The Cavalry Has Arrived!

When you think you have reached the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.
an American proverb,
with variations attributed to Thomas Jefferson (although Monticello.org says no),
Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

I have heard that saying (above)...or some variation...all of my life it, seems.  I even recall a cute cat poster on the same theme.  Truly, it has sprung to mind quite often recently, especially the "end of your rope" part.

Only...

I was getting desperate.  I needed to know not only exactly how long my allotted rope is, and therefore how much more rope I had to go...but also exactly what kind of knot I am supposed to be tying, for goodness' sakes.  A square knot?  A constrictor knot?? A half-hitch???  Details, dammit gosh darn it, I needed details.

Doesn't take a genius to figure out I was out of rope, for sure.  Hanging by a thread.  No knot, no nothing.

That was last Tuesday.  I had just returned from a lovely, much-needed...albeit brief...few days away with Missy M.  The moment I stepped back into my house, I could feel the oppressive helplessness.  You see, I had made a promise to Mom that I would do everything I could to make sure she didn't have to make the final steps in her journey in pain...and, I was failing miserably in keeping that promise.  And, anyone who knows me at all knows I hate to fail.  Hate. It.

What to do?

After putting in two calls to two different doctors on Wednesday...and speaking to their two nurses, we made an appointment with our family doctor for the next day.  I wasn't sure what else he could do to help us that he wasn't already doing, but...again...I was at the end of the rope.

He was kind and caring, as usual, and when the discussion got around to Hospice (as it has in the past), he reiterated "since Edith's choosing not to do any diagnostic tests (CT-scan, etc.), it might be difficult to get Hospice involved."  What he was saying was: we don't have a definitive DATE.  Without diagnostics, doctors are best-guessing on the number of a patient's days.  But, this time, the discussion ended with, "I'll do the best I can with the information we have."

We left the office with a glimmer of hope.  A tiny flicker.  We didn't want to yet believe, but we both felt we'd done what we could.  The ball was in someone else's court, as Mom said.

On Friday, we received a call from the Hospice of the Piedmont to schedule an initial in-home visit.  Apparently, Dr. K had said exactly what needed to be said to unlock that door for us.  And with that one conversation, I was able to tie that first knot in my rope.  A strong, secure double constrictor...just in case you are wondering...:)

On Saturday, Mr. T began the process of preparing our house in anticipation of daily visitors.  If you've been to our house, you know our Basset beasts are not user-friendly.  Oh, Gus and Duchess love to have visitors; they just aren't very well-behaved.  They bark incessantly and rarely respond to commands not to jump up on folks.  And, Elmo...well, he was never overly fond of strangers before he lost his eyesight; being blind hasn't improved his disposition in the least.  Sigh.

On Monday (a holiday, mind you), the Cavalry arrived around 10:00 a.m., in the persons of the Hospice Nurse and the Social Worker .  By the time they left in the early afternoon, we were all shedding tears of joy and relief.  I actually felt like exhaling for the first time in a very, very long while.  And, I had tied several more knots in my rope...which now felt more like a hammock than a rope-ladder.

First of all, the nurse added a pain medication to the mix to deal with the nerve pain.  And, something different to help with the nausea.  Then, she recommended that Mom have oxygen (which seems like a natural, but I've had great difficulty in getting a doctor to write that order). Would Mom like someone to come help her with bathing and washing her hair?  How about a chaplain to visit...and bring communion?  What about a Hospice volunteer to come visit for an hour or two each week...just to chat?  Did we need to schedule Respite Care?  No problem...Mom can have up to 5 days if we need it.

OMG.  PTL.  PMTSIIA (Pinch me to see if I'm awake).

After the team left, the pharmacy called: the new prescriptions were ready for me to pick-up.  The medical equipment supplier called to say when he'd deliver a new wheelchair and the oxygen apparati.  It's still a holiday, remember?

This morning, just one week after our darkest hours, we discovered yesterday hadn't all been a dream...it was, in fact, real.  The aide called to schedule today's visit for bath, etc., and the volunteer called to set up a "play date" on Friday.  I still feel a bit dazzled by the speed and extent of all their services...but I can adjust.


Filling up the new pool
So, how am I going to spend all my new-found leisure time, you ask? If you need me, I'll either be at the Guilford County Extension Center (Master Gardener volunteer workday in the Legacy Garden scheduled for tomorrow; MG Third Annual Community Garden Tour scheduled for Thursday night...I'll be a host at one of the 22 community gardens on tour) or in my own (neglected) garden...which is in sore need of weeding work.  I may have to break the cardinal rule of not working when the soil is wet, or when the temps rise above 90, but I'm afraid to put that chore off much longer.

If I'm not in one garden or the other, you'll probably find me chillin' in our new wading pool (photo, right).  Mr. T and I came home from Sam's Club with the neatest inflatable pool-in-a-box...8'x8'x22"; it even has a seat and two cup holders! He blew it up using the air compressor and filled it with water last night...all 277 gallons. The water was like ice, so we didn't linger any longer than it took to finish a glass of Riesling.  There should be a different story tonight after a 97-degree day...:) 

Yes, the cavalry has arrived...and I feel like a kid again!  MarcoPolo!

====================================================================
P.S.  See you in the funny papers...
Remember that I said I gave a Master Gardener Volunteer talk on Culinary Herbs at the High Point Library earlier this month?  Well, who should be in the audience but a reporter from the Jamestown News!  She wrote an article, which hopefully you can find here:  http://jamestownnews.womacknewspapers.com/articles/2011/05/26/news/lifestyles/lifestyles56.txt

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