Friday, August 22, 2008

Don't Bother Calling

While I may not always say it, I give my wife a lot of credit for dealing with her mother. She has given up countless hours, and even days of sleep, to take care of her mother’s needs. She has done what ever she can to take care of her and to make things easier on other members of my mother-in-law’s family. Sometimes, it is surprising to hear what others have to say.

I got a call from my wife yesterday morning that she had just received a call from the Rehab facility where her mom was. The facility noticed something was wrong and was thinking another stroke or a seizure. My wife, when it comes to the day-to-day operations, tries to not burden her brother (my mother-in-law’s son) with all the information because he has made it apparent, through word and deed, he does not want to be bothered. He obviously feels my wife can handle it and probably feels she goes overboard anyway.

Still, yesterday, we were talking about a situation that was serious enough to have her taken to the hospital. Yesterday, we were talking about a situation where a woman in assisted living, suffered a stroke two weeks ago and while trying to give her the necessary physical and occupational therapy, suffered what the trained staff at the Rehab Center feared might be another stroke. Of course she called her brother. Certainly, she should have.

I was surprised to hear my wife tell me that her brother said she should not bother calling back unless it was something serious. To the best of my knowledge, he did not ask to speak to his mother or call her after he was notified of the situation. He simply did not want to be bothered. I find this response both surprising and unfortunate.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


What do you do when you are an advocate for someone and the person for whom you are advocating wants something different then what you feel is the best method of procedure. This is the unenviable position my wife is in.

Following the stroke my Mother-in-law suffered, she ended up in a rehab center. The rehab center has done a wonderful job with my wife’s mother but her mom is not completely healed. There is a good chance she never will get back to the way she was before the stroke.

The rehab center is located in a nursing home and the nursing home has openings to which she could be moved into permanently. My Mother-in-law wants to go back to the Assisted Living facility where she was before the stroke. Her daughter does not think this is a good idea and fears for her mother.

My wife has told her Mom the concerns and expressed them in a meeting with the people who run the rehab program to those people. Clearly her Mom feels differently and this leads to tension. While everyone wants what is best, sometime people disagree as to what that action should be.

As of the current time, my Mother-in-law is not ready to be released from rehab, thus there is no need to make a decision at the current time. Still, that decision is not far off. I hope everyone can work together to bring the matter to a conclusion and that when it is all said and done, everyone is still talking.

I guess, only time will tell.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What'd Ya Do Today?

I took my son over to see his grandma yesterday. Grandma is still in rehab following the stroke and my son has been going over almost every day to see her. It certainly helps with the healing process. Now, it I can only get my son to start talking.

A typical conversation when we go over there goes something like this:

Grandma: “So, what did you do today?”

Son: “Not much.”

Grandma: “You must lead a boring life. You always say, ‘Not Much’”.

That ends the conversation for awhile until Grandma asks him again what he did today.

As we were going to Grandma’s yesterday, I asked my son a question and he told me what he wanted to do was go back to the beach. My wife had a staff appreciation picnic over the weekend at the beach and family was invited. My son had fun going in the water and letting the waves push him back into shore.

Before he passed away, my Father-in-law (Grandma’s husband) loved the water, loved the beach. I told my son that he should tell Grandma about the beach, that she would love hearing it. Unfortunately, the response I got was that he did not feel like talking. When I tried bringing it up in front of Grandma, my son looked at me and said, “You tell her”.

Certainly it is not surprising that Grandma enjoys hearing it more from my son, with the excitement you hear in child’s voice. My son has done more than it is fair to ask anyone his age to do when it comes to spending time and helping his grandmother, so I can’t really fault him or put too much pressure on him. Still, I wish he understood how much it would help with the healing process if he would give her more details of his day (and then I too could learn what he did).

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Wills Are ...

It is amazing what we learn from our parents and how much like them we end up becoming, even when we promise ourselves otherwise. My parents, whenever they would travel would always make sure that the kids knew where the wills were located and gave us information in the event that, G-d forbid, something were to happen to them. As kids, we laughed it off.

After my Mom passed away, one time when my Dad was coming to visit me, he started giving my sister all this information. She stopped him. In part, she found it annoying that the discussion was taking place in the airport, as my Dad was getting set to leave. She did, however, admit to me, that she did not want to be forced to think about this at that time. My dad was frustrated when he got up here so, I sat down with him and got all the information he had and put it on the computer.

This, of course, does not mean thing don’t rub off. My sister and her family recently took off for a trip overseas. She called be before they left and said, “Not to be like Dad but, the wills are…” and proceeded to give me all the information. I guess, for good and for bad, there is no escaping who your parents are.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Lawn Or A Life?

There is a book of Jewish ethics called Pierke Avot (or Ethics of the Fathers). One thing this text teaches is, a person who saves a life, it is as if he (she) has saved the entire world. Certainly it points out the importance and value of a human life. So I asked, what is more important, a lawn or a life?

Let me explain the above question. When my mother-in-law suffered a stroke, my son, her grandson, went to visit her in the hospital every day and still pretty much goes to visit her at rehab every day (or almost every day). Initially, when the stroke occurred, both family and medical staff were not expecting her to come through (hence the reason she was placed on Hospice care). It is certainly by belief that her grandson gave her a will to live and he is the reason she is still alive.

Following the stroke, my son and I were out of town for my Nephew’s Bar Mitzvah and upon returning, our lawnmower broke down and needed to go in for service. As a result, you can probably imagine that the lawn got a little out of hand and was in need of being cut.

The day that I went out to mow the grass, lawnmower by my side, our neighbor came up to me and started to read me the riot act about how bad the lawn looked and how I had an obligation to the neighbor and the neighborhood.

I did not say anything to my neighbor because the truth is, what was being said was the truth. Still, when this individual continued to go on and on, especially since I was getting set to mow the lawn at this point anyway, I did get a little annoyed. I made a comment about my mother-in-laws stroke but I am sure it did not registered.

As you can probably tell, I am still a little annoyed over this comment. After all, since we have moved in to the house, up until this point, we have taken care of the lawn. Perhaps our neighbor would have been better served to ask a few questions before saying anything. After all, I would make the same choice again, it came down to it. A life is certainly more important than a lawn.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Power Of Grandkids

Ever since my mother-in-law suffered a stroke a couple of weeks ago, I have been watching my son, her grandson, and have been very impressed. At first, when we thought the stroke literally meant she had only about 24 hours left, my son rearrange his schedule so he could be with her.

The stroke hit on a Thursday and my son has a lesson Thursday evening. He was ready to cancel it but I suggested we just cut it short a little bit and he agreed. During his lesson, every time the phone rang, I feared it was my wife telling my not to bother to bring my son to the hospital because her mom had passed away. Fortunately that was not the case.

After his lesson, he decided that if Grandma only had a few more hours to live, he wanted to spend that time with her. We went to the hospital that evening and he stayed up past his normal bedtime so he could spend time with her. He decided not to go to camp the following day as well because again, he decided it was more important to be with her than to go to camp.

It was also obvious that my mother-in-law was responding to her grandson. She would reach for his hand and talk with him. We truly believe that he helped keep her alive. It is wonderful the power that grandchildren have and it is rewarding when you have the opportunity to witness them decide they want to help others, truly help others.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Another Stroke

It has been a while since I have submitted an entry on this blog and there is a good reason for it. Last time I entered something, I wrote about concern around an argument with my wife and her mom about her mom wanting to drive downstate with us. Well, that argument never happened.

Shortly after my last entry, my mother-in-law suffered another stroke, her third. It looked like this was the end for her. When she went into the hospital, her blood sugar was over 400 and her blood pressure was something like 200 over 78. In fact, based on the numbers, a certain medication that they like to administer shortly after someone has a stroke, could not be given.

My mother-in-law was unable to eat and kept pulling the IV out of her arm. In fact, they ultimately took her off the IV and moved her onto Hospice. A couple of days later, however, she was moved off, by Hospice, since she was doing so much better.

My mother-in-law was not eating, was not drinking (finally she drank a little bit) and was not getting medication, yet she was doing better. This is a woman who has said numerous times that she wants to die, yet the thought running through my head is, “This is not true”. Based on the damage the stroke did and what everyone expected, I believe that the only way you survive something like this is if you have a will to fight and, if you have a will to fight, then you do not really want to die.

At this point, she has been moved into a rehab center. It appears as though the stroke has done some permanent damage, but nothing nearly as severe as first believed. I think the positive to this is, hopefully, it will give my wife and her mom and opportunity to resolve any issues between them. Hopefully, other people reading this who have unresolved issues with a parent, will also decide this is the time to resolve them.

Good luck!