Monday, November 17, 2008

When Things Go Wrong

It all went wrong. The entire day. Everything.

I'm taking Lindsay for a run this morning to unwind. My muscles ache but I push through the pain. Lindsay scampers on ahead, then comes running back to see what's keeping me.

Both Linda and I have 89 year old mothers living in the same retirement home. However, Linda's mother has been in serious decline over the past 6 months. Whether from stroke or dementia, its hard to know. But she's become very forgetful, and very slow, and very angry. Difficult for the staff to deal with. Difficult for us to deal with.

I trudge on through the snow. One step in front of the other.

A decision was made last month to move Linda's mom to the second floor, the extended care floor. We've put her name into a another facility, but it will be 4 or 5 months until a spot becomes available. Depending on how quickly people die off at the new facility or on their waiting list. Its a tough business, this caring for seniors.

We were to be notified when the move was to take place, so we could prepare her mother for the change. No sense preparing her too soon, she would only forget and get confused. And frightened. And angry.

Yesterday, Linda and I were looking forward to having coffee with Giorgio Di Cicco, the Poet Laureate of Toronto. I talked about that in my previous post. Linda loves poetry and was really excited. But an hour before the coffee, Linda got a phone call from the retirement home to say they had already moved her mother to the second floor and when were we coming to move the remainder of her furniture down to her new room?

"What!" I could hear Linda saying on the phone, "This was supposed to be organized. This was supposed to be a process. You were supposed to warn us!"

Well, it turned out, a room had come available and staff were free that day, so they had gone ahead with the move. Expediency trumps process every time. It was a half hour before we were to meet with Giorgio. Suddenly the day had gone from joyful to a nightmare.

I won't bore you with all the details. Linda went immediately to see her mother. I kept the appointment with Giorgio, but my head and my heart were with Linda. Linda had arrived to find her mother sitting on her bed in an otherwise empty room, wracked with both confusion and outrage. Two hours later, with Giorgio back off to the hundred acre "Hermitage", where he lives North of Toronto, Linda calmed her mother down while her brother and I moved the remainder of her mother's furniture down to the second floor.

It was rushed. It was exhausting. It was stressful. We had words with the staff; but of course, the woman who had made the decision to proceed with the move had already gone home. And won't be in today (Sunday) or Monday. She knows how to time somethings.

Usually a walk with Lindsay is magic, easing away both physical and emotional strain. But, somehow,there is no magic in our walk today.