Mom had an appointment with her primary care physician this morning, one of the few things she leaves the house for. I headed down to her house this morning. There are two highways I can take, either 81 or 690. I'd heard there were lane closings on 690 but not where so I elected for 81, construction and all. No problem, I arrived early.
To get to the doctor's office from her house you have to take 690 or cut through the city and without even thinking I headed for the highway. Now we know where the lane closures were. Rather than deal with the crazy traffic I decided to get off and take the boulevard, which quite concerned her. "I have no idea how to get to the doctor from the boulevard!" she exclaimed. Pause. "Of course I don't know how to get there from the highway either so I guess you know best." Thanks Mom!
We start talking about the way things were in the old days along this stretch of road. She tells me about the old muck farms and I point out the bowling alley where she bowled in league. I make a couple of turns and she exclaims, "This is Widewaters! How'd we get here." We arrived at the office right on time. (And can anyone tell me why it's called Widewaters!?)
Now usually it's hurry up and wait at this doctor but today they took her back fairly quickly. The nurse wasn't the one we're used to and she had a hard time with the bp cup. Apparently is wasn't reading out on the thing-a-bob on the wall she she kept pumping it up. You could tell Mom was in pain and finally the nurse decided to start over. She pumped it even further this time and Mom started yelling at her to stop and take it off, so no bp today.
While waiting for the doctor we talked about what she wanted to talk to him about. She was concerned about the swelling in her feet and legs and I was concerned that she's been unsteady on her feet. So the doctor comes in, says hi and before he can say anything else she exclaims, "Is there a limit to how much shrinking I'm going to have? And I don't mean sideways I used to be able to reach the second shelf in the cupboards and now I can't and it seems to me that the vertebrae can only shink so much and I want it to stop!" The last was said in a single breath - no small feat for Mom! He asked her how long it has been since she couldn't reach the shelf. Her answer - a day or two. Oh my, I never saw this one coming. He asked if she'd lost more than two inches and when I said yes he started hustling her out the door and down the hall for a bone density test. I insist that he look at her ankles first.
While she is having her test I am parked on a folding chair in the hall and an old woman sits down next to me. She was waiting for the same test Mom was having. She bought her clothes in 1999 for a trip to Tampa that she must have really enjoyed. She worked 42 years at the same company, has wonderful children and beautiful grandchildren and great-grandchildren - and was obviously very lonely. I continued to listen to her even after Mom joined us in the hall. She was really a sweet person and I hope one of her family calls her tonight!
Mom finally gave in and asked for her oxygen and I hooked her up. The doctor comes to talk to us right there in the hall - so much for privacy! Mom doesn't have osteoporosis so he tells her to take a calcium supplement and increase her water pill to twice a day. Mom's stumbling has really worried me but she refuses to use her cane. I know from experience that if the doctor tells her she has to she will so I bring it up again. He tells her she needs to start using the cane. She complains that with only one useful arm she can't carry anything if she uses it. He responds that then she needs a walker and they have a small triangular one with a basket and a tray that would work well for her, come back in a month.
So we make an appointment and head out to the car and she wants to know if I've moved the seat back yet. I had but I moved it back some more. Then her oxygen tank ran out. I knew it was low but not that low! I switch over to the other tank and realize that the first tank stopped because I hadn't opened the valve properly. Crap. She's fine so I don't switch it back and start out of the parking lot. She decides that she feels like going to shop for a walker. I was shocked but figured strike while the iron is hot. She knows where the place is - a little shopping area either on W. Genesee or Erie Blvd, she can picture it! I can't, so I call home so John can look up the address for me. It's on E. Genesee. East, west, what's the difference!?
So we leave and I turn right and she says she's sure we need to go west. I tell her that we need to get to E. Genesee St first. I go to the next corner and turn left on Erie and again she says she thinks I'm going the wrong way. I explained we had to go a couple of blocks further yet. My patience was waning. We finally got to the intersection and I pointed left and said, "Well that way is Fayetteville, which way do you think we should go?" Finally we agreed and went right!
Thirty or so pleasant blocks later we came to the store. It was right by the old Christian Science church that I used to attend. "See, I knew it was right here!" If she'd told me it was near the church to begin with things would have been so much easier.... There is a handicap space right in front of the store. I hardly ever use one but I didn't want to drop her off and go park, so I took it. She promptly told me that I couldn't park there, couldn't I see the fire hydrant? (The hydrant was one space up and this spot was clearly marked.) I started fishing for change and had to explain why I was going to pay if there was no meter. I came back with the receipt and put it on the dash but I don't think that she understood how it works.
So we head into the store and see the walker the doctor had described right off. But she has had in mind for some time that if she got a walker with a seat she could get out to check the mail. You know walk a little, sit a little. Never mind the fact that the walker would be in the garage and no good to her in the house. I took a different approach and pointed out that those walkers probably wouldn't fit through her tiny house. (They were just as wide as the three wheeled one was in back. But we do not need to tell her this, agreed?) The three wheeled one had a basket, tray and carrying bag so she took it for a test walk around the store. I noticed she was breathing through her mouth. For whatever reason the oxygen wasn't working again. She so seldom uses the portable tanks but I am fairly sure I had it hooked up right the second time! It seemed to be working in the car. They adjusted the height for her, took her check and we were finally headed home.
She seems much steadier with it and I really hope she uses it. Her house is tiny and she can't get to the kitchen with it, so when John and I go again we'll have to switch some things around and maybe take the kitchen door off. The new lift chair takes up a good chunk of floor space in the living room but she seemed to get through there OK and I moved the couch and table down so she could get to the hall easily.
John and I had an appointment at 2:00 and after running to the store for her calcium supplement I was starting to feel pushed for time and asked if there was anything else she needed before I left. Well she needed to tell me about her new trash service which took a few minutes.
Now I'm running late and a bit cranky and she says, "I can't tell you how much it means to me that you and your sister come as often as you do and do so much for me."
Love you too Mom!