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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day Three - Learn as You Go

I imagine that each day you figure out new tricks to get things done with more ease and efficiency...it is amazing how much getting through a whole day at home made a difference when kicking things off again this morning. It is hard to think of ever being truly comfortable in this world...but I can feel a bit more confidence each day. Especially in figuring out which tasks and activities are best suited for my skills. We are all part of the team.

Today...we had pills done, change, dress and transfer to chair in about 1 1/2 hours. That was MUCH better than yesterday. Especially since the 1 1/2 hours today included an attempt at using the hoyer lift...which we abandoned to do the transfer from the bed to the wheelchair the "old fashioned" way because we don't have the right sling for it yet. We also have a much easier way to put tops on...in case you were curious...zip up tops and hoodies are much easier then over the head. All these little details you don't think about.

I see my Mom with all this responsibility and it does not phase her in the least. She is so positive...and there are so many times throughout these days that she will stop what she is doing and say that "this feels so familiar." Even before December 27 she would do things or say something to Grandma and I would instantly remember her saying or doing something similar when I was little. She is a natural...just like back then. My Mom is amazing...hands down...no doubt about it. All that she does...even cooking and then pureeing things so that Grandma can swallow them. Evidently she used to make our baby food fresh too.

I thought my list for today would showcase some of the cool things that Grandma did today...

* Doing bridge pose on left side...with no prompting during dressing
* Reaching for a cup of coffee with left hand
* Fixing cute pink hoodie on the right side of her body (For context, this is huge since the kind of stroke she had makes her completely ignore the right side of her body)
* Nodding "Yes" when I commented on how strong she is
* Massaging the right hand with the left
* Making a cup with hand and putting it to her lips...because she wanted water
* Putting her hand to her face in "think pose" before responding to a question
* Watching my Mom do activities throughout the day
* Laughing when I commented on her cute pink sneakers

And just to show that not all learning is happening in regard to caring for Grandma...we (after almost 26 years)...discovered that we could use a light switch in the kitchen to turn on a light in the family room. I know right?? Learning is life long.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day Two - Getting the Hang of It

To say that we were exhausted before Grandma came home is kind of an understatement and yet...you just keep plugging along. Because we came home so late yesterday, we were not able to keep the rehab hospital schedule...it was a late night that extended into the wee hours of the morning. Getting into a regular routine is key...

Today was all about figuring out what we really need and what it is going to take to really take care of Grandma here at home. I imagine the next few days will continue in this vein. It is a huge undertaking and I would be lying if I didn't admit to being a bit nervous about how I am going to be come Monday when I have to go to work. I am definitely going to have to think about my work schedule...I may need to start heading into work later in the morning. This will be a first for me...but you have to do what you have to do. Right now, this is the most important thing.

This morning was a reality check for me...just to see how things really are in terms of waking up, taking pills (crushed in applesauce), and all the other morning rituals. The theme throughout this that you will recognize is that my Mom carries the heavy water in all of this. My sister and I do as best we can to support her. Many times I feel totally inept...actually...most of the time. I am trying to learn too and push through my fears. To face all of the things that make me most uncomfortable.

The Fear that I overcame today...

* The whole "changing" thing...or at least being around to assist in one.

The real driving force to working so hard is in the moments when Grandma smiles to you. When she can answer you with nod of yes or no. When she acknowledges her right hand. When you figure out what she wants and she gives you a laugh and a grin. When Grandma looks at my Mom. Those make for some of the best feelings in the world.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day One - Welcome Home!!

It hit me long before the big event on December 27th that there is a beautiful story in witnessing the circle of life. I love reading about my friends becoming parents and grandparents...and it occurred to me that taking care of people you love is a universal experience. One that you can relate too...even if you are not a parent or a grandparent. As a granddaughter I have been lucky to care for my grandparents...but it does not compare to the touching experience of watching my mother really and truly care for them.

2010 was a year of changes and adjustments for my family...and 2011 has not started without this same theme. As I was driving to CVS tonight it hit me...bringing Grandma home today was like bringing home a new baby (well...from what I remember when my sister came home, reading facebook, and blogs - Kelly V especially). You are scared. You are nervous. There is much shopping to do. There is a feeling that your life is going to change...because it is...in amazing ways that you could never predict. And...there are new toys!!

So, in the spirit of my love of lists...here is a list of some of the new toys we have...

* Hospital Bed
* New Wheelchair...ahem...which may have pink on it
* Oxygen (I learned a lot about this tonight...I feel like the family expert on this one!!)
* Air Mattress and Pump
* Transfer Board
* Ramp
* Hoyer Lift
* Foot Pillows
* Lots of Pillows, Flat Sheets, Bed Pads, Blankets, and Pillowcases
* Oral Swabs
* Many, Many More Prescriptions
* Cute Puppy Stuffed Animal with a Rose in His Mouth

Hmph...who would have thought I could write a list that did not include Vera Bradley?? See...these are the life changes I was just writing about.

A Four Letter Word...

I have been meaning to blog since a long while back because there was so much fun to share...an amazing Thanksgiving and Christmas. Trips to Annapolis. Shopping. And then everything changed. Late in the evening on the eve of Tuesday, December 28 something bad happened. Our biggest fear. The one thing we were working really hard to prevent. A massive stroke.

It was a bad one...I know there is really never a good kind of stroke to have...and believe me...you do not ever want to have one. But you don't EVER EVER want to have one affect the left brain...it is...devastating. The previous two last March and April were a cakewalk. I have to say...my Grandma is a rockstar. With tremendous deficits she still smiles...she yearns to walk...she yearns to talk...she is just freaking amazing. And it is this amazing spirit that must be hereditary because in terms of caretaking...my Mom is even more freaking amazing.

I don't want to sugar coat things...I think that writing to cope is going to help. I feel this overwhelming need to write about all of these new experiences, especially since as a family...many of the things we are learning and dealing with are things that were our biggest fears. The things you think "I could never do that" are the very things that shape you into a better person. Even if you have no energy and feel that are you are running on empty...there is this fuel that drives you. I think it is a four letter word that starts with an L and ends with an E.