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I'm baaaaaaack!


1967stingray

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The beginning of the month, I was on a mission to clean the house, inside and out, as if guests were coming, and also the yard, and I was really getting somewhere for a change. Then Ray got a terrible bronchitis kind of cough so I had to attend to that; we did an emergency doctor visit, then I was dosing him with antibiotics and Robitussin, changing his diet to eliminate dairy and generally watching over him while he was sick, poor baby. He got over that quickly enough, then a week later.....the thing everyone fears happened. He has fallen down at the top of the stairs a couple of times over the last few weeks; it's so weird, he is fine everywhere else except when he comes to that top step. He doesn't really fall (or heaven forbid, fall down the stairs), he's still holding the bannister but sort of goes down and rolls over on the landing. The first time may have been he was weak from the coughing; that last step has a lip and he caught his bad foot on it, but then it became psychological and he hesitated and stiffened up like a board every time he got there. I couldn't get his leg to bend at all, then he'd get scared he was going to fall and lean forward, and down he went. I had vague plans to ask for an in home PT to come and help me figure it out at some point.

 

So, after a really nice day out last Thursday (local art museum and late lunch at a well known steak house), he fell again on the way to bed later that night. I had been thinking it's lucky we have the psychiatrist coming up in a week or two: Besides the falling, he also seems a little spacy and doesn't answer me half the time when I talk to him; I was hoping it might be the cough (diagnosed as a possible virus, there was no congestion in the lungs) not to mention the meds he took for it. But the psychiatrist keeps mentioning Aricep and now I'm glad he did, just in case. I just didn’t know what to think, he has always been so sturdy since the stroke. Now he is scaring me a little, going downhill it seems whether real or not.

 

Unfortunately the next morning Ray woke up with his bad arm completely swollen and black and blue. He does take a daily baby aspirin, but still. I gave him some Aleve and iced it, and tried to get him up to go to ER but he would not get out of bed, even when the aide arrived. But he was being mellow, trying to fake us out or maybe the Alleve was working so no real pain. Lots of phone calls to our doctor and the agency nurses and it was agreed I'd take him to the hospital as soon as I could get him up. Ended up being Saturday morning, 9AM (like the break of dawn for him!)

 

So we come to find it’s broken. The humerus bone, why it's named that I don't know because I'm not laughing! They put on a crude cast and also gave me a sling, then left me in charge of finding an orthopedic surgeon for an operation to mend it. Since then, Ray will not come upstairs and is sleeping on the couch, I could only take that for one night myself. He says he’ll eventually come back upstairs but when he can’t say. So our lives are sort of in turmoil, boy I thought things were bad before but I didn’t realize it could get worse.

 

Meanwhile we don’t have a shower or tub downstairs, despite plenty upstairs, so I’m learning about sponge baths in the meantime. Of course the aide is of no use, although her only other clients use her ONLY for showering. I asked her advice and all she said was it will be really hard for me. She also refuses to take him to the bathroom now, she calls me to come do it. Her nurse was here the other day and was on her case, especially because it turned out that she never reported Ray’s broken arm! She said she had to call it in the first day she came but was more concerned about some missing hours on her paycheck, she called but I guess she forgot about the big story she had to report. She is so uncompassionate, it’s scary. She’s obviously only in this for the money, she gets paid a bit more than her old Walmart job plus she THINKS she is unsupervised. Enough about her though, she’s still here and sadly I’m getting used to her shenanigans. I hadn’t even written for awhile because I was tired of complaining about her so much.

 

Finally a week later, we had our appointment with the orthopedic surgeon. Turns out the break is clean and minimally displaced, and Ray didn't really need a cast, just a sling. As a matter of fact, the cast the ER room put on wasn’t even covering the break! The orthopedist removed the cast, said just use the sling, so now I can finally scrub him down with no worries about getting the cast wet. No operation either (which the ER doc said was a definite, whew) and no therapy, due to his arm being out of commission anyway. That’s as good as it gets for us.

 

In happier news, my sister in California has set up a family reunion in her husband’s home town of Cody Wyoming the end of the summer, something to look forward to. It will be our first time on a plane since Ray’s stroke, and if not for Nancy and Dan flying all over I’d be petrified. But I made the plane reservations so nothing will stop us now (hopefully ;-))

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So sorry about Ray's fall but I'm glad it was not worse. Larry loses confidence too even tho he has not fallen for about a year. He is afraid to walk across the bedroom carpeting but I see him do it anyway when he is heading for bed. I have him in PT again and hope he will regain his confidence and strength. I wondered if Ray would go up if you hold onto him and back down?

 

Best wishes for his arm to recover, The trip sounds great!

 

Julie

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Will it or can it be possible to have Medicare pay for a stair lift to prevent any more falls???? I got mine from the VA about two years ago now and I got 16 steps and one hand rail bottom to top!!! They eliminated one hand rail when they installed the chair lift, it's been a life saver for me not having to walk up/down those stairs.

 

My wife was the one who wanted a two story house so I got it for her sake but after my stroke man, I sure could have done without stairs!!

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We have two hand rails luckily, one on each side (second set installed by my brother the day Ray came home) and I have been happy that no matter how much he slacks off, he had to walk up and down 13 steps to get to the bedroom. With my help of course, but I'm willing and able. Likewise the battery chair, I wanted him to get at least some exercise, he is not a real go-getter in that department. Of course, I get more exercise than him, pushing it around.

 

Everyone now is saying, see you need a retirement condo, but I'm sticking it out to the bitter end!

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Colleen: best thing to do right now is get Ray out on the patio while you tend to your garden and pots, then in for a nap - you can get some small house stuff done. The big chores have to wait for a bit.

 

Your trip is too important to both of you. Getting him healed up and ready to travel is the key. Sort through the clothing, pack early. Get the airline rules on the carry on and toiletries and prep for that.

 

Glad to hear Ray is healing up and do consider getting that PT in to make some suggestions as to the stair case. Keep us posted. Debbie

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I wish Ray napped! He's always been high energy, right now (9:30 PM) he did fall asleep watching TV but that's as good as it gets. We don't have a patio, we have two porches which he avoids like the plague, but the driveway suits him fine for hanging out. When he's in the mood!

 

I just have to say, this aide is a fly in the ointment. I am used to taking Ray wherever I go and having to leave him behind, to sit on the couch watching TV, is not doing either of us a favor. She called off sick yesterday, not to me but to her office who called me, that is very strange. She always acts like an independent agent, ready to insult the company she works for. I'm wondering if the nurse's review Friday may have thrown her for a loop. I didn't say anything negative once I realized what was going on (basically polite reprimands) but she is so self centered I can see it hurting her feelings in some strange way.

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Do you have a light over the top of the stairs? I know my Ray had a problem with the transition from light to shade so often hesitated transferring from our lounge room to the kitchen through an area that was less well lit, in winter I had to leave the light on all the time. There may be something you can do to make the transition easier for him.

 

Could there be a way to alter the downstairs area to fit in a shower recess or some other means of him having a shower such as in a wet area for instance like the laundry room if you have one?.I know another couple with a stroke affected husband who suddenly had to live on the ground floor and it can be done but the adapting of spaces to more suitable use can be time consuming and expensive, making moving a better option.

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Our house is relatively new and the lighting is fine (almost too bright), so it's not that. I did the sponge bath yesterday in the kitchen which is tiled. It went OK I guess. I can't imagine Ray staying downstairs forever but I guess it is possible. I do still want to get PT in for some advice too, he needs to get back up and walking, and get over his fear. On the other hand, I've been sleeping VERY well all by my lonesome upstairs ;-)

 

Yeah we don't have the finances to make any major renovations, we'll just have to use our "Yankee ingenuity" for now. If I look at it as a game, it's not the end of the world.

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Colleen: I know the caregiver leaves much to be desired, but that is the exact reason you have her. You say you take Ray wherever you go. The advantage to having her is to be able to give you some time for yourself: like your lunch with friends, that walk on the beach. Even if you wanted to go to that favorite store with all the specialty foods and spices, just to browse. The thing is to get away from stroke for a bit.

 

If you know the day she is coming, that is when you think about some things you might like to do on your own or things that might be easier without all the prep, loading and unloading the vehicle, breaks for hydration and toileting: Doctor appointments, Cats to the Vet, Dentist.

 

Last week I went shoe shopping for an hour. The only shoes I wear are sneakers - the only thing I trust taking him up and down the ramp. I bought an $8.00 pair of slippers, which I needed. So cute-little animal print bows. The point is I had one hour with no worries. Bruce can stay alone now for up to four hours - but I always worry. Did he fall using the urinal and forgot to press his button? Did he drop the remote and tumble out of the WC trying to pick it up? etc. Knowing Erma was here in the house made all the difference.

 

And, especially if Ray doesn't like to go outside with you, you have her there so you can tend to your garden. I know you have some exotic stuff and are trying some new varieties. That is important to you - you deserve the time to enjoy that. I used to go upstairs and take a long hot bath, grooming, Friday nights when Carl came for an hour. And cleaned out the three rooms and closets up there because I knew by year one post and the overtoning that Bruce would probably never be able to get up and down the stairs.

 

I did sponge baths in the kitchen for a month while the BR was being renovated. It works fine, especially with the tile. Washing his hair in the sink works fine.'

 

Get over this set back and then consider if any changes need to be made. I know Ray is not an early riser, but do try to have him rest a bit in the afternoon. It will help the bone healing if his body is quiet for a bit.

 

Big doings coming up. Loved the Strawberry Festival pix. Debbie

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Oh he "rests" in the afternoon,if we're not out somewhere, but watches TV while doing it. Up to now I knew the aide would interrupt her crossword puzzles if Ray needed the bathroom (which he tries to avoid by making me take him in there just before she comes, the sly devil) and all I really worry about is that, or a medical emergency. But Friday, right after her nurse left, she called me down from upstairs while I was on phone with the main nurse discussing the broken arm, to tell ME to take him to the toilet. At least the nurse heard the whole conversation, so they know I'm not exaggerating.

 

I do love my time to myself, mostly errands or yardwork; today I might wash the car or mow the lawn, maybe both. I've had lunch with three different girlfriends so far and that was the best thing of all! But, this woman's other habit is calling me after two hours, despite the fact that her shift is three, saying Ray wants to know when I'm coming home. So I'm afraid to wander too far afield either way. Then I have to hear her inane chatter about herself for an hour. Better than nothing, but man do I wish they could find someone more competent and helpful. Maybe even compassionate, or is that asking too much?

 

I only meant I don't want to leave Ray out of every shopping trip, at least the easy ones, he seems to enjoy them unlike the old days. Yesterday we hit Tangers, I had a bunch of coupons and got a gorgeous tanktop marked $39.99, plus a cute pair of pink aviator sunglasses, for 61 cents total. Yes you're reading that right! Also a stop across the street at Walmart, for some reason Ray likes that store (mostly the fishing section, he used to fish occasionally but not that much so I don't know). I didn't need much, just got some Ziplock bags but Ray enjoyed being wheeled around there too, except when he banged his arm on a shelf. He was definitely tuckered out when we got home....which is less than 5 minutes away!

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Hi Colleen, please that Ray's arm was not too bad, but you need to get rid of home girl, who serves no purpose!

 

That trip is something to look forward to.

 

Yvonne

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Colleen, never go home before the three hours is up. If the paid worker rings you tell her it is her job to distract him for the next hour, you are busy doing whatever. Ask her if she thinks she need retraining as she seems unable to cope etc. I found the word retraining to be a powerful one, no-one wants to think they are presenting as in need of training!

 

It may appear to be a big deal to the one we care for that we go away to get some R&R and they may fret while we are away BUT it it our time, not to be taken lightly or presumed on by others. Just like a mother needs time out from her kids so does a caregiver need time out from the one he/she cares for. Stand your ground.

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Hmmmm - time to perfect the toilet shower ---- it involves a pitcher a large absorbent blanket or a few beech towels - i found the nursing home bedspreads perfect --- i lay it on the floor around the toilet and the surrounding floor -- then fill the pitcher of water dump everywhere, hair back , underarms groin etc. lather him up good and rinse .. if ray scoots himself forward and back on the toilet it can be done with a minimal mess- I promise- If you get good at it - it will become a primary source of bathing.. i did it daily at the nursing home for months ( since they only offered showers 1X week) - then have a washer load ready to throw the wet "whatever" in and wash -- the bonus the floor and toilet get cleaned - incidentally daily --lol….

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Sue, what she actually needs is basic training; to her this is a job that pays a few more dollars than her old job at Walmart and that's all it is. But I am making note of retraining, the nurse the other day was reprimanding her on so many counts and saying "From this point forward....don't do blah blah blah". Today was the final straw. I decided to spend the three hours she was here in the driveway cleaning the car inside and out, it really needed it. So I go out and 20 minutes later she runs out to the driveway and says Ray fell down trying to get in the wheelchair... with her supposed help of course, he won't ever try it alone....and he landed on the floor. With his broken arm, which I have been so careful of up to now. I was so furious I couldn't say anything off the bat; of course she is obliged to call EMT to get him up and of course she didn't, so I got him up and took him outside to be with me. She came too of course but I didn't even offer her a seat, I just let her stand there.

 

I kept asking Ray if he was alright and if his arm hurt, so after about an hour she said, oh I should call this in and report it. I was acting nonchalant for Ray's sake, he was a little freaked out and I just wanted to calm him for the time being. When she left just before 5, I called her place, they told me some kind of call in had occured but I'm not even sure it was for this or from last week, when she DIDN'T report his broken arm. The guy was in a hurry since they were closing and didn't seem concerned at all. I guess he'll be singing another tune when I call the state hotline and report what is going on tomorrow. After I call the nurse at the main agency, of course. I am heartbroken at how careful I've been with Ray since the fall and how the aide was so totally careless when she took over; I will not let her back in my house until he has new Xrays now. I went in at one point and saw her stupid crossword book sitting open on the table where she sits and took a photo of it, just to have something to back up what I've been telling them all along.

 

Nancy, I did the sponge bath in the kitchen, with a big plastic sheet from our old waterbed that I saved for some reason, beach towels on top of that and the shower chair. I have a big bucket that I filled with soapy water, better than nothing. If this goes on more than another week or so I'll get more creative, but he IS somewhat clean at this point so I'll let that go for now. Ray is not the most stable so the toilet can be another source of falls at this point, and then he'll be crammed into the foot or so of space on either side and I'll definitely have to call for help then!

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Colleen, Poor Ray, I know he is very upset! Silly women, she is in the wrong job, time for her to be gone! Do not let her back ! My prayers to you both, and that you get someone that wants to do the job and take pride in who they are caring for. God bless

 

Yvonne

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She's gone! I was writing out all my issues to fax the main agency plus the state agency, but the nurse that is her boss called first thing and was actually very concerned. I told her the aide isn't going to be much help if I have to worry about her every minute, so they will look for someone else now. I told her not to hurry, I could use a break. I also called the orthopedic office and they do xrays there so we'll take another look Thursday, just in case. I feel like I'm on vacation!

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Oh Colleen: I am so sorry. I do hope no further damage was done.

 

Retraining was mentioned, somehow I think basic training was skipped. I just wonder how much training they get based on the way the Nurse reprimanded her.

 

Please do let us know.

 

You probably have tried this, but I always have Bruce stand when I am doing a quick bath outside of the shower. He has the grip bar in the bathroom, but of course it is full size. But even in the kitchen, I would have him stand and hold onto the sink. Head and hair I did sitting, of course, because he is so much taller than me.

 

BUT and this is huge, he has to be on dry solid tile or a bed pad. These are the ones used in SNF or bought at the medical supply store. NOT disposables. Of course, I have a bunch to protect the bed, but a CNA showed me this in the early days. The colored side of the bed pad also grips. She used to use them right in the shower as well. So if you have some for whatever reason, you might want to try that especially for the man areas - LOL.

 

Ray won't move out of his WC or recliner if this stuff keeps happening to him. However with the caregiver being gone and maybe some time before a new one is found, just maybe you can work with him to help get his confidence back.

 

Keep us posted.

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We went to the beach today, instead of him sitting home doing nothing. I'm liking this. The only problem now....the weird sore that developed after the break (the orthopedist assured me it was normal and no big deal) looked a little swollen so I put some bacyatracin on it yesterday and covered it for the night, Now it's bleeding like crazy, luckily only on and off, of course he won't go to the hospital (he's hurt himself at work plenty of times and same deal). So I took his baby aspirin out of the mix for tonight, and the orthopedist is tomorrow at 1:30. If I have to call EMT I will, I am really bad with blood so all I'm doing is sopping it up for now. We'll see how long I can take it, I told him not to freak me out and now he's acting like it's nothing....maybe just trying to follow my orders? I'll update tomorrow.....

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Colleen: hopefully it is just that large hematoma he suffered when he fell. I saw the pictures and it was pretty nasty. He really must have gone down hard. Sorry you have trouble with blood, but if it is the hematoma draining, it really is for the best. If it had to be reabsorbed, it would have gone on for months - again reminding him of the fall.

 

Do let us know. Debbie

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