Things I've Learned From All This Medical Interaction And These Life Changes

Things I've Learned From All This Medical Interaction And These Life Changes
When the party came to Babs.

I was in Iowa with Mom from August 10 until November 8, except for 10 days at home in early September and 6 days at October's end. There have been doctor appointments, an ER visit, physical therapy, occupational therapy, calls about insurance, drug store visits, choosing to move into a new apartment, getting the house ready to put on the market, the moving and sorting and packing that goes with a move, unpacking in the new home, and not least, dealing with hundreds of pills cumulatively. (Mom can fill her pill boxes from memory. I had to make a spreadsheet to be sure I did it correctly.)

I am intrigued by, and interested in, all things medical and life changes. I've noticed a few things.

Unpacking in the new home.

1) "Hon" or "Dear" rather than a preferred name is not cute and friendly. It's dismissive and lazy, especially when the person is 60 years wiser than you. Don't remember the person's name? Ask! I give high marks to the vast majority of medical personal Mom has dealt with, but especially since she has been using the wheelchair for long outings, the use of cutesy names is too much.

2) Tell us your name. Especially in the hospital, you deal with many people, some only once. When you walk in the room, before you grab the arm or the wheelchair, introduce yourself. Just yesterday, the young white man who walked into the room carrying a needle and meds didn't introduce himself before he began preparing to give Mom a shot. I asked, and he was glad to tell me, but it quickly became apparent he remembered Mom from previous interactions, but she had no recollection of him at all.

3) Mom was in a wheelchair for several months because she was building back strength in her legs. Her ears and brain are fine. Look at and talk to her! This one stunned me. The general public when we've been out at Target or Hy-Vee have been better about looking Mom in the eye than the medical folks at the front desk in medical offices.

4) There's often no reason to go fast. There's no fire. If we plan for enough time to get in and out of the vehicle and into the building, there's no rush. And even if we haven't, there's no rush.

Best friend Pippi helped us move items and came to hang out several times.

5) Any box larger than a shoe box should have handles built in. I've moved a lot of items over these last months, and I am done with big boxes, especially without handles.

6) The world is unnecessarily difficult and frustrating for older folks or anyone with a disability. Of course, everyone in those categories has been saying it for millennia, but I'm seeing it lived everyday. Mom seldom complains, besides a very rare, "shit," but cans, doors, steps, clothes, attitudes, there is often so little thought given to how they will be used and perceived by anyone not between the ages of 15-35 who has use of all limbs, full vision and hearing, and endless energy. She's adjusted and altered and adapted, but it is exhausting.

I was frustrated in a recent visit to the oral surgeon. Brand new office building, no accessible doors. When I asked at the front desk, the able bodied young white woman reassured me that, "Just give us a call, and we'll come out and help." Not actually the point. When I indicated my frustration to another staff member, she told me lots of people ask about it, and it turns out you aren't required by law in Iowa to build new office builds with accessible doors. You can "opt out."

7) Thank God for family! The people who have to navigate any process like this without the support of family or an extensive friend group; I can only imagine the mental toll that comes with the physical in that instance. Mom sold her car so we're driving around in a truck that my brother provided. He's not able to help in the day-to-day, but he's always there if something is needed; insight, ideas, even just support that we're on the right track, and that he agrees with the decisions being made. My sister-in-law has helped in an assortment of ways since this all began with Mom's broken hip in July, and she'll be called in for decorating duty when the furniture is all situated at the new apartment. My niece has been my sounding board when I get frustrated or discouraged, and she has had technological ideas to help keep Mom safe when we weren't sure the move would be happening anytime soon. My Rochester family who have adjusted their lives to make sure I can be here in Iowa while I'm needed. It's a lot and trying to do it all alone would be a spirit breaker. And my beloved "friends who've become family" who check in, send me cards, text me, and shoot love for Mom and me our way each day.

Glad these days of needing to walk behind to help are long gone.

8) People are amazing and interesting and deeply fascinating. As I have made countless trips up and down the hallways at Mom's new home, I have stopped and visited with so many of the other residents. They are simply wonderful. Learning about their lives and their histories and their has filled my extrovert battery every time!

"Little" George (My nephew/ring bearer/Mom's tallest grandson besides Jeremy) stopped by for a visit.

9) Most of all I am eternally grateful that Mom is a calm, loving, tender soul. She listened when those of us who love her said that we didn't feel safe leaving her to live alone anymore. We wanted more for her than being stuck at home. She embraced these new changes with an open heart, and has been repaid ten-fold with new friends, lots to do, and a safe, comfortable space to call home.

After the broken hip and the shoulder replacement surgery, before the move to the new apartment.