A Letter From A Reader
I received this letter from a reader, and she allowed me to share it with you.
“As you know, my mother-in-law experienced a sudden physical and mental decline this past October. She no longer has the ability to walk, and she is now living in a nursing home. She has several physical problems, including wet-form macular degeneration in both eyes. With regular treatments, her vision can be preserved, but without treatment, she will lose clarity and will eventually begin to lose the center of her field of vision in each eye. The treatment for Wet MD is an injection in her eye, which has to be administered in the doctor’s office. The doctor comes to the office in our town only one day each week, it is difficult to get appointments, and the visits often take 2-3 hours to complete.
Mom had an appointment to get an injection shortly before Christmas, but she was very tired & weak that day. I didn’t think she could manage to get in and out of the car, much less endure an appointment. I rescheduled the appointment to January. On the appointed day, she was tired but willing to try going to the doctor, so off we went. After waiting for a long while and completing the initial eye exam, we were on our way to the second phase of the appointment. Mom said she felt sick to her stomach. She had recently been diagnosed with another urinary tract infection (UTI) and had just started antibiotics again. Because she doesn’t eat much anymore, she tends to complain of feeling nauseous after she takes her morning meds. I explained this to the medical tech, but the felt it wouldn’t be safe for Mom to proceed with treatment if she was feeling nauseous. I was upset – crying even though I was trying not to. I felt like I was failing, but I had to come to grips with a very real truth as Mom’s caregiver: sometimes I have to prioritize Mom’s short-term well-being over her long-term wellness.
For the sake of the coming weeks and months, I wanted Mom to have her injection. I wanted her to be able to see her son & grandson clearly, read the cards her sister sends her in the mail, and enjoy the family pictures that hang on her wall. But the truth of it is, Mom no longer needs clear vision to accomplish activities of daily living. When she was in her independent living apartment, she NEEDED to be able to see. Now she lives in a nursing home and receives assistance with everything: they feed her when she’s too tired to lift her own spoon, they help with toileting & bathing, they transfer her from wheelchair to bed, they manage and administer her medication… The shot really wasn’t the most important thing Mom needed that day. On that particular day, she needed to go home and rest. That was really hard for me to admit, but it was true nonetheless. I pulled myself together and rescheduled her appointment to another day.
When the 3rd attempt for the eye appointment rolled around, my husband and I worked together to make sure Mom got some food in her belly at supper the day before the appointment. My husband drove up to the home to feed Mom himself. I asked the staff to let her nap in the morning so she’d have adequate energy for the afternoon appointment. As I had feared, her vision had degraded in her good eye due to the delay in treatment, but the doctor expected that it would improve again with the medication.
I’m trying to take things one step at a time and deal with each day as it comes. I’m thankful the nursing home staff cares for her thoroughly and I can breeze in with my three-year-old as the doting daughter-in-law who brings Mom a chocolate candy or a root beer or a Wendy’s Frosty. Some days are better than others, but we are learning to be a bright spot in her day whenever we have a chance to do so without putting demands on her to make conversation or even to get out of bed. It’s hard sometimes to achieve the right balance between Mom’s momentary happiness and her general wellness. When she was more independent, I think we focused on the latter more than the former, but now that she’s in skilled nursing facility, we are able to leave “general wellness” in the capable hands of the staff. This allows us to be a source of “momentary happiness” for Mom whenever possible. ”
I was happy to receive this letter, and I hope you learned a little something about the importance of enjoying the moment. If we don’t enjoy the moments in life, we miss out on a lot of joy! Hope that gives you Something To Ponder.
Sometimes, You’ve Just Got To Laugh!
Just ordered a chicken and an egg off the internet to see which comes first. I’ll keep you posted.