In and out. That small phrase explains my life this past 6 weeks. First of all, my mom burned her feet and shins in the bathtub. We have 4 and ½ baths and plenty of people here all the time. Therefore, in order to have enough hot water, we keep the water tank on hot.
I have always taught the children to start with cold, add hot water and to always check the water before you get into it. However, my mom has become, I guess, as a two-year old. She never takes a bath on her own, but this day she went to take a bath by herself.
One of the children heard her yelling and ran to get me. By the time I got there from the other end of the house she was in 8 inches of hot water. I immediately turned off the hot, turned on the cold, and tried to hold her feet up into the cold water. (Still to this day, I do not know why in this moment, I did not pull the plug and empty the water.)
After a few moments, I pulled the plug, but kept the cold water on her. Then dried her off and she made it to the bed. Once at the bed with her feet up, I realized that they were not just first degree burns which they were on top. The bottom of her right foot and the heel of the left had blistered. I then called 911.
She ended up in the emergency room at the burn center. When I arrived at the hospital, it was a mad house. There were five ambulances lined up, people were in the hallways, it was a busy, busy, Friday night in the ER.
I waited more than an hour and a half before they even let me go to her. She hadn’t been admitted so she must have been in the ambulance waiting all that time. The whole night was a horrible example of our health care system. Over worked people, too little help, too many policies and procedures that make things worse.
The paramedics had gotten permission to give her a shot of morphine in the ambulance, but she had not received any other medication or care. It took several calls before I finally got her another shot of morphine, but then it made it itch and anxious. She kept pulling at her IV and the various wires attached to her. She scratched at her skin till it bled. She pulled out her IV.
For several hours I just stood by her bed just holding her hands. I finally looked around in cabinets, found some wash cloths, wrapped them around her hands, and taped them so she could not scratch and pull. At one point, I even taped them to the sides of the railings because a medication they gave her made her anxious and she kept trying to get out of bed.
She would throw her legs to one side and then I would put them back up. Her burns hadn’t even been dressed yet. When they did finally send someone to dress the burn, they rubbed t the cream directly on the skin. At home, I rub the cream onto a piece of gauze and then I gently put the gauze on the wound. That way it hurts much less.
Hospitals are also notorious (dumb, in my opinion) for not letting anyone have water…not even ice chips. I do not know how many times I have been with someone or myself a patient…laboring to have a baby, trying to heal after surgery, overcoming sickness…
All these things…the body needs water. Water heals. We are water. And yet they say no water. I would get paper towels, drench them in water, and let my mom suck the moisture out of them. I did this again and again. I wiped her face, her eyes, and her lips. Moisture is soothing. I have done the same with other people. I have even snuck water or apple juice in to patients. I have seen people immediately improve after having had life-saving water enter their system. An IV is not as effective as simply just drinking water.
(yes, I know that at certain times, a person cannot drink…but I am talking about their blanket policy that the second you enter their walls you cannot drink….just dumb…having a baby is like running a marathon.
Can you imagine telling a marathon runner to not drink water?
Well back to mom. Finally after eight hours in the ER, her wounds were dressed. Then I was told they would not admit her. An 82 year-old woman who walks with a walker. Both feet are burned and they are sending her home? Thanks to Obamacare and the cuts to Medicare. We then talked about moving her to a nursing home until she could walk again…
But I took mom out of a nursing home. I just couldn’t put her back into one, even if just for a short time. So at 4:00am, I call home about 10 times until I am able to wake up Fito and tell him to get things moved away from the back door, get her wheel chair, and be ready to help me get her out of the car.
Her nurse had tried all evening to help, he was just too busy to do much, but he did help me to get her into the car which was a very difficult task. It was even more difficult to get her out of the car and into bed. I thought for a while that we were going to have to call the fire department and have those men come and help us.
We finally made it and she immediately relaxed. She did so well once she was home and in her bed. It was the right decision.
The burns are almost healed. Just a little sloughing off of skin still going on. She has fallen down three times since coming home. One day, I had to call the firemen to come help me get her back up as none of the men were home. The third day she had been home, I found her taking a bath with all her clothes on and the dressings still on her feet.
She still is scratching though, and we have tried just about everything to keep her from scratching her skin. She scratches so much that she creates sores. Lately, though, I have been using diaper rash cream with cod liver oil. It has helped with the itchiness and the sores are healing as well.
She also developed a condition on her shin that is an auto-immune disease where huge blister form, weep, then leave large open sores.
Again, we have tried many things, but the diaper rash medicine seems to be helping. I have also started putting a lamp on it to dry out the sores.
I told the college I needed to cut back hours so I could stay home more and boy I did. I probably spend two to four hours more each day being with my mom than I did before. It just depends day to day. Some days she needs me more, some less.
We also have some projects going on. We added a staircase outside to the balcony and extended the roof behind the living room (so the wood for the fireplace is covered in the winter). This meant workers, trips to the store, questions, etc. I also had home-health care come to help with mom. Now we have workers coming and going throughout the week. (In and out).
I have felt more than overwhelmed many days. However, I must say that there is always a silver lining to every cloud. As I have spent more time with my mother, we have talked more than we have in years. As the workers have come and spent time with her, I have again been reminded of her pleasant nature and patience. May I be so pleasant is my wish as I age; to age graciously not only physically, but personality-wise as well.