I’m not having any trouble passing the time while hubby is gone. I never run out of things to do. I always have big plans but when it comes down to it, just surviving keeps me busy. I mean maintaining. I’ve noticed I have a way of being melodramatic when I write. Not to be outdone by my in person melodrama. 😀
I pretty much run a 1 person nursing home in our house. Hopefully, with more care and dignity than a real nursing home at a fraction of the price. In addition to the usual care, I’ve been doing my fair share of “doctoring” or “nursing” the past few weeks. We got home from our last vacation Friday June 24th. 2 days later, Mom got her first bedsore. Keep in mind she’s not bedridden. She doesn’t lay in bed and she can walk (slowly) but sits a lot. I get her up to go to the bathroom at intervals but she doesn’t move enough to get good circulation on her hind quarters. These are often called pressure sores from having pressure against the skin and it weakens over time. Well, hers was precipated by a bout of diarrhea where I may have cleaned her too vigorously. The skin of our butt cheeks is probably thinner than the cheeks on our faces. So it started out about the size of a thumbnail. I knew I had to nip it in the bud right away before it got worse or she got more of them. So I googled bedsores and was scared half to death. This happens to me every time I look something up on the Internet. There is so much bad information out there and worse case scenarios. Yet, I never learn to not look. Maybe it’s because I feel I have no one else to ask.
Since our last vacation, I no longer make her coffee. This is a woman who loved her coffee more than the average person. She had to have a cup every morning no matter what. She used to have some throughout the day and then dwindled it down to a just an additional half cup in the afternoon. Recently, she’d been drinking less and less of what I gave her. Then she started not drinking it at all. It would sit there with only one sip out of it. No matter how much I reminded her to drink or yelled at her to drink it, she wouldn’t. I would end up throwing it away every day. I would ask her why she didn’t like it anymore. She wouldn’t answer. It’s left up to my imagination why she won’t drink it. All I know is it’s not even an option for her anymore. She doesn’t ask for it, I don’t provide it. Wondering how I’ll use up the half full can of Maxwell House since neither hubby or I drink coffee….
I quit giving Mom a multi-vitamin every day. She wouldn’t swallow it and I’d have to yell at her to swallow the pill and she still wouldn’t. She’d just roll it around in her mouth and I’d have to have her spit it out and I’d throw it away. I took the last few that were left in the bottle and now I’m not taking a multi-vitamin either. I’m trying to tell if I feel any worse for not taking it. It’s really hard to tell.
I am doing more for her every day. Since I’ve never had kids, I picture what it’s like to have a toddler who can’t do things for themselves and you take over without thinking. Then each day, the toddler learns more and is able to do something today that they couldn’t do yesterday. They are feeling a bit more independence and the parent is feeling pride at the child’s achievement. In our case, I know each day Mom can do a little bit less.
Mom can no longer dry her hands. Or should I say, she does such a poor job, I end up having to dry them after she does it. So it’s easier for me to just dry them. Especially since she can’t turn towards the towel rack from the sink. I have to grab the towel off there and take each hand in the towel and dry it. It’s not the worst thing to have to do but it shows how she can do less every day.
I now pull her pants up and down as needed. When she tries to pull them up herself, they only go halfway and she’d just leave them that way. Same with taking them down. I’m still putting her in underpants with a pad, followed by a diaper (or adult underwear) and then her regular pair of pants.
There was lots of scare information about bed sores left untreated and turning into life threatening infections. There was talk of moving the person so they don’t sit in the same position all the time. I can see how that’s necessary (and easier) when they’re only laying in bed. But to sit, there’s really no other option but to sit on your butt. I made a point to put her up on pillows where she wasn’t sore. Luckily, she sleeps on her side (not the side that had the sore) so that gave it some rest. Right off the bat, I had started using Neosporin and a large bandaid. That didn’t do anything, in fact it was getting worse. From the size of one thumbnail, it had become 3 thumbnails in size. In such a short amount of time, it was panicing me. Reading some of the remedies online, one said to put honey on it. That it did wonders. All I could think of was the ants that would gravitate to it. Another internet source said to sprinkle Tumeric on it. I didn’t want to do any of these hair brained schemes until I’d talked to someone.
On Friday July 1st (the Friday of the long holiday weekend), I called our family doctor. Wouldn’t you know, he was out on medical leave indefinitely?! He’d been out for “some time” already and they had no idea when he’d be back. Knowing our doctor as I do, I had a sneaking suspicion that he wanted the summer off. I don’t fault him for it. Unfortunately, he had no one filling in for him. He now works in an urgent care type place associated with a hospital and people were filling in for him only as needed. They told me to leave a message and they would send it to him and call me back. I didn’t hear back so called about 4:15 pm and was told that he hadn’t even opened his messages. I ended up talking to a nurse. Can I say, I HATE NURSES. She asked a bunch of questions, I was basically asking if I should continue doing what I’d been doing for the bed sore or if there was some prescription medicine that would make it heal quicker. She said that my mom needed to be seen!! I needed to take her to the emergency room in the next day or two. That a bed sore can get serious very quickly. If you’ve ever been to the Emergency room of a hospital, it is MANY hours of waiting, no matter how much pain you’re in. It’s very frustrating. Knowing that Greg would be leaving in a little over a week just fueled my stress. If I had to take her in somewhere, it would be much easier to do it with his help. But taking her somewhere like that unnecessarily could be the worst thing. I was upset most of the holiday weekend.
I went back to the Internet and saw reviews for this cream called Emuaid. I’d never heard of it before but it cures all kinds of hard to heal wounds. It’s super expensive like $48 for 2 oz. But the jar will probably last a few (or several) years. Plus you can’t put a price on being healthy and peace of mind. When this first turned up, I had gone to Jewel Osco (our local grocery/pharmacy) and asked them what they recommend. They had NO CLUE. They couldn’t even steer me to the correct bandage. When I saw this Emuaid, it said that they now carried it at CVS pharmacy. Sat. July 2nd, Greg & I went over there and I asked the pharmacist. They don’t carry it, nor had they heard of it. They also were no help. Luckily. I have a big mouth. I will ask ANYONE and EVERYONE literally ANYTHING. I had seen online that another place nearby supposedly carried it. So while in the CVS parking lot, I called “The Way of Life Health Food Store” in Niles, IL. I asked if they carried that cream and they said yes and then I asked for directions.
Apparently, this place has been around for decades and I used to shop at JoAnn Fabrics (which is now out of business) right next door and didn’t notice the place. This time when we pulled up, there was a guy on his knees on the sidewalk, scraping gum off. That impressed me from the get-go. I told him he must be a new owner because he still cared. Turns out he’s not the owner at all but he’s pretty knowledgeable.
We left the store awhile later and $117 poorer. We got the Emuaid, as well as some mult-vitamins in LIQUID form. I never knew they came that way. So I’ve been mixing in a shot glass worth in Mom’s apple juice every morning. It smells bad the way vitamins do so I know I’d gag if I tried to drink it. Mom takes it and drinks it right down. I got some Himalayan Pink sea salt and some natural fiber comparable to Benefiber which I take twice daily. To a make a long story short (that ain’t ever going to happen!), the Emuaid did the trick! I started it Sunday morning July 3rd and put it on once a day. Sometimes more if the bandage came off and I had to replace it.
Then on Tues. July 5th, I got a phone call back from that nurse. She said she heard back from Dr. James and he wanted her to be taken in to either an emergency room or an urgent care place right away. She needed to have it scraped and a culture done and check for MRSA. In case you don’t know, that’s some hard to treat (sometimes fatal) bacterial staph infection. I can’t even tell you how this shook me up. I felt like we were on the road to recovery but didn’t want to take chances with her health. The nurse has no idea HOW HARD it would be to maneuver Mom over there and then get her up on a table and put her through all that. I texted Greg at work and he called me and we talked about it. All I know is that you can catch a ton of things FROM a hospital setting. Things you didn’t go in with. I would never forgive myself if I took her somewhere and she picked up something like MRSA and died from it!!!
So I used my own judgement and monitored it constantly. I made sure I kept it clean and dry which is nearly impossible with her incontinence. I noticed it getting better very slowly and as of a few days ago, it was COMPLETELY healed. Amen and Hallelujah! It just goes to show that listening to a doctor or nurse like it’s the gospel isn’t always right. They are covering their ass, trying to make sure they don’t get sued. I’m afraid there are a ton ofelderly or bedridden people out there dealing with this and getting back advice.
Mom doesn’t like to hold up a glass to drink. She wants me to do it. Today she fell asleep with a glass in her hand and dropped it and it broke on the carpet. I guess it’s my fault for not taking it away from her promptly.
I’m getting sick of writing about Alzheimers. I have to live it, I don’t want to think about it in my diown time. I have other things I want to write about in the coming week. We’ll see if I can manage it.
My dad’s Aunt Emma (he only had one aunt and she was ancient when I was born) used to always use the saying, “This Too Shall Pass”. No matter what happened. It takes many years of living to appreciate those old sayings. It never meant much to me until now. My interpretation of it is that no matter whether something is good or bad (but usually referring to bad), it will eventually come to an end. You can be content in knowing that pain and suffering will pass, loneliness and despair, grief and sorrow. They are not everlasting. Although even disappointment can feel deep and overwhelming at times. We tend to often forget that emotions are temporary and if we can remember that it will pass, it will see us through the hard times and keep hope running through our veins.