Wednesday, February 5, 2014
We have officially become part of the sandwich generation, whic includes those who are raising kids and taking care of elderly parents at the same time. I guess we have been in it for a while, but the sandwich metaphor is feeling particularly appropriate lately.
Eleven days ago my father in law moved into assisted living here in San Francisco. To say it has been a rocky start would be a gross understatement. And not in the way you might expect, either. The problem is not with my father-in-law, who is about the nicest, most compliant man in the world. He is taking part in the activities and likes and converses with the other residents. The problem is that the place he is living has made a series of errors that are making the transition more difficult. None of the individual issues is hugely problematic, but taken together, they are scaring all of us. And we are spending hours and hours every single day trying to smooth things over and keep the transition on track.
Yesterday for the first time we utilized the shuttle service to take Grandpa to the doctor. I met them there and arrived early so that I wouldn't miss them. Good thing too, because they arrived at 1:30 for a 2:00PM appointment. The driver told me to call when we were ready and he would be in the area because my father in law was the only rider yesterday. Excellent. I told him to expect a call around 2:30. Doctors office went swimmingly and I called the place at 2:35 to have them contact the driver.
We waited and waited and waited.. After 45 minutes I called again and was told "they were having trouble reaching the driver." (I found out later they were calling the wrong number) After another 10 minutes I decided to drive him myself, but that meant an extra hour by the time I got the car, got him loaded in, drove out there and returned home. Not only that I had to leave him alone while I ran to get the car which was a block or so away. That made me incredibly nervous, because he's pretty defenseless.
As I ran to the car I called home to see if there was someone there who could help the Nurse lift and care for Maggie. There was so I was OK on that front.
I loaded Grandpa and his wheelchair into Maggie's van (and how many family's will have a wheelchair van handy?) I had to tie it down because he is not set up for the "ez lock" system we have. An ambulance driver could see I was flummoxed and offered to help, but I figured it out. I told the ambulance driver this was the first time I ever loaded this particular chair and perhaps he would consider just staying behind us as we drove across town. He laughed. I laughed too - but I was only partially kidding.
We had to stop for some supplies on the way home and once again I had to leave him alone while I ran into the drug store. He was in the car, so I wasn't too worried. As I paid for my strange combination of purchases and entered my phone number to get the points, the lady looked at me and smiled and said, "It's senior citizen day and there's a discount." I wondered how she knew that these purchases were for a senior citizen who was outside in the car. Then it dawned on me. I felt very tired and asked her, "And I'm a senior citizen?" She nodded excitedly and I received 25% off my purchase. That was about $20, so I decided to take the good with the bad. When I told Grandpa he said, "good I'm a senior citizen." I just looked at him and said, "Bad news - so am I." He liked that quite a bit.
When I returned to the facility they knew I was not happy. When one of the bosses asked what they could do to set my mind at ease I said simply "Stop screwing up. Let's go a few days without a screw up. That will help tremendously." Seems simple enough.
As I drove across the City with Grandpa strapped in (fairly) securely behind me I considered how completely ridiculous all of this is. Once again we take things to the extreme. We are raising a profoundly disabled daughter and dealing with a newly disabled parent.
I told Steve if the norm is a sandwich, we are a panini - being pressed from both sides.
At least paninis are delicious.
Things will settle down, won't they?