Monday, April 21, 2008

An Update

I do not wish to repeat this weekend. Ever. It has been one long, draining, depressing, stressful event after another.

So much has happened that I can't possibly recount all of the events. All I can say is that admitting my dad to the nursing home on Friday night was both easier and more difficult than I had imagined.

Dad was in a great mood and he was so sweet and happy with everyone. He was walking up to all of the residents telling them what a lovely place they have and how wonderful it is. A woman was sitting in her wheelchair in the hallway holding a baby doll and dad walked right up and oohed and aahed over it like it was a real baby. The lady just beamed at dad. He walked up to another woman who was whimpering in her wheelchair and said, "You'll be okay. You are doing just great! You have a beautiful smile, you know that?" He was his typical loving, caring self, still taking care of those who could not care for themselves, even though he was now one of those people.

As we walked around the halls my mom and I both commented on how my dad seemed to think it was his job to help these people, and it made him so happy to do so. He kept saying how the home was "heaven". And sure, it was in a beautiful area on a hill surrounded by woods, and it was definitely the nicest nursing home I've seen, but I wouldn't call it heaven.

And while this was all a blessing for my mom and I to see we also knew that he would not always be this easy-going. Regardless, this was where dad needed to be. His happy, loving attitude just made it a bit less stressful on my mom and I.

The difficult part was that it was after normal admittance hours and so we really didn't have any help or instructions on anything. No one gave us a tour. We sat around and waited for almost an hour to sign a few papers, and that was about it. Mom and I were at a loss for what to do when we had to leave. I had to flag some nurses down and practically beg them to take my dad and show him around while we left. Because most of the nurses were very busy starting the nighttime routines of baths and medications no one could really help us. A nurse walked with us down the hallway to one of the many television/social areas and introduced him to a few residence there and then walked away. My mom and I helped my dad sit in a recliner, gave him hugs, told him a nurse would be by to show him around in just a bit and that we would be back very soon. He seemed confused, but gave us hugs and smiled. As we walked down the hallway I turned around to wave and he turned around to watch and as he said, "Bye!" it looked like he was starting to cry. I had all I could do to keep my feet walking toward the elevator. I could barely hold in the sob that was stuck inside of my throat for so long, but I had to be strong for my mom.

Mom could not get over how well dad was taking it. We both just kept reassuring each other that this was the right decision for the entire half hour ride home. The minute I got out of the car, and my back was to my mom, I started sobbing. I don't think I stopped crying for a few hours.

That night after being up with Tommy for an hour and a half in the middle of the night because of his stinking cold the phone rang at 4:30 A.M. It was the nursing home. Dad hadn't slept all night and was wandering the halls, walking into people's rooms, and was being so combative that they couldn't manage him anymore. They had tried calling my mom at home, but got no answer so they called us. My husband told them that we know he gets like that and that is why he is at the nursing home in the first place. We were counting on their expertise to decide what to do. They decided he had to go to the psych ward at the hospital to have his medication modified. He definitely needed some sedatives, at the very least.

Thank God for my husband, because after a few hours of being pleasant at the hospital the docs were going to release my dad. To whom we don't know. The nursing home wouldn't take him if he was combative (and they hadn't adjusted his meds yet) and if a nursing home full of special Alzheimer's care nurses couldn't handle my dad how was my mom supposed to? My husband was on the phone for about 6 hours on Saturday trying to get the hospital to put my dad on a Chapter 55 hold (a psych hold by doctors orders). It seemed like no one knew what the hell they were doing because everyone had a reason why they couldn't do that. Finally, my hubby (God bless his brilliant legal mind and his ability to get people to do what he wants) convinced the doctors that dad needed to stay in the hospital but by that point the psych ward didn't have anymore beds. It was one thing after another, I tell you!

The hospital realized they had screwed up and decided to have a nurse or security guard sit with my dad the entire time he was in the hospital to make sure he didn't try to escape or get violent. They adjusted his medication and it seemed to be working much better. Dad was compliant and sweet again.

This morning dad was going to be released back to the nursing home when all of a sudden he became combative and unmanageable again. No one could control him. They decided to FINALLY admit him to the psych ward on a Chapter 55 (like we had been asking for all along) to keep adjusting his medication until they got it right.

To think that my mother tried to take care of my dad like this for so many years, and without any sedatives, is insane. A whole nursing staff couldn't handle him, and this is what mom has been dealing with.

All that had happened verified that dad is in the right place for him. My mom is at peace with her decision and she can't believe what life is like now. She walked out into her backyard and couldn't believe she could just sit and drink her tea. She didn't have to worry about dad having a fit. She didn't have to worry about him escaping. She didn't have to worry about where he was, what he was doing, how she was going to get him to the next doctor appointment, get him to eat, get him to bed, keep him in the house. She was just overwhelmed with peace. She even said, "Experiencing life like this almost makes me want to live longer." That statement struck me so. Life was so difficult for mom for so long that she did not care if she lived or died. That pretty much says it all.

And my dear, sweet husband. I don't know what my family would do without that man. And I don't know what families do when they don't have a brilliant lawyer (and jack-of-all-trades) in the family. I guess they're screwed. Screwed by a system that makes it near impossible to take care of someone who needs help.
So anyway. This post has gotten out of control. I meant for it to be a small update, but I obviously don't know when to stop. So much has happened in just a few days that, believe it or not, this really is the abridged version.

Also, I'm sorry for being absent the last few days. Todd and I have now caught the boys' colds so we are trying to lay low for a while. I promise I will be around to your blogs soon.

Most of all, thank you all for your prayers, kind words, and well wishes. I really see God working in our lives, and this whole situation, and I am so grateful.


Homegrown Tribe said...

Thanks for sharing your story... I can not even imagine going through this but it's so possible for many of us in the years to come. I hope this journey is as sweet as it can be.

We're all thinking of you.


david mcmahon said...


I can so identify with this post. My mother, the rock of my childhood and adolescence, developed Alzheimer's and it slowly eroded everything she had been defined by.

God bless you and all in your family ....

Ashley said...

Oh honey wow. I wish I could reach over and give you a hug. *HUGS* ;) You are in our prayers!

Kristen said...

Oh my. My heart aches for you and your family.

But, know that you did what was right for all involved. I hope that in the next couple of days, your family will be all better, your mom will continue to enjoy her peace, and your dad will be comfortable in a place that can handle him.

I am still praying for you and your family.

Thanks for sharing your story, and letting strangers send you hugs across the miles!


Kristen said...

Oh my. My heart aches for you and your family.

But, know that you did what was right for all involved. I hope that in the next couple of days, your family will be all better, your mom will continue to enjoy her peace, and your dad will be comfortable in a place that can handle him.

I am still praying for you and your family.

Thanks for sharing your story, and letting strangers send you hugs across the miles!


lime said...

my goodness, what a swirl of emotions in so many extremes. i am so glad for the grace that god continually confirms this was a good decision, so glad your husband is able to provide such practical support when it is most needed. i'm awfully sorry for the fight your mother has so quietly endured but glad she feels some hope. alzheimers really is a cruel disease. i've watched it rob family members of their personalities and memories. peace to you all.

painted maypole said...

many. many hugs and prayers for all of you. how difficult. you are handling it with grace and determination to do what is right for your parents and yourself. the right decision is rarely easy. this was very touching, and a rare insight into what it's like to LEAVE someone in a nursing home.

the dragonfly said...

I don't know what to say.

You have a strong family, I am overwhelmed.

Putting the FUN in DysFUNctional said...

My heart is aching for you right now.
I'm glad that you had a resolution of sorts, and I hope with the right medication, he can settle down and enjoy the nursing home.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my gosh, Kathryn, again, I'm over here crying (again) on so many levels. That your dad is that sweet trying to take care of others, that you all had to make this toughest ever decision, that your mom finally has some peace (bless her heart), that you have such a wonderful and strong husband to lean on for support and to get things done, all of it just makes me want to give you all a great big hug.

Ours was a different but similarly frustrating situation when my mom went for just a few days into a nursing home for supposed "respite care" to give us all a break from caregiving, and the facility turned out to be so ill-equipped for her specific needs (almost complete paralyzation) that it devolved into one fiasco after another, ending with nothing even approaching a sense of "respite."

As I said, ours was a different situation, and I share that only because I can relate to the frustration on top of already very emotionally charged situations, and I do hope that the hospital gets your dad's medicine figured out so that everyone, including your dad, can have a little more peace, which I'm sure was the whole intention.

You will all remain in my thoughts. I, too, admire your family's strength.

Kelly said...

Your post just broke my heart. Nursing homes here are overcrowded and understaffed and I assume it's like that a lot of places. I'm glad you ultimately got him where he needed to be to get his meds adjusted but what a hard road! And to think of your poor mom having to deal with that day in and day's such a dreadful disease. I hope things go much more smoothly here on out. Get to feeling better too!!

CC said...

Wow. Wow. Wow. What a trip of emotions and events you've been through. I do not envy you right now. We have tried to get my dad into some kind of supportive living facility, but he will have none of it at this time, and is mentally able to make those decisions.

Mom24 said...

I am so sorry for the pain that you are in. Isn't it amazing how our pain is magnified when you have to fight the "system" also? I wish peace for you and your mom and dad. Also, get well soon. My DH and I have been sick for a week, and it is VERY OLD!

Laski said...

Kathryn . . . I am thinking of you, your mom, your dad, your entire family. You have a lot of support. I know this was hard for your mom, but I am so happy to hear that she is at peace with her decision.

Alzheimer's is such a challenge to any family--you are fortunate to have each other.

Stay strong and know that there are clearly many of us out here who are there for you.

Love and prayers . . .

Tonya said...

I tried to comment on the other post but blogger won't let me. I just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you and your family and praying everything gets worked out and runs smoothly with your dad.

Anonymous said...

Oh, K. I am so overwhelmed. So, I know you must feel this 100 fold. And, your mother's statement certainly makes you realize it was the right decision.

dawn klinge said...

I can't even imagine how hard this must have been for you and your family. It's heartbreaking to read about yet the very evident love in your family is so inspiring. (hugs)

just jamie said...

Oh Kathryn, I'm so sorry for the challenges in front of you today. Fortunately, it sounds like many more are behind you (and your Mom) as well. Please know you and your family are in my thoughts.

I feel selfish when I complain to the world for the mundane challenges, when I know there are people with more pressing concerns.

Keep going. we're here. And feel better soon.

krissy said...

Oh sweet Jesus! I cannot stop the tears. I remember my Great Grandma...running away. Running from us, running from the nurses, running from her self. It breaks my heart!

I can actually feel that sob in your throat!

You are a strong women, and your mother, bless her soul, is living again as well. I'm sorry that your dad is suffering from this. I'm sorry that you are all suffering.

Ya know what? Give your hubby a hug for me. I think he deserves it and if he was near, I would hug him myself. Just knowing that he is taking care of you and your family, makes me smile!

I'm only a few states away! I can always drive all night to see you!

Jeni said...

It will be two years this August since my cousin, who has power of attorney for our aunt, had to have her and her daughter too(daughter is severely mentally & physically challenged) placed in a nursing home. He later told me bits and pieces of that day in which our aunt, normally a sweet, docile, little lady, swore at him and those helping him remove her from their home, even that she spit on him and the social workers too. It took many months before she seemed to have forgiven him at least a little for what steps he'd taken - all of which were for her own well being as well as her daughters. It also reminds me of my grandfather who used to run away from my Mom and Grandmother. The night he fell down the stairs which resulted in his getting pneumonia and then death, was the first night my Mom said she had fallen so soundly asleep that she didn't hear him moving around and wake up. Put her on a terrible guilt trip that she felt responsible for his fall. It is so sad, so difficult, to see our loved ones in this position. So hard to remove them to a home even though you realize too that it has to be this way. God go with you as you work through this development and hopefully, they will find meds that will help him to cope as well. Peace.

Anonymous said...

You and your family are in my heart and prayers.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading your post today. You are incredibly brave and your mum is too but you all deserve a peaceful and happy life. You dad is indeed in the right place, so long as they are capable of looking after his needs. It's scandalous that people who are supposed to be experts in one area can so easily turn their backs on someone like they did your dad. I would have been furious.

My late father-in-law went into a home in March of last year after it became obvious that he could no longer live without 24hr nursing care. He was only there for 6 weeks before he passed but apart from his last few days, he was well looked after and the staff did appear to genuinely care for him.

Take care,
Crystal xx

mrsnesbitt said...

I am here via David, sharing post of the day with you. What an absolute honour. I read this post withh tears in my eyes.
I identified so much with elements of your post, the role of a strong supportive husband midst a family crisis.
Sending you hugs,

Hilary said...

It's a horrible and cruel disease. I wish your family the strength from which to draw as needed.

Here on David's wise suggestion.

RiverPoet said...

Oh my goodness, yes, you are very lucky to have your husband to help your family handle all of this. My mom was in assisted living and then a nursing home for the last 6 years of her life. My older sister handled most of the legalities (which is the way she wanted it) and I know that her plate was always full. Trying to see that your loved one is adequately cared for is just the hardest thing in the world. And you would think that the medical staff and caregivers would be better able to negotiate the process! I don't understand the complete and utter incompetence.

God bless you and your family. I hope that your father is soon stable again.

David sent me...

Peace - D

suchsimplepleasures said...

i am so so so sorry that you and your family are going through this. i just want to let you know that i'm thinking of you and yours!

High Heeled Mama said...

What a difficult time - you are very strong to share your experiences. Thank you for doing so.

My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

Oh K, my heart just sinks for you. Take comfort in knowing you did the right thing and in time you will adjust some. Sending thoughts, hugs and many prayers your way my friend.

Julie Pippert said...


Oh sweetie my heart ached for you and your family, reading this.

It is right, but that doesn't make it easy.

Hang in there and know you have people wishing you well and caring.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry it was such a miserable weekend, but I'm glad to hear things are finally being sorted out. Your mother is an amazing woman or handling all of this on her own for so long.

I hope you get over your cold soon!

imbeingheldhostage said...

God Bless you and your family Kathryn. I was a blubbering mess before you even made it inside of the building. You have touched my life with the candid glimpses of yours and I want you to know that someone way over here cares for someone way over there!

Lisa said...

Sweet Kathryn,
I'm so sorry that you're having to endure this whole ordeal. I've been praying for you & your family, and will continue to do so. I pray that the hardest part is over, and that you, your Mom, and the rest of your family continue to feel at peace with the decisions you have made. It sounds like your dad is getting the help he so desperately needs!!!

Amy said...

Hi Kathryn! It's taken me a while to catch up on all my blog reading, and WOW have you been through a lot lately! Hopefully everything gets worked out with your dad soon! You and your family are in my prayers.

Unknown said...

Continued prayers for you and your family. I can only imagine what it felt like to walk away from your father. But, as you said, it's the best for everyone especially your saintly mother. Take care and get well...

Laura said...

Sending you lots of hugs, prayers and strength...however tough this journey is right now, know that you and your family have done the right will find a new normal for you all...and you will soon start having more ups than me...believe in yourself, your mom, your dad, God and in the love you all share.

Kellan said...

I'm so sorry you all are going through this difficult time, but so relieved that you seem to have found a good place to take care of your father and worked out some of the problems. So glad you have a wonderful husband to help you with all these serious issues. I will keep you Dad and mother in my prayers - and you are also in my prayers, Kathryn, as I know how difficult this must be for you. Take care and get well - Kellan

Momisodes said...

Oh Kathryn, I am so sorry. I was crying along while reading this post. What a difficult time this is for you and your family. I'm so glad you all have each other to get each other through this. Your hubby with his expertise, and you standing my your mom. Your father and your family are in my thoughts. *hugs* and feel better soon.

Bren said...

Sending my prayers to you and your family. May you all find comfort and peace in knowing your dad is where he needs to be.

Rose said...

What a weekend you have had, how heartbreaking. I'm so glad that God has given you and your mom some peace in these very difficult decisions.

Your family is in my continued prayer.

Cath said...

This is one of the most heart rending posts I have read. As a (UK) psych nurse of many years who sees it from the "other side" and deals with patients, relatives and the "system" every day, I am grieving for you. I see this all too often, but to hear it in your (written)voice whilst I am sat in my home, thinking of my own, I am crying. How anyone is meant to cope with this I do not know. And it is no different in the UK. There are real success stories of admissions and support, but too often there are stories like yours and worse.

I can only empathise with that feeling you had when you left your dad at the home and had to keep walking, knowing it was right but feeling so powerless and having to let go when you didn't want to. I've done that in a different situation, and can only liken it to leaving your child at school for the first time, or camp, or hospital etc.

I came over from David's but have been before. My prayers and thoughts are with you and I am truly grateful for your husband's level head and common sense, as I am sure you are. Bless you all.

Danielle said...

I am glad your mom is getting to relax now. We have Alzheimer's all over my husband's side of the family (both sides) and have so many similar stories.

keeping you guys in my thoughts.

Neva said...

Until you have walked this one knows the guilt one feels...even if it IS the right choice. My 93 neighbor was just admitted a few weeks ago and I had to take her as my friend, her daughter, was not only not around BUT OUT OF THE COUNTRY and the caregiver she had -just walked out on her(now THERE'S a blog I could rant about)....(problems in her own life).... She is happily adjusting and is the social butterfly...It is like groundhog's day every day for her and it is quite a break for my friend who has had her live with her for the past 10 years. Give your mom a hug and I am so glad she gets to experience life without so much stress. Hope you are feeling over visiting from Mrs. Nesbitt's place, BTW.

Gene Bach said...

I do not envy your position at all. I hope they get your dad's eds adjusted corectly and things work out for everyone.

Natalie said...

Oh wow. Thanks for this post! We have been dealing with this kind of thing with my grandpa and are in the process of making simular decisions. I somehow feel encouraged.... thanks!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Kathryn, I am just getting caught up on my reading and sobbed through this.

My heart breaks for your whole family, but you guys have made the right decision. Your mom's comment was so powerful. Just to know she can enjoy her days must be such a blessing.

Alzheimer's is so cruel. Your dad will be in my prayers.

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson