A resident’s day trip

When my Mears cousins invited me to a family reunion in 2008 I wanted to go. But it was 70 miles away from the nursing home and I had not traveled that far since I moved there. I was concerned about whether I could do it physically. Since I can no longer stand with one person, I would have to hire an aide to go along with me and my driver so that I could be toileted. I wondered if I could travel there, stay most of the day, and then travel back. I knew it would take some planning.

Nurse's aides were all around me but when I tried to hire one to go along with me, management would not allow it because of liability issues. So I found an aide by running an ad in the newspaper. Strangely enough she used to work at the nursing home.

I needed a bedside commode to take along with me so I asked maintenance if they could locate one. The only thing they had was a bariatric bedside commode. It would work but it was large. With the help of resident friend we located a standard commode in a resident's room and were able to switch it out with a bariatric one for the day.

I asked the nurse how I could take liquid medicines with me. She told me the nursing home had no containers but offered some from her husband's veterinary practice. Since she was working reunion morning she offered to pack my meds for me.

Because of the cooperation of the staff I have gone to family reunions from 2008 through 2010. But when I moved to this facility last fall, I wondered if I would be able to go to the 2011 reunion. I now live twice as far away from the location—a three-hour drive one way.

I knew I would need assistance from the staff here for me to get to the reunion. I emailed the administrator and director of nursing months before asking to take a standard-size bedside commode along. I sincerely doubted whether one would be available. But I was assured that I would have one.

I made the mistake of thinking that this nursing home would work pretty much like the other regarding taking medications on a day-long outing. When I asked my nurse about taking meds the day before she said she would have to check. After some phone calls she said I could take everything but my liquid medicines—since there were no containers to put them in.

I got up at 3 a.m. for my bowel regimen and I was showered and dressed afterward. My local caregiver came in at 6:15 a.m. to feed me breakfast. Even though I had to wait for breakfast, I was finished by 7 a.m. I wanted to leave at 8 a.m. and it seemed we were on schedule.

While I was in the bathroom a housekeeper gave my caregiver the bedside commode. When I got to the front door she was still outside so I asked to go out also. I saw her trying to fit a bariatric bedside commode in the front seat of my minivan. I told her that would not work and went back inside.

I was upset and aggravated and thought there had been a mix-up. But I discovered that was the only commode that was available. I called my other driver and asked him if he could purchase a bedside commode for me. He called a few minutes later to say that he was picking one up. But I decided to take a bariatric one along just in case.

The night-shift nurse had given me my liquid medication at 3 a.m. Then both the nurse and I forgot that I needed to take my other medicine at 6 a.m. When I went to get it, the nurses were in report and I had to wait.

I was frustrated and aggravated that we did not start out until 9:15 a.m. Since we were behind schedule we took a shortcut and were able to pick up my other driver at 10:30 a.m. We arrived at the reunion after a short stop to buy local musk melon at 12:30 p.m.

I found that the new bedside commode took very little to be put together. We were able to navigate my cousin's house just as I had done in previous years.

Even though the day was warm I stayed until 6:30 p.m. and then we headed back. I arrived at the nursing home at 10:45 p.m. I was pretty tired but I was also glad that I had made the effort as in previous years to spend time with my family.

Topics: Activities