Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sighting of the Hind Variety

Now that it's "over" I can tell you all about it in a pleasant, objective fashion.

Bwa ha ha ha!

Just before Memorial Day Auntie Blanche got very sick. It was a combination of depression and a possible medication fuck up perpetrated by her new place of residence. We don't have any proof of a cardiac event but we are certain that she was depressed to the point of damaging her physical health. ChemE arrived to visit her and discovered her fully clothed, in bed and planning her pall bearers. She was mentally altered, hadn't been outside in a week, hadn't even gone down to the dining hall for meals and wasn't eating.

This part is not surprising. One might expect that a hoity toity senior residence would have seen this sort of adjustment difficulty before and have been prepared to handle it in a proactive way. Apparently my expectations of the world are way too fucking high. She has a history of being a poor patient when things go wrong and taking a dip in the despair pool before rallying. This dip, however, was deeper than anything we've seen before and by a long shot, too.

Circumstances conspired to make this move especially difficult. Though she is nearly 98 years old she was the most independent person in her previous home. She had her own room, taught piano lessons, played her piano, ran a rhythm band and walked between a half and one mile per day. She was/is scheduled to move into more independent living situation in the new place but none is available thus far. As a matter of fact we've recently found out that the one we thought might become available soon isn't going to free up in the foreseeable future. As a result not only is Auntie Blanche currently in an area set up for very dependent people but she's in a semi-private room. So, pretend you're a 97-year-old only child who never married and then they move you into a semi-private room.

Yeah, it turns out hell really is here on earth.

She happened to be paired with a lovely woman as a roommate but that woman isn't very active and is in bed and completely asleep by 6:45 of an evening. Auntie Blanche is a night owl. Because of the shared situation she doesn't have a TV in her room. There is a TV down the hall but it's fairly tightly controlled by a clique of Mean Girls. This means that Auntie Blanche's night hours are free to be spent thinking. Thinking about how crappy this situation is, among other things.

I trust ChemE, I knew it was bad when she said it was bad but I was able to keep it at a distance while we rallied the troops. (Dear Troops, You rock! Love, Kizz) My mom and SoDivine were two of the first troops and when my mom called and said, "She's a different woman." I couldn't deny how bad it was any more. It seemed, for about a week, that we really might be in the final spiral, especially since she's in a bad cycle with the living situation. The semi-private room is depressing which can effect her overall decline, if she declines she won't be eligible for the independent situation if it comes up and if she doesn't get the independent situation she may not reverse the decline. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

To say I didn't take this well is like saying the Hindenburg was small miscalculation. It has sucked to lose my blood grandparents. Sucked all manner of disgusting things. I'm still not over it and the last of it happened 7 years ago last month. Auntie Blanche has been here for those 7 years, though, and she lived in the town I grew up in, I saw her every week, she took me for ice cream and taught me piano. I'm not saying that it's worse than losing any of the others because it's not but in terms of the practical fabric of the way I plan my life it will be different to lose her and not in a rainbows and starshine kind of way.

Plenty of people have said something along the lines of "Yeah, but she's 97." My inclination is to reply, "Yeah, but you're an asshole." I don't, though, because if someone is saying that they aren't going to understand what I mean. It doesn't matter how old she is, she was delivered into the hands of these people a vital, outgoing woman and they aren't helping her to maintain that level of life quality. That is unconscionable in and of itself but I have to say the dude I'm most angry at is the one who allowed the previous small nursing home to go under, displacing 20 some odd elderly ladies who had entrusted their lives to him. That guy I want to crush underneath my boots.

Not an option, I know. But if I ran the zoo he'd be on elephant cage clean up permanently.

Anyway, I was sad and angry and helpless and depressed and unable to see things very clearly for a bit. It was, I think, an unhappy accident that I got Wit from Netflix on the weekend after this all went down when we still didn't know how she was going to do. If I were a less stingy person I could have waited to watch it or sent it back unwatched but I'm not.

I spoke to MamaKizz and Auntie Blanche tonight and they are both well. Auntie Blanche is incredibly well, she sounds like herself and she told me specifically that she's going to stick around for a while. She's had some help planting the flower pots she brought from her last home, she's getting her hair done on Friday and going out to dinner and I'll be there to see her on the weekend of the thirteenth. I feel a little better.

But the specter still hangs over us, a little closer than it was before, a little more immediate and insistent. It's not here yet, though, not quite yet.


  1. I'm so sorry. There's really nothing else to say. I'll keep vibing for Auntie Blanche... and for YOU.

  2. I'm sorry that she has had to go through this. I remember the few times I met her, she gave off such a wonderful vibe. It was just nice to be around her. And if there is one thing that should judge us in whatever kind of Universe exists beyond this one, it is how we treat our children, our pets and our elders. I'm glad to hear that she's rallied somewhat, and I'll be thinking of her (and you).

  3. Anonymous9:04 AM

    That's so sad.

  4. Enjoy every second with her, Kizz. Every single second.

  5. I'm glad she's feeling better. My thoughts are with you all.

  6. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Just a small scale suggestion, does anyone have the ability to supply her with a portable televison/dvd player and headphones during this interim phase for those long nights?

  7. Thanks you all, I appreciate you "getting" me and what's going on.

    Mikey, that's not a half bad idea at all. She has some hearing loss so I'm not sure if it would work but it might be a thought. I'll look into it. Thanks.

  8. I'm so sorry. How frustrating?
    It's so hard when you really really care for an elderly or ailing person. There's a limit to what you can do.

    I'm sure that just her knowing that you're out there and you care for her means a huge amount. At least there's that?

  9. You're right Kitty, every little bit of good counts. I just feel like she deserves so much more for all she's given. There doesn't seem to be much of a reward for staying healthy into old age.