Saturday, January 20, 2007

"Life Is No Abyss"

It's Saturday night, and that means Lawrence Welk.
Tonight the rerun played happened to be from the 1950s, in black & white, when Lawrence was fairly young.
One of the featured soloists sang an old favorite:
Remember this--life is no abyss.
Somewhere there's a bluebird of happiness.
Somewhere, but not in the Reminiscence Neighborhood.
Rose fell and injured herself, Dorothy is bellowing wordlessly, and Sue is telling her to shut up.
Meanwhile, my mother, Evelyn, did not eat any of her meals today and refused her medications. Basically, she had a sleepy day, which is common with Lewy Body, especially after a previous day with lots of stimulation.
Mom always enjoys breakfast, her favorite meal of the day: oatmeal with brown sugar, scrambled eggs, bacon, and orange juice.
But today she sat slumped forward in her wheelchair, eyes closed, too deeply asleep to eat.
When the staff urged her to eat, she yelled, "Leave me alone!" She refused to take her medications.
She was returned to her room, and when they placed her on the toilet, she yelled "Get the hell out of here." They transferred her to her recliner, where she again yelled at the caregivers to go away and leave her alone.
At lunch time, she was wheeled in to the dining room but still refused to eat and sat with her eyes closed in deep sleep.
I arrived and tried to talk to her. She did not open her eyes and responded only in slurred words. I managed to get her to the toilet, where it was clear her Depend had not been changed for 3-4 hours.
As we passed her black desk with the candy jar on it, she said, "I want a mint!"
I unwrapped one and gave it to her, but it lay in her curled hand. She couldn't even put it in her mouth.
I took her to the dining room and got her to drink a V-8, then started her on her lunch of pasta with shrimp.
I called the medications nurse with the news that she was now awake enough to take her meds.
"Her private caregiver will be here at 2 pm," I said, leaving at 1:50 pm and feeling good that she was eating a bit and about to take her medications.
But I got two more phone calls that afternoon: she had not eaten any more after I left, and when Bethlhem urged her to take her meds, she spit them back at her.
So I showed up again, shortly after 6 pm, and found her again in a very deep sleep.
I also found that her 2 - 10 pm private caregiver had neither arrived nor left me any message that she would not be able to work today. I called her and found her home with a stomach flu.
I decided that first of all Mom had to take her meds, so I found the nurse, got the meds, and made her swallow them all in applesauce. This took quite a while since she would only open her mouth a small crack.
Realizing that she was too sleepy to eat a warmed-up meal, I took Ensure out of the refrigerator.
I poured some in a cup and tried to get her to drink it. Holding the cup to her lips, I could hardly get her to take some sips and then swallow.
I switched to a straw and held the cup in her lap; for thirty minutes she took tiny sips. The cup of strawberry Ensure was about half empty.
Finally I decided to call it a day; I changed Mom into her nightgown, removed her false teeth, and brushed her eight remaining lower teeth.
I took her into the family area to watch Lawrence Welk.
On the way out of the Reminiscence Neighborhood, in the activity room, I noticed a white board with the following messages:
Word for today:

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