Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Almost a Day Off

Emily was going to visit Mom today, so I expected a day off--a whole day to get things done without having to go to Ocean View. After four hours of making a doctor visit last Friday, three hours of taking her on errands Saturday, ten hours of care on Sunday, and five hours of doctor visiting on Monday, I was ready for a day off.
But Jona, her caregiver 12 hours a day, six days a week, wasn't feeling well. (How does she manage to keep up these hours, showing up every day at 6 am, always cheerful and kind? I don't know.)
Anyway, Jona told the agency she would not be coming to work Tuesday, and the substitute caregiver wasn't available.
That meant Emily's visit in the afternoon was critical; the morning and early afternoon would be shared between me and the Ocean View staff.
I decided not to call and see how things were going--just to stop by about noon. But at 11:15 am I got an anxious call from Mom.
"Hi, Mom. How are you?"
"Awful. I'm having a terrible day. They wouldn't let me come back to my room, but now I'm back here and this lady called you for me, but I can't find your phone number. What's your phone number?"
"It's because you don't have Jona today, Mom. That's why you had to stay out in the common area after breakfast."
I quoted my phone number and promised to come soon. Clearly Mom was having a difficult time just sitting out with the other residents, not having her own caregiver to talk with and to attend to her every need.
By noon I arrived with a pumpkin, a newspaper, and photos of the twins with the doll buggy.
She fell asleep about the time I arrived, but I woke her and took her to lunch. At 1 pm I left, promising her that Emily would arrive soon.
"Maybe now you'll appreciate Jona," I teased. "You keep firing the caregivers, but maybe now you'll appreciate having someone at your beck and call all day long."
Emily showed up.
The evening caregiver, Connie, showed up. I called at 6:15 pm to make sure.
Will Jona be able to make it to work tomorrow?
I feel guilty for asking her to work these long hours... but I completely depend on her to keep Mom happy for most of the day, six days per week.
The alternative would be three caregivers per 24 hours, each with an eight-hour shift, instead of two with a twelve-hour shift, but Jona seems satisfied with the long shift because of the higher income.
Jona's an immigrant from the Philippines, having completed a couple of years of college in computers before coming here. After watching her care for Mom during the past year, I feel as if she's another daughter; I should be sending her off to college, like Roz, Ellen, and Marie, rather than employing her to sit with my mother all day six days per week.
But instead I'm just hoping she'll show up tomorrow.

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