Arriving at Manor Care was relatively uneventful. Gram was already in her room by the time I arrived from getting her incidentals from home for her stay. And I was as usual sitting in the intake room signing and reading a tome’s worth of paperwork. I say as usual, because this was not our first visit here and those other visits are grand stories for another day. Moving on, after the paperwork was done I was escorted to her room. I remember the staff member making a big deal how wonderful it was to see Gram here again. At which point I had two thoughts. One how nice to feel welcome, but, that was tainted with me knowing the cost of her stay during this latest event…$11,975 a month. But, I smile and said thank you. And then I saw the room number and took a deep breath and put on that blasted happy face. And turning to enter this two bed room, I saw Gram’s eyes widened and a smile cross her face.
Then the nurse interrupted our moment. Hi, I am your Gram’s nurse, could I speak to you. Grumbling quietly to myself, but maintaining that wonderful smile. In a minute, I am giving my Gram a hug before anything and putting her things away. So give me a few and I will be with you. The nurse left the room and so did the intake person whom had escorted me. At this point, Gram was like get over here and give me bloody hug. She was a bit drugged up on painkillers at this moment. And I think she felt a bit more at peace with me being there and started to get sleepy. She did try so hard to talk about her flowers and what was going on. But, she dozed off. And I finished putting the remainder of her incidentals away.
Now, I am off to find the nurse. I was surprised to see her actually just waiting outside the room. She actually praised me for my attentiveness. But, made note to her. This is how everyone should treat their family. So ending the small talk. I asked the nurse. So what are we looking at for her rehab and I need a full list of all the medications that are going to be administered to her. She was most pleasant about getting me the list. But, as usual, she asks do I have power of attorney. And my normal retort. Why yes, and here is your copy to keep with her medical folder. I also gave the nurse Gram’s medical directives and the list of her religious restrictions. Now that the nurse had what she needed and I had what I needed. I followed up with my big statement. Now the pleasant attitude slightly shifted to a not some chipper one. I told her under no circumstances does Gram sign anything, nor do you change a single medication without notifying me first; and no I do not care if the doctor orders it. It must be family approved no exceptions. I was pleasant and explained why. The why being, it has taken years to get her medications just right, and I will not have anyone messing with it or giving her medications that could compromise her other medications or cause unnecessary reactions; as I randomly check throughout her stay.
Being done with the nurse, I went back to visit with Gram. But, she was in a deep sleep. So I leaned over and gave her a gentle hug and kissed on her cheek, and quietly left the room. Now I am off to home and a nap.
The next day.
I was woken by the phone ringing at 6am. I didn’t make it in time to answer and saw the caller ID shown Manor Care had called. And at that moment my cell started going off. So I answered in a half wakened state. It was not Manor Care. It was Gram. She said she was in so much pain, and could I bring her some of her oblong pills (hydrocodone) or some extra strength tylenol (which never did a thing for her). I said I will see what I can do. Knowing full well that no pills or anything can be brought into the facility. So I showered quickly and ran out the door to Manor Care. Arriving, and not even bothering to sign in, I went straight to her room. She was definitely in pain and her eyes were watering. I then gave her a hug and said I will be right back. I went to straight to the nurses station. Not looking like I was in a very cheery mood. Looking around, I raised my voice oh so slightly, I need a nurse now. The charge nurse of the wing came over to me. Can I help you with something. I said mostly definitely. Why is my Gram in room 413 crying in pain. What happened after I left. She hasn’t had her pills yet the nurse said to me. I said it is more than that. I have taken care of her for over 10 years. I can tell when something is out of sorts. And this is most definitely, out of sorts. Then another nurse came over having apparently grabbing Gram’s file. She said according to the record, the doctor was in and changed her pain patch from a 50 fentanyl to a 25; I stood for a moment in disbelief. Then said what? Can nobody read. It is stated in bold letters on top of her file, contact family before changing any medications. They said it was the doctor’s order. Thinking calm thoughts to keep my composure. I said, please get the doctor on the phone now please. I will wait right here while you do that. It was getting harder to maintain my composure, because I knew Gram was in that room crying in pain. Only 15 minutes passed. But, egads it seemed like an hour. But, they got the doctor, and I asked him why did you change the pain medications. He said, he did not want her getting addicted to the pain medications and it would slow her recovery. I said, she is in her mid 80s and that is the least of the family’s worries. What does worry the family, me, is that you are not inspiring confidence in your ability to properly care for my grandmother. And that without the medication at the correct level, she will not be able to walk or even do her rehab. Well, the doctor refused to change the medication. And I told him, fine, you will be changing ti before the end of the day. Have a great day. I gave the phone back to the nurse. She and the doctor spoke about Gram, but, not loud enough for me to hear. After she hung up, I said, I will be right back.
Outside I went to call my friend from an earlier event Gram had that required the assistance of the Office on Aging to come to our help, the Ombudsman. I had his personal cell. I guess I can thank Gram for that, as all the folks at the Office on Aging adored her, and sometimes went out of their way to just visit her at home for her famous cup o tea. Thanks Grams …to continue…I called him and his first words were, how is your Gram doing? I said, I wish it was on a better note, but, I am having issues with a doctor respecting family wishes and Gram being in unbearable pain. He said, where are you? I am at that wonderful place that Gram insists on going to, Manor Care. He said I will be right there, give me 10 minutes. Wow, he must have called ahead. Because, when he arrived, I met him in the parking lot. And as we entered. There stood the Administrator of the facility and the Doctor. The Ombudsman said can we all go somewhere quiet. If one could hear a pin drop. You would have as we walked into the Administrative office. The Ombudsman said, it has come to my attention there is an issue with Gram and her pain medications and the respecting of some legal documentation. The response next was priceless. The doctor said, apparently there was some misunderstanding and her pain medications are being reissued to back to where they were before. Then, the administrator chimes in, if there are any future issues, do not hesitate to contact her immediately. The Ombudsman, looked to me, and asked, if you are satisfied, then I am. I was a bit happier and said, yes I am a bit more content, but, all I want is for her to be without unnecessary pain. And I extended a heartfelt thank you to the Ombudsman for his kind assistance. The Ombudsman parted ways, but not before calling me a side, and saying, seriously call me day or night if you have an issue, and that he would be making some random visits to see how she is doing.
I went to stay with Gram and we talked for moons, since her pain medications were finally kicking in.
To sum this part up. You can never be too over the top in taking care of a loved one. And that despite all your precautions; sh*t happens.
Be vigilant in caring for your loved one.
Miss You Gram – LOTS of LOVE
This ends another part. The Manor Care Story is not over yet.