a day in purgatory

Eight hours in the emergency room and12 in a hospital room with my mother. And brother.

It wasn’t hell, but it sure was as close to purgatory as I can imagine.

At my insistence and her doctor’s recommendation, we took my mother to the emergency room soon after I arrived on Tuesday. She had a minor fall just before the weekend, and the doctor wanted to get her an x-ray and also — as long as she was there — get the blood and urine tests taken for which she was long overdue.

The emergency room only had one doctor on the premises. And then it turned out that the hospital itself didn’t have ANY doctors on the premises when they finally admitted my mother just after midnight.

The nurses, however, were outstanding — except for one. But there’s always one, isn’t there.

While it turned out that my mother hadn’t broken anything, she did have a major urinary tract infection going, and they hooked her up to an intravenous antibiotic.

HOWEVER, they couldn’t hook her up until they could calm her down, since her dementia was in full swing and she kept trying to fight everyone off. Solution? Drugs, of course.

EXCEPT we have yet to find a drug that will calm her down. Stuff like Xanax has the reverse affect. They finally had to resort to morphine. As long as she was totally knocked out, everything was fine. (Well, fine for her. My brother and I got no sleep, and the most we ate in all that time were cheese sandwiches and potato chips from the nearby convenience store. My reflux was starting to protest.)

Recommendations from two neurologists indicated that she needs 24/7 supervised care. With relentless pressure from me, my brother has agreed to interview home health care workers from a private-pay operation that provides aides trained in geriatric caregiving. Taking care of a 93 year old with severe dementia and all sorts of aches and pains is not a one person job. “Just keep her comfortable,” one neurologist advised. (If only!)

When the Social Worker came in to tell us what our options would be for help when she got home, she suggested a place (private pay) that provided home aids that specialize in geriatric care. Being the assertive “bitch” sister that I am, I had her immediately call the head of the outfit, who came right over to give us the information even before we left the hospital.

One or two of the possible aides are supposed to come over tomorrow for interviews.

There is enough money available to pay for help with her care, but it’s not under my control.

My brother believes that I am a lying, controlling, manipulating bitch.


I’m just going to do whatever I have to do to make sure that my mother gets the compassionate care she needs to have at this stage of her life.

Now, at home, she often speaks gibberish, will fall down if she tries to stand up or walk by herself (which she constantly tries) and has a battery of meds that we all hope will make it easier on everybody. Much of the time she cries — one breath in and on the outbreath a two-note loud sigh. Over and over. For hours at a time. This is not new; it started months and months ago.

I can’t wait to get back to my home. And I want to make sure that my brother hires someone good to help him with my mother’s care. I just don’t know how long I can last here. My sciatica is really acting up from having to help her up and down.

There is no perfect solution to all of this. I’m just too ornery to give up trying for a decent one, for my mother’s sake.

5 thoughts on “a day in purgatory

  1. There’s nothing ornery or bitchy about any of it. It’s insistence for what is right. Assertive? Sure. But that’s not inherently a bad thing. I hope something works this time.

  2. I have done everything but hire a lawyer, which I can’t really afford. I have the county Adult Protective Services keeping an eye on him, doing unannounced site visits. Today I called the State Troopers on him because he was refusing, again, to bring in a qualified health aide and he pulled my laptop out of my hand and threw it across the bed. He’s been abusive to me many times, telling me to get out and throwing my belongings out front door So I filed a domestic violence report on him with the State Trooper.

    The only option I have now is to hire a lawyer and sue him for my mother’s assets to pay for the nursing home. On top of that I gave him the stock my father left me to help pay to bring in care for her but he keeps finding excuses.

    I’m waiting out the weekend; on Monday we’re supposed to interview some health care aides. If he doesn’t accept one of them, then I guess it’s the lawyer. If he can get my money back, I can pay him.

    I’m so tired of this whole thing!

  3. Too bad your bloggers friend don’t ever get to hear the rest of the story – like how you were holding mom after she came home from the hospital and dropped on the floor; or how you abandoned her tonight and laid down in bed (having taken a sleeping pill) leaving her standing alone several feet away on the verge of falling over again. Luckily I walked in before anything bad happened and took her to my room.

    Of course what you never explain is how you took half her money and, rather than keeping it in trust for her as promised (and as i did), spent it ALL on yourself and your daughter and son.

    Why don’t you tell them how, while the police officer was here, mom came out of her dementia for a moment, swung her arm at you and yelled “LIAR” as you were talking.

    Why don’t you tell everyone how you admitted to pulling a knife on me last summer (just because I suggested you not put so much tomato sauce on mom’s english muffin pizza so as to avoid reflux) saying how you’re ready to kill not only me but mom.

    The way I figure it you are just using me as a scapegoat to absolve yourself of blame for your despicable acts.

    I think this says it all.


  4. As my policy, I don’t post comments that have a phony email address, but I’m making an exception this time. Like most family issues, there are three sides to every story: his, hers, and the truth. My truth is that I could not stay and help to take care of my mother 1. because my brother was and still is, constantly verbally abusive to me (and I wish I had the foresight to tape his haranguing and harassing). 2. because I am old myself, have developed my own physical problems, and could not take both the physical and mental strain of being the caregiver who did just about all of the actual “work.”

    It is true that my brother divided up her assets more than 15 years ago. It is true that I gave up my job and my life to take full-time responsibility for her in 2000. It is true that I paid myself for the care I gave her all of those years from my share of her assets. It is true that I used that money to make a space for me to live with my daughter and her family. It is true that my brother has control of her income and what assets he kept in her name. It is true that two years ago I transferred to him $10,000 of my share. It is true that while living with them both over the past three years, I paid for her food and most sundries out of my own pension. It is true that, before I moved out, I gave him 1756 shares of AT&T stock that my father left me (depending on the market, valued between $40K and $60K) so that he could bring in help. It is true that every doctor and other professional who has advised us has said that mother needs 24/7 SUPERVISED care and one person alone can’t do that. It is true that he has, several times, had to leave her alone in the car while he went grocery shopping. And she has severe dementia.

    It is true that, on one very difficult day, as I was making my mom an English Muffin pizza and was cutting up mozzarella cheese and spreading it over the tomato sauce, he (over six feet tall) came up to my side, right up against my body, and kept yelling in my ear that I was putting on too much sauce. I turned to him, knife still in my hand, and wiped the sauce on his shirt. Upon which he tackled me, thew me across a chair with his arm across my throat and yelled at me something I was too shocked to remember. I didn’t start it and I didn’t end it. But I did participate in the insanity because I was at wit’s end.

    It is true that my brother and I have never seen eye to eye on anything except the Beatles. Well, the importance of music, in general. He disagrees with everything I do or say and seems to enjoy baiting me and starting arguments. He has turned me into a victim and is not getting my mother the care she needs and he has her/the money to pay for.

    The bottom line is, he needs to bring in help, and he has her and my money to do that, yet he continues to fight and deny that truth. His reason is that home health aides bring in germs and they will make my mother sick.

    My last option is to sue him for her guardianship and assets. I would have to put her in a nursing home 5 minutes away from where I live. http://www.jewishgeriatric.org/leavitt.html

    I’d hate to have to do that because of the extra stress that the process and result would place on my mother.

    Where does my responsibility to protect her well-being (while I also protect mine) end?

    I wouldn’t mind some input from objective observers. When do I just give up and let my brother do whatever he wants with my mother and then I just stay away because I can’t stand to see her in that situation and have no power to make it any better?

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