Home > Trip > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2013 > Daily Dispatch #126

May 6, 2013: Homeward Bound

The plane flight back to Anchorage was relatively smooth. The pilot kept the seatbelt sign off most of the time, alleviating my concerns. Increasing cloud cover on the return trip obscured the view of the Chugach Mountains. Then, as we began our descent to Anchorage, we slipped under the clouds. For a minute or two, it felt like I was suspended in the air; a strange, but calming feeling. Then I saw it, across the inlet, the airport runway. We bypassed it, turned, and came down onto the runway slowly. It was the smoothest landing that I ever experienced.

I’d searched for, but did not see the flight attendant who (on the trip to Portland) had previously commended me

for my good attitude. I very much wanted to sit down with her and tell her about what I’d experienced and learned – of course emphasizing that it was my upbeat outlook that got me through the previous week. “Being positive,” I’d say, “makes all the difference in the world when dealing with family matters.”

My friend Marj gave me a lift home. What a difference. Earlier in the day I’d been in Oregon, where it was sunny and 80 plus degrees. Now I was back in Alaska, where it was overcast and 40 plus degrees. There the landscape was grass-covered. Here it was snow covered.

Good to see the animals, Pete. I didn’t say much to him about my trip. In time, I will. To think of it, and all that happened. It just overwhelms me.

The events of the day – they came to mind as I prepared to go to bed. El had had to return to work – she teaches second grade at an Elementary School. So I was left to give mother an assist. She had two scheduled appointments, a 10:30 meeting with the fellow who sets people up with Lifeline systems, and a 2:00 meeting with a Providence Hospital Physical therapist.

Mother did mix up who was coming when, and this was on my part cause for concern. El and I both still have concerns about her short term memory. And I think that Mom is also worried about it. But as I told myself, we all just have to relax and see how it goes.

The lifeline fellow showed up promptly at his scheduled time. Really, he was a medical salesman – and of course was dressed for the part. This fellow, in his late 20s with a brush cut and was wearing a short sleeved shirt, seemed to me to be impatient, and like he wanted to get on with his day. We didn’t seem to take to one another. He was pretty much in flight attendant mode the entire time, following a script of sorts.

Mom did make things easy for him. It wasn’t like he was dealing with an addled individual who didn’t know what was going on. She paid close attention to what he was doing, and to how the device was set up. And she put his fliers in a folder. She even asked two very important questions – the first being, do you have a brochure for this set-up? And the second being, what is its range? In answer to the first question, he said no, but that this was a good idea, and in answer to the second question, he said that she could not go far. Mother then wondered if perhaps another company might have a longer distance model, which quite obviously, the fellow brushed off.

It finally came down to this – mother now has a buzzer thing on a cord that hangs around her neck. Should she have any physical problems, all she needs to do is press it. It will then send a signal to the apparatus in her bedroom, which will then alert El and another support person. The folks on the other end will also call 9-1-1. The way I see it, this is just another safety measure, that is one that ought to alleviate Eleanor’s concerns. Not bad, for $40.00 a month.

Mother had another memory lapse when it was explained to her that the Lifeline people want her to phone in twice a month, so that they know the system is working okay. She was okay when I pointed this out to her.

The Providence Hospital physical therapist arrived at 2 p.m. He’d been referred by Andrea, who’d visited the previous day. I liked him. He seemed sharper, more inquisitive than the lifeline guy. We soon discovered that it was his job to determine what mother needed in order to remain ambulatory. He first did several strength tests. It was after this that he determined that what she most needed was a more suitable walker.

Mother then explained to him that she has a walker with two wheels, which means that she has to pick it up and set it down. Mark, seeing as she was mobile, instead suggested that she go with one with four wheels and a seat. This way, she can go the distance, and then sit down and take breaks.

I immediately grasped what he was getting at – that this better kind of walker would enable her to go further, thus further increasing her strength. Mom balked, because she was not wanting to have what would go with this kind of set-up, that is hand breaks. Both Mark and I assured her that this was the way to go – with him adding that he’d bring a few walkers by in the next few days, ones that she could use on a trial basis.

Upbeat me waxed very enthusiastic about this after Mark left. My response was actually genuine. I really did think this was a good idea. And I felt an ongoing rush of gratitude for the Providence Hospital staff, who really are acting in Mother and Eleanor’s best interest.

Next on the docket is going to be a visit with an occupational therapist. As I later explained to Eleanor, mother needs someone to go over home care stuff with her – this being her weak link. I told her this really believing that this will better the odds of mom’s remaining where she is.

El arrived back on the scene a few hours later and then took me to the airport. It was a sad parting – we really do enjoy being in one another’s company, and after this trip, even more so. I will miss her, and amazingly, will also miss mother. This is the first time I’ve ever thought, much less put this very statement on paper.

Next: 127: 5/7/13: Hrimmi as a Yearling