Mom update
Summary to last weekend: Mother very sick, found unresponsive or nearly so twice. Insurance wouldn't pay for rehab unless it was long-term, which would mean having to go to a skilled nursing facility paid by Medicaid. Which also meant she wouldn't have income, so any such move would be permanent. So I invited her to stay with me for a few months, with the goal of regaining independent living ability, or if she didn't recover enough physically, to have time to find a decent place.

So, Sunday, she was discharged from the hospital, though she really wasn't physically ready. I had one condition: that she be able to use the bedside commode on her own. The nurses had her do this, once, then she was sent home with me. And she wasn't able to move from the couch AT ALL after this. It really wasn't working out. No one could move her, not the nurses or the PT.

It was already becoming clear she wasn't going to recover, and I was going to have to find some other living situation for her, sooner rather than later.

On Wednesday, her health took a severe turn for the worse. She became less and less responsive, and basically slept all day. I could only get her to wake up for 30 seconds to a minute. We had a few fairly upsetting conversations, where I would say she obviously wasn't well and I needed her to go to the hospital, and she would say, "You just don't want me here." And I would say, "I just can't take care of you like this."

She started to look the way we'd found her the previous two times, but I knew she hadn't OD'd. I'd been monitoring her meds very closely, and she hadn't taken half of what she was prescribed that day.

I finally did call an ambulance, and once she was in the ER, her blood pressure plummeted, and the nurses were asking me what her wishes were. I said she didn't want CPR, but she had been okay with intubation on her previous visit.

I heard them say she was septic, and had been on the 18th, as well. No one ever told us this.

When the doctor asked her if he could put a tube in her, she refused. So she became DNR, and the doctor said (kindly) that she might not survive this, and another doctor told me she could easily go into cardiac arrest overnight.

She did survive, just on fluids and antibiotics, and was taken to the ICU. By Thursday afternoon, she was still in critical condition, and my aunt and I were having conversations with the case worker about hospice care. This was what I was certain she wanted. She doesn't want her life extended just because; she would rather be comfortable. Shortly after that, we switched her to comfort care: meaning, no antibiotics or mask, just oxygen and painkillers.

It really wasn't a difficult decision. I knew that was what she preferred to being in a nursing home on a support system for the rest of her life.

Yesterday, she came back to full consciousness, and we had a lot of big conversations. DNR, if she wanted to continue comfort care, how she felt about hospice care. She did choose to continue comfort care and formally sign a DNR. She was placed in a skilled nursing facility, where she will receive hospice care. The facility is really, really nice, but quite far away. About half an hour drive, so that's unfortunate, but it's not far from my aunt's home. And if it doesn't work out, we can move her in the future.

So yeah, things have continued to happen very quickly. Head-spinning, really. I am very glad I had her come stay with me, because she knows we tried, and I know we tried. It just isn't an option now. She needs much more care than I or any home care team can provide.

A choice
Something I never thought I'd say. ..

My mother is going to move in with me for a few months.

I know, I know. I just couldn't think of a way for her to keep her apartment and income, and it seems so unfair that she has to make this choice -or have it made for her- just because her insurance doesn't cover short-term rehab.

So I'm clearing out my den, and getting it set up for her. She'll still have an aide and home OT and PT, and hopefully she will get stronger. I had a talk with her yesterday that end of January is a good goal date for her to be self-sufficient, and if she is not, that we'll have to look for other places for her to go.

I'm dreading some things, like her wanting to talk when I want quiet, or that she has her TV on all the time. But I'm also glad she has a chance to get better (if she can/chooses to) and that we won't be celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas in a nursing home.

Ob la dee ob la da
Thank you so much to those of you left comments and reached out after my last post. It meant a lot to me, and I'm sorry that I didn't respond individually. Things have just been happening so fast.

My mom can't go home without 24-hour care, so she needs to go to a rehab... BUT she doesn't qualify for rehab under her insurance, which will only pay for her go somewhere that she would be able to work for 3 to 4 hours. The social worker at the hospital doesn't think she's up for that, and neither do I. Unfortunately that means the only option is to switch her to long-term Medicaid, which means she would have to give up her apartment.

A permanent move to a nursing home. At 62. Because she is poor and I am barely making ends meet and government insurance for the poor is crap. (But still way better than it used to be, which is sad.)

Also, for a day or two we thought that she was going to be able to go to the place right behind my apartment, which is really nice. Seemed too good to be true, and of course it was. They don't accept long term Medicaid, and we are learning it is hard to find ANY place that does. (Even though 62% of nursing home residents are on long-term Medicaid.)

So everything continues to be really overwhelming and frustrating, and I'm just trying to take it in chewable bites. So much of it is out of our control. All of it, really. So I wake up and wait to find out what the next piece of bad news will be.

This is hard....
Things have been kind of difficult.


Short version: Mother found unresponsive a few weeks ago. I had been worried about a suicide attempt for a few days previous to this, and I still think it was, though she doesn’t remember much about those days and says she just took too many because she was in pain. (Interestingly, once she had detoxed from the opioids, she wasn’t in great pain.) She didn’t even remember having a fall, where 4 EMTs helped her back up. She was in the ICU, then Trauma Step-Down, then… home.


Which is ridiculous. The doctor knew she wasn’t ready, and so did everyone else. But she insisted. And I get it, to an extent. If she goes to rehab for a month, she loses her insurance and is switched to Medicaid. Then it would take her a year to get her “good” insurance back, which includes having an aide. But the conversation we had, while the doctor was there, was her insisting on going home, and I and the doctor agreeing it wasn’t safe, that she was a fall risk, that she wasn’t strong enough, and she would just end up back in the hospital. She insisted she would work hard (with PT at home) and get stronger.


Sunday I went to visit, and it was obvious she wasn’t going to get stronger. She was back to taking pills and sleeping all day.


Yesterday her aide called me and said there had been another fall, and she was sleeping all day. I went by after work, and could barely get her to wake up at all. It was just this side of calling 911. She asked what time it was, asked who I was (I got closer and she said, “Mary?”), and then went back to sleep.


Honestly, I’ve just been really angry. I know there are a lot of other emotions in there, but I am so mad at her for being stubborn and not getting the help she needs.


Her aide found her this morning similar to how I left her, except she had also thrown up. EMTs wanted to take her to the hospital, but she refused. I am at my wit’s end. I had to bite off saying, “Just let her die, that’s what she wants.”


But I’m doing the so-called Right Thing, and trying to get in touch with the medical social worker assigned to the case. (The doctor made it clear that if mom didn’t get better, the social worker would make the arrangements for rehab.) I will probably also have to start working toward getting Power of Attorney.


All this sucks so much.


If she had gone to rehab, she would still have a chance of living on her own. At this rate, she’s going to go straight to assisted living. I just want to scream.

So, New Zealand!
I don't think I have any New Zealanders on my friends list, though I used to know 3 back in my Tad Williams message board days. Now I only know Australians. *waves to the Australians*

So, I'm learning a lot about New Zealand. Like, I always thought it was really close to Australia. And I was excited when I decided to move to New Zealand, because I thought, I'll get to see my Australian friends, too, hooray!!!!

But, get this. At it's closest point, it's 900 miles away from Australia. That's a really long way! That's how far Wisconsin is from where I live now. I used to travel to Wisconsin, summers with my grandmother returning to the now-defunct family farm. Sure, it's a manageable flight, but it's not exactly the easy breezy weekend trip I had planned. I mean, right, I think about a little zip-over to Wisconsin all the time.

Then again, I guess New Zealand is as close to Australia as anything can be. Who puts continents all the way on the other side of the world, anyway? Not very efficient.

Also, I thought of New Zealand as a quiet little country. Maybe a cozy city or two about the size of my own Richmond, but lots and lots of towns and quaintness on the way to the majestic beauty of the wilder-than-wild wild. (Speaking of the wild, do you know one of my favorite things? There were so few ground predators that birds decided flying just wasn't worth it, so they evolved not flying. I just love that! It's so human of them. "Oh, well, it was just too much work to go off and see the great wide world. I'm just going to sit here and watch TV.")

ANYWAY. Point being that Auckland, the city I plan to move to... I pictured it quite small, like Richmond. Well, I actually wasn't too far off there. The Greater Auckland Area has a population of 1.2 million, and the Greater Richmond Area has about that,, too. But all the pictures of the city center show a bustling city. Richmond doesn't look that bustling. Maybe it's just because we don't have a marina. Not like theirs, anyway.

By the way, did I mention I've decided to move to New Zealand? I decided last week, and now I'm completely obsessed. You would think I was packing my bags and going next month, the way I've been talking non-stop about it. My brain thinks so, too. But I won't be able to go for 5 more years, when I'll be a legitimate occupational therapist and, therefore, actually have a job when I move. (One that doesn't involve cleaning hotels or watching children, you see.)

So this has taken a lot of pressure off my shoulders, really. Now I'm obsessing about things like how to get rid of everything I own and move around the world, how to get group fitness certifications that will allow me to teach at the local gyms (you know, where the Les Mills gods live), how to spend my minimum four weeks vacation per year (OMG I may never come home!!!!), and how to take my cats with me.

This is all five years off, but that's what I'm doing now. Instead of obsessing about the next year of getting prerequisites and volunteer hours and trying to get into the OT master's program (and what if they don't take me???!!!) - then 2 and a half more years of work. So I've stopped worrying about that. Now it's when I've graduated from grad school, as if it's a sure thing, written in stone.

And all I have to do is land my NZ job and buy a plane ticket! It's really much more fun to spend my days thinking about that. Sooooo much better for the soul.

So if you see me walking around with a giant smile on my face, that's why!

I'm moving to New Zealand.

It's astounding.
I cannot believe it's March. In a few hours, it's March.

Of 2011!

It makes no sense to me.

March of 2011. Just say that to yourself. Am I the only one having a hard time with this?


Happy Monday!

**My mother had an emergency surgery last week, and is doing pretty well. It's getting pretty hard to keep healthy boundaries with my family, but I'm getting back on track.

**I'm pretty sure I'm going to go back to school and work toward a master's in occupational therapy. There's a lot I find really exciting about this. I love all the job possibilities, all the ways this knowledge of the human body and mind can be applied. It's a lifetime worth of learning, and I'm excited that I've found a new love for science on this path of health and healing I've been walking the last few years.

**I am not sure how far to go with my Registered Yoga Teacher training. I hate to give up, but it's also sucking up money faster than I thought it would. A credit card I meant to be a back-up for the program expenses is already almost full. So I might have to take a longer view for the program after the upcoming month (which is already paid for). I am going to look for employment that pays me better, but even so, I need to stock away an emergency fund before I go back to school full-time. (Suze Orman says so.) So I am considering other things, too, like giving up my apartment (sob!) and finding some roommates to share a house.

It's a little overwhelming, but it's exciting, too. I can envision a whole new life for myself, and even as tough as things are economically, I feel really lucky to live in a country that affords me such freedom of possibility.

I was surprised by the replies I got to my last post, though I shouldn't have been - Lord knows I read Miss Manners enough. I was expecting people to defend themselves or their friends for the practice. I must emphasize I'm generally a fan of potlucks, and think they have their place, particularly in groups where someone's house has taken over what might have been the church hall function as a social gathering place in previous generations. I would just rather be asked than told. Yes, there is a difference.

Instead, I got, "Don't worry if you can't afford it, come anyway."

Whether I can afford it is beside the point. I don't avoid gift registeries because I'm too cheap to buy a gift. I avoid them because I don't like being told, "Buy this for me." I don't like having services or goods demanded of me for the privilege of attending an event, period.

From now on, I am on the record as a conscientious objector. I won't go to any parties that order guests to bring contributions, and I won't go to any event that has a registry listed in the invitation.

Why I haven't been to any parties this year.
Dear Friend X,

I am having a party! I'm honored to have you come and join me to celebrate. I am delighted to have you come over to my house and share your delightful company.

But please don't come unless you bring food, because I'll only take hostessing duties so far. We all know times are tough, and you don't expect me to make do with what I have, do you? And really, waiting for you to *offer* to bring something is so inefficient, don't you think? And so we can stay with efficiency, I've enclosed the three stores I'm registered at, so you won't go through the trouble of buying me something I don't like. And don't bother wrapping it, either, just hand it over.

In fact, let's just skip all of that, and you can mail me twenty bucks at your earliest convenience. I really understand if you can't make it to my party, but I know you'll be there in spirit! You are one of my dearest and closest friends, so I hope you don't doubt my sincerity.


the hostess of 2009

In the interest of full disclosureCollapse )

Next Saturday - April 4, at noon - at Gold's Gym Willow Lawn, a Les Mills Master Trainer (squee!) will visit us to lead us in a BodyVive class. (Check out video samples under "Programs" at Les

I think BodyVive is a really fun class. I'd describe it as upbeat cardio and strength training that you can tailor to your own fitness level. I enjoy it enough to think I'd love to teach it. So come, check it out, and let the management know if you think it would be a good addition to the schedule.

If you aren't a Gold's member, ask me about class passes.

See you there!


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