Saturday, August 8, 2015

To Everything There is a Season

I think this is the first time I've quoted scripture in my blog, but if there was ever a time for me to lean into the arms of my Creator for comfort, that time is now.
As you are likely aware, my maternal Grandma Krause, whom we lovingly call "Auds" when she's not around, broke her right femur picking rhubarb in her yard the weekend before Memorial Day earlier this summer. She was picking rhubarb to make rhubarb bars for me; because she knows I love them; because she knows I really only love her rhubarb bars.
So she had surgery at AMC in Appleton and because she was progressing so well, her surgeon discharged her to a rehab facility (nursing home) two weeks earlier than he usually does for most of his patients. The nursing home of choice in our family has always been Birch Hill, however they had no available beds, so she was placed at Maple Lane; a little further out of town and closer to Clintonville, but not a placement the family considered outrageous.
Initially, I'm talking for her first week there, she was a rock star in physical therapy twice a day, using her walker versus her wheelchair, and she was told she may be discharged home as early as 4th of July weekend. Lesson #1: NEVER give an elderly person a deadline because they will hold you to that commitment tighter than Donald Trump holds his beliefs about the character of Mexican immigrants.
Five days after my wrist surgery on 06-10-15, my parents and I drove up to see her and she happened to have a "care conference" meeting scheduled that day. My parents didn't attend, although I certainly did because I've got a little medical knowledge which is a dangerous thing. Plus, I spent two years working as an Older Adult Counselor, so I'm much more knowledgeable about Medicaid, Medicare, Family Care and IRIS than anyone my age should be.
The nuts and bolts of the meeting came down to this: If Grandma continued to make progress in her twice-daily physical therapy, began using her arms to help lower herself into her recliner as opposed to just "flopping down" into the seat, and got some appropriate footwear (which my Aunt Margie was already working on) so she could take off the orthotic boot on her right foot, a 4th of July discharge may not be possible at this point, but maybe they would consider mid- to end-of July. Of course an Occupational Therapist needed to make a home assessment first, so equipment, grip bars, handles, etc.could be installed before Grandma's move home. She had a similar assessment after a brief stay at Birch Hill in January 2013, yet nothing changed in her house, which I found kind of odd.
This past week has become "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance" for me; heavy on the weeping and mourning. The reports my aunt (my grandma's power of attorney for health care) had been receiving from Maple Lane were not encouraging for my grandma to ever be discharged to home. 1 1/2 weeks ago she had a "set back" in physical therapy which I have yet to get anyone to provide me with any details of. My second cousin, who is an RN in a nursing home, stopped by to see Grandma today and it took significantly longer for Grandma to recognize her, but she did! That's one in the win column. Apparently last night  Grandma had an "accident" in bed which is not uncommon in this population, but isn't an indication that a resident is ready to be discharged to home, that's for sure.
I admit that I'm probably the one holding out for Grandma to eventually come home. I can't imagine living in a world where she cannot can peaches, make lemon meringue pie, because Grandma make the best lemon meringue pie and my dad loves it. Where she can't bake an Easter ham. That she can no longer live in the home where my dad would come to on Thanksgiving Day for a hot meal before heading back out deer hunting with his friends and where my mom, Jan, Chad & I would destroy the kitchen while decorating Christmas cookies with our cousins. Where I've eaten the best cherry tourte on the planet and something so delicious she named the dessert "Robert Redford" because nothing is as good as Robert Redford. Well these chocolate/pudding/graham cracker crust bars were the closest thing on earth you could get.
As a child, Christmas at my grandparents' was magical. The presents wound their way from the tree all the way to the front door. After dinner our Uncle Norton would play Bingo with us kids on the freshly-cleared dining room table. During the Fair (Labor Day Weekend) some family member would inevitably call Grandma & Grandpa Krause's house looking for a ride home because the cabs in Shawano didn't run at 2am.
I know Grandma's not going to heal well enough to the point where she can live at home again, even with daily or every-other-day visits from a home health agency. I thought I've felt my heart break before, but nothing compares to this. It's like part of me, part of  my childhood and my memories and who I am as a person is moving out too. It's being disassembled and packed up in boxes and spread out among my aunts and cousins. And it hurts. It hurts like someone is plucking pieces of my heart right out from my chest. I don't know when it will happen and I don't know when it will stop. I'm waiting for the other part of Ecclesiastes chapter 3, verse 4 to kick in: when I have a time to laugh and a time to dance, because I'm just too sad for any of that right now.