They moved Grandma to Room 222 late Friday night.
They called my mother to tell her but when my mother asked why, they could not give her a definitive answer. We dreaded the Saturday visit, knowing what awaited us. Grandma does not take even the smallest of changes very well these days. I’ve heard that is a fairly common problem among Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and I’m here to tell you that shit is true.
To make matters worse, Grandma has a rash under her breasts because the aides do not always put her bra on her when they dress her in the mornings. So now they have to treat the rash and Grandma is understandably pissed off to have these “children” trying to take her shirt off. It makes her uncomfortable, although she no longer has the capacity to understand that.
It was too much for my poor Gran and Saturday was unpleasant for us all. We did what we could to calm her down but you can’t reason with her and we don’t even try. And trying to re-direct her wasn’t working either… she was too wound up. Eventually I just held her hand and hugged her, hoping that the loving touch would soothe her somewhat.
No one could really give us a reason as to why they moved her… the weekend help at the Old Folk’s home doesn’t ever know much. They know only what they read in the patient’s charts for the most part. If they’ve been working at the facility for awhile, they might have a grasp on which patient likes this, and which ones will give them trouble, etc. But mostly they don’t know anything. So we didn’t know why the hell they’d turned our world upside down in one fail swoop.
“We don’t have that many good days left with her,” I told the head nurse. “And you guys have just set us back by weeks, if not months.”
They moved her into Room 222 almost as an after-thought. Some of her things, like her television and her peg board and some of her toiletries, were still in her old room. The bed next to her was piled with clothes and pictures, as if the person who had been in that room died, or was moved elsewhere. Who knows? It was all seemingly done so callously, without regard for Grandma’s feelings or the families’.
The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. But I can’t yell and scream at the aides. They aren’t told anything either and they knew that Grandma’s move would make their jobs more difficult, too. Some of them even care, and were concerned along with us. You can’t get angry or upset with anyone, even if they DID fuck up, because in the end, Grandma is the one that will pay, should one of them decide to get mad at US. So I seethed quietly, trying to make them understand in the calmest possible way that this was upsetting and that we needed answers to our questions.
I listen to all these talks about budget cuts and “tightening our belts” by the political party that brought the country from a surplus to a record deficit in a matter of a few years and I can’t help but worry about what these cuts will do to my Grandma. Texas has Rick Perry, who doesn’t give a flying fuckity fuck about anyone’s Grandma, much less mine. He doesn’t understand, nor would he care, that budget cuts of the magnitude they are discussing would mean that my Grandma might lie in her own shit for hours before someone can help her. He doesn’t understand or care that budget cuts means less workers to help feed and bathe my beloved Grandma. Who will have time to tell her the “Singing Man” is here, the only real pleasure she can enjoy anymore?
I’m so angry. I feel so helpless. What can I do? How can I stop this madness? How can I make the people in this country see what they are doing to us? How is it that all these so-called “Christians” are ok with this? Less education for our children, sick and dying people without insurance, the elderly left to rot in care facilities that are being slowly strangled by budget cuts? What would Jesus do, you bastards?
He wouldn’t have tossed my Grandma into Room 222 like a forgotten rag doll, that’s for damned sure.
I worried about Gran for the rest of my Saturday and on Sunday I decided to check on her again. She was better… not happy, but better. We sat in the sunny visitor’s room with the happily chirping parakeets that some generous soul donated to the Old Folk’s home and although Grandma seemed calmer and less agitated, her hands shook more than they ever have and the old wrinkles on her face were deeper.
“How long have I been here?” she asked me at some point.
“You’ve been here for about three years, Grandma,” I told her.
“I don’t think I want to be here much longer,” she said after a few seconds.
I cried on my way home. What a cruel country we live in. How can we do this to our loved ones? How can we allow it? Why aren’t we marching on our capitols with pitchforks and torches? Why?