And Back Up We Go

And Back Up We Go

Yesterday, the roller coaster dipped back up again, making me realize that this is going to be the norm for the foreseeable future- lots of ups and downs. My goal is to learn how to not let the downward drops take such a toll on me…not sure when I’ll figure that out, but I’ll keep trying.
I made time to get my hair cut and colored in the morning, something I had been putting off. With my conference next week, I decided it was time to take care of it, time to look for the ‘professional’ Denise that has to be ready and on in Baton Rouge soon. So much of my focus…okay, all of my focus, has been on Mom and her care. I’m beginning to trust that she is in good hands and that the need for all-out panic is over. If only I could tell my recurring nightmares that.

My wonderful hair stylist is a sweet and gentle soul, and I always enjoy our conversations. He had been following Mom’s adventures, and shared some interesting news with me. It seems that the real woman who was the basis of the character in Fannie Flagg’s book, ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ (which took place in and around Irondale, Alabama), lived in St. Martin’s in the Pines. How perfect is that? I hope and pray every day that it will work out for Mom to stay at St. Martin’s. She could be the next great character of the facility- I can just see it.

When I walked into Mom’s room, she had just returned from physical therapy. Her wonderful therapist, Alicia, was proud of her, telling me that they had gotten Mom to stand with the walker. As most of the cartilage is missing from her right hip, she won’t be running races anytime soon. We are just hoping that she will be able to do basic things like go to the restroom on her own, allowing her to regain some of her dignity. Each small step toward that goal is worth celebrating.
Mom’s breathing is still very short, even with all of the oxygen and breathing treatments she is having. I’m not sure what is going on with that, but it worries me. It doesn’t stop Mom from telling her stories, though, and anyone who walks in the room gets to be entertained for as long as they will stay…

“Neese, should I tell them them the underwear story?…” And off she goes, gesturing with her hands.
The TracFone that I got for her is upsetting her more than it is helping. She is still having a difficult time even answering it, and I look forward to when she is in the nursing home section so that we can get her a real phone. I wrote the numbers down for her regular calls so that she could ask one of the staff to dial for her when she wants. I had her use my phone to make short calls to a few family members, and loved watching her expressive face as she talked with them.

Another good thing from yesterday- Mom made her first friend, Ms. Powell, at lunch. They took Mom from therapy straight to the dining room, and she was excited to get to eat with other people and socialize for the first time since she came to St. Martin’s. Ms. Powell was a nurse back in the day, and Mom really seemed to like her. I got to meet her myself when I went to check out the regular Tuesday Bingo game in the activities room. Mom wasn’t quite up for playing just yet, but next week…look out.
Bingo in rehab was quite different from Princeton Towers. There were only three ladies playing, with caretaker companions sitting with two of them. The Bingo Lady, Susan, called out the numbers while holding up cards showing them as well. The prizes were different, too. Gone was the PineSol, paper towels, and peanut butter, replaced with jewelry. Mom was excited to hear that, as one of the things she loves most is playing with old costume jewelry. I missed the rowdiness of the packed out Bingo at Princeton Towers, and couldn’t help but think of Mom’s Bingo buddies.

Bingo at Princeton Towers...always an exciting time.
Bingo at Princeton Towers…always an exciting time.

Finally, a lady called out “Bingo!” Sure enough, it was Ms. Powell. She is a character, funny just like Mom. I introduced myself to her and she took my hand, telling me she enjoyed meeting my mother and looked forward to getting to know me. As I left to return to Mom’s room with the scoop, Ms. Powell said, “Tell her to come next time- we’ll be right here playing B-I-N-G-O!” We all laughed…I could see Mom and Ms. Powell being big buddies, and that made my heart happy.

And so, a better day. My friend John’s surgery was postponed until this morning, so I was able to spend the evening at home with Dan and the animals. Another much-needed pocket of time to recharge. Today will be devoted to Wayne and John this morning, and Mom this afternoon. I still have to organize tons of bank statements and other papers to take to the lawyer on Friday, in preparation for the Medicaid process.

Family time
Family time

The summer fireplace...peaceful.
The summer fireplace…peaceful.

There are many details to take care of before I leave on Tuesday for Baton Rouge…where I will also get to see my step-brother Andy for the first time in many, many years, and meet his lovely family. Such an emotionally packed summer this has been. Many challenges, but also, so many gifts. I love Hellen Keller’s quote, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Count me in on the daring adventure.

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