A Very Long Week

Mom is still at the SNF unit, which has worked out better than I initially feared. When I visited on Saturday morning, I found her bed neatly made with fresh linens – and empty. Mom was in the occupational therapy room at the end of the hall, sitting in a wheelchair and pedaling a stationary bike. She had the IV antibiotics dripping into her arm but no oxygen. She did fifteen minutes on the bike and her O2 levels stayed above 90. The physical therapist was pleased. It was so good to see Mom up and around, able to pedal a bike and walk almost all the way back to her room. For the second time I left the SNF in tears, but these were tears of relief and gratitude.

I’ve been to see her five times since that visit. Sometimes it seems like a pretty OK place, in spite of the close quarters with three beds to a room. She can’t see anything out the high window but a patch of sky, so I brought her a potted miniature rose and another small plant to decorate the windowsill. The staff, for the most part, are friendly and accommodating. Physical therapy, in the bright, spacious therapy room with one mirrored wall and one wall of windows onto a patio, seems to be the highlight of her days.

Other times, like tonight, it’s a challenge just to stick it out for a two-hour visit – trying to ignore the querulous man complaining to the nurses at the station just outside her door about not getting his pills or the woman loudly calling “Help!” over and over and over. Eventually she switched to calling out names (men’s names, perhaps her husband or sons who had left her there?). “Michael… Michael… Help me! Michael, where are you? George? George?” It was heart wrenching. Mom and I worked one of her newspaper crosswords together, then I read to her from her book of daily devotions, raising my voice to be heard over the cacophony of unpleasant sounds around us.

Nights like tonight, I understand why Mom, who is normally so easygoing and agreeable about almost any situation, keeps telling me several times a day how much she wants to leave that place and go home.

The doctor saw her yesterday and says she’s improving. They’ve taken her off oxygen and she seems to be doing fine without it. The results of her latest blood work should be back tomorrow and if all goes well, she could be going home by Monday. Dear God, I hope so. It’s been a very long week, even for me. I can’t imagine how long it feels to her.

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