Monday, April 23, 2007

The End of the World

"Going to a nursing home is not the end of the world, "I kept saying to myself.
"It's okay to move Mom to a skilled nursing facility. She needs more care than she can get in assisted living. The time has come."
But actually, for most people, a SNF is the end of the world.
It's the place where they leave this world and pass to another.
I went to visit Mom in the hospital at 3 pm today and found a nurse at Mom's bedside telling her, "You're being discharged today. We've ordered an ambulance to take you."
"Shhhh!" I warned the nurse. "Don't let her hear this."
I tried to calm Mom down, but she was extremely agitated, her wide-open eyes rolling from left to right, up and down in terror.
"There's been a murder!" she said, looking around the room expecting to see the perpetrator. "They murdered someone!"
I realized her roommate had her television on to news of the Virginia Tech shootings a week earlier.
"It's not here," I tried to explain. "It's far far away."
"Yes, it's here. They tried to murder her," Mom continued frantically.
Meanwhile 5-6 doctors were on the other side of the curtain, trying to explain to Mom's roommate (who had been waiting for surgery 4-5 days) why she hadn't been taken in today to remove the cancer in her colon.
"Your heart rate and blood pressure aren't good today," they were saying. "We can't send you to surgery."
In the noise and confusion it was impossible to calm Mom down.
I wished someone would hand out some Xanax tablets for one and all
Instead I took the nurse out and asked her, "Are you really discharging my mother today? When were you going to tell me? My cell phone has been with me and turned on, but no one notified me."
"I thought someone had called you," she said. "We called Country Villa Mar Vista, and they said it was fine to send her over. You can talk to the discharge planner about it."
"Okay, that's fine," I said. "That's good if you discharge her, but she's not going in an ambulance. That would only upset her further. I will drive her to Country Villa."
Next: packing up all her stuff, dressing her, getting her and stuff in the car, driving to the SNF.
Along the way we stopped at Carl's Jr. and I bought her French fries, a hamburger, and a strawberry milkshake.
She calmed down, but I felt like Arnold Benedict.
If Mom had more savvy, she would know that a sumptuous fast-food meal was a way of buying her off, preparing her for bad news.
Country Villa Mar Vista.
We arrived. I wheeled her in, carried her stuff in.
Within a couple hours she was in her nightgown in the new bed, new room, new residence.
Very confused.
I drove home feeling the worst was over.
I had done the right thing.

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