Saturday, October 10, 2015

We’re in Lynden, Washington



I have been getting some folks telling me they are wanting an update to hear how Lorraine is doing.  I didn’t realize I haven’t written since the day she moved in here to this care center.  Even though there isn’t too much to report, I’ll do an update anyway.  

Last report I gave the name and address of where Lorraine is now residing, she is able to receive visitors and appreciates all that have stopped by, called, written or commented on Facebook.  I read all the comments and such to her and it makes her glad to know so many folks are wishing her well and praying for her recovery.

This place isn’t the same as Shuksan, nice but its bigger so it doesn’t have the “family” attitude.  Everything is more structured here.  Everyone seems nice although we have had some issues getting to know everyone’s mannerism and such. 

Lorraine starts her day off by getting up before 7am, she’s almost always awake before I get here at 6.  Two nurse’s aides come by to get her ready and in her wheel chair.  After that, I help her brush her teeth and hair, she’s learning how to do more things only using one hand.  Only change to that is when she gets a shower, they get her up a little after 5, give her a shower and lay her back in bed until the normal 7 get up time.  When I get here on those mornings, Lorraine is freezing so I bring her a hot cup of coffee. 

We usually head to the dining room around 7:15 for breakfast.  Lorraine fills out a weekly menu request for her meals but she is always asked when she gets there what she would like.  The food is good and they attempt to give some variables as wanted.  Of course, this being a nursing home, some of the residents need more attention/help to eat so most of the aide are at the tables during mealtimes.  After breakfast, Lorraine is ready to lay down and rest but has to wait until the last wave of breakfast folks are done, usually around 8:45.

Lorraine then rests until they help her get up for her scheduled therapy at 10.  Depending on what therapy they are doing, I am usually asked to leave the room, guess I’m a distraction and try to “help” too much.  They usually have her ride a powered bike for 15 minutes, mostly to keep range of motion in her leg.  Then they move over to the platform where they work on sitting.  She still has trouble sitting upright, she falls to her left still. 

They are working with her to transfer from her wheel chair to the therapy platform or her bed using a slide board.  Basically they position a board under her and bridge the gap between her chair and bed then assist her in sliding over.  If she has a handhold where she can pull herself using her right arm, she does really well but still needs two people to assist.  On these days when the weather is so gray and damp, her arthritis is a limiting factor in how much she can help using her right leg, her knee is so sore from arthritis.  

Then they move over to the parallel bars where they position her wheel chair between them and have her stand.  She can almost pull herself upright using just her right leg and arm but someone has to block her left leg so it doesn’t fold/collapse.  And she also can’t stand straight either, she falls to her left.  

Lorraine is still having some mental issue, sometimes she doesn’t know where she is and gets confused.  The speech therapist is working with her on that and every morning, first thing, I give her a calendar and have her mark off yesterday and we work on what today is.  We also talk about where we are (Lynden) and what building (Christian Health Care Center) and why she’s here (stroke).  That talk seems to help her be more orientated, at least for awhile.   

Lorraine really works hard at therapy and is usually pretty tired after they are finished, usually just over an hour.  She usually just rests in her chair until lunch at 11:30, once again she is in the first shift to eat.  If the weather is nice and it’s warm enough, I’ll usually push her around outside so she can enjoy being out too before lunch. 

After lunch she is once again tired and ready to lay down to rest so we wait for the aides and they help her get into bed.  She likes to get up and get ready to go again around 2:30 or so.  After she’s up and ready, we usually roam the hallways or go outside or check in with the activity room gals to see what’s happening there. 

Dinner is about 4:30 so we head over to the dining room for that.  Lorraine normally likes fish but she’s found the fish here is not very good so she doesn’t order that.  They always have an alternate choice or she can get one of the anytime meals (chef’s salad, grilled cheese, mac salad, hamburger, soup) if she prefers. 

After dinner we usually watch TV and talk for a couple of hours until she wants to lay back down and go to sleep, about 7 pm or so.     I hang around until she is asleep, we have a little routine that we go through when she is ready and she falls asleep pretty quickly after that. 

Lorraine is still getting terrible headaches all day, has lots of pain when as the nerves on her left side start waking up and her joints hurt her most days.  She is on a routine pain management schedule, pills every 4 hours except they give her a long acting one at night.  The aides do come in every two hours at night to change her position and place pillows under one side or the other so she doesn’t have uninterrupted sleep but she manages.  During the daytime she has some rest periods but usually doesn’t sleep much.

Lorraine will probably never be able to move from her bed to a wheel chair to a car by herself again.  Her left side is completely gone although she is able to move her left leg a bit but no strength there.  The therapist were hoping to get her to use a pole by her bedside to move but they don’t think she can do that with the diminished strength in her right side. 

We are still hoping she will be able to graduate to home health care within a few months and I’m going to have one of the therapist go by our house (empty at this time) to check it out with her.  We are also thinking of moving to other places that are drier (Palm Springs comes to mind).  I know I can’t possibly give her 24 hour care like she needs and will have to hire someone to help.  We haven’t even looked into filling that need yet but know these folks are out there. 

Mentally she is all here, she knows and understands what is happening except for a bit of confusion at times.  She is mostly upbeat about her condition although she does have a few down moments.  She is handling this a lot better than I would, that’s for sure.  She really hates being dependent on others, especially for her care but accepts the fact she just can’t do it for herself after the stroke.  And most of the nurses and aides treat the residents with respect and care, I’m glad to see that. 

Lorraine had to go to her regular doctor a few days ago, he checked out her meds, made a few changes and checked her over.  He told her he had heard good things from the therapists here, that she was working hard and showing some signs of recovery.  He told her to just continue on and work hard. 

She also had an appointment with the neurologist who treated her right after her stroke in the emergency room.  This is the guy that worked to send her down to Seattle so they could attempt to harvest the blood clot from her brain.  He called me twice while Lorraine was in the hospital in Seattle, wanted to be kept up-to-date.  Anyway, he checked her meds, made a few adjustments and wished her luck.  

I have been trying to find a wheel chair accessible van to purchase so we can go out on outings.  There are three main models that they do these conversation on, Honda Odysseys, Chrysler and Dodge minivans and regular cargo type vans.  The ramps can be installed in the back (the wheel chair is positioned in the rear row of seats) or the passenger side door (the wheel chair is in the middle row or either front seat area). 

After all my research, I want a converted mini-van with an electric, automatic ramp that goes under the floorboard, not the kind that folds up and blocks the door.  I also want the front passenger seat to be removable so she can ride in that position in her wheel chair.  Of course, this means the middle row of seats have to be out too but the back row of seats remain in position. 

I’ve researched everything I could find between here and South Seattle and found a few but most of them aren’t what I want for her.  I found one a guy in Bellingham was selling but it was in pretty bad shape, the ramp and the sliding door didn’t even work.  Granted, he only wanted $3000 for it but I don’t want something that I have to work on. 

I did find another one near Puyallup, an ‘08 Honda Odyssey, and made a deal with them to have it delivered to me up here.  But when it got here it turned out to be a piece of junk.  The check engine light was one with the associated buzzer going off, the brakes grabbed and stuck, the steering wheel didn’t return to center plus a few other items.  Beside the fact they had problems getting it ready, it was three days late, and didn’t do a good cleaning job on it either.  So once it got here and I took it out for a short drive, I just turned them around and didn’t purchase it.  I called the owner and told him I didn’t want it and explained why, his response was “You do know this is a used car?”  I’m sure I made the right decision on that one but Lorraine was really disappointed, she was really looking forward to being able to get out. 

I also had one that I found in Los Angles, yes, in California.  This was a 2012 Honda Odyssey that a guy had bought for his dad, had it converted but his dad only rode in it 5 times before he passed.  The guy kept this car in the garage until now, it only had 5,400 miles on it.  He listed it on Craig’s list where I spotted it.  We talked on the phone a few times and made a deal to buy the car.  I called and left a message on his phone one evening and he misunderstood what I said, I told him the money from my IRA hadn’t made it to my checking account yet.  He thought I said I wasn’t able to get the money.  Anyway, he sold the car to someone else, a dealer who will just turn around and sell it for a big profit. 

I’ve also been working with a dealer in Minnesota who do these conversation themselves.  They also take used models back, go through them and resell them.  I checked them out pretty well and it looks like a good company and they do a good job of checking out used vehicles.  I’ve talked with them quite a few times and finally decided to buy one from them, a ‘09 Honda.  I called the salesman and made a deal and they were to deliver it to us here. 

When I asked when the driver would head out, figuring a couple of days at the most, he said it would be 5 weeks.  WHAT, I wanted it now, not later.  I didn’t understand they have these used cars in stock but the don’t recondition them until someone purchases one.  The reconditioning process takes 5 weeks, they go through them pretty thoroughly, even to the point of replacing the carpeting and repainting them and they want to make sure they have it optioned out for the new owner. 

Once again, back to the fall back plan but this was my fall back plan.  I spent the night thinking about it and called the guy back in the morning to see if they could do the reconditioning quicker, like two weeks.  He talked with the production manager and said they would attempt to have it done in three weeks then deliver it here.  He also will be taking our car in on trade and the driver will be taking it back to Minnesota.  So we made the deal and they are getting it ready for us.  He won’t give me a firm date of when it will be delivered but we have a “good faith date” of Nov. 3rd. 

If you know of anyone who would like a good deal, I’ll sell our 2014 GMC Terrain for what we are getting on trade-in, $23,500.  It has a 4 cylinders engine and just over 19,000 miles with all recommended services done on time.  It is equipped with a Roadmaster tow bar and Air Force One auxiliary braking system so it can be towed 4 wheels down behind our motor home.   We bought it new in Yuma and it’s been a great car for us for the short time we’ve had it, hate to trade it in but we want a wheel chair van for our needs now. 

Lorraine has really been wanting to go to her sister’s house to see her and her husband, John.  Thelma has been by to see Lorraine a few times but John has some medical and doesn’t get out often so Lorraine wanted to visit with him.  That’s one of the major reasons I’ve been working to get a van as soon as possible.  So one day I signed up with the van driver from the center here to make an outing to her sister’s house.  We were only able to get an hour there but at least she made it to see them. 

I had a talk with the social service gal here, I want them to help me research the idea of Lorraine moving to a nursing home in Palm Springs area.  Lorraine really wants to get out of this area, especially during the cold, damp wintertime.  And if Lorraine graduates to home care, we could always get a place down there and hire help as needed.  I’m sure, with all the winter travelers who head to the area, there are places and people that will fit our needs.  But all of this is down the road, she has to have more/better recovery first.

Guess that brings us up to date. 


Thanks   Chuck