Regress Report, part duh

by Bernard Brandt

I have just about recovered from the sleep deprivation and attendant depression from having to put one’s wife into a convalescent home. But I have come to see that they are taking better care of her there than I could at home.

For one thing, they have a crane that transfers her from bed to wheelchair, and permits her more mobility now that Beth could no longer assist in my transferring her for the same functions. In addition, they are giving her round the clock supervision, which I could not give. They also have better hospital beds, which prevent the sort of falls from bed to floor that Beth was wont to suffer for the last three nights that she was still at home.

I feel bad, though, because a couple of days after I got her into the home, she apparently forgot that we both agreed that she was to go there. For a few days thereafter, she was asking, if not insisting, that she be taken to a hospital, or back to our home. She is weaker now, and is not asking for these things quite as often. But it is breaking my heart that she is asking, and that she is blaming me for her being there now.

I am also getting some problems from the hospice staff and the convalescent staff, which leads to the ‘duh’ part of this entry. I found a few days ago that the home staff was not administering the thyroid and the anti-cancer hormones that I had brought from home to give her, and which I was told that they would give her. It took several days of communication with the staff before I was able to get them to start administer those drugs again. And even then, I was told that once those drugs were gone, the hospice staff would not refill the prescriptions. I have had a hard time explaining to them that the words ‘palliative care’ do not mean abandoning all care save for the morphia and tranquilizers she is not receiving. I also do not understand their unwillingness: the drugs together cost less than $10 per month, and can be administered easily by crushing them and mixing them with the applesauce, pureed foods, or the thickened liquids which are the only things that she can swallow now. Sigh. I’ll just have to continue to speak with them until this matter is resolved.

And this afternoon, when I was there at the home for my daily visit, a dear friend of ours tried calling Beth, but the phone died before Beth could receive the call. GRRR! Gina, if you read this, please phone me, so that we can make arrangements so that you can call on my cell phone and get to speak with Beth tomorrow and hereafter. Please.

As I was driving home from the home, I got a call from the case manager for the hospice care. He had asked whether I had refused to grant the home permission to give Beth a pneumonia vaccine shot. I was very surprised by this, as one of the home nurses had asked me a few days ago if I would give permission for such a shot, and I had told them “Yes, please!” Once we had cleared up that little misunderstanding, the manager told me that the hospice company would not authorize payment for the shot. I again repeated my statement that ‘palliative care’ does not mean the abandonment of all care, but would include basic care maintenance, including things like thyroid replacement or vaccination. After going about this for a while, and several phone calls, I was informed that yes, the hospice would authorize payment through Beth’s disability insurance.

But, as a person I very much respect would say, “the day was eaten by locusts.”

Finally, when I got home, I checked my e-mail, and found (from a third party) that two people were planning on visiting Beth on Sunday, but at a time when I would not be able to be there, as I would be singing at church (I am one quarter of a SATB quartet, attempting the ‘T’ part.) While I appreciate people visiting Beth, I would also appreciate being informed of who is visiting, and when. Most of my friends understand this. Some few, alas, do not. I hope that I can get in communication with these two people. I would really rather not have to ask that the hospice make a blanket prohibition of visitors. Please, if you would like to visit Beth, please, please, please, call or write me first.

And that’s the news from Lake Wobegon.

ADDENDUM: I visited Beth again today, as I do every day. She hardly recognized me. After I had gone home, it suddenly struck me: Today was our sixteenth wedding anniversary.