Day 131

Does anybody remember a five cent Coke?

I wish that the truck wasn’t parked in front of the wall painting, but it could be worse. At least the truck’s paint color matches the wall painting.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to go on anther field trip with my mother-in-law, Flo. I say fortunate because these trips are always a source of material for the blog. Anyway, Cindy asked me to pick Flo up at the nursing home and drive her to her apartment where the physical therapists would evaluate what she needed to work on before she came home. Of course I told Cindy I would, especially afer all she has done for me since I went to the hospital.

Cindy told me to pick up Flo between 1 and 1:30 p.m. She said that the physical therapist(s) would follow me to the apartment. Cindy recommended that I stop at the PT office and let them know that I was ready to pick up Flo. I asked Cindy if I needed to get the key to Flo’s apartment, but she said that Peggy, Flo’s neighbor and friend, would be there to let us in. So, following Cindy’s advice, I went to the PT office first. Their staff meeting was running a little late, but once they realized I was there, it broke up and I met a couple of the therapists. One of them told me what a delight it was to work with Flo, that she was such a nice, fun person. I thought it must be the meds.

We went to Flo’s room to get her, but she had just started a breathing treatment, so we had to wait for that to end. The therapists went back to their office and I waited with Flo. She was anxious to leave and started to take off the breathing mask, but then thought better of it and put it back on. She started talking to me while wearing the mask and I could not understand anything she said, so I just nodded sympathetically. When the nurse came back to end the treatment and to put Flo in the wheelchair, Flo nodded at the machine they used for the breathing treatment and told me to tell Cindy she wanted one of them for her apartment. I said that the machine was probably very expensive, but Flo dismissed my comment as if I was just making noise.

I went to pull my car up to the nearest door while the nurse went to fetch the two of the physical therapists, Cash and Amber(?). I’m not sure of the young woman’s name, but it did start with an A. They brought her to the car in a wheelchair and helped her into the car. Cash looked askance at the missing passenger side front bumper, and I volunteered that I could drive the car. So we set out with me leading the way. At one point I was making a right turn, and since that turn signal bulb was burned out I used the legal hand signal. When we were in Lafayette and approaching the apartment I told Flo she should call Peggy to let her know we were almost there. Flo told me that I could call Peggy. I pointed out that I didn’t know her phone number, so Flo mumbled something about she guessed she would call Peggy. She fumbled around with her cell phone long enough that we got to the apartment before any call was made. Luckily, Peggy was waiting at the apartment.

I got out of the car and the therapists got out of their car. Cash told me that my use of the hand signal threw him for a moment, but then remembered that he used them when riding his motor scooter in the Philippines. They opened the passenger door of my car to help Flo out, and she said to me, “Get your wheelchair for me.” I told her that I didn’t have a wheelchair, but that there was a walker in the back seat that she could use. She looked at me like I was crazy, but Amber told her that the walker was fine, it would help their evaluation. Flo made it to the apartment with the walker while Peggy scampered about like a happy puppy. Once inside the apartment Flo plopped into a chair. Cash noticed that in the apartment Flo had a 4 wheeled walker with a seat and asked her if she preferred using it. She told him yes. He said that it was a good idea because she could carry things on the seat.

After letting Flo rest a few minutes, they told her it was time to start doing things in the apartment for the evaluation. They asked her to start by going into the kitchen. That presented a problem because Flo couldn’t get up out of the chair. Peggy and Flo decided that the problem was that Peggy had moved the furniture and that a lower setting chair was the one Flo had been in. Amber reminded Flo to lock the brakes on the walker when she was trying to stand up. Flo demonstrated that she didn’t know how to lock the brakes, or even where the hand brakes were. So Cash and Amber helped Flo to her feet and had her go to the other chair, sit down, and then stand up. Flo did so, but it was a struggle for her. Amber reminded Flo to lock the brakes on the walker. From there she went into the kitchen.

Amber asked Flo if she did her own cooking. Flo said yes. They had her go to the refrigerator, open the door, and told her take out the whipped cream. She reached in and took out a sugar-free pudding cup. She wanted to open it, but Amber told her that it wasn’t necessary to do so. Flo looked sad. From there they told her to go to the stove and turn on one of the burners. Flo went to the stove and opened the door to the oven. Then Flo pointed out the microwave, so they asked her to open the door and reach into it. She opened the door and then started pushing buttons, pretty much at random, until the light came on. That seemed to please her, but she never reached into the microwave. While this was going on, Peggy switched the two chairs so that Flo could more easily stand after watching television.

From there they moved to the bedroom. Cash asked her to get into bed. She did, but rather than get in on the side closest to the door, she went around to the side nearer the wall. She had trouble getting the walker down that side because her oxygen machine was blocking her route, but she was determined to get into the bed on that side. She finally maneuvered her way into the bed, but only after Amber reminded her to lock the brakes on her walker. After letting her lie in bed a few moments, they had her get up and move to the bathroom. Amber reminded Flo to unlock the brakes on her walker.

Once in the bathroom Cash asked her to show them how she got into the chair in the bathtub. She kicked off her slippers and did so after Amber reminded her to lock the brakes on her walker. They had her stand up and move to the toilet. When she stood up she looked at Cash and told him to put her shoes on her feet. He just looked at her. Peggy had the insight to tell her that she needed to put her own shoes on. Flo sat back down, put her slippers on, stood up and moved to the toilet afer Amber reminded her to unlock the brakes on her walker. They had her stand up and move back to the living room after Amber reminded her to lock the brakes while attempting to stand.

When we got back to the living room, Flo went to the low sitting chair, unaware that Peggy had switched the position of it. Flo seemed to be the only one who couldn’t tell the difference in the chairs by looking at them. Rather than let her sit there, and then have to help her struggle to her feet, Amber and cash had her move to the other chair. Amber reminded Flo to lock the brakes on her walker.

Once Flo was settled, Cash told her he could not recommend that she return to her apartment yet. He cited the facts that she never locked or unlocked the brakes on her walker, even after the constant reminding; she almost tripped coming out of the bathroom, she did not demonstrate that she could carry food from the kitchen to the living room where she insisted she ate all of her meals, and that he was worried that she would fall again and that no one would find her for a period of time. Flo became upset and said she never locked the brakes on her walker (not a winning argument). She then went on to say that she would return to the nursing home, but would only stay one week and then she was leaving. She said she would never go back to the hospital, or to a nursing home. She then declared that her mother never went into a hospital or nursing home and she lived into her 90’s. That isn’t how I remember the few years I knew Gladys, but then, who am I?

Peggy asked if it would be better if they got a two bedroom apartment and lived together. Cash said that was a fine idea, but Amber said it would depend on how much time Peggy would spend with Flo during the day. Peggy said she would be there most of the time, because she wouldn’t leave grandma alone, she wouldn’t do that to her.

Cash told her that they would work with her through next Friday, and if she still insisted on leaving she could go on Saturday. He also said that they would send a physical therapist or an occupational therapist to her apartment for a short period of time to work with her there. He recommended that Flo get a Life Alert button because he fears she will fall again. With that, Cash and Amber left. I followed soon after, leaving Peggy and Flo together to catch up with each other.