Always a Few Glitches. You have to Expect That.

I think a lot about how the world is and how we think about it. Right now, I am feeling very grateful. Kate has been home from the hospital just over a week, and the past two days she has shown significant signs of recovery. She may not return to exactly the way she was before COVID; however, if we can get her on her feet again, she might be pretty close. She was able to eat and drink successfully if not in the same quantities as before. She was also more cooperative when moved from her back to her side and when we changed her. I have found it helps a lot for me to lie beside her in bed and hold both of her hands while the caregiver takes care of these things. She seems to find some sense of security in that.

I’m also grateful for the numerous people who have sought to make my life less stressful during the past two weeks or so. These interactions have included Kate’s doctor’s office (a great geriatric practice), the hospital’s doctors and nurses, the Home Health agency personnel (especially their nurse and the physical therapist who did an initial assessment), our church, the friends and family who have called, written, or dropped off a meal, three different servers at restaurants we have frequented over the past few years (one of whom brought us a Thanksgiving dinner) as well as a host of Twitter friends who have expressed their concern and support including one who phoned me twice from New York and the AlzAuthors management team who in addition to their emails and Twitter messages of support gave me a gift certificate for Panera. My experiences with each one have reinforced something I already believed in – the basic goodness of people. I’m a rather self-confident and self-reliant person who has been lucky not to have needed such acts of kindness before now, and it has made quite an impression on me. I think I will be “paying it forward” for a long time to come.

In the midst of this largess of support, a few glitches have occurred. Both of the agencies who have had to work quickly to provide the help I had requested made mistakes on the schedule I had asked for – 8 hours a day starting at noon and ending at 8:00. One agency provided help between 1:00 and 7:00, the other between 11:00 and 7:00. In both instances, it wasn’t a misunderstanding. Those were the hours they were able to work out with their CNAs. I called one of them to say that on Monday I have a Rotary meeting at 12:30 and would like someone at noon. They corrected that right away. I talked with the other agency about their schedule of 11:00-7:00. I wasn’t rigid about the schedule I had requested and agreed to try theirs to see how it worked.

The next issue wasn’t anyone’s fault. The caregiver that had been coming on Monday and Wednesday and was my favorite declined to return after the first day because she has a back problem. She felt moving or changing Kate was going to be a problem. I was disappointed, but I could hardly blame her.

The day after I received that news I was eagerly awaiting a visit by the physical therapist at the Home Health agency who was to train me on the Hoyer lift. It turned out there had been a communication problem between the social worker at Kate’s doctor’s office and someone at the Home Health agency. The social worker at that same agency was scheduled to come to the house late that afternoon. She simply got tied up with other cases that day. I was assured that she would come late the next afternoon. It was 6:30 before she arrived, and she was here close to an hour and a half. It became obvious to me that she takes a lot of time learning about her clients’ situations and needs. She liked her, and I never said a word about her not coming the day before.

The following day I received a call from my other in-home care agency letting me know that the CNA who was to be with us that day was sick, and they hadn’t been able to find a replacement on such short notice. Before I could feel any disappointment, the person who called asked about the most important things I wanted to the caregiver to do that day. I told her it was changing Kate, getting her on her side, feeding her lunch, and changing her again late in the day and giving her dinner. She said she would come over and take care of those things for me. I thought that was going beyond the call of duty but accepted her offer. It turned out that although she works as the scheduler in the office, she is also a CNA and very skillfully handled her responsibilities with Kate. I was liked her too.

Given the stress I had been under, I might have been upset (frustrated? disturbed? angry?) by any one or a combination of these glitches, but I didn’t feel that way. I was simply too moved by how much everyone was working to make my life easier that I couldn’t be upset. There will always be bumps in the road. These won’t be the last ones.  It’s important to keep them in perspective even when we are stressed.

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