As many of you know, Ruth was sent home from the hospital in hospice care in early January. Many doctors at the hospital believed that she had only a week left. It was a confusing time and we were receiving lots of conflicting information. Her kidneys had completely shut down and she was producing no urine. Once home, she began producing again, but we were unclear if the kidneys were actually filtering or simply flushing. She had also developed a rash, which could be interpreted as her body trying to rid itself of toxins. At its worst, it covered about 85% of her body and was very uncomfortable. Much of the time she was quite closed off to us and her mind lived mostly in the 1940s and 50s. There were some physical signs of a very mild stroke r TIA - there was weakness on her left side and a slight drooping of her mouth and eye. We requested an additional evaluation by a separate doctor as we tried to make sense of it all.
We were told that she may have had a very slight "incident" - not enough to call it an event or a TIA, and it was not anything to be concerned with. It did impact her swallowing and eating, but again we were told that she would be fine. We have to put an additive in her drinks to thicken them up so she doesn't choke on them. Towards the end of January much of the rash disappeared from her back. We asked her doctor in to discuss with us "next steps" as we all tried to scramble and figure out a schedule for us to care for her without the skilled hospice care. Things were changing fast and it looked like for the better.
After a long discussion with the doctor, it was decided to move her out of hospice care and to look at rehabilitation so that she would be in a better position to remain in her home. It's a promise that was made to her - to help her remain in her home for as long as possible. Moving her into a rehab facility was a very difficult decision, and it was important for us that she understood that it would be a temporary move, not permanent. I'm not sure that she understood us, but at one point she looked at each of us very clearly and in a very strong voice said, "I trust you".
Thursday, January 26th the Admissions counselor from Pine Heights in Brattleboro came to meet with her to do the intake interview. That was at 10:30 am. By 11:30 am, we had Ruth dressed and in the van headed to Pine Heights! Richard and Patrick were with her the entire day helping her to get settled into her room. She was pretty lost much of the day, but as you know she's not one to complain and she's very compliant. Friday I went to see her and was shocked at the difference! Her catheter was gone. She was up and dressed. She was walking well with her walker (and using it correctly!). She looked happy! When her dinner arrived, she ate with gusto - beets, turkey stew, fruit salad, coffee, apple juice, milk, and a dessert!!
She's there for 30 days. Each day she has physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. I spoke with Mary yesterday as she goes every morning to see her. Ruth is working really hard at the therapies and has said she is enjoying them, but that they're hard. She's eating her meals in the dining hall with other guests and making acquaintances. She gets confused sometimes about why she's there but understands when it's explained to her - at least until the next time she asks. She seems to be living more in the present than before. It was not an easy decision to make, but I think it was the right one, and everyone is really happy with how well she's doing. We still don't know what the long term impact is to her kidneys. Hopefully we'll know more soon. Once we know more, then we can all regroup and figure out how to best care for her once she's home.
She's an amazingly strong woman physically and spiritually. I think she just needed to see everyone and hear them to get a little kick in the pants and decide she wasn't quite ready to give up yet.
She can get mail:
Ruth Lapan Pine Heights 187 Oak Grove Avenue Room 307 **updated room number** Brattleboro, VT 05301