As Mike began to handle Mary's affairs, he was put in touch with her lawyer. We found that this man had Power of Attorney over her...he had visited her once in rehab. In talking to him about Mary's condition and her needs, he began to sound irritated. He stated that "the situation would be taken care of within a few days". He said that since Mary was no longer able to care for herself, he was going to have the courts appoint a guardian, an unknown person, to handle her affairs.
This would mean that a total stranger would handle her healthcare, her home, her living situation...her life. When we told Mary about this she became very upset. She didn't even know he was her Power of Attorney. I don't believe the documents she signed had been fully explained to her. She expressed that she did not trust him (her neice had given the same feeling in a phone conversation). We knew that something needed to be done, and it needed to be done soon.
Around this time, Mary's neice decided she would come and visit. She flew in from Alabama along with her daughter. We picked them up at the airport and had lunch, sharing information as best we could about what was going on with Mary and her living situation. They stay for a few days, and over dinner one night, Mike posed the question. He explained to the neice what the Attorney intended to do. He asked if she had plans to take Mary back to Alabama, explaining that it was the State, her, or us; someone would care for Mary. She expressed that she was unable to do so, and we told her we planned to do whatever was necessary to help Mary, if that meant moving her into our home, we would do that.
We met with Mary again and talked to her about her living situation, asking her what her wishes were. She asked us to take over the responsibility of POA and care for her. We contacted a trusted lawyer who became Mary's new laywer, he explained to her that he worked for her...not the other way around. Then the steps were taken to replace her POA with us, acting alongside her, not instead. Now we felt secure that we could easily act on Mary's wishes.
During the neices visit, Mary had a medical issue arise and was taken to the hospital, most likely due to the excitement of the visit and such. After a couple of days, she was to be released. We were told that she should return to rehab for a few days to get her strength back and that we would be able to take her home from there. This is where the confusion sets in...
After returning her to rehab, it was found that she had contracted a mild infection at the hospital. We learned something new.
When someone that age contracts an infection, they shut down. Everything shuts down so that their body can work at fighting the infection. It was at this point that Mary's bright happy smile began to fade. Her personality began to weaken, as well as her body. The happy, laughing conversations ended. She just sat and stared, hardly speaking at all.
She was in the middle of recovering from this infection when we had a meeting with the rehab staff to express our desire to bring her home. We had no idea that we would be faced with questions that seemed off the wall to us.
*Why are we against medical care? ...We aren't and never said we were????
*Why would we want to take her home when she is ill? ...We don't, we are asking what her status is, and expressing our desire to take her home when she's ready.???
*Why do you want to take a stranger home? Because we have become attached to her and love her like our own family.
*You have no right to take her out of here until she can express her wishes to us clearly. We took care of the legalities of that so that we wouldn't have this struggle. Now she's not able to express thoughts very clearly and we are being told she HAS to???
I have to add that the head of nursing was VERY helpful. She didn't seem to question our desire to bring Mary home. She had met my husband at the beginning of this ordeal and seen both of us in there quite often, she had already mentioned to me that I had the nicest husband on earth (I agree!). I believe she was trying to work with us. However the other woman in the meeting, didn't have a very friendly look on her face. She was asking the pointed questions. She was looking at us with suspicion. Making accusations of us not wanting to get Mary the proper medical care. It was uncomfortable to say the least. We left there wondering what to do. We could only wait and pray that the anitbiotics she was taking would clear the infection and that her mind would be restored to it's former state.
At home, we prayed and we discussed what to do. We had every legal right to bring her home once the infection was gone. Not only did we have POA, but we were also her healthcare advocates. I was struggling to understand why it seemed so wrong to someone that we should desire for her to live out the rest of her life in a loving home. Why is it wrong for us to want to take her for walks, tend to plants, decorate cookies, enjoy homecooked meals, have her own room, with her own "things", go to church, enjoying hobbies that she wants to do..instead of spending the last few years of her long life in an environment that was unpleasant. I just didn't understand and I was beginning to get frustrated, and worn down.
Why should this be so hard? What started out to be a feeling of wanting to care for someone felt like it was becoming a battle...
"...thus says the Lord to you,
'Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude,
for the battle is not yours but God's."
2 Chronicles 20:15b
To be continued...