TENDER TUESDAYS

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POST CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE LESSONS

                                               -Anyone Playing?

Welcome back to the Post Script of Cruise Ship Bridge Lessons.  I wonder if I’ve totally put you off enrolling in bridge lessons aboard after reading about our instructor, Christine, last week. I certainly hope not!  Believe me, she’s still in my head when I deal a game!  This memorable character left quite an impression on all of us!  My husband says I shouldn’t have been so polite when I mentioned one of the male passengers had declared, “Christine, you scare the ” s_ _t ” out of me!”

All teasing aside, our cruise did come to an end after 58 short days! My husband and I experienced a bit of emotional reluctance when expected to descend the gangplank for the final time. Who were we going to play BRIDGE with? How were we going to keep improving?  When would we have time to play BRIDGE, once we returned to reality?  Oh such deep, disturbing questions (and all mine)!

We had good reason to wonder.  Reality hits hard when one has been away from home for a couple of months.  Although we’d prepared “our people” at home with HUGE hints that we’d be dying to play BRIDGE with them upon our return… the invites never quite materialized.

There are several BRIDGE CLUBS available in our neighborhood, but Christine’s words of caution kept ringing in my ears.  She convinced me that we’d be decimated if we joined a group too soon, without further lessons.  Husband Ryan was too busy to indulge me with practice games (using our Joan Butts’ cards), knowing that it’s near impossible to play with 2! So what was a girl to do?  I kept reading my BRIDGE books, studying my notes and I joined lessons and practice sessions online at http://www.joanbuttsbridge.com  I highly recommend this site for anyone who is out there and wants to retain the skills you’ve gained. However, I should caution you…

BEWARE of  ONLINE BRIDGE ADDICTION!

Seriously, you start off thinking, I’ll just play 3 hands and 10 hands later, your husband is begging you to shut down, as the glare off the screen light is causing him sleeplessness…

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Read the rest of this entry

TENDER TUESDAYS

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CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE

                               – YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO PLAY…

Welcome back to Part 2 of CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE. This segment introduces my readers to a whole new level of lessons. Let’s just say, it was a darn good thing that I started off with the instructors and the forgiving friends that we began with on the first leg, as the intensity was about to be ratcheted up by about 100%.

The first day that we were abandoned by all the fantastic friends we’d met and with whom we enjoyed playing and socializing, we felt somewhat lost. We knew we had all the Australian ports to look forward to and experience, but we weren’t entirely convinced we’d make the same special connections with new people onboard that we’d had the opportunity to make on our first leg.

Well, didn’t we get a surprise? Bridge was scheduled in the afternoons for a couple of hours for the advanced players … no that was not us! We tore up to the 5th deck immediately and pleaded our case with a most formidable Australian, Christine (the new bridge instructor). She agreed to offer an entire set of beginner’s lessons on sea days, and suggested that if we were super keen to practise her methodology in the bar in the latter afternoons, she wasn’t adverse to enjoying some wine, and offering our group further expert support. The first time we took her up on this, we were in the middle of a hand when she arrived, so husband Ryan just flipped her his room key to order her own glass of wine. She walked over to the bar, and in her somewhat brash voice, ordered a bottle of Dom Perignon! Of course she did! (Let’s just say, she caught frugal Ryan’s attention immediately!)

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There she is…the BRIDGE EVANGELIST!

The first lesson was jammed with novices and a few people, like ourselves, who had realistically come back to consolidate the previous lessons a second time, in order to start to make sense of the game (me, in particular!). Fortunately, the first two fellows that sat down at our table, remained our bridge partners for the duration of the trip. Rick (from Austin, Texas) had taken the first set of lessons, as well, and he was determined to learn as much as he could while on the ship. (It was his way of giving his wife her time; without him! What an accommodating husband!) Peter, an Australian gentleman (truly) from Melbourne, had a lot of card playing experience (I’m thinking maybe Black Jack…) and he kept us all on our toes with his special style of finessing! Christine (our instructor) kept reinforcing that we must be honest with PARTNER and provide them with only accurate information when bidding. Of course, unbeknownst to Ryan and I, our devious friend, Peter, had been bluffing while bidding and SHE caught him! OMG! She announced to the room that he lied to PARTNER! (A HUGE SIN!) He wasn’t being honest with his partner and giving accurate information in his bids, something unforgiveable to this BRIDGE EVANGELIST! Ryan loved the public humiliation of it all (only because it wasn’t directed his way….). After that, he constantly teased Peter, inquiring whether he was lying. Peter would just give him his sly smile, enjoying a little chuckle, never missing a beat…

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Our BRIDGE BUDDIES!

Christine had retired from teaching in an all boys Muslim School in Sydney. When she entered bridge class, she was totally in control and you knew you would be learning BRIDGE her way, even if she did try to soften her persona by referring to all of us as, “Darling”! She had no qualms about telling us of her wretched divorce and how she got rid of her husband. In fact, she tended to relate a lot of Bridge theory to PARTNER relationships… hence, the lack of empathy for anyone who wasn’t honest with PARTNER… You get what I’m saying, right? She confessed to us that she only took up BRIDGE, once her husband was out of the picture, and decided she needed a social outlet. She never encouraged the Beginner Class to get off the ship and join a BRIDGE CLUB immediately. No, she wanted to spare us the despair she felt when she innocently joined a club and was completely decimated on the first night. She recalled that she cried all the way home. However, our Christine was no quitter! Nope, she went back to the lion’s den and determinedly set out to master the game. (I’d say she pretty much reached her goal!)

Seriously, if she’d been the instructor on our first round of lessons, I would have folded after the first class. Christine was a force to be reckoned with! She was completely the opposite of the calm, lovely instructors- Wyn and Patti, on our first leg! Even the men were intimidated by this stocky, red-headed, brash Australian woman! One fellow actually confessed to the group, after being publicly admonished in her bold and forthright manner, “Christine, you scare me!” Of course, this broke up the entire room, as we all laughed but secretly thought how brave he was to say what we were all thinking…

Being a former educator, I totally loved her methodology of teaching. She had prepared color/number-coded cards, so that after the lesson, we could replay 4 hands until we mastered what it was she wanted us to learn. She didn’t follow the rules/conventions of the cruise line, in that she requested donations for setting up our duotangs and xeroxing the lessons. Of course, everyone was keen for her to do this! She also made Joan Butts’ Bridge Books available for purchase, as well. Our other instructors wouldn’t get involved in sales, making it necessary for us to scrounge for book stores in ports, trying to purchase these coveted HOW TO PLAY books. We were that desperate to improve!

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Christine was completely outrageous and that was her secret to keeping us all tuned in and learning. She’d tell you outright that she was the boss and when she served as bridge master in the afternoons for the Bridge Tournaments, one fellow became terse and called her a ‘b—-‘. She fired him! That’s right, the obnoxious man was banned from all bridge lessons and games forevermore.

This BRIDGE EVANGELIST gave us homework during lessons, such as, “I want you to go to your cabin and in front of the bathroom mirror, you must practice saying the word, “PASS”, I know you can do it!” (She was easily frustrated when people without any High Card Points, would bid regardless…) Christine’s words of advice, included: “In bridge you win on everyone else’s mistakes. The errors made by others provide opportunities for you.” I had no idea what she meant… but now I get it and she was so right!

Christine sat with us at dinner one night. We introduced her to the non-bridge players at the table. She commented that she figured she was the most misquoted woman on the ship. When we asked what she meant by that, she said that as she’d read her book in the lounge, she’d overhear people quoting her incorrectly from the lessons. Rather than addressing them and straightening them out, she’d just bend her head and bury it behind her book. It made me wonder if she was addressing us on that matter, as we always joined up for practice and spouted off what we thought we heard her say in class…

Christine’s last word of advice to all of the BEGINNERS, was to not rush out and join a Bridge Club the minute you returned home. (She knew they’d eat us alive… well at least the real novices in the crowd, like me!) She suggested that we take more lessons before frustrating the more advanced players with our lack of knowledge and finesse. (Good advice, right?) Of course, the entire time we had been away, we were sending out CRUISE NEWS emails telling our friends at home that we couldn’t wait to get home to start playing bridge with them. I’ll bet you think you know how that turned out, don’t you? You’ll have to read next week’s Tender Tuesday’s installment to find out whether BRIDGE is still alive and well in our lives, and that of our partners…

Remember, there is a FOLLOW button at the bottom of the BLOG ROLL (on the right hand side of the screen). If you click on it, it will subscribe you to my blog and you’ll receive an email, each time a new posting is up (in case you want to catch it). As well, at the end of each blog post there is some small print and in there is a place to click Comments. Many of you sent comments directly by email (which was awesome to receive- thank you), but it would be lovely to receive your stories and feedback right on the blog site for all to read and share. DON’T BE SHY! WE WANT TO READ HOW THESE POSTS RELATE TO YOU AND WHAT YOUR TENDER MOMENTS ARE! Thanks for visiting everyone!

 

 

TENDER TUESDAYS

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CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE

-The GOOD, The BAD & The UGLY!

Part 1

Last fall, my husband and I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. Our cruise ship left Vancouver, British Columbia and travelled through the South Pacific Ocean and Islands, ending up in Sydney, Australia. But that was only the first leg of the trip. We then circumnavigated the entire continent of Australia visiting Bali, Indonesia and Komodo Island, as well. The entire cruise lasted 58 days! And I know what you’re thinking… What could this couple possibly do on a small ship (1200 passengers) with all those sea days between ports? Well, let me tell you, we were never bored; in fact, husband Ryan often complained of being over-scheduled! (I think our activities and classes may have overlapped with Happy Hour!)

We met a wonderful B.C. couple from Tsawwassen over dinner on the second night out and, discovered that their stateroom was across the hall from us. And wouldn’t you know it? They played BRIDGE and mentioned that they were attending the advanced class on sea days, but the instructors would be holding a beginner class and we should try it. Now, you have to understand, my husband, Ryan was the kind of student that spent a good portion of his scholarly days in the University Students’ Lounge playing BRIDGE. (Of course he did!) I, on the other hand, the more studious type, never played BRIDGE (or any other card game for that matter). Our new friends convinced us to take advantage of this opportunity and promised to mentor us by playing practice games between lessons. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t reluctant in the least to sign up. I romantically visualized my husband and I playing with friends at home during the winter and in anchorages on long summer evenings. Fortunately, my somewhat brusque husband agreed to be my partner for the lessons, pretty much the only activity he did with his darling wife, without any grumblings … (Okay, so Cha-Cha wasn’t his thing!)

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In retrospect, I now see how BRIDGE lessons seemed to take over our cruise life. I had to be up early enough to squeeze in a workout and shower before our lesson, and Ryan had to be connected, via internet, with work. He always made time for a hearty cruise style breakfast and if possible, attended a guest speaker talk (You know… those engrossing series about astronomy, global warming, and all that other fascinating stuff…) In fact, he’d usually slide into his seat, just as the lesson would begin, munching on sticky pastries, of course!

On the first leg, the instructors were a married couple and they were very calm, patient and simply lovely. THANK GOD!! Never a harsh word, always supportive with dimwit Mary who hadn’t yet mastered shuffling cards! We were paired with Andrew (an Australian from Brisbane who decided early in the lessons that Ryan should join him for crib during the day, as well, and join his boat-building team for the big culminating competition). Let’s just say that Andrew was more than capable of mastering two games simultaneously! Our other partner was Sharon, a fellow Canadian from Kamloops. Sharon had played a lot of bridge and should have probably been in the advanced group with our friends, but we were thankful she stuck it out with us. Of course, we were all keeners. This meant that after our hour of lessons, we would stay on another hour and do some practice games.

Andrew_Sharon_Mary_BridgeBy the time we were done with bridge, Ryan and Mary would split up and go our many ways. As often as possible, I’d take my bridge book poolside, trying to figure out what the heck I was doing! This is where our friends who got us into lessons came in. We’d meet up with them before dinner and play some hands (How they put up with my total misunderstanding of the game, I’ll never know…) And then after dinner, we’d sit in the theatre before the live show began and play some more.

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Let me tell you, people were drawn to us. We were BRIDGE magnets! They’d drop by and check out our hands and interrupt my concentration. Everyone had advise to offer me. It was obvious that I was the only novice in the group and even couples from our lessons would stop by and start telling me how to play my hand. Our friends were incredibly patient with me and never made me feel like the big L (I felt) was tattooed to my forehead.

Ryan wrote home to all our friends and family stating that his wife l-o-v-e-d BRIDGE and had taken to it like a duck to water. I wouldn’t actually describe my learning curve that way, at all. I was proud to be risk-taking and loved the challenge of learning something that made one think. It was often seriously intimidating when I was so behind in card knowledge, that even sorting one’s cards in one’s hand was difficult. (I was caught several times with cards hidden behind others without realizing it, or forgetting which suit was trump, or laying down the wrong suit to begin with… you get the picture.) It took a village to keep me progressing…

When the first leg of the trip was over, and all of our friends disembarked, we looked at one another and said, “Well, what do we do now?” Our cruise life at sea was all about BRIDGE! Microsoft classes, cooking demos, zumba, movies/live shows, and overindulgent eating wasn’t going to cut it –without BRIDGE!

If you’re curious about the second leg of our Australian cruise and how BRIDGE was addressed, you won’t want to miss next week’s TENDER TUESDAYS! Why don’t you leave a comment about one of your new skills or games that you’ve recently learned. I’ll bet you have some humorous stories to share. Let’s just say, you’re going to love the people stories in next week’s segment.

Thanks for reading TENDER TUESDAYS (even though it never got published until WACKY WEDNESDAY….ha!)

TENDER TUESDAYS

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SENIORS CARING for SENIORS (Part 4)

COMING HOME

Thanks for returning to Tender Tuesdays! This week’s installment captures our dad’s “great escape” from the 5th Floor of our local hospital. This is Part 4 of senior kids managing the care and affairs of their parents living long and healthy lives, with many surpassing the not so unusual 100th Birthday milestone! In fact a friend of mine, only yesterday, excitedly relayed her plans to celebrate her own mother’s upcoming 100th birthday party. See what I mean?

Our father’s stay on the 5th Floor was short-lived. As soon as we met with the hospital’s Social Worker and understood our options, we unanimously agreed that he’d be moved as quickly as possible. Fortunately, my husband’s parents had saved for this stage of their lives, in the event that extended care would be required. Private Complex Care back at the same complex as their independent-living apartment, was the only decision to be made. Unfortunately, other senior kids in our position, may not be able to make the same choice for their parents. If we hadn’t, he would have had to stay in the hospital until a subsidized extended care facility (somewhere in the city or surrounding towns) had a free bed. What a relief it was NOT to have to be put on that waitlist.

Everyone was prepped and a private ambulance was booked for the move, upon his discharge. It was amazing the difference in support we experienced on 5th Floor, once they knew our dad was leaving. The staff suddenly wanted to get involved and help with making arrangements. Let’s just say, Dad (and family) didn’t shed a tearful farewell with the staff! (I think my husband’s sister actually did a HAPPY DANCE all the way through the halls with Dad in his gurney.)

What a difference between hospital care and private complex care! His room had been refreshed and repainted, with everything organized and ready for him. There was a welcoming committee at the door and he literally felt like he was home. In fact, once he was snuggled into his bed, his first conversation with his wife had to do with problem-solving how they could fit her bed into his room. Hmmm…. maybe he didn’t quite get it that he’d be living solo in his new digs, and his wife would be making daily visits…

The first morning in Private Care, my husband and I arrived early to see how his night went. A content man met us! He was thrilled to be in a quiet room where no one was receiving calls in the middle of the night on their cell phones. They had just cleaned him up and he felt pretty good. (They had even parted and combed over his hair, the way he liked it… just a little Donald Trump thing happening with his hair!) My husband asked his Dad if he wanted to change his sitting position. He made an indignant face and asked, “Why would I want you to call a politician?” Obviously, the restful night in Complex Care hadn’t solved his hearing problems!

The Care Facility ensured we had adequate visitor chairs and hot coffee, muffins, and fruit were brought in for us to enjoy during our visit…. We were in a state of shock! Every nurse that came in and out of his room, were friendly, concerned for his comfort, and committed to making a personal connection with him. It was such a relief to leave him in their professional and kind care!

His wife, daughter, and son-in-law were able to come and go with their visits. Wheeling Mom over to the Complex Care building was much simpler than having to get her up to the 5th Floor of the hospital. She was so much happier having him close by and many of their friends were able to drop in for short visits, as well.

Of course, even though his comfort was their upmost priority, our Dad was slipping away on his own time. He loved waking up and finding a note and/or flowers left by his snooker and dinner buddies, friends, and neighbors. This provided us opportunities to discuss how important he was to so many people and how deeply they cared about him.

It also opened the door to discuss his wife of 69 years… I know, right? … He had taken his vows seriously. His wife had developed mobility issues and chronic nerve pain due to a broken hip and diabetes. He was committed to care for and keep her safe. His devotion to his wife made him her caregiver for several years. We realized that he was struggling with leaving her behind, and when we were able to convince him that she was coping on her own and that we would take good care of his Ilse, that’s when he finally felt at peace to let himself go. (We didn’t let him know of the calls his wife made to his daughter, disoriented at bedtime because her blood sugar was too low. He didn’t need to know that his excellent care-giving, senior daughter rushed right over to feed her mom an egg and cheese, waiting up with her for an hour to retest her blood sugar, before tucking her into bed.) No, he needed reassurance that it was okay to leave her in our capable hands…. well, at least in his daughter’s capable hands!!

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69 Years of Marriage!

The morning Dad passed away, my husband was away on a business trip and I was scheduled to take my mother-in-law over to see her husband. Wouldn’t you believe it? A LOW OIL icon on the dash of my new Mini showed up, and a long distance call to my husband proved that what I read in the manual was true. I had to get my neighbor to drive 25 minutes into the BMW dealership to get me the proper oil. Of course, in the interim, Complex Care called and said that we should come quickly, as our dad was fading. My mother-in-law was waiting for me to push her over to his bedside, I couldn’t get hold of my brother-in-law, my sister-in-law was at her hairdressers (but not the one I thought she went to…) without her cell phone. My husband (from afar) suggested I get hold of the lovely woman working at the entrance desk of Independent Living and ask her to rush up immediately and wheel his mom over to Complex Care.

I arrived ten minutes after my father-in-law passed away. His wife made it to his bedside for his final breaths, and his daughter and son-in-law were there just seconds later. This lovely man left us without any pain and took his leave with the confidence and belief that it was finally time to let go. The staff members were respectful of our sadness and gave us the support and privacy that we needed. One of the nurses (her husband is the chef for the Independent Living dinners) made a point of talking with us about how she knew all about our dad before he moved in because her husband always spoke so highly of him. The personnel from their apartment were equally lovely. They went out of their way to look out for our mom and support her through her grief.

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We miss him. It has taken us quite some time to come to terms with the finality of our loss. I know you can relate to these tender moments our family experienced with our dad, in our role as his senior kids and care-givers. He lived 93 years, without a complaint, and was a fine man worthy of the love and friendships that he enjoyed throughout his life. His life with his family was important to us (even the in-law kids, but of course, I was his favourite daughter-in-law… I know, I know- I was his only daughter-in-law)!

 

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Dad’s FAVORITE Son-in-Law

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Dad’s Favorite Daughter-in-Law (REALLY!)

Please share your tender moments with us. (Just click on Comments below. and leave us your story.) As fatigued and sad as we were with his passing, we all agreed that his Memorial Service ended up being a true celebration of his life with friends, family, neighbours, and German Club members. What a memorable gentleman he was!

 

 

 

 

 

TENDER TUESDAYS

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SENIORS CARING for SENIORS (Part 3)

What Happens on 5th Floor, Doesn’t Stay on 5th Floor

Welcome back to Tender Tuesdays! This week’s installment moves forward with our father’s brief stay on 5th Floor of our local hospital. As you’ll recall, we’re the senior kids caring for parents living long and healthy lives- many surpassing the more normal 100th Birthday milestone. This is the new norm!

Picking up from last week’s post, our dad was being moved out of Palliative Care and sent up to 5th Floor. We went up with him, the orderlies pushing his cot through the crowded hallways into a room with two beds. When we arrived, the nurse who accepted our father, was curt, ill-prepared, and had no intention of getting to know the man being moved to her ward. She settled him into his new bed and disappeared. We were left to fend for ourselves. Really!

Of course, the first issue we faced was how he was supposed to communicate his needs, when they had put a CALL NURSE push button under the sheet and expected him to be able to use it. His hands and arms resembled Popeye the Sailor Man’s, so that wasn’t going to work. And, after several requests to have the call button replaced with a remote; one was never found.

The second new reality that hit us was his emergency need to use a bedpan. The nurses in Palliative had come regularly and helped him privately, reserving his dignity. NOPE, not so on 5th Floor. My husband dispatched ME (of course he did…) to find a nurse and get some help pronto…. GOOD LUCK! There were all kinds of workers on the floor, but it was impossible to tell who was a cleaner, an aide, a nurse, or a doctor. All of them wore pyjama-like attire and they all had their eyes glued to computer screens (mobile computer stations along the hallways and at the nursing station). I was frantic, knowing how upset our dad would be, if I didn’t get a bedpan to him soon. No one wanted to look up and acknowledge my presence. When I finally did get noticed, I was told that they didn’t have the time to be running in and out with bedpans and that he would be wearing DEPENDS from now on. Okay, not exactly what we were hoping for, but not our battle to fight… At least I didn’t think so, until, that is, my sister-in-law came to visit that evening, and found her dad lying exposed to anyone passing the doorway. No one had thought of drawing the curtain while he was using the bedpan or covering him with a sheet. Shocking, isn’t it? (Let’s just say, they found out immediately, from that moment on, what our expectations were for our dignified father’s care!) Oh how we missed Palliative Care with their wonderful bedside manner!

No one wrote any instructions for his care on the communication board that first day. He was still not eating and drinking much, but he was more awake and certainly required attention. Let’s see…no water, no straws, and no Kleenex box (required to catch the mucus during coughing fits -whether it gave his guests the heaves or not)! No sponge swabs for his lips and mouth, and no lotion offered for his chapped legs and arms! We were on our own to scrounge the basic requirements for his comfort.

When the dinner tray was delivered, of course he’d finally drifted off, after his traumatic move. No one even inquired whether he was capable of feeding himself (which he absolutely was not). It was quite an introduction to hospital care for the elderly!

They weren’t interested in getting to know our dad as a person. It worked for them to have the family taking shifts to be with him, assisting during meal times, toileting, and caring for our dad. (They took out his false teeth one night and never bothered with them again.) And don’t even ask if his “bed hair” was combed by anyone besides his daughter!

He had rallied his way out of Palliative Care, and he was awake and cognizant of his surroundings. He was able to carry on lengthy conversations, and this non-complainer started to complain! He had no trouble voicing his annoyance with his roommate’s cell phone calls in the middle of the night! His appetite and thirst improved so much, that he actually requested a beer. A real GERMAN- right to the end! I know, right? His daughter snuck a beer onto the ward that night and he downed almost the entire can! He really was parched!

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AN OPA TOAST!

What the nurses did have time for was setting up appointments for the family with the Social Worker. When you come to the 5th Floor, they want to make sure that you realize that this will be his level of care until he passes, if you don’t secure a bed in a Complicated Care Facility (new name for Extended Care…). If you started the paperwork for a subsidized bed, the wait list is long and he’d have to stay on 5th Floor until there was an opening. The other option was to discharge him and move him into a private care facility. Let’s just say, we didn’t need much time to act. There was no way the family could have him stay in that environment for any length of time. We secured a room for him in the same complex that they had their independent living apartment. Dad was going home!

As we approached the Nurses’ Station to inform them that Dad would be moving to private care, my husband noticed a prominent sign posted above. It stated something like this:

FOUL LANGUAGE AND AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR TOWARD HEALTH CARE WORKERS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED IN THIS FACILITY.

We both looked at one another and I knew my husband (somewhat like his sister…) would have something to say about this sign. He commented, “I’ve never seen a sign like that posted in a public building before.” The nurse replied, “You’d be surprised at what we deal with in hospitals. Health care workers take more abuse by the public than any other professional body.” Our eyes met, as we replied, “REALLY!” in tandem. (Translation: “We have no doubt.”)

The questions we asked ourselves from this portion of our journey with Dad, included:

  • Are all 5th Floors of hospitals like this? (Meaning, 5th Floor designated the ward where people are terminally ill and never return home.)
  • What are they doing on the computers that consumes most of their on duty time? Is it time sheets? Are they making patient notes? Are they checking Dr.’s orders for their patients? Is it simply a devise to prove that they were on duty? Are they tracking inventory? … I don’t think so! Seriously, what is more important than paying attention to the patients in their care?
  • Should it be necessary for a sign to be posted, re: public abuse? What does it say about our community? Have health care workers addressed the reasons for why they felt they needed such a sign, in the first place?
  • Why is the public so emotionally distraught on 5th Floor, that such a sign IS required?

Our gentle, kind, polite Dad didn’t feel cared for on the 5th Floor and his dignity was compromised. He may have been seriously ill, but he wasn’t on medications and he had a sharp mind. He knew that they weren’t caring for him properly and he just wanted to go home.

We’re still confused by the contrast between Palliative Care and 5th Floor care in the same hospital facility. At least our Dad enjoyed his beer during his stay, and we had more time with him, before he fell asleep forever.

I know that many of my readers have had “hospital experiences” – some good, some bad, and some probably downright ugly! Please share your stories with us in the COMMENTS section below.

 

TENDER TUESDAYS

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Seniors Caring for Seniors (Part 2) – Navigating Paliative Care

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93rd Birthday Party

Thank you for following Tender Tuesdays, as one reflects upon the next stage of our father’s journey through the medical system and the effects upon his wife and his senior citizen care-giving kids. Thankfully, there were many tender moments along the way…

The kids had their hands full leading up to the decision to place Dad in Palliative Care. As the days progressed, Dad required more and more nursing care. He was sleeping the majority of his days away, and required assistance to get to the washroom throughout the day. The Government’s Home Care Program was arranged to arrive during the day to help with this, but at the best, on the odd day they’d actually show up, it would be the wrong time. (In other words, just after the private nurses had provided a bathroom visit and got him settled.) Of course, we quickly realized that Home Care wasn’t reliable and that we were on our own. This meant that every 3 hours, one of Dad’s kids had to be available to ensure his comfort.

All the comings and goings of different people, the worry, and upheaval took its toll on our Mom. Arriving in the early evening to spend time with the two of them, became almost hysterically funny (probably due to fatigue…) Dad, at this point was snoozing his days away, and his wife was staying put in the apartment to be there with him at all times. We’d arrive, planning to keep Dad awake for a couple of hours before bedtime, and Mom would have verbal diarrhea. As my husband would ask his Dad questions and start conversations, his mom would jump in and answer over top of Dad or take off on a tangent of her own. It was humorous to watch the dynamics. Dad would just close his eyes and wait for her to finish, Mom would continue on- not getting it, and my frustrated husband would discipline his Mom for answering for her husband. Comical? Oh yes!

As the days passed, Dad became completely immobile and Mom was showing signs of being worn out. Our extraordinary Dr. made house calls and informed us that when we felt ready for him to leave the apartment, it would be a one-way trip to the hospital. When the morning came, and the ambulance was called, it happened so quickly that my husband just arrived at the apartment as they were loading his dad onto the stretcher to transport him to the Palliative Care Unit.

The kids were scheduled first thing to meet with the head nurse of the Palliative Care Unit, and she informed us, in haste, that their initial view of Dad’s health was that he wasn’t exhibiting “end of life traits” and that the longest average stay in Palliative Care was 7.5 days. My husband responded aggressively, (Of course he did! And that’s why I ended up doing all the meetings with the social workers and nurses….) stating that we assumed our Dr. would be making that particular call. She replied that the TEAM made those decisions (which included our Dr.), as the rooms were reserved for those patients about to pass within a matter of hours.

They only had to keep Dad overnight to understand the stage he was in. We had made the right call and as our Dr. put it so nicely, “He showed the signs of being “restless during the night.” (We didn’t even want to know what that meant!). They assured us the next morning that he, indeed, was in the right place requiring conscientious nursing care… and that is what he received!

We all felt it was the right decision, but Dad’s move opened up a whole new set of concerns. Of course, Mom intended to be at her husband’s bedside as much as possible. Thus more scheduling had to be coordinated to get her to and from for lengthy time periods. However, it made it all worthwhile when we’d wheel her to his beside, and Dad would open his eyes and sigh with a contented smile, knowing his precious wife had arrived.

Mom’s a diabetic on insulin, and emotional upheaval can trigger reactions, as well, like low blood sugar. We were all nervous the first night she would sleep alone in the apartment. Mom had never stayed by herself before and she was fearful of this. Her caring daughter slept over with her the first couple of nights. The third night, just before snuggling into her own bed, she received a frantic call from her traumatized mother. Mom blurted out that there was a male spook in the apartment! What the heck? Her mom was instructed to get out of bed and inspect the apartment, pushing her walker while staying on the phone line. As she made her way out of the bedroom, she heard someone knocking on her locked door, asking if she was having a problem. Why had she heard a male voice, repeating, “Hello? Hello?” I’ll tell you why… We had insisted that she wear her medic-alert necklace around the apartment, in case of a fall. She took it to heart and mistakenly wore it to bed. Of course she rolled over on it in her sleep, and set it off! The SPOOK MYSTERY was solved.

Another evening, after spending the entire day in Palliative Care, Mom had a mission. Weeks before, Dad had apparently voiced a request to have one of his mother’s butter cakes. Of course, without him to help her make the cake, she hadn’t been able to get it done. Now that he was in Care, she was determined that we’d go back to her apartment and assist her. (Dad had not had more than a couple of bites or swallows a day for the last few weeks, but she was determined they’d be having cake and coffee in his room the next day!) Of course, by then it was early evening and the reluctant senior kids, went home with her and helped prepare the batter. By the time the kids made it home that night; they flopped into bed exhausted! You’re wondering if Dad enjoyed his butter cake, aren’t you? He did swallow a couple of morsels and washed it down with a little coffee. It didn’t matter. His wife had something she needed to do and her family enjoyed the cake with him.

For the next few days, Dad slept most of the time, conserving his energy, and we hung out with him in his room (watching him snooze). He had some unfinished business and he wasn’t going anywhere until he had everything in order (organized to the last moment). He had us call the Pastor, once again, to drop by the hospital, as he had some final requests to make. Mostly sleeping during our visits, but the minute the Pastor walked in, Dad’s eyes opened and he carried out his meeting regarding particular details for his service. The little control freak even made demands about what the Pastor was to wear. He wanted a black suit with a black tie… (This organization and control appears to have shown up as a family trait with his own senior kids… I’m just saying …)

Opa, as well, waited to have his final visits with his grandsons. When they arrived for the weekend, he was awake and ready to chat, intermittently. What we didn’t expect to happen, was that two days later after they’d ferried and flew home, he appeared to rally. And just as the head nurse said, on the 6th day, they moved him to a room with another patient, as they required his room for another family. On the 7th day, we were stunned to find out that we would be moving him up to the 5th floor of the hospital.

Now, that brief stay, my friends, will be the next post of Tender Tuesdays. Let me just say, you’ll understand why his stay was brief on this part of his journey!

I’m sure many readers have experienced similar situations, as a loved one is admitted to Palliative Care. The nursing staff was incredibly supportive and caring, and we are grateful. Please leave a comment below and share some of your stories with us. I’m sure you’ve had some TENDER MOMENTS of your own.

AUTHOR VOICE

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(Catalogue Article Submission to Red Tuque Books)

 WRITING with VOICE

by Mary Laudien

During my career as an educator/principal, I was innovative in structuring and implementing Writers’ Workshop in West Vancouver schools. The success that the students experienced by taking risks and realizing their potential as writers was brought home years later, when one of my earlier Grade One classes held a Grade 12 graduation party with their parents, and invited my former teaching partner and I to attend. The families wanted to acknowledge that they recognized how their confident children/learners had been so successfully launched in their school careers and were all anticipating exciting post secondary plans for their future. Writers’ Workshop was a powerful tool to bring parent involvement into the classroom as the students were immersed with excellent models through published authors and illustrators, and even their teacher! That’s right! I first started writing stories for my students (and parents), just to model that I loved writing, as well, and was excited to be a risk-taker!

What became a self-knowledge piece for these young writers was VOICE. Through examining the styles of  writers/illustrators, they recognized the patterns that authors use in structuring picture books (eg., cumulative, problem-solving, rhyme and rhythm, chronological, etc.). As well, after studying published picture books through Author Studies, a new story could be introduced and the students were able to identify who wrote the book, based on the VOICE of the writer. This became something that the students strove to develop in their own early writing attempts. When sharing their own published books on Author Podium days, they took pride when a peer acknowledged their success in writing with VOICE.

Now that I publish my own middle grade novels (The Frenchie Series), picture books (Who’s the Captain?), and blog posts, I feel gratified when a reader comments that my writing has a distinct VOICE. This is when I know that my personal style is coming through my work. Authors all have it. And you can find your VOICE, as well!

As just one final tip, if you want to hear your personal VOICE in your writing, you need to constantly do the Author Mumble. This means read your writing aloud, so that you can hear it. You’ll discover a lot about your style and voice through the dialogue flow that you’ve created and the personality traits of your characters.

You might care to know what words I’d use to describe my personal voice. They include: tender, cheeky, amusing with a bit of attitude, and personal.

As you check out my site: FUN HAPPENS-KIDLIT & BLOGS with ATTITUDE, I’d appreciate it if you left me a comment or two pertaining to VOICE.  Don’t hesitate to go back into the  archives (on side panel) as there are numerous examples of cheekiness- I promise!!  Thanks for dropping in.