Friday, September 18, 2015

It's My Turn to Help Take Care of You Both

When my husband accepted a job in Michigan in December of 2001, I knew moving away would not be easy for my parents. I've always been very close to them.  It's really, really hard to put into words what it is like to be 600 miles away from my parents, given that my mom is so ill and in a skilled nursing facility. Around last Christmas, the doctors were telling us she had just a few months and to prepare for hospice care.
 
 
Well, my mom has defied the odds.  Last night, when I was talking to her on the phone though, she was very confused. It truly breaks my heart, because she is a very smart woman.  Given that she has end-stage congestive heart failure, not enough oxygen is going to her brain. I feel like every time I hang up the phone after chatting with her, I've lost another piece of  the "old" mom. This whole experience of putting my mother into a skilled nursing facility has been difficult for everyone involved, but definitely the hardest for my father. My mom had always cooked the meals and taken care of the house. My dad has a wonderful caregiver who is AMAZING and comes in four hours a day, five days a week. My father also wears an emergency alert system around his neck and recently got a keypad installed for his garage. Since he does not want to move out of his house, we have put safeguards in place for him. I keep in constant contact with the staff where my mom lives and I call my dad every night. Earlier this week, my father was thanking me profusely for helping him set up a doctor's appointment for my mom where she needed to be transported in a specialized van. I told him, "you and mom took care of me growing up, now it's my turn to help take care of you both."

 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I'll Miss You


This past Tuesday was Dominic's first day of sixth grade. The hubby, Lauren and I were all part of the send off "crew." Shortly before his bus came to pick him up, we were explaining to Dominic that when he came back home (he had a half-day), Lauren would need to leave to go back to college. Both Lauren and I saw the tears welling up in his eyes. Even though Dominic has Autism, and a "classic" symptom of Autism is "impaired" social interaction, he is one of those kids that wears his heart on his "sleeve."  You can tell by looking at him how he is feeling.
 


The "kids" were able to spend an hour or so together and then she had to pack up. Dominic really did not want her to go. He even went over to his daily "schedule" and crossed off, "Lauren go back to college," which I had written earlier in the morning. I said, "Dominic, did you think if you cross it off, that means she would stay here?" He said, "yes." He also kept saying, "Lauren go to college, then Lauren come home." Shortly before she left, Dominic said spontaneously to her, "I'll miss you." Good grief, I needed a BUCKET of tissues!! Pretty much every night when I am doing the evening call to my dad, Dominic will come in and say, "I want to talk to Grandpa Mike!" He will also talk to my mom, "Grandma Martha." Dominic repeats the same thing over and over to them, but they don't mind. I'm just glad that he does it spontaneously! Since Lauren has been gone, Dominic has been saying, "Grandma is in Heaven." He is talking about my mother-in-law who passed away in 2011. I think in his mind, he is trying to reconcile being separated from Lauren.  Dominic saw a lot of my mother-in-law both when she lived in Cleveland and then when she moved to an assisted living facility near us. I have believed since before Dominic became verbal and also now, that even though we don't think he can hear us, he definitely does. He "files" away certain information for use at a later date. Lauren is so in tune to Dominic that she thinks (and I agree with her) that he is just now coming to terms with the fact my mother-in-law is gone and not coming back. That's a hard thing for an adult to adjust to, much less for a child with special needs. I told Dominic that Lauren has left, but will come back. It's much, much harder to explain that his grandmother is not.


Even though Dominic's private speech therapist has only been working with him a year, she knows him pretty well. She told me with increased speech there will be highs, but also emotional pain. I totally agree with that. Now that Lauren is back at school, we will start talking to her on Skype once a week, just like we do with my stepson. I'm hoping that helps with the separation!