We say that a lot these days…It is what it is. Mostly in regards to my mother. We wish that our mother (in a nursing home) would get out of bed, into her wheelchair and enjoy life. It’s painful for her, we understand that. We wish we could take the pain away, but we can’t. As she has done less and less, finally to the point that she only gets out of bed for bath day, it is less likely that she will get out of that bed. Period.
Yesterday was no exception. She has been looking forward to her birthday (#77) for the last two months, planning what she wanted for her dinner (Chinese), wanting a peanut butter pie (which I happily made), then deciding that she wanted cake too (which we bought).
It seemed so important to make this birthday special for her. We don’t know what the next year will bring. Will she know us on her 78th birthday? (whispering — will she even be here?) I wanted to give her a good day. I wanted to forget about how she has been acting and how she has treated us, the aides, the nurses and social workers lately.
The plan was a double-header on Sunday. We would celebrate my nephew’s little boy’s 3rd birthday and then head over and celebrate Mom’s 77th. We reserved the Garden Room (a lounge with a table and chairs) so that we could have a real party. I had made the pie, bought cake and ice cream, had snacks and decorations ready to go.
Okay, so my mom cannot stand on her own anymore, even though she insists that she can (the last time we saw her try was in December…unsuccessfully). I must say here that she is constantly being offered physical therapy, which she constantly refuses. There are two devices that they use to help her. She prefers the lift where she is putting some weight on her legs with support and they can pivot her over to her wheelchair. The other is a hoist that, with a sling under her bottom and around her back, they can lift her and lower her into her wheelchair. The hoist terrifies her (understandably) and it causes her pain, but it is do-able. They have used it before. They wouldn’t normally use the lift on someone like my mother. She is very heavy with very weak muscles in her legs (from non-use). But she refuses to use the hoist. So, once a week, on bath day, when the head nurse is in and there is extra help, they use the lift. We didn’t know until yesterday that they have to specifically have permission from the head nurse to use the lift. It was Sunday and the head nurse wasn’t in. We understand the reasoning. There are liability issues. It has been allowed on bath day because this is the only way she allows them to get her up. Otherwise, she refuses her bath…
And so the nine of us partied in her room. It was a much scaled-down version of what I had planned, but it worked. She complained that we must have told the Chinese restaurant to make her Szechuan Chicken spicier than usual (no we didn’t). My sister gave her special chocolates as a gift, I gave her several little snack bags of crackers and a couple of other little things, my daughter gave her her favorite heart-shaped brownies with a glaze, which she loves (she complained, on Mother’s Day that Jamie didn’t make them for her) (we are quite limited as to what we can give her and she has at least 30 nightgowns!) and she complained that no one gave her mints (which she told us a couple of weeks ago to quit giving her as it makes her blood sugar go too high). Now, it was a little risky giving her all the sweets we did give her. She is diabetic, but if she doesn’t eat them all at once she is okay. Hopefully, she didn’t eat everything after we left. Lastly, she complained that we didn’t get her a cell phone. We have discussed this. She has a phone there, but she is constantly pulling on the cord and keeps pulling it out of the wall. She doesn’t understand that she has to plug a cell phone in to charge it and, if it pre-paid, she may be limited to how many minutes she can use per month.
I know I’m rambling here, but I wanted to give her a happy day that she would enjoy and I failed. My brother said that it is what it is. She doesn’t want to try to get better and we have to just accept it. This is her choice. As difficult as it would be, she would have to choose to work through the pain and, in the end, would be able to walk again. He’s right.
I came home and had a bit of a cry…