    and frankly I am pissed at your dad for not doing this over the weekend
    Your poor mom
    she does not deserve this
  • 4/14, 10:22am
    I am at the ER with her now. She has a room and we are waiting for the doctor. She has an IV and seems more comfortable.
  • 4/14, 10:22am
    your poor mom
    this whole thing - I am so sad for her
    but glad you are there
    and making rational decisions
    and making things better for her
  • 4/14, 10:22am
    With this new knee problem, I'm afraid that she may not walk again.
  • 4/14, 10:22am
    she is lucky to have you
    that would be awful if she does not walk again
  • 4/14, 11:05am
    The ER doctor (a young woman) is very nice and seems genuinely concerned about her. She immediately suspected a possible broken hip or pelvis after a quick exam. We're waiting for pain meds, and then they will take some X-rays.
    The doctor seemed very unhappy after learning that (1) only the knee was X-rayed last week and (2) they sent her home right away after that..

    • 4/14, 11:07am
      a broken hip?
      this keeps getting worse
      and yes, it sounds like the ER did not do it right last week
      that didn't even occur to me
      but then, I am not a doctor
      it should have occurred to the ER people
    • 4/14, 11:08am
      A broken hip would make sense. She was in far worse shape than I expected (thinking that it was just a knee problem).
    • 4/14, 11:09am
      yeah, it all makes a lot more sense now
      but a broken hip is really bad
      especially with your mom's general health
    • 4/14, 11:25am
      Now I'm cranky and worried.
      And I'm probably going to end up with your cold.
      I didn't do it right by staying up all night.
    • 4/14, 11:27am
      I am sorry, sweetie
      is she at least feeling better?
    • 4/14, 11:28am
      Well, she just got morphine, so she will be.
    • 4/14, 11:29am
      she has suffered too much already
      this is so grossly unfair
      I just cannot stand it
    • 4/14, 11:30am
      It's really not fair.
      They should be taking her for X-rays soon. (The pain medication needed to come first.)
    • 4/14, 11:34am
      It is making me sick thinking of your mother there with a broken hip
      IN PAIN
      yes pain meds come first
      And Jack didn't even think that perhaps she needed medical attention?
      (I am at the 'assigning blame' stage)
    • 4/14, 12:33pm
      Jack only came by a couple of times (once with Pia) while she was sitting in the chair in the living room. He knew things were bad, but he didn't know how bad.
      We are waiting for the X-ray results now. She had some morphine before the X-rays, but it has already worn off.
    • 4/14, 12:34pm
      I hope they will give her more morphine
    • 4/14, 12:34pm
      They won't do anything else (including giving her some nutrition through the IV) yet.
    • 4/14, 12:35pm
      weird that it has worn off already
      it takes forever for vicodin to wear off for me
      I feel crummy for hours!
      (how were the sandwiches last night?)
      (and is your father expressing any remorse?)
    • 4/14, 12:37pm
      Well, it's worn off at least to some extent.
    • 4/14, 12:37pm
      people experience it differently
      and of course just because it affects me one way does not mean it will affect your mom the same way
    • 4/14, 12:38pm
      I didn't eat any sandwiches last night, but I brought one here and just ate it.
      Jack had brought some Greek food, so I finished that last night.
    • 4/14, 12:38pm
      I am glad you thought to bring lunch with you
    • 4/14, 12:38pm
      Remorse? No.
      He has been caring for her full-time since Friday, but I don't know whether he sees all of this as "his fault."
    • 4/14, 12:41pm
      and yet
      it is
    • Primo
    • They must have given her very little morphine. I don't think you or I can even understand her level of pain.
    • I've got news for you: I'm cranky.
    • 4/14, 12:42pm
      no I don't think so
      and that is why I am so horrified that she was with that pain
      since Friday
      and your dad did nothing
      You should be cranky
      this is so much worse than we imagined
    • 4/14, 12:42pm
      I think last Friday was the inflection point that I've been worried about. I think the two of them will never again live without help in that house.
    • 4/14, 12:43pm

      I don't think so either
      I did just a quick look about broken hips
    • 4/14, 12:43pm
      And I don't think they will be moving into the "independent living" section of any retirement community.
    • 4/14, 12:43pm
      your mom might need to be in rehab for weeks
    • 4/14, 12:43pm
      And she has no strength.
      Maybe a residential rehab facility is what she needs.
    • 4/14, 12:44pm
      based on my very limited knowledge
      that is what she needs
      she needs to heal
      without stress
      and in a place where they know how to take care of her
    • 4/14, 1:43pm
      The doctor could not see any fractures on the pelvic X-rays (and she reviewed the knee X-ray from last week). So now they've taken my mom for a CT scan.
      Even if no breaks or other serious physical problems are found, she'll be admitted because of dehydration. They had to use a catheter to get some urine, and her PCP will put in the order to admit her.
    • 4/14, 2:07pm
      Things move very slowly in the ER for someone whose condition is not really an emergency.
    • 4/14, 2:08pm
      OK. She for sure has not been eating properly
    • 4/14, 2:09pm
      I'm cranky.
      There's no good audience for my whining here.
    • 4/14, 2:10pm
      I am sorry
      What a crummy situation
      I am boiling mad at your father
      I am guessing there has been no discussion of next steps with your dad
    • 4/14, 2:16pm
      I talked to him for a short time last night.
      I think he knows that they need to move into assisted living.
      And I said that they need someone helping here, even if it's not Debbie.
    • 4/14, 2:16pm
      how did he respond?
    • Primo
      He was the first person to use the words "assisted living."
    • 4/14, 2:17pm
      that's good!
    • 4/14, 2:17pm
      Unless my mom improves miraculously, it is what they need.
      (And in the short term, I think she needs to go from the hospital into a skilled nursing/rehab facility.)
    • 4/14, 2:18pm
      it would be really nice if someone could take good care of your mom
      I don't think she has had that for a long time
      actually, she spent years taking care of your sister
      and then your dad retired but expected your mom to keep doing stuff
      she must be exhausted
    • 4/14, 2:23pm
      He is also exhausted.
      So I should just be here all the time, right?
    • 4/14, 2:24pm
      Yes, you should just move there
    • Primo
    • We are leaving the ER now and she is going to be admitted.
      More later.
    • 4/14, 2:29pm

    • 4/14, 3:11pm
      We are now in a temporary room in the "transitional admission unit." Everything is very slow.
    • 4/14, 3:55pm
      I'm cranky.
    • 4/14, 3:56pm
      I know sweetie
      I am sorry
    • 4/14, 4:08pm
      We have no idea how long it will be before she is transferred to a regular room.
      We have no idea when her doctor will be here. (Her PCP ordered the admission.)
      We have no idea what the results from the CT scan were.
      I'm starting to get very impatient.
      The nurse just came and said that she will be served dinner here. I don't think she'll want to eat.
      The nurse said that I could try to help her eat.
      I thought she was here to be helped by health care professionals, not so that I feel like I need to take care of her.
    • 4/14, 4:27pm
      Isn't that part of having someone be in the hospital? That you leave her to the pros?