Monday, April 10, 2017

Phone Conversations Going Bad

Duty is what one expects from others. ~Oscar Wilde

My husband keeps reminding me that he is making small moves in regards to his mother because when we look at everything, it is just overwhelming. First things first and that was to find more permanent place for her to be. March 31st was her last day allowed on Medicare. My husband, under the attorney's advice, has been changing things over so that she would qualify for Medicaid and we would be managing her property, as we began to realize that it was unlikely that she would be ready for assisted living and still in need of nursing care. In part, that is because her knee, where she fell and had become infected, it is still an open wound, although smaller than it was it is also still a large wound. The other part is her difficulty with caring for herself and dressing herself below the waistline, although she has made improvements there as well and might still.

The place she was in is mostly a rehab type of nursing home, so although the facility is a licensed nursing home, they make more money with rehab and only keep a few beds for nursing home care. In other words, they wanted her out and they made that very clear to her. They legally cannot kick her out, but they can pressure her and this facility is notorious for doing just that...apparently. Now my husband and his mother both have told the case worker there that he has power of attorney and the case worker was to talked to him, but instead, because she is clear minded, the policy is that the case worker would pester her until she was having anxiety and inability to sleep at night—not really the policy, per se, but certainly what they do. Our attorney warned us about this because of their experience with that place.

On our side, we had been waiting for the final evaluation from that same facility to know whether Mom needed nursing care or could go into assisted living. Neither we or our attorney got a call or any paperwork, which is supposed to be done three weeks before the Medicare cut off. So we finally get the evaluation just nine days before they want her moved out and they were suggesting assisted living because they found her to be borderline, but being that she is clear-minded, they leaned on the lesser care. We disagreed with the suggestion based on the fact that she was at the time unable to care for herself below the waistline, she is so susceptible to serious infection, and...well, Mom rather have people waiting on her, perhaps because she tires out so easily or she just enjoys attention if she is more helpless.

We had been calling Mom nearly every day for two weeks before the deadline week but not talking to her because she did not answer her phone. It has been very frustrating but Mom has her reasons. Reason one, she cannot screen calls as she has done at home since the invention of answering machines and she likes to know who is calling before she answers because she hates telemarketing calls and, reason two, she always tells us the phone is too far for her to reach, as if she cannot ask a nurse to place it near her after she has finished a meal.

So one day around her lunch time, when I knew a nurse should be there to give her the phone since she would have just come back from therapy, I called Mom and she did answer. I began to talk about the Princess' judging for piano and how she had another competition coming up, but Mom was not at all interested and asking me about where we had her set up to be in Georgia and began to tell me how the rehab center was preparing the transportation to bring her up here.

What? Now I am upset, because my husband and I both did not want me to be the one to tell her that she would not be coming up here, not now and most likely not at all. All I did say was that she needed to talk to her son and that he had been working on finding a good place for her, which was not enough for her.

Now she gets very upset saying she had not talked to him for two weeks. At this point, my frustration vented...just a little: "Mom, your son has been calling you nearly every day since he was there two weeks ago and you have not answered your phone." To this she replied with her typical excuses about the phone being too far away, or she was in therapy (which was in the morning so we did not call her in the morning), or she was napping. "Uh-huh. Well, if you really want to talk to him, you might need to keep the phone close by at all times. He does work for a living so it would be helpful if you considered his working schedule and kept the phone near you particularly in the evening when he is not working and better able to call."

So I ended up being accused of upsetting her, which certainly added to my frustration as I was just calling to have a pleasant conversation about how well the Princess was doing with piano and generally what improvements she had made, even though I had been concerned that we had not been able to get through to her for two weeks. I reminded her that she asked me about things that she needs to discuss with her son. She began on the same topic again and I ended up apologizing and abruptly ending the call. However, that evening when my husband called, she actually answered and was calm (after having vented on me) and he explained to her that transporting her to Georgia was not in her best interest at this time as she was still needing daily nursing care for the open wound on her knee, but he and the attorney were working on placing her in another nursing home near where she was.

We did have her moved to a Christian based nursing home that is known for its great staff and gourmet food on the very day we needed to do so, March 31st. That was the same day of the Princess' competition (I will get to that later on) a couple hours south of here, so my husband was with the Princess on that day and the next to see the awards. Then he left from there to go to Florida and see that his mother was settling in well.

The morning of March 31st, before he had to leave for the competition, we have enough time to get Mom a flip phone and add it to our cellular plan, which was the cheapest option we had. This phone was senior friendly with three buttons for pre-programmed numbers and I set them up with "1" to my husband, "2" to me, and "3" to a high school friend she used to call once a week. Plus, we had it set up with her home phone number so she did not even need to contact all her friends to give them a new number. She seemed happy about it and my husband asked her to keep it with her at all times that she could in her pocket.

So, all is well, right? A few days ago, Mom called my husband. Well, sort of. It was from Mom's phone, but my husband was talking with a male nurse with Mom telling him what to say in the background, which was mostly about that they had moved her to another room, because her roommate did not like the company...and neither did Mom, but they both are not in private rooms so eventually there will be a roommate most likely.

However, I am still trying to wrap my head around why Mom could not just call and talk to her own son her own self!

My husband thinks that she just wants people to do everything for her even though it is not necessary. I mean, really! How simple could we have possibly made it for her: flip open phone, press the top left button labeled "1," and placed phone near ear. I honestly do not know if it is that or something else and she will probably have another excuse, but I find it to be incredibly rude on many levels. For 30 years that I have known my husband, I cannot think of any time that she called just to talk or ask us what we are doing...okay, there may have been a time or two, but in 30 years? She only calls when she has a problem and wants to vent or she wants us to solve it for her, usually both, like the computer not working right or something like that, even though we live 500 miles away. So, she just wanted to inform us of the room change without calling us herself, which is just pressing one button on her phone! Really?

Basically, it comes this: She will only call us if there is a problem. If we call, she will talk to us if she is in the mood to answer the phone. Then she likes to complain about how we don't talk to her for days or weeks.

This is how it has been when she lived at home and is going to be still. I just have no patience with that kind of choose-to-be helplessness and blaming others for not catering to her needs. I think I am going to start calling her the Queen Mother here on my blog. It is fitting.

My Lord, I ask that You mold my heart to be soft to people's feelings but firm against their blame on me...and my own blame against myself. 


  1. I have no patience with assumed helplessness either. Everyone is busy with their lives & we must each do our best to pull our own weight so that when we really need it no~one minds helping! I've known a few older people like your MIL & they make life difficult for everyone. Unfair.

    1. If my own mother acted helpless...well, actually she mostly did all of her life, just differently. I should have written that if my own aunt acted this way, but she just wouldn't unless she really was so...I guess they both contributed to why I have so little patience with it, just on opposite ends of the scale.


Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.