Amy’s Life in Brief

Course Changes
September 19, 2009, 9:12 pm
Filed under: changes, family life, grief, PTSD, relationships | Tags: , ,

I just finished reading Ten Degrees of Reckoning tonight. It was a book that was riveting, yet very hard to read. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish it. I only read a heavy book like this ever once in awhile.

Given the nature of my work, and I’m sure my readers who are fellow social workers will understand, I tend to read somewhat light hearted fare such as this. But, after reading a book about one of the first round-the-world sailing races, I came across this book in my search for other books about circumnavigation of the globe.

It was a hard book to read because I’m a mother. I cannot imagine suffering the enormous loss this woman did and being able to get up each day and move forward in life. It is a testament to the spirit of Judith Sleavin that she has been able to do just this.

It was also difficult because of the realization that small alterations in our course in life can have giant impacts. Most of those impacts are unforeseen. You would think I would know this given the line of work I’m in. I see all the time who bodies fail people, how making the simple decision to travel in a car alters the course of someone’s life, or how just being born into a particular family can set a person down a particular path.

Somehow, though, I connected with this woman and the tragedy she survived. I feel more fragile and more grateful.


Getting old just reeks!
August 16, 2009, 9:54 pm
Filed under: birthday, family conflict, family life, grandma, home life, relationships | Tags: , ,

So, I’m back from my trip to visit my grandma. She just turned 96 years old on Friday. She is a very independent woman, always has been. I never bitched too much about my trials as a mother with young children. This is a woman who had her first two children 13 months apart. She lives in a cabin with a dirt floor in a logging camp. She had to get up at 4:30 every morning. Why you ask? So she could get the diapers off the clothes line before the logging trucks came through and they got covered with dust.

Eventually, they moved to “town.” It wouldn’t be what any of us would consider being in town, but after a logging camp, maybe it would. She ran a small dairy while my grandfather worked in the woods. Oh, and she had four small children by this time.

She’s been reasonably healthy up until probably the last year or so. Took very little medication and drove. She still lives on her own…and the reason for this entry.

She is on that razor’s edge of being able to live on her own and needing more assistance. She’s probably, rapidly tipping over towards the side of needing more assistance. She has been having a fairly severe problem with anemia, so much so that she required a blood transfusion last week apparently. She has a-fib, a type of arrhythmia that can cause some problems. She’s also had some congestive heart failure. The biggest thing, in my opinion, that is a huge barrier for her to remain safely in her home is her macular degeneration.

One of my father’s cousins caught her last week almost taking three times her normal dose of Lasix. While having dinner last night, she had to ask what was in each of the dishes. She has fallen out of bed and one night apparently lit a series of matches to find her way to the bathroom. Why she has matches in her house, much less by her bed, none of will ever know. But, it is pretty frightening.

The most difficult part is that she is adamant that she will remain in her home. She is also adamant that she does not need anything close to 24 hour care or even someone to spend the night. She does have a life-line in the home and has for several years. She also doesn’t recognize how high risk she is for a fall.

I suggested a bedside commode for night so that she doesn’t have to try to find the bathroom. Of course, she was horrified. She said, “Well, my bathroom is right over there.” Over there is through her bedroom door and around a slight corner. I said, as gently as I could, “Grandma, you don’t have to walk a long way to have a bad fall.”

There could be a number of different things that could be done to make the bedroom safer. The sad fact, though, is that no matter how safe of a set up we have, the likelihood is that she WILL fall. It doesn’t really feel like a question of if she falls. And there is enough conflict between my dad and his siblings, no matter where it is that she falls, they will all point fingers and say one of two things to each other:
Statement #1-“I told you we should have moved her into an assisted living!”
Statement #2-“What good did it do to move her out of her home! Those people let her fall!”

So, it sucks watching someone get old…and I’m sure it sucks even more being the one who is getting old.