January 02, 2014

Nursing home visit

I'm getting so tired of seeing the inside of my house! We got a TON of snow over the past two days, and the roads have been terrible, so I haven't left the house. Today, the expressway was even closed down for a little while because the conditions were so bad.

On Monday evening, I had some of my childhood friends come over. We grew up on the same block, and we used to play together all the time. Sarah was here from Arizona, along with Lance, Nathan (my little brother), Chris (I hadn't seen him since he moved away in middle school!), Chris's wife, Stacy, and Jerry.

We had a few drinks and chatted about the trouble we got into as kids, reminisced about the good old days, and played a couple of games. We played Cards Against Humanity, which was SO much fun. There were a few other friends that I was hoping would be able to come, but everyone has moved all over the country, so it's hard for us all to get together.

Lance, Sarah, Nathan, me, and Chris

On Tuesday, Jerry and I went to the nursing home to visit Mark. He's gotten a couple of Starbucks gift cards, and when I asked him if he wanted to try a "fancy coffee" (I described a few different things he could try), he ended up deciding on a vanilla cappuccino. Usually, he drinks black coffee, but I told him that with his gift cards, it was the perfect time to try something new. So Jerry and I stopped and got him a vanilla cappuccino on the way to the nursing home.

When we got to the nursing home, Mark was in a wheelchair in the hallway. He'd just gotten back from physical therapy, and there was a woman from food service asking him questions about his diet. I could tell she was frustrated with him, because he couldn't really understand what she was asking him (like what kind of milk he likes--he's never been given a choice of milk, so he doesn't even know that there is skim, 2%, whole, etc.). Also, Mark's speech is difficult to understand when you first meet him.

I stepped in as "interpreter", which made it go more quickly. I'm glad I showed up when I did, otherwise, who knows what would have happened with the diet they chose for him. There was an elderly woman sitting in a wheelchair next to Mark, and I could tell she definitely had some sort of dementia or Alzheimer's. She said she was there to apply for a membership, and that she had to get to Detroit, and some other stuff. I felt really bad for her, because she kept trying to wave down a nurse, but everyone was ignoring her! I said, "Excuse me, I think she's trying to get your attention" as a nurse came by. The nurse just said, "Oh, I already know what she's going to say. She has to get to Detroit. She doesn't know what she's talking about."

I still didn't think they should ignore her completely. My grandma had Alzheimer's for several years before she died, and I remember how scared and frustrated she was when people didn't understand what she was trying to tell them.

The only time I ever remember going to a nursing home prior to visiting Mark was when I was in Girl Scouts--maybe eight years old? It was terrible. We went there to sing Christmas carols, and the patients were so happy that they cried. I remember going home and sitting on my bed and just sobbing, because I felt so horrible for those people. I got the same feeling when I was there on Tuesday. It's just a sad place to visit.

Anyway, we waited around for a while, hoping someone would take Mark to his room. Finally, a nurse told us that we could just take him ourselves, so we pushed him down the hall. When we got to his room, Jerry and I helped him get out of the chair and onto his bed. As soon as he sat on the bed, some EMS workers arrived to transport him to the hospital for radiation. We thought his radiation was going to be later in the day, so I was disappointed that we didn't even get to visit with Mark. (He did love the cappuccino, though! Since he loves milkshakes, I think I may get him a frozen coffee drink next time.)

We didn't go out at all for New Year's Eve. Jerry had to work early the next morning, so we just called it a night by 9:30 pm--party animals, I know! I sat around and read a book all day yesterday. I only had like 2,500 steps on my Wii Fit U meter by the time I went to bed last night. It was nice to relax, but I felt lazy when I saw that number! It's been snowing almost non-stop, and I'm starting to go stir-crazy.

My Jeep is under there, somewhere

Today, the wind chill was a ridiculous -3. The roads still haven't been plowed, and even with IceSpikes, the snow was too deep to run in, so I ran on the treadmill. I watched Medium on Netflix, and ran four miles at an easy pace.

When I hit mile four, I was almost at the end of the Medium episode, so I just kept running an extra quarter-mile until the show ended. After I finished my run, I did my strength training routine on the Wii Fit U. I keep waiting for it to get easier, but it really hasn't. It's fun, though, so I don't dread doing it!

I was hoping to go visit Mark today, but with the roads being so bad, I decided not to. I really hope that the roads are better tomorrow! It's going to be bitterly cold, but hopefully, the roads will be plowed and salted. Regardless, I'll probably have to do my long run on the treadmill :/  Thankfully, it's only 8 miles, rather than 12, this week!


  1. I was probably about 8 years old too when I first went to a nursing home and like you, it was to sing Christmas carols. I thought it was such a horrible place!! Fast forward a few years later and my favorite grandfather -my maternal grandfather, had to go into a nursing home. My Mom and her sisters put him in his daughter's nursing home in a small town in Central Illinois. I had never been to my aunt's nursing home until my grandfather was placed there. I was terrified of the place! I was deathly afraid of one man that seemed a lot younger than most of the residents - I was convinced he was going to lock me in a storage room. The more I went to visit though, the better I liked the place and knew that my grandfather was happy there and was the best place for him. Of course some nursing homes I wouldn't stick my worst enemy in and even the good ones seem short staffed because not everyone is equipped with the patience and capability to deal with the geriatric population but I am glad there are some good ones out there.

  2. As a nurse I feel your pain in visiting nursing homes. I could never work in one and I will tell you why, the nurse patient ratio is ridiculous. Usually 1 nurse to 20+ patients. I am not joking or exaggerating. One girl I worked with worked overnights in a nursing home as a nurse right out of school. She had the whole floor to herself with 1 nursing aid, for 65 patients. So on top of giving meds, turning bed bound patients, making sure no one falls and all the the other stuff we do we have to also chart. On every patient. I am sure those nurses would love to spend more 1 on 1 time with their patients, but they simply can't. So thank you so much for visiting Mark as much as you do, as a nurse I truly appreciate that you can do what I wish I could. God bless you.

  3. I don't know about the nursing home where you are, but in the defense of them CNA's are overworked and very underpaid. I have worked in one and if they answered her every time they would be there all day. It is hard because they have like 15 patients to 1 can.. So glad to hear mark is doing ok...

  4. I work in a nursing home and i absolutely love it! These people are like family to me and they are happy! It really looks different when you are just a visitor. But we do spend day after day there. It's hard for an outsider to understand the lifestyle there.

  5. Wow that IS A LOT of snow.
    By Middle do you mean the comedy series The Middle?
    I have been super demotivated...but gueds I will get there.

  6. i'm so over this winter already!!! it's been just below 0 all week and up by the cabin, in ely, was -26 today and that's without the wind chill!!!

  7. Urgh ~ I'm over this winter already too! Its still snowing here! And Cards against Humanity is the best game ever!! Good work on that run!

  8. We got tons of snow too--yuck. I also have trouble with nursing homes--that can be so so hard. Mark is so lucky that he has friends like you--and you guys are lucky to have someone like him in your life!! :) Also...cards against humanity is SO FUN!!! We play it all the time!

  9. Thank you for reminding me - I've been meaning to do something with the nursing homes near us.

  10. Nursing homes are typically super depressing. Unfortunately the staff are typically overworked and underpaid. I was shocked to learn how little they make (often just above minimum wage). Unfortunately they are mostly "for profit," which is kind of f**ked up, so they are trying to maximize revenue while cuttings costs. Luckily we were able to find a pretty good home for my grandma, but that was after a couple that were just plain scary.

  11. That makes me frustrated about the nursing homes! I am a CNA and my grandmother had Alzheimer's and there is NO reason to ignore them... GRR!


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