Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Having been ill for so many years, a great deal of healthcare workers have come in contact with my mother.  Most of whom have been good. There has been  a range of people from the worst to the best. The ones that I want to recognize are the best of the best.  Some of whom only had the briefest of contact with us and with names I never knew.  Others who were in our lives for many years.

In the beginning there was Dr. Uppal and her staff.  When we would go for medical appointments they were so kind and understanding.  My mother was in the early stages of Alzheimer's, repetitive and forgetful.  They were very patient with her and took the time to explain things to her and make her feel relaxed and comfortable.  At this point in her disease other medical personnel would talk around her to me as though she wasn't in the room.

The first in-home care we had was when my mom had fallen and broken a couple of ribs.  She was in pain and it was difficult for her to move and she needed assistance.  I didn't know the "system" back then.  I was just being initiated into the caregiver's club.  No one told me that she would have been eligible for Visiting Nurse and an aide to help us out.  The daughter of one of my sister's friends is a nurse and worked at a local nursing home.  When Susan heard about my mother's condition, out of the kindness of her heart, she offered to help my mother bathe and check up on her.  

Not only did Susan come to help Adelaide but she brought a friend along from the nursing home to help.  Susan and Nancy were [and are] wonderful people.  They have the disposition and compassion of nurses out of old war movies.  In subsequent years Susan has returned when stitches or surgical staples needed to be removed and she found our first private aide for us.

"It is the first of all problems for a man to find out what kind of work he is to do in this universe."
thomas carlyle

Kathy was my mother's first private aide.  She was young, brash, full of spirit and just what my mother needed.  She knew just how to handle my mom and my mom loved Kathy.  Kathy was with us for about 8 years and saw Adelaide through the major part of her decline.  During Kathy's time with us Adelaide went from just needing some supervision and assistance to no longer being able to walk and barely able to speak.  

I learned most of what I know about the technical side of caregiving from Kathy. I also learned from her demeanor.  I had a good teacher. 

Then there was the Hospice period. 

"Considered to be the model for quality, compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness or injury, hospice and palliative care involve a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the person's needs."

Hospice brought us amazing care during a most difficult period in Adelaide's journey.  Most notable was Helen.  Helen is a wound care nurse of outstanding skill, loving nature and kindness.  When she arrived on the scene we were in turmoil.  My mother's health was grave and her prognosis was poor.  Helen not only took the best possible care of my mother but she also soothed and reassured me.  I learned nearly all I know about wound care from Helen.   

There were also a couple of stand-out aides provided by hospice and Visiting Nurse.  Most notable were Rosa and Maureen.  I felt comfortable having them in my house and I knew my mother was safe in their care.

When my mother first developed her sore, both the head hospice nurse and my mother's doctor [at the time] worked me into what I can only describe as a frenzy. They were tossing around words and phrases that all boiled down to impending doom.  A doctor friend of my sister's made a phone call on Adelaide's behalf and within 24 hours Doctor Swamy, a local surgeon, and his wife [an RN] were at my mother's bedside.  Yes, a surgeon was making a house-call!  Within five minutes this calm-mannered doctor had assured me that he could perform a small surgery [at home] and get my mother on the right path.  Before I knew it he had done what he needed to do, set out instructions for care and my mom was on the long road of maintenance.  I'm not sure how my mother, sister or I would have survived that weekend without Dr. Swamy.

We have another private aide who is wonderful with my mother.  They get along so well together.  My mother lights up when Niki comes to take care of her.  She sometimes even manages to get a couple of words out of Adelaide and that pretty amazing.  Niki is caring, protective and well-skilled.  She always leaves my mother looking happy and healthy.

The two of Adelaide's Angels who have been most important and contributed most to her longevity are her sister Gloria and family friend Joselle.  

Gloria and Adelaide were inseparable. They grew up together.  They lived most of their lives together.  They were best friends.  In the early years of my mother's illness Gloria was there to watch out for my mother.  She took care of their house, she saw that my mother was fed and supervised.  She was my mother's best companion and protector.  Without Gloria I would have had to become a full-time caregiver much sooner.  When Gloria passed away it was a tremendous loss for all of us.

Joselle is our behind-the-scenes angel.  Big-hearted and ever patient, Joselle is always just a phone call away and I can't express my gratitude for the comfort that gives me.  Joselle is best described as "connected" in the local medical community.  She works [runs] a local consortium of doctors.  Her knowledge, compassion and access are irreplaceable.  Joselle has arranged for doctors to make the ever- elusive home visits and more importantly I know that if I have a question or a doubt, she can reassure me or answer my questions.   For a lay caregiver faced with the onslaught of medical challenges Joselle has literally been a life-saver for both my mother and me.  

"Precious beyond price are good resolutions. Valuable beyond price are good feelings."

To all the un-named emergency room workers, EMT's,  hospital aides, hospitalists, X-ray technicians etc. who have touched our lives: your care, skill and compassion have not gone unnoticed.  Our thanks to all of you.


  1. What a wonderful tribute to your Mom's Angels!!

  2. Hats off to these remarkable health care workers who have helped and cared for your mom over the years!!!!!! How great their reward will be !!!!!!

    J. Martin Fiore

  3. So glad we reconnected tonite after 30 years. (Or as you so eloquently put it: 400 years)Is it too bold to say you are my hero? A phenomenal person...Folks always say, "There's a special place in heaven for people like you" but I know in my heart you'll get your reward here on earth...Other than, of course,the love and gratitude of your Mom,and family. Lori Blackman McDonald