Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     Our next, and last, testing appointment was June 4th.  I was to be at the hospital from 10:30 am - 4:00 pm for an MRI of my mom's spine and a written neurological type test.
     It was a long day for my mom, but it is easier than making two separate trips for those last two appointments and in the interest of time, remember we are trying to get this all done before my mom gets hurt again.  It helps soooo much to know that Sheri will have my mom dressed and ready for these appointments, and she also brings her to the car  with me before she leaves.  Makes this so much easier and allows us to be on time!   Remember in the good ol' days when my mom would be at The Don's apartment and I would try to "find" her and have to go way on the other side of the building to pick her up for an appointment.  I would be all over the three story, two wing building looking for her, and then we would have to do the loooong walk back to my car.  No doubt, I do miss those days for the fact that my mom had more energy and more time to socialize, the part I don't miss is the constant "where's mom today".  Bittersweet, of course.
     I can't emphasize enough how the repetitiveness has subsided with my mom as I mentioned before (possibly due to her seizure medication being increased).  No more "where are we going, where are we going, where are we going" or "which doctor are we seeing, which doctor are we seeing...".  The car ride has some simple conversation with way less repetition.
     We arrived just in time and shortly after we were taken back to change for the MRI.  This was quite a workout for me as my mom was not "standing up" very good and it was somewhat difficult to get her into the hospital gown, etc...  Silly me, I thought I would be reading magazines or shopping for awhile, but the spine MRI took only about 30 minutes so I was not able to sneak away to the shops at the "fancy hospital".
      Then, after we got dressed, we had almost two hours before our next appointment.  Ahhhhh....  Mom said she was hungry, so off to the fancy café we went.  This was the first time in all of our recent appointments that I made it all the way down "Main Street" to the café called "Henry's" (Henry Ford Hospital).  Oh my gosh, a guy was playing the grand piano ("Let It Go") in the atrium area and it was so nice!  Remember, it's a hospital!  So, I parked mom at a table not far from the piano player while I went and fetched our lunch.  Although my family had been there before, I had never actually eaten there even when my mom stayed at this same hospital for a week.     
The Walk Through the Fancy Hospital
(My Mom stayed in the room/window on the left three years ago.)
More of the hospital...
     It was soooooo nice!  There are several different counters.  Soup, sushi, pizza, salad, sandwiches, omelettes and probably a couple other things I don't remember.  Pretty quickly I decided this was about mom and knew she would like a nice cheesy omelette made to order.  To keep it simple, I got both of us turkey bacon and cheese egg white omelettes.  All of their omelettes are made with egg whites.  Everything available is healthy and nutritious.  I found this on their website:
On the Menu: Wellness
Henry's at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital is a great destination for flavorful and healthy food; whether you dine on our beautiful campus or opt for carry-out.  In fact, Henry’s draws many patrons from surrounding communities and businesses.  Henry’s chefs create nutritious and gourmet food options that combine the healthiest of ingredients in deliciously inventive ways.  Many of our ingredients come from organic farms committed to healthy produce and sustainable agriculture practices, like the Chef’s Garden.  Henry’s has positively redefined the way people think about and experience hospital food.

I was too embarrassed to take too many pictures!!
Our Omelette Station/Chef

    My mom was thrilled with her omelette, toast and jelly.  It was very good and with the nice atmosphere and the piano playing -- I don't think I've had a more "romantic" meal with my mom!!  Ha!  No but seriously, in the context of all that has been going on with my mom, this was nice...  That is, until she started asking to go back to her apartment, which she thought was on the "first floor" of the building we were in.  Reality check.  I managed to drag our lunch out as long as possible, as we had a decent amount of time before our next appointment.  Eventually, the piano player took a break and we were off exploring a couple of the shops that I never seemed to find my way into during all of our other recent appointments.  I loved their gift shop and made a note to myself to come back while mom was getting her two hours of neurological testing.

You Can Catch a Glimpse of the Grand Piano...

      I then parked us in a lovely sitting area by a fireplace for a bit and just as I was starting to relax again....mom said she needed a restroom.  Let's just say that me, wheelchairs, public restrooms and my mom's walking not being at all great make for a not so good time!!!  It is difficult and awkward no matter how you go about it!!  I have always helped others with doors, etc. when someone has a wheelchair...but now I will be ever so much more helpful as can be!! 

My Two Minute Break...

Someone's Getting Fidgety...
     By now it was time for our appointment and we were taken care of quite quickly.  Again, I was looking forward to a possible retreat to the gift shops, but much to my dismay I was informed that I would also be asked many questions on behalf of my mom with regard to the neurological testing.  Sigh.  I guess I should have suspected as much.  This was similar to the testing she had at The University of Michigan some six or so years ago.  Answering many questions about the evolution of realizing my mom was having signs of Alzheimer's and dementia.  To be honest, parts of the questioning were very painful as many questions go into depth and involve going back ten or so years ago.  Also, questions of my grandparents health and family history.  It was a bit overwhelming going back down that road and realizing how long that road has actually been with my mom and all of her various health issues and life changes.  When you are as involved as I am on a day-to-day basis, you can't help but sometimes lose perspective of how very long the road has been.
     Meanwhile, my mom was in another room getting some basic paper and pencil testing done.  I suspect that did not go very well, but we shall see.  At this appointment, I also learned that my mom tested positive for a UTI.  You would not believe how difficult it was for us to be able to test my mom to find out this information.  Not good.  The only good news is, she started ten days of antibiotics that Thursday, and after visiting her a couple days later, I am certain she is and will continue to feel better as a result.  Until recently, my mom was taking a preventative medication in an attempt to ward off a UTI.  Well, the doctors decided to take her off of that and now we have our first (known) UTI in the almost three years that she has lived at the senior community.  My mom's Vitamin B levels were also low so they have started her on a regimen of Vitamin B.
     Next, I am told that several doctors will be meeting to review my mom's test results around June 11th.  I was told they would be getting in touch with me after that, and I am uncertain whether that means another meeting or just a phone consult.  Meanwhile, my kids were wrapping up their last week of school and things were just busy busy busy!
     Of course. we continue to visit with my mom and there continues to be good and not so good days.  The staff now knows that the wheelchair is available for those days when it is needed.  As I mentioned before, it is interesting that my mom has never even questioned using a wheelchair.  She seems very content to be driven around, and I'm sure it is much easier on her.  So, of course, the only one having a hard time adjusting to this trend towards the wheelchair is...me!!  I am also concerned because I can already see that some of the staff will be using the wheelchair to make their job easier.  No doubt, it is much quicker to get my mom to and from the dining room in the wheelchair.  Saturday when I was there, the aide asked her if she wanted to walk or use the wheelchair.  My mom said the wheelchair.  I "let it go".  I am very aware and staff has been informed to keep my mom walking as long as safely possible.  At this point, it very well could be that using her walker while in the apartment, and the wheelchair for longer distances becomes our new normal.  That seems to be what is going on and in the Med Team's defense (which I do not normally take), the dining room is quite a long walk for my mom at this point.

     Lots of changes with me also having turned the ringer off on her phone, I no longer have those occasional morning check ins with my mom and haven't in a few months.  Just when I was getting used to her not calling me, now I can't really even call her.  Safety is key at this point, and the thought of her rushing to answer the phone or struggling to walk is not what's best for her and may very well have caused some of her "falls".  I do call Sheri's cell phone for updates and am in touch with her on a regular basis.  So many changes over these last weeks, months and years.
     Thanks for stopping by...I hope to have another update perhaps even by tomorrow!!

Grandma and Megan
She Always Thinks I'm Taking a Video...
so she usually "thanks me" which is nice!!

The Newest Piece of Furniture...


yaya said...

She looks really good and I know it's because of your great care and concern and keeping up with all the tests and such. I know this is really hard and I think you're doing a great job. I hope this summer you and your family get time to get away and enjoy some recharging...being a caregiver also means trying to take care of you! Hugs from Ohio!

Julia said...

Hi Cindy, I echo what Yaya has already said. Your mo looks so much happier. You're doing a wonderful job of keeping on top of everything and caring for your mom and family and everything.

Now at least your suspicions have been confirmed and it's to the next step.

Oh my, that hospital is a beautiful building.

Take care, hugs

Arlene - Caregiver ordinaire said...

I know it's been a while since I checked in, but you and your Mom are never far from my thoughts! I hope you've had a lovely summer with your family - and I know there's a lot to tell. Your Mom looks good in these photos. I remember how hard it was for me to adjust mentally to using a wheelchair - but your Mom will really appreciate the help too. Take good care of yourself! :)Arlene

Cindy@Living...Laughing...Loving... said...

Testing 123