Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 13, 2013

Dear Tatum,

On the first full day of Grandma being home she went through five pairs of pants. She only went to the bathroom once without needing them to be changed and cleaned. I ran a load of laundry the first time, but smartened up and put the rest in the washer to soak until the end of the day. Incontinence is one thing, and diarrhea another, but when you put them together… it's worse. My anxiety about bringing her home was not without reason, but we made it through the day.

I worked in Grandma's garden in the morning, within shouting distance. The rest of the day was spent inside cooking, cleaning, and waiting for bowel movements. I used to think there was a pattern to them, like within an hour of eating, or something like that. But no, there is no pattern. Without going into too many details, the level of clean up makes me agree with the French Prairie that Grandma really does need constant care. It is just too much for her to handle. We talked about it and, thankfully, Grandma can see the sense in that. But she will forget she thought this way when she is feeling better. She goes back and forth between understanding her needs and thinking she's just fine on her own. She's struggling with losing her independence. 

We went to a gastroenterologist yesterday and made an appointment for a colonoscopy. Dr. Epstein would like to determine what the problem is to see if there is a solution. Even fixing one or the other--diarreah or incontinence--would be a big help. 

I've started organizing Grandma's bills so I can set up automatic and/or electronic bill pay. I now have power of attorney and my name has been added to her checking account. I've set up direct deposit for one set of checks but still need to do it for social security. There is a lot to do.

I talked to Rice and he says you've been to the lake a lot but will only sit in the water to cool off. I think you would like swimming if you gave it a try. I hope you're having fun at the lake!



Dr. Epstein

July 12, 2013

Dear Tatum,

Given that I arrived on the 4th of July and people were trying to enjoy their holiday, I was patient about breaking Grandma free from the French Prairie, but after the weekend I started working on formulating her escape. It was hard to know how to go about this; they would only give vague answers to my question of how long she would be there. I pushed a little harder after the weekend and the physical therapist scheduled a home visit so they could assess the safety of her home. Grandma came along and the PT made her go through the motions of how she moves around the house. In the end, I had to remove her shower door and replace it with a curtain, buy six wall grab bars, 2 toilet seat grab bars, a hand held shower, and a shower bench. I had to go to five stores to get everything. It took me two days to acquire and install them (mostly because I had to figure out how to install the grab bars where there were no studs. How have I managed so long without knowing this??). Grandma came home a week and a day after I arrived. 

I will admit: the more time I spent with Grandma at the French Prairie the more I could see how intense her needs were and the more nervous I got about bringing her home. But I also knew, despite the care she was getting, it was not a healthy place to be and she was definitely not happy or thriving there. 

In addition, Martha's outbursts were increasing and it was clear that her mental acuity was not intact. On the last day at the Prairie Martha was yelling, "Hello? Hello? Hello? Can anybody hear me? I know they're in the kitchen but I don't know why they won't answer me. If you don't answer me in the next 20 minutes I'm calling the police!" She had the phone in her hand. She was also swearing at the nurses and doctor's and wanting her own escape, but it was clear she was not in any shape to be on her own. 

We were glad to leave.



A sign (and garbage) left by a homeless man at the intersection of I-5 and 214.