Monday, September 23, 2013

Oh Franny

This pic of Franny was taken at a family reunion a few year back. Deaf as a post but sharp  as a tack. I've only known her a little over ten years and witnessed her battle and overcome open heart surgery,  a botched catheter resulting in a two month stay in rehab, falls and other medical issues. When she went to rehab the doctors said she would never go home again. She showed them! She returned to her tidy little house and maintained for a while. When her doctor said she had kidney failure and needed dialysis several times a week, she declined. She was tired of the doctors and tired of tests, poking and prodding. She went on for a while then suffered a fall. Not good when you  are in your eighties. Believe it or not she survived that and kept on living in her little house, on her own. She now has 70% kidney failure and that ain't good. It affects everything else including circulation. So  they dismissed her to a hospice to die.

Well she didn't and hasn't so guess the doctors shrugged their shoulders after she didn't decline rapidly enough for their prognosis and moved her back to the nursing home.

The nursing home is about a hundred yards down the road from the hospice. Zach and I went to visit her this morning. I had a ton of things to do today before work but you gotta have priorities.

If I make it to over eighty and stuck in a nursing home staring at a wall and  the reason my relative didn't come visit was because they had to cut their grass, I'd be pissed, so off I went. I was impressed  that my younger son still went with me. He said he would last night but when you are twenty one you renege on a lot of promises. (been there done that)

We stopped to get Frances a milkshake before we got there and as we pulled in , Zach said dryly "DON'T get chocolate."  (read previous post)

It's easy  to miss the entrance because it sneaks up on you but now that she has been moved to the nursing home told Zach  to keep his eye out for the hospice so I would know when to slow down for the nursing home. He said he saw it , I slowed down and we turned in  the next  driveway for the nursing home. Zach looked back at  the hospice entrance behind us and commented "Guess they just pushed her over her in a wheel chair." I'm sure they didn't although  they could have but then couldn't have tacked on a three hundred dollar ambulance ride.

We found her room after asking at  the front desk. They have little pictures of who is in the room by  their door. Franny's room mate's picture wasn't too bad but Franny's was awful. They took it the day she moved in or shortly after and was in a hospital gown.  It didn't help her eyes were shut. We peeked into the room and they had the curtain drawn around her bed and could hear  the staff talking to her so we backed out to wait in the hall while they finished assisting her. It was almost noon and lunch trays were rolling down the halls.  Zach glanced at the picture of Frances by  her door once again, shook his head and said it looked like a mug shot.

We waited out in the hall for a while. A woman came by  with her lunch tray and stood to wait beside us. She finally went inside and came back out again with  the tray saying they were changing and getting her settled.

Zach told the woman he would be glad to hold the lunch tray and she quickly took him up on the offer.  We sat her milkshake on the tray and continued to wait while the more mobile old peeps wandered up and down the halls in their wheel chairs propelling themselves along with their feet. I told Zach  they must have tremendously strong calf muscles. We spoke to each and every one of them. Some spoke back, some smiled, some ignored us and some looked at us like "Get me out of here."

Don't get me wrong, it is a clean and well run facility...but it's still a nursing home.

After thirty minutes we went in to see Frances with Zach carrying her lunch tray and her strawberry milkshake.

Here's the thing. With her kidney's failing along with her circulation she has developed horrible (and I mean horrible) dark bruising on the back of her calves, one is even starting to bleed. They are extremely painful and there isn't much  the facility can do other than dressing the wounds and giving her pain meds. They were applying ointment to them when we went in (she was in a wheel chair) she was telling the aides "DON'T TOUCH THEM, THEY HURT."

I glanced over at  Zach and saw his eyes were brimming with tears. He held them back but could tell he was shocked. We were both behind her and since she can't hear leaned over the front of her wheel chair, kissed her cheek and pointed behind me to Zach. Her heart has taken a beating, her body  even more. She can't hear squat but her mind is still there. She smiled up at Zach with her tiny little teeth.

It hurt her when they dressed her leg wounds but once they left we rolled her tray over her lap to let her have lunch. Zach was rolling the tray forward when Franny shouted out, "YOU'RE ON MY TOE!" Zach was mortified, looked down and saw he was nowhere near her little feet. Franny looked up at him , squinted and smiled!

How this woman still has her sense of humor amazes me. She was thrilled about the milkshake, not so much about the lunch. We write notes to her on these little dry erase boards Cin and I bought her after one of her nephews bought her one. With Frances, you need at least three boards in the room at a time. She said she wasn't hungry, her legs were hurting and just wished they would leave her alone.

This time Zach and I both teared up. I got her to eat a few bites of corn and a tiny piece of something that resembled a Mac-rib. By this time another aide came in and asked me  to write that she had some pain meds for her legs.

I was sitting by  Frances smoothing back her full head of soft gray hair when Zach picked up  the dry erase board  and wrote "You have more hair than my Mom." She smiled, it filled my heart and I think Zach's too.

She barely ate but had a bit of the milkshake and just seemed relieved they were leaving her alone for a while.

Zach wrote  a couple more notes to her, some with  eyes brimming. He even wrote he loved her.  She told us the wheelchair was the most uncomfortable chair she had ever sat in. It didn't have  foot pedals attached so her feet, attached to her excruciating legs were simply dangling. An aide came in and found the foot pedals in a closet and said she would have someone come attach them to give her legs some comfort.

The aide had been gone from the room for five seconds when Zach  went over to her closet, pulled out the pedals and attached them both so when she was in her wheelchair could prop her tiny feet up.

We sat with her as the pain meds finally kicked in. I wrote to her and asked if she wanted to be in her bed? She squinted up and nodded. I went out in the hall , stopped the first employee I saw and told her my cousin wanted to get into her bed. They came in and helped her into bed. We stayed til she drifted off, both of us now with tears in our eyes.

I told Zach as we were leaving her room to promise they (my kids) would never put me in a nursing home . He looked at me and asked, do you want me to murder you? I said "Yes and thank you." He replied that didn't work out too well for Dr. Death, aka Dr. Kevorkian.

The thing is Frances has no immediate family members here in Georgia. The only immediate family she has left are two nieces and a nephew. They live in Texas, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

So we are all Franny has left locally. I totally understand that her nieces and nephew can't drop everything and be here twenty four seven. Even we can't be here twenty four seven but can come by  every day or so to check up on her.

I'm just hoping she had a bad day.

When we were in her room today, noticed they had brought her a newspaper. It had a big sticker on  the front of it saying it was compliments of the local funeral home. That pissed me off and if she does pass soon will make sure not to recommend that facility. When she was in hospice a realtor had dropped by  leaving his card as well. My sister  threw his card away.

So let me get this don't love or even know my relative but want to be the first in line to reap from their passing, if or when it happens?

I was really proud of Zach today. It's not easy visiting someone you love knowing it may be the last time you  see them or the last chance you have to tell them you love them. I saw  the loving side of Zach  today. I saw the caring side and I saw the vulnerable side. Frances just brightened up when she saw Zach today. I need to take her lead and do that more often.

Til next  time...COTTON

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