March 29, 2000

Day 28

[For background please see the previous few entries.]

Tomorrow is two weeks since Dad's surgery. He's still in hospital. He's eating solid food (finally!) but without much of an appetite. The weakness remains and he still needs help getting out of bed or out of a chair.

This may sound insensitive, but I don't think he's trying hard enough. I agree he's weak but he needs to get moving in order to get stronger. He's scared, depressed and in pain and none of that is conducive to effort and physical activity.

My main concern is that they'll discharge him before he can cope at home. He says he wants to go home, and that at home he'll (magically) be able to get out of bed and move around by himself. Perhaps he's right, perhaps just being at home will make him feel more capable. There was some talk of a convalescent hospital but the doctor doesn't think he qualifies, since he doesn't live alone and his apartment building is geared towards seniors and assisted living.

My instincts say he should go home, just as soon as he safely can. Not only for the convenience of his family but for his own well-being. Daddy tends to enjoy being pampered just a little TOO much and at this stage it's counterproductive. He is also a control freak (like me) and needs to be back in his world.

Today, into this scenario popped the Social Workers.

I have a Bad Attitude where they're concerned and I actually feel guilty about that.

The concept of involving a social worker was first broached by the family doctor, last month. Having a Bad Attitude about it even then, I procrastinated, but then my American stepsisters decided to give it a try while they were here. A flurry of appointments and home visits followed from such diverse types as physiotherapists and geriatric psychologists. My stepmother remembers none of it. (Maybe that's good..)

Then they disappeared. Went on vacation, I was told. We were vaguely aware of some sort of appointment (unconfirmed) for today but were unable to reach anyone and let it slide.

This morning when I arrived to pick up Step-Mom, there they were, in her living room. They seemed to be wrapping up the visit but stayed to "meet" me when I called to say I was downstairs.

They're young. The one who did the initial assessment is still a student in his 20's, and the bona fide social worker who took up the case from him looks even younger although she's probably in her late 20's. This is not in itself a bad thing but I wonder how much they actually know (first hand) about being old and less independent, and how that feels.

They asked what help I thought Daddy might need (Short term? maybe some medical equipment such as bathroom aides. Long term? no idea.) and told me I should "push" the hospital to get him into a convalescent home. They muttered about a "team meeting" with the hospital staff and instructed me to contact the hospital social worker. They also were fixated on Step-Mom's medications, which have been organized by the local pharmacy into neat little compartments, and rather than take my word for that, insisted on having their own nurse check it out. (Fine, whatever.)

Maybe I'm unclear on the concept but I thought they were there to inform us about the services available to us through the public health system, not to tell me how to run my life and my family's life. How can they know what's best for my father when they haven't ever set eyes on him? The woman (official social worker) had a tone in her voice when she spoke to us that provoked in me a detailed fantasy of throwing a pie at her face. She spoke slowly and clearly, as if we were six years old and incapable of forming our own opinions, and even had the nerve to disagree (implicitly) with my assessment of my father's needs.

Well maybe I don't need to feel guilty about my attitude towards them after all.. at least not unless it turns out that they were right and I was wrong.

Linque Du Jour

Sorry, too grouchy tonight.

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