It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted an update, so I’ll try to play catch up.
I was listening to NPR driving over to see her on Thanksgiving and they had a story about how middle class families used to use celery as a palate cleanser before refrigeration was readily available. The wealthy would serve sherbet between courses, which they had the means to keep frozen.
I always wondered about the “celery dishes” Mother gave me. Why would anyone have a special dish for celery? Now I know! So I asked her about it. They didn’t grow it themselves (too difficult), but served celery on special occasions. It was her job to scrub it, which she seemed to enjoy. (continued below)
That led to her telling me about other ways she helped her mother in the kitchen. They didn’t rinse their dishing after washing. (I first saw this in German homes and was quite surprised). Esther dried the soapy dishes and put them away.
Since Thanksgiving she has been more and more passive during my weekly visits. Whoever shopped for her for their Christmas party bought her three pairs of snuggly pajamas that were five sizes too small! I gave them to the staff and told them to give them to someone who could wear them. She also received a fluffy bathrobe which I will shorten about 10 inches.
I bought her a pair of nice suede backless fur-lined slippers. She needs backless because of the Hagland’s deformity on her heels, and the fur to help her always-cold feet. What I didn’t account for is the need for them to be washable. Incontinence does nasty things to quality clothing. Oh well. The staff is doing the best they can.
Last week was the first time she honestly did not know me throughout the entire visit. I discussed it gently with her several times (she usually identifies me as Phyllis, at least for a while.) It registered with her that I am not Phyllis, but the best she could come up with is “You’re related to me somehow through my mother’s family.”)
She does not remember having a family of her own.
I also noticed she is slumping more and more in her wheelchair, so much so that her head nearly touches the back. Getting her to “scoot her butt back so the dogs have room to get in her lap) takes a great deal of effort, but she can still do it.
I will call the head nurse tomorrow to find out the doctor’s evaluation of a discharge she’s been having for the last two weeks from her right nipple . Cellulitis is a possibility, since she had that horrible bout in her left arm 10 months ago. If it’s anything else, we’ll have to see.
This is complicated by the fact that although I have followed the instructions given to me when I first applied for Medicaid on her behalf, they have denied the renewal of her benefits. Tomorrow I will go camp out at the local DFCS office to find out what to do. (It is absolutely impossible to reach any office by phone. Either the “mailbox is full” or the phone simply continues to ring for an hour or two.)
She may have to use her remaining resources as a private pay patient at her nursing home, but the question is how to cover any medical expenses. Coupled with four major house problems I’m dealing with simultaneously, this is not exactly a restful time.
(note on Jan. 12, 2015: Everything looks almost normal now. The doctor thinks it is/was cellulitis, not something more serious. Thankful for any favors!)