urbandruid: (Beverly / Crushed)
[personal profile] urbandruid
This isn't the update I wanted to make, when I finally got myself together enough to do this. Not that it was ever going to be cheerful, not with everything that's been going on around here.

I started transcribing bits from my (paper) journal last month, because I didn't want to write any of it twice. Because getting that stuff down took so long- I was at it for ages. I'd write a few lines, a paragraph, a page, and then I'd have to walk away from it. Do something else. Think about something else. Be someplace else.

Too much has happened since I typed that stuff up for it to be enough of an update now. Which is too bad, because it's probably going to take me half the afternoon to write this.

In short, very little has gone right, and a lot has gone wrong, since we moved Grandpa into the Alzheimer's unit. Oh so foolishly, we thought he was resigned to being there. Not happy, but resigned. It turns out... Not so much. And he's deteriorated mentally now to the point where he doesn't understand why he has to be there, all he knows is that it's not home, it's not where Grandma is, and it's not where he wants to be.

And for the past... well, pretty much since he was diagnosed (back in '07 or '08, I think) he's done pretty much whatever he wanted, when he wanted. Grandma saved the arguments for the important things, safety issues, stuff like that. So if Grandpa wanted to go for a walk around the grounds of the old folks' home, or leave twenty minutes early for lunch in the dining hall (because he never, ever remembered that they'd backed up the time, and started serving later)... We just went with it.

It'd be hilarious if it wasn't so serious. Actually, sometimes it's hilarious anyway. Grandpa, bless him, does not want to stay in the Alzheimer's unit, and has discovered a new talent. For escaping. Yeah, from the locked Alzheimer's unit. It turns out if you lean on the gate to their enclosed courtyard for long enough, it opens. It also turns out that Grandpa was not only able to do this, but is in good enough physical shape (despite arthritis in his hip) to nearly climb over the bloody fence.

How, you may ask, did we learn about this new skill set? Mom and I were over at Grandma's one day, at her apartment after visiting a bit with Grandpa and leaving him at the unit. We were getting ready to go out and do some shopping, when the door opened. And there he was. Only Grandpa, I swear...

After that, it got a lot less funny. He's entered into a stage of the disease where he's getting violent and combative. I hate writing that, because it's the disease entirely, not Grandpa. He has a temper, or so I'm told, not that I ever saw it, but last month he threw a (small) table through the glass front door of the unit. (No, I don't know why they made the front door glass either. Even the social worker who runs the unit thinks that was stupid in the extreme, and the new Alzheimer's unit they're building won't have one.) He's also shoved staff and other patients who were between him and the front door when it was open.

He's physically healthier and stronger than any other resident in the unit, and it turns out they weren't really- aren't really- set up to handle someone like him. So first the staff tried keeping a closer eye on him, and when that didn't work, they hired an extra aide. Yep, the economy may suck, but someone gets a job out of this mess.

And not that this was in any way good, but it's been all downhill from there. There were so many escapes and incidents of him being violent and aggressive, even with the antipsychotics and antianxiety drugs they had him on, that the overall head of the retirement home basically stepped in and insisted that Grandpa be moved, temporarily, off site to a more heavily locked-down unit until he works through this phase and/or the meds get stabilized.

It's not that none of us understand where she's coming from, but nobody was happy about the move. We were all pretty pissed, actually. Especially since right up until last Monday Grandma was convinced- and pretty well convincing the rest of us- that it wasn't going to come to that, that she'd talk them around or they'd tweak the meds, or... Honestly, I don't know why I believed her. Grandma's not reliable about these sorts of things, she has too much of a tendency to tune out things she can't or doesn't want to deal with. Maybe it's just that I feel like she lied to my face, telling me last Sunday that she was sure it wouldn't happen. Then calling Mom on Monday and saying they'd moved him.

Mom was pretty pissed about that. We were quietly not speaking to Grandma for a couple of days. But it was done, and if we still had way too many questions and not enough answers... Hell, we'll sort it out somehow, you know?

So, today. Grandpa's been at the new place about a week. None of us have seen him for ages, because having us visit really agitated him and they had trouble getting him calmed down. It's been so bad that my aunt and her husband, and my great-aunt and great-uncle were here weekend before last, and I don't think any of them saw him, even though my aunt's in Reno now and the greats are from Massachusetts, and get out here on average of once a year. And, we weren't supposed to visit for two weeks while he settled in at the new place. Which was about when they'd hoped to move him back to the Alzheimer's unit at the retirement place where Grandma lives.

*headdesk*

But, I thought, okay, if he can go home then, back to the unit that's more familiar and the place where Grandma can visit easily, the place I know, and the staff I've met, who like Grandpa and who we all have a relationship with... I thought I could accept not seeing him for a bit longer, if it meant that.

Then today- the first day of my spring break, by the way- the phone rings. It's the hospital, looking for Mom because they need some info on Grandpa. So I called Mom, she called them back... Grandpa fell at the new place, we're not sure on the details yet, and they called for an ambulance to take him to the hospital. Where they were having some trouble getting anything coherent out of him, because while the paramedics were, one assumes, told he had Alzheimer's, they failed to pass that on to the ER staff. Idiots, idiots, idiots!

In related WTF? news, nobody but nobody could get hold of Grandma. Mom tried, the hospital tried, apparently the Alzheimer's unit people tried too. No dice. So Mom dashed out of work to go to the hospital. She tried to send me an email from her phone telling me what'd happened, but we think she lost it when she had to close her phone in a hurry, so as not to get yelled at for using it in the ER. Anyway, I never got it, so I had to get the story from her via illicit cell phone call.

They had to take him for a CT scan, which sounds like an adventure and a half. They sedated him a bit, but Mom still had to stay with him in the CT room, lead apron and all, to keep him kinda sorta calm enough to get the scan done. They tried it twice, so I'm assuming the second one came out okay.

So, Mom spent half the afternoon at ER, trying to keep Grandpa from trying to get out of bed (a really nice security guard had to help her hold him down at one point...) and reminding him that he had to keep the C-collar on his neck. Naturally he hates it and wants it off. Naturally he keeps trying to get out of bed, even though Mom says he was making the most awful pain faces she's seen in a while. He's bruised up all over, too, and Mom told me something in the area of his stomach seemed to be hurting him a lot, which freaks me the hell out. Please Gods let it only be broken ribs.

They hadn't gotten the CT results back last I heard from Mom, but Grandma had finally shown up (still don't know where she was, and am a bit pissed at her, but what else is new?) so Mom went back to work. Grandma's supposed to call as soon as she knows anything.

And all I can think is, the new place has an 8-foot fence. Gods and Goddesses, I hope he didn't try to climb the fucking thing!

Updates as I get them. And an update on the rest of my craptastic life when I'm not so freaked out about all of this.
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