It seems a lifetime ago that I watched my mom agonize over the decision to put her mom in a nursing home. Today my mom is the one in a nursing home. She fell over a week ago and fractured her pelvis. Since she has severe osteoporosis, she is not a candidate for surgery and must simply wait for the fractures to heal. She cannot walk, or stand, so she is either in bed or the wheel chair with short periods of physical therapy.My mom is a fighter. Not a knock down, drag em’ out kind of fighter, rather a lay low and let it flow kind of fighter. Being in a nursing home is hard though, and I wonder if she can lay low enough to survive the hundreds of little indignities she will have to endure before she can return home.
I visited her just hours after she was transported by ambulance to the “rehab center.” I walked in and was assailed with unmistakable smell and sounds of a nursing home. Most rooms were dark with tiny forms under white blankets. It was only 9:30 PM. I made my way to my mom’s room. She was in bed and they had removed her teeth so she looked, for want of a better word, awful.
My mom is a night owl; she didn’t want to be in bed at 9:30PM. She was happy to see me but embarrassed about the teeth thing. She was in pretty good spirits but had already slipped into the role of a good nursing home patient.
She referred to herself as “we” and the staff as “they.” It was necessary to refer to the staff that way since no one, please read that carefully, NO ONE, took the time to introduce themselves to her or to me. She had been there a few hours when she finally gave into her need to use the bedpan. She pushed the call button, we heard it ring in the hall, but no one responded. We waited and waited and waited. After 10 minutes or so I went into the hall and flagged down a nurse. A few minutes later someone came in to assist. I stepped out into the hall to give my mom privacy.
It was interesting, there were nurses and other staff in the hall, but no one would made eye contact with me. They seemed to make a point of not talking to anyone except other employees. I left that night about 11:30 PM. It was hard to leave her there.
Here is the difficult thing – I live 75 miles from the nursing home. I am between jobs so I have all the time in the world to spend with my mom, but for one thing, the price of gasoline. Even with my economy car, one tank is approximately 2 1/2 trips. Last week the cost to fill my tank was $40.00. This makes for a very hard choice – food or gasoline?