Monday, January 23, 2017

Double Edged

Getting old is a double edged sword.

On one hand it's a gift being able to grow old with those you love, experiencing all that life has to offer; family, friends, travel etc.

On the other hands it is a complete sh*t show.  Aches and pains, hearing loss, watching many of your friends and family move through the veil has to be really really hard.

My 94 year old Grandma (GG)  has been through a lot.  She was born on the Isle of Wight in England.  She worked in a hospital (or was it a seamstress shop?) during the war and met my Grandfather Alec Letendre during his time stationed in England. They got married and had 3 children before moving to Canada and settling in Winnipeg.

It wasn't an easy marriage, but they overcame much over their decades together. Later on my Grandfather developed Alzheimer's.    He was moved into a care home and passed shortly thereafter. Miss you Grandpa.

After Grandpa passed GG moved from a variety of apartments, ultimately ending up at an assisted living building in St. Vital.  It's a nice facility, but MAN is it expensive.  I get that it covers everything including all of your meals, but still. Yikes.

GG has been deteriorating for awhile now and has been dancing around the edge of whether assisted living was really enough to cover the care that she needed.

A few months ago, she developed some pain in her shoulder.  We took her into the hospital and it became obvious that her health issues extended beyond her shoulder.    We have now given up her assisted living apartment and her new home is St. Boniface hospital until they find her a permanent spot.

One of the positive things here is that despite my Grandma's advanced age, she is still as sharp as a tack.  My litmus test for cognitive aptitude is that if you haven't lost the will to b*tch, you're still in the game.  Case in point, GG has kept a running tally of how many times she has been served abysmal green beans and keeps a stash of cookies to replace the sad little cups of jello.

In her ward she is surrounded by poor souls with dementia.  If you have not seen a ward full of dementia patients, just know that it is heartbreaking.  Major kudos to the nurses and staff who look after our seniors because that is a tough job.

GG is having trouble adjusting and justifiably so.  Coming to terms with it all has to be a big mental exercise.      One the things that makes it harder is she is surrounded by others with dementia.  Adding to the big bouquet of awesome is that she is stone deaf.  Those two ingredients has made her recent time at St. B a  dog's breakfast.

One of the nurses aides had been asking GG questions, but due to her extreme deafness, she would either not answer or answer the wrong question.  As I have hearing loss myself, I understand this fully.  Someone will ask me "How are you?" and I'll respond with "No, I'm not hungry thanks".  My friends jokingly tease me about it, but I get what GG is going through.

Trouble is, because she was handling the questions incorrectly, the aide assumed she had dementia.  Fast forward to GG getting her hair done a few weeks later.  Now, getting your hair done in the hospital may seem like a ludicrous thing to do, but when you stop and think about it, what else does she have?  In terms of dignity, there isn't a whole lot to hang onto.  GG had got a nice perm and was feeling a little better about things.

She was scheduled to have a bath and asked the aide to not get her hair wet as she had just got a perm.  Now I wasn't there, so I can't speak to the specifics, but end result is GG's hair got wet and the perm was ruined.  So there was this incident and a few others (I've intentionally left those out from print).  GG was quite upset.  I'm not able to sit and do nothing when sh*t goes sideways, so it was time for action.

I called the patient advocate at St. B and explained what was going on.  Let me just say that patient advocates should wear a cape.  They mean BUSINESS.  Within an hour of my call, an advocate was visiting GG and getting the lo down on what has been happening.  It became apparent that part of the problems were due to GG's hearing, so they have placed a sign on her bed altering visitors to that fact which should help.

With it all resolved, I was pleased as punch thinking that I had done a good thing.  Well, as it turned out, GG wasn't thrilled with me.  She was worried that the staff would be upset that I called and would retaliate on her.  Both my mother and the advocate assured her that this is absolutely not the case.  While that made her feel somewhat better, she was still upset.

Fast forward yet again.  GG has now been moved from family medicine to the geriatric ward.    They have more of a care home like feel on this ward with activities etc.  It's basically a seniors lounge with health care until they are placed in permanent care homes.

Last week, GG found herself in one of the worst possible situations I can think of.  The gentleman who had the bed (or room, I'm not 100% sure on that) beside her came into GG's room and ... *ahem*  dropped his trousers and proceeded to uh... well, you get the picture. **SHUDDER**

The nurse didn't seem overly concerned and said that this gentleman had been known to do this before and his other room mates laughed it off.  ARE YOU SH*TTING ME?

All of a sudden in a moment of clarity, GG remembered that I had opened a file with the advocate for her and she dropped that advocate bomb on the nurse.  She was moved within the hour.

Sometimes it isn't easy being the confrontational granddaughter, but in this case I'm glad I did as GG would likely not have been moved, or at the very least, not moved as quickly if I hadn't talked to the advocate.  So while she was irritated with me at first, my mum said that she doesn't mind so much now.

That's where we are.  Hopefully things settle down and she is moved into a care home soon.  I really hope that she gets to go to one of her preferred homes, but you can never be sure that you will.

So think good thoughts and send them her way.

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