Monday, December 01, 2014

I am home from my visit with my mom. It was very emotional and upsetting. It is hard to see her so helpless.  Although there are a lot of things that she can do, some very basic things that she needs to survive and thrive are out of her hands.

My mom is obsessed with her medication. She does take a lot - not sure I can mention them all but let's try. Prednisone, insulin, metformin, lovastatin, levothroid, plus some drug for hypertension (not that she has it but apparently it protects her kidneys from complications of diabetes), Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, calcium, 2 different eye drops, aspirin and I forget what else. In total, she takes about 35 pills a day (the majority of them are prednisone which comes in 5mg tablets and she takes 65mg each day). Anyway, it is a huge ordeal for her, even though the pharmacy now puts the pills in blister packs for her. If she were in assisted living she wouldn't have to worry about getting her meds all ready for the next day and taking them at each meal (or whenever she needs to take them).

My mom is also obsessed with her food. Once she has eaten one meal, she is all ready thinking about getting things ready for the next. So, by 6am she is opening a can of salmon for her lunch. It is never ending and really all that she thinks and worries about (food and meds). So again, assisted living will ease these worries and she can go back to having a life that does not revolve around these things.

So, while I was in Toronto I took my mom to her doctor. My mom had been saying for months that "Until Dr. I tells me it is time to go to a retirement home, I will stay in my apartment". Clearly my mom needs more than just "a retirement home" - she needs to be living in assisted living.  I told Dr. I what my mom had said about her not moving until she (Dr. I) said so and that I thought my mom was not being completely candid with her about the number of times she had run out of insulin (injected herself with nothing). I mentioned how obsessed she was with her meds and food, how she was a bit paranoid and sometimes would be spouting some crazy shit (I believe the prednisone is causing some of the mental health issues) like her insulin is being deleted into a file if she cannot test her blood properly or that when my brother in Vancouver calls her house, all of her voicemail messages disappear. The doctor said she had seen a personality change in my mom over the past few months (my mom took offense to this). However, the doctor said that my mom was an adult and if she chose to live "at risk" it was up to my mom. This really resonated with my mom. Really up until this point she kept thinking she was doing just fine, living alone, having my aunt do all of her shopping, taking her to all of her appointments, having the elderly ladies in the building help her out in the morning and evening to make sure she was eating enough (and not dropping her food on the floor!).

After that appointment, my mom did say that maybe she should move to assisted living ("maybe", not "I will"). I had taken my mom to look at one place a couple of days before and she had seen another two weeks prior with my sister-in-law. The next day my mom said she would like to go look at the other place again so we went to look at it but she was not as happy with it as she had been in the past (and she did not like the place that I took her to a few days before).

Then the day before I left, one of the ladies in the building who had been helping my mom out told me that it had been months and the ladies were all older than my mom and they just could not do it anymore. I knew this would happen. I told my mom from the get-go when she said they had all offered to help her. I had told her that it was not like she had broken her leg or was recovering from surgery. This was permanent! And here we are many months later, these ladies are tired and cannot keep it up. It was kind of them to have offered in the first place. But so impractical - on all levels! Then I had to tell my mom how they felt and that was crushing for her to hear. But I think that was also what was needed for to realize that she does need to go to assisted living.

I feel so badly for my mom. I think being blind has got to be one of the most frightening and saddest things to happen. Imagine not being able to read or play cards (two of her passions before she lost her sight), not being able to find something that you lost or see your hands while you try to prepare meals, dress yourself. My mom cannot see the sun or her grandchildren's faces. Imagine hearing a noise and not being able to see what caused it. Dropping food on the floor and not being able to find it and worrying that you will slip on it. Your basic safety is compromised.

So now we will be moving her into an assisted living facility. I think she has decided which one she wants to go to. I am glad she will be safe but I am sad that she will leave her friends behind. The place is not too far from her apartment but far enough for a bunch of elderly ladies who do not drive. Thankfully it is still close enough for my aunt to visit her regularly and my cousin lives just a couple of minutes away. Even my BFF is close by should an emergency arise and someone needs to get over to see my mom.

I hope my mom will be happy there.

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