Interloper

Dementia came in and brought its suitcase today. It brought its furniture and all its curios and closed the door on the outside world.

Sheathed in the skin of its host it shone through her eyes with vehement curses, it raised an arm and pushed sincerity and love from its post. Banished all that was once welcome and noble.

It filled in the recesses left there with doubt and defense, with anger. It hissed of betrayals and mocked the heart.

It pulled the shade and allowed no bid farewell.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ok. It was a hard day today. Hardest. A cruel appointment with this condition that I have yet witnessed. I am reeling as I sit here having come home from the hospital 2 hours ago. I am alone, but I’m all right that my husband is away working. Even though he would be holding me right now with tears in his eyes saying sincere consoling things, I need to be alone. To process. To write. This helps me sift it all through.

What started as a pleasant day devolved into banishment. All of it directed at me, all of her loses because of me. I am the villain. Hearing her speak of me as she did, turn her face away, but it was her taken over by this is what took the breath out of my lungs.

I won’t take it personally, that is ego and it has no place here, because it’s not her, it’s  not me it’s the disease. But still. It was like a hammer.

I lost her today. But maybe tomorrow she’ll be back and I’ll be reinstated to her heart.

 

 

In Care

DK Brint
DK Brint. Taken from the front entrance of  the hospital ~

Half of my days are spent at the hospital where my mother is still residing. She is still waiting to be placed. Yesterday she was moved back upstairs from the Transitions area of the hospital to the hospital’s 4th floor due to concerns over her breathing. Checked over aside from her A-Fib that was acting up they have decided to keep her there.

Better for her, while down in Transitions she experienced two falls in the last week; other patients had alerted the Care Aid that she had fallen- everyone was too busy. Luckily nothing was broken. A few days later after dinner I brought mom out of the lounge and in front of the nursing station so she could be easier watched. I talked with her Care Attendant telling her the reasons and to please keep an eye on her and I left. Between that time and when my sister arrived in the evening she found she had been put in her room, which was a private room at the far end of the hall, because she was crying too much.  The RN said to my sister that she was too busy to attend her, (what about the Care Attendant?) so moved her to her room until she could get to her. The lights were off, she was sobbing uncontrollably in her wheel chair and at risk of attempting to get up on her own- which is why the previous two falls happened.

The floor was continually short-staffed, that’s my polite version anyway. We (siblings) attend her everyday, like a tag team my brother, sister and I are with her from before lunch to the time she goes to bed. We help by monitoring her meals and feeding her- something she now needs done-by assisting her in the bathroom, by taking her outside into the courtyard for fresh air and sun. It’s very boring in a hospital, we keep her company.

Yes we admit to hovering. We are her family, she is our responsibility. And I stress that it’s important to keep vigilant, to be attentive to how the care is going. Or not going as we kept finding.

My sister and I have been Care Aides in our past, working in Extended Care Facilities. We know how it is. We’ve seen parents essentially abandoned. We are present but we don’t interfere in the normal scheduled care or attention from the staff. But will confront and inquire if there are gaps in this. We are her advocates, we know her better, we are in her corner.

 

Kimberly Re-Cap

Thought I’d take this opportunity to share a little more on my recent excursion to Kimberley, B.C. – My daughter, along with her partner Don, were super hosts and kept me happily active with hikes, paddles, bike rides, swimming and great eats! Since I had accompanied Bob out to Kimberley because he was working a shut down at the mill in Skookumchuck for ten days (outside of Kimberley) he didn’t get as much visit and play time as I got.

 

Nearly as soon as we arrived my daughter and Don loaded us up to drive 40 minutes out of Kimberley to climb the Fairmont Hoodoos in the Columbia Valley. The rest of the time was just my daughter and me. We took a 17 Km bike ride on the North Star Rail to Trail. Where once were railroad tracks they have been taken out and paved. You can cycle to cranbrook 30 K away.

It was good to get away, I was certainly restored, and I can understand why my daughter who even though was born on Vancouver Island near the ocean fell in love with the Kootenays. With big fresh water lakes, meadows, foothills, rivers, and of course mountains, I didn’t miss the ocean either. Not to mention great snowy winters and hot summers. Kind of a full package. And only a days drive away- ok a long (long) days drive, but I consider it in my backyard. Lucky me.

 

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Hoo-Doos

 

On top of the Hoodoos
On top of the Hoodoos

 

A day at Fort Steele
A day at Fort Steele
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Hiking the loop, Kimberley below

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North Star Rail to Trail, Kimberley
North Star Rail to Trail, Kimberley

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My daughter’s chill chihuahua Dexter. On St Mary’s Lake
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Haha lake

 

 

Pizza at StoneFire

 

Breakfast

 

Daughter and son in law getting chicken ready for the rotisserie.

 

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Kinbari Sushi

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Placement

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Leaving for the interior of BC for 2 weeks with Bob on one of his work related trips so I can visit my daughter in Kimberly meant leaving my mom in the hospital where she has spent the last 8 weeks. It meant that as she was being assessed for Extended Care and put “On the List” that there could be changes happening while I was away, that when I returned possibly she will have been moved into a Facility, and will need to brace for that emotional impact.

Mom had gone into the hospital 8 weeks ago because her pulse was racing and erratic and blood pressure was very high (we keep a BP device at her place) so my sister had called the ambulance. They got these under control after a few days and then the plan was to get her back home after she gets her strength back.

She was doing well, moving from the “Hospital” ward down to “Transitions,” a place in the hospital where they prepare you to go home, or to a “Home” if your condition changes. All was proceeding well towards mom returning to her apartment we had just moved her into in March.

Then things began to change.

The last three weeks or so she had been weaving stories about her life, a new thing she had begun to do, all pleasant but we knew them to be fantasies, like being a teacher for two years or planting the whole garden that graced the hospital courtyard we spent the sunny afternoons in. She lately began to say she was hired to look after the hospital floor she was staying on. We would tell her that she’s retired now and doesn’t have to work anymore, but she felt under obligation somehow, and we knew better than try and convince her otherwise. She would come back to “reality” and then chuckle over what she had just fantasied.

Regardless of what narrative she was outlining for herself over the previous weeks she was always cheery,  laughed, and could easily be humored. She always went with the flow.

But because of this new fantasy behavior they felt she needed to be reassessed for Complex Care and give up her Assisted Living apartment. We had to agree, so she was put on The List. Because Private Complex care is financially out of reach for her, upwards of $6,000  a month, we would have to wait for an available subsidized bed in a facility- hopefully in our town.

I should clarify that what having subsidized extended care means in Canada is that the government withdraws 80% of ones monthly income, whatever amount that may be, for the Care Facility and its amenities and that you are also bound to accepting the first bed offered – no matter where it is in a 40 kilometer radius. If the found bed is not accepted the elder is put back at the bottom of the wait list and must be re accessed again, the whole procedure taking many weeks to months. But once in a subsidized bed we do have a choice then, but only after two months in the found facility and if one is unhappy with it, to then pick another bed in the desired facility and wait until it comes available.

But that first found bed must be taken to qualify.

While I’m in Kimberley my sister was notified that a 4 bed ward room had been found in our town for mom, and my sister went to see it. Her heart sank when she saw the conditions, and asked if there could at least be a two bed room for her instead, they got back to her a few days later and said they had one.

This was better news and my sister prepared to move mom in, having 48 hours to do this-as per regulation, but sudden behavioral changes that seemed to possess my mom have been nothing short of Jekyll and Hyde. So dark, so fast. Two weeks ago Bob and I visited her the day before our departure and we walked (strolled) around the grounds had some ice cream and left her after a few hours smiling and calm.

 

And because of this new change in mom we had to forfeit the chosen bed as they have now decided she now needs to be re-evaluated, re-assessed for a placement for Aggressive Residents. I know dementia can progress alarmingly, but this was so sudden.  3 weeks ago she was pleasant, co-operative, and social. Her usual self.

I remain suspect of perhaps medications that were conflicting or wanting to blame the other two women who are fully in Alzheimer condition that shared moms room who were always devious and manipulative and at times aggressive, or even an UTI ( urinary tract infection). I still have a difficult time hearing about and accepting my moms condition.

Thinking that not much would transpire in a 2 week absence, that we would still just be waiting for a bed, turns out I had left town during the most emotionally trying time. My sister keeping me informed via texts and phone calls and shouldering the weight of the turmoil, my brothers helping her where they could, and me fretting on the other end. Mom has now been moved into a private room and will stay in the hospital until they can stabilize her behavior and until another placement can be found.

Bob and I will be home in a few days, and although I have tried to stay focused and enjoy the time with my daughter and all the activities we’ve done, I’ve been mentally preparing myself for a return to a changed parent, and the following stages of a long goodbye~

 

 

 

 

Kootenay Time

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I’m presently in Kimberly spending time with my daughter, having taken the opportunity to go along with Bob to where he will be working for the next 10 days in Cranbrook, 30 minutes away. We chose to travel from Vancouver taking the more serpentine route of Highway 3, better known as the The Crowsnest Pass instead of the big wide Coquihalla and stay a night in Nelson on the way to Kimberly, well it was a little out of the way but in the general area all the same!

When I was a single mom I almost moved myself and daughter to Nelson in 1986 when hearing of affordable rents for big character houses in an artistically vibrant community, but was then also put off by reports that the town was so surrounded by the Selkirk Mountains that even summer daylight hours were short-lived.

I should have checked it out myself at that time. Yes, the mountains are there but on the town side they slope low and away and while being established on a wide western arm of Kootenay Lake created a charming and rather open valley. Walking its downtown streets I felt an attractive urban pulse akin to my Islands’ capitol Victoria.

Baker Street is the main drag of Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, a village of approximately 9,700 nestled in the Selkirk Mountains. The area offers scenic drives, hot springs, mountain bike trails and quirky shops, galleries and restaurants. The 1987 movie "Roxanne" was filmed here. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
Baker Street is the main drag of Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, a village of approximately 9,700 nestled in the Selkirk Mountains. The area offers scenic drives, hot springs, mountain bike trails and quirky shops, galleries and restaurants. The 1987 movie “Roxanne” was filmed here. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times/MCT) Photo courtesy of internet

I kinda loved it. Of course my daughter does too after visiting herself. ‘We could’ve lived here mom!’

In the evening, we got in to Nelson late around 8:00, we searched for dinner and decided on the Rel- ish Bistro on Baker Street, it was De-lish. Tenderloin for Bob and Butternut Ravioli for me. We left amply stuffed and contented. Next morning we walked around on the search for coffee and asking a passerby directed was directed to Oso Negro. Obviously a hot spot was bristling with patrons. Great coffee by the way. The cafe is surrounded too by a gorgeous garden and imaginative iron works.

I could live here.

After  breakfast we hit the road, crossing the bridge and drove up the coastline to catch the little Balfour Ferry ( the bigger one was being serviced) that would take us 30 minutes to cross over to Kootenay Bay, followed by a 3 hour drive into Kimberley. On a side note, we snidely chuckled when riding across the water saying how we’ve come a little out of our way (which it was) en route to Kimberley just to be able to ride a BC ferry for free, the only one in the fleet. We quietly rejoiced.

Kootenay Lake is massive, felt as though I was back among the gulf islands, and gorgeous. The remainder of the drive once reaching Kootenay Bay and driving down through Creston was bucolic. Stunning country continued all the way to Kimberly.

Kootenay Lake, BC

 

Kootenay Lake BC

 

D.K.Brint
Dinner at Re-LIsh Bistro, Nelson BC

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Oso Negro, Nelson BC