No Rest For The Caregiver

After my mother-in-law refused to take her medicine today I called Hospice; the on-call nurse listened to how our days and night were. After listening carefully, and watching me break down multiple times, her response was to the point: “We have to get her sleeping at night and we need to get you some rest.”

Her solution was a completely different medicine at bed time, one which could be doubled if the first dose didn’t work.

The first sleeping pill was to be taken at 9:00pm, with a follow up pill at 10:00pm if needed. She insisted on taking her first one at 8:30. At 9:00pm she rang the bell and was concerned that I hadn’t given her the second pill yet. The more I explained how the whole thing was going down, she continued along the path of “But you told me that…” Then she fell asleep right after. She was out deeper than I had seen before. The house finally settled down, concerns about the ringing bell reduced. I checked on her every twenty minutes or so. Still out each time. At 10:00pm Hospice called to see how the medicine was working, so I gave her the report and said I was prepared to administer a second dose if required.

At 11:00pm I heard her making throat sounds (long story). I checked on her and she was up…and trying to get off the bed.

“Do you need something?” I asked.

“Check my legs for Pre-Caloidal.”

“Oh is there something wrong with your legs?” I asked. “They look the same.”

“I’m telling you what’s wrong. You need to be checking my legs for Pre-Caloidal.”

“I don’t know what those words mean,” I admitted. “I’ll put it on the list and have the nurse look at them tomorrow.”

“You’re not listening to me,” she replied. “You’re not looking.”

I sat down in the chair, clearly unable to resolve the conversation to anyone’s satisfaction.

“I need a tissue,” she then announced. To this point she had been using ordinary table napkins by choice to blow her nose, but now she was asking for something completely different. I had none.

“I don’t have any Kleenex,” I said. “So I’m going to the bathroom to get you some toilet paper. We used some like that yesterday.”

“Gawd you’re stupid,” she said.

“I’m not stupid,” I replied quietly. “I’m helping you.”

After bringing her tp to blow her nose, I asked if she needed help with anything else. “I can start by going to the bathroom.” We started the routine: hand-guided across the room to the walker at the door, then down the hall about 10 feet. Only this time she was barely moving; usually she can transport herself A to B, but it was clear she didn’t have the energy. I helped her through all steps of the process. The return trip went worse; she didn’t have the energy to push herself along with the walker, so I put my arms around her and walk/carried her back. She was like a rag doll once we got to the bed. A few pulled shoulder muscles later I had her in bed and sitting up while strapped to oxygen. The whole process of help, name-calling, then help again took about 40 minutes. It ended with a second dose of the medicine.

As I was writing this at 12:15am, she cried “Help! Help! Help!” from down the hall.

I walked in and she was about to get off the bed. “I need your help but I didn’t want to get up by myself,” she said. “I’m afraid I would fall.”

“What do you need to do?” I asked.

“I need to go home.”

“We are home,” I replied. “The kitties are here, Jack and David are here, and Sherry is here too. But they are all sleeping.”

“Help me get up,” she said. “Help me put on my shoes.”

“But we aren’t going anywhere,” I said.

“Do you mind??”

“Alright,” I replied. “Walk with me over to the chair and sit down while I find your shoes.” Once the shoes were on she was asleep again.

And I called Hospice once more.

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