Well, my mom's recovery after open-heart surgery has been a rocky road, filled with pot-holes. Of course, most of those pot-holes have been chunked out by my mother's own shovel-full of negativity. But she's had a road-crew along the way.
Several days after my mom's operation, the hospital wanted her gone. Job done, pay the bill, thanks, don't look back. I know that's how hospitals operate these days. But she wasn't ready. The nurse seemed to take it personally. Imagine "Jane Hathaway" from The Beverly Hillbillies, dressed in scrubs, hollering at you, "she needs to go and she needs to go now!"
With one day left to find a "rehab facilitation," my brother--firebrand, that he is--yelled at people. Sometimes this method nets results; other times it fosters a combative attitude and negligence on the staff's behalf. But there are times when yelling must be done. We won the remaining day, lost the war. The nursing staff pretty much forgot about her after the battle. Nurse Hathaway held a toothy grudge.
My brother was successful at securing a "next-step" facility. The next morning, as I rolled Mom out of the hospital, the overseeing nurse dropped a bombshell. "We lost a nurse yesterday to the flu." Yow. Now...when she said "lost," I automatically assumed she meant a nurse died. Maybe, maybe not. But it certainly didn't inspire us to hang out. Time to leave, no need for Big Business to give us a boot.
A "rehab center (and for God's sake, don't you dare call it a "nursing home!")" wasn't our first choice. Between my brother, myself and our wives, we had intended to take shifts, caring for Mom at home. But I missed the fireworks. The surgeon told my brother we were out of our minds.
So, we checked her into "Pleasant Dreams (not the real name, but close enough)." Papers were signed, rules were laid down, funny odors were inhaled. An endless parade of people entered our lives, never to be seen again. Still, the place had a great reputation, particularly for physical therapy.
My mom refused to work with "Mr. Fun." "Mr. Fun" is a plastic contraption she's supposed to breathe into every hour. It helps expand her lung (which they collapsed during the procedure). I don't know what it's really called, hence, the nickname, "Mr. Fun." It stuck. Mom hates "Mr. Fun." Thinks it doesn't work. It does, but there's no convincing her while she's hurtling down that highway to depression. Soon enough, she became breathless and they had to reapply oxygen.
The next day she developed a blood clot in her leg due to inactivity. "A major set-back," she called it. She was convinced her newly implanted cow aorta had blown, pretty much resigning herself to inevitable heart failure.
But the cow's organ is still pumping. (Thank you, by the way, valiant cow! I do hope someone ate the remainder of you, spreading goodwill everywhere. Regardless, Bessie, I gong a cow-bell in your memory.)
For two days, my mom lay in her bed, no one looking in on her. A much bally-hewed ultra-sound on her clotted leg never materialized. Time to call in the big guns. My brother yelled. Results! Finally, the sonogram happened, confirming the blood-clot results. Wasn't peachy, though. The technician ran to the bathroom every five minutes to blow his nose. He sniffled, coughed and hacked during the rest of the procedure. Huh.
Then it was time for daily meds. The kindly nurse warned my mom the shot-glass full of glop tasted terrible. But chock-full of protein. Mom knocked it back the first time. She steadfastly refused to take it again. I pleaded with her, then resorted to chastising her.
Funny how things turn around sometimes. Seems like not too long ago my mom forced me to eat liver, saying how good it was for me (of course we know what they say about liver these days, right? It's the bottom-feeder of organs, the strainer of toxins. Why would anyone want to eat that?). But she wouldn't take her own damn medicine. Each pill given to her, she examined carefully. If she didn't recognize the color, she refused to take it.
It's funny how time changes everything. I never imagined I'd be dressing my mom. Or lecturing her about taking her medicine. Or feeding her meals.
It's exhausting. But I'm doing it. In for the long haul.
She's Mom. And I love her.