Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sorry Mom. I fell down a slippery slope and took you with me.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go.
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Mom and I love the above poem.  I'm feeling like that poem today, non-conforming.

Being a  preacher's kid,  I used to rebel against the term "slippery slope". Why? For those of you who did not have to go to EVERY bible class and got to stay home and watch cartoons instead, there are some important things that you can learn there. One is that you are not supposed to add or take away from the Bible. Don't think I don't know where that Bible verse is! It's Revelations 22:19 "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Church members often quote this verse and then quickly add the slippery slope argument. There you go again, doing things that are questionable, adding things that are dangerously close to the edge and doing this or that should be avoided at all costs because before you know it, you are sitting smack dab in the middle of  Sodom and Gomorrah.

I still hate the slippery slope argument sometimes. I still ask "why not?" a lot. I still argue that although there is a chance that one thing may lead to another, there's another chance that nothing will happen at all. Once a PK, always a PK.
OK so I have to admit it. There is such a thing as a slippery slope in elderly care. I believe in it and avoid it at all costs. Watching the elderly get just one small thing, a cold, a urinary tract infection, a broken bone and then they fall down a slippery slope, one thing leading to another and in just a few days, they are dead. It happens more time than not. Something like this happened to mom recently. She didn't die but we both slipped down a slippery slope.

There was this nurse aid that Mom was complaining to me about. This person did small things that just annoyed her. These things were little complaints like not caring about what mom preferred to wear, telling mom she needed to wait until a certain time to go to the bathroom, taking things of Mom's and using them on other patients. I remember when I was young, I had a mean teacher, she did small uncaring things like this to me. My dad went up to the school and told her, "my daughter is learning from you, but the problem is she doesn't feel loved ." My mom had a similar complaint. She didn't feel loved. I decided that since none of these things were serious or urgent, I would wait until the scheduled care meeting to complain.  I guess the reason I decided to wait is because I forgot that everyone doesn't have to like me. I didn't want to be that person that complains about something every day. Also, I told myself that if I complain too much, my important complaints wouldn't be taken as seriously.  Thinking like this was a big mistake.

This nurse aid injured my Mom's knee because she was in a hurry and didn't use the proper method of transferring her. I don't think she hated my mom. She just didn't love her.  She didn't care enough about the small things. The injuring of Mom's knee caused her to have to use the mechanical lift again. Mom hates the mechanical lift. Mom was put on pain killers. Pain pills make Mom anxious and irritable. This made everything in Mom's life change. Elderly people do not react to change every well. Mom had to change her schedule, the way she goes to the bathroom, and just couldn't go at all  for three days. She had to take a shower laying down and her hair got all wet right after it was fixed at the beauty parlor. She became depressed and told me she wanted to leave this world. Her depression meds had to be changed.

This was a mistake that I will never make again.  I turned into a big you know what and everyone in the entire nursing home now knows that I could care less whether they like me or not. This happened several weeks ago and I was so angry I had to wait this long to even write about it. This particular nurse aid will never come near my mother again. Never ever let anyone take care of your loved one that has an uncaring attitude. Never worry about complaining about it. Don't try to comfort me about it and say "well you didn't know that would happen, it's not your fault." It is my fault! It's the nurse aid's fault and it's my fault too. It's certainly not Mom's fault.  I am very sorry.

That's my hard learned lesson and my advice for anyone caring for an elderly person.