Tuesday, May 01, 2012

a Le update

It's been a while since I talked about my neighbor Le. She has had a lot happen in the past year or so that definitely warrants an update. If you want some background on Le, you can read about her birthday in 2008 and some more info and general observations about her changing health.

So the update beings last year, about a year ago to be exact. Earlier that year, Le was living around the corner from me, seemingly independent with the exception of a caregiver stopping by for a few hours a week to help with some of the housework and laundry. I am not sure who was sent to help her but it must of gotten to a point where Le's need exceeded what the caregiver was able to provide. I'm not sure how those evaluations work and it seemed that over the year her health declined considerably. The person coming by weekly wasn't enough help to sufficiently meet her needs. She was having increased memory issues and starting to do some strange things. Her apartment was in an increasingly unorganized state, and she seemed to be having periods of forgetfulness more and more. I was coming by more frequently and spending a lot of time cleaning random messes. I also noticed that she was eating very poorly--Snickers bars and Haribo Gummy Bears, ice cream, canned cling peaches, ground beef...just really random things that didn't add up to good nutrition, especially for someone with diabetes.

This situation continued to build and all came to a head on Memorial Day of 2011. I'm still not clear on what happened, but the end result was an ambulance taking her away from her apartment to never return. One of our mutual neighbors Vicki said earlier that day Le came by and was really unsteady and ashy/gray. Vicki noticed something was wrong and helped her back to her place. From there Le felt she had to call 911. Apparently she was brought to the hospital and treated, evaluated then transferred to a short term care facility. I came by and visited her a lot while they were sorting out who her case manager was, trying to get in touch with family--the only people involved were her sexist brother who also had a disability and her overbearing ill-tempered sister in-law. Over the next 6 months this continued until it finally got to a point where most of the legwork was over and Le was settling into her long-term care facility. I'll spare you all the drama of family, liquidation of assets, evaluating your life, facing mortality and managing cognitive issues. Fast-forward to today, this long term care facility is probably the best thing that could have happened to her!

Nothing to worry about here folks, there's always an ambulance parked out front of The Terrace. 
Le lives about 5 minutes from the area where her old and my current apartment is in a place called "The Terrace." It's like a large apartment building/community center for seniors with the added support of people who prepare meals, provide intense healthcare services, and provide regular programming to keep their minds active. It's a pretty nice place, nicely decorated, secure, friendly staff and really clean. She's settled in comfortably and has a clique of neighbors she eats her meals with and gossips to me about. Overall Le seems like she is still decompensating but staying at The Terrace has helped significantly slow the clock.

Le's front door.
Le's room is like a large studio apartment. She has enough space for her knickknacks, pictures and big screen TV, but also has a door wide enough to get a wheelchair or walker through. She has a large oxygen generator in her room and a tube so long she can wear it and walk all over her room. She has sturdy grab bars in the bathroom and a small kitchenette in addition to having meal service in the main dining room.

She has a lot of stuff!

Her studio's kitchenette. Note the slippers to the right!

Looking down the hall at one of the dining areas from her room.
The dining areas are funny, I think this is where it all goes down. Le tells me that I wouldn't believe some of the things the women talk about! I asked her for an example. She looked around, leaned in and hoarsely whispered to me, "The talk about oral sex!" I asked for an elaboration but she didn't have any more to add. I was curious about who was servicing who and how that all went down.

Looking down the other hall
Le's room is positioned in a good area, she is close to a nurses station, not far from the dining room and her window overlooks a nice courtyard complete with flowering trees and rosebushes.

Boy I'm really hungry for some Chinese Food
The last time I saw Le was in February, she wanted to go to Target and also wanted to get some Chinese Food. We went up to this place on Hawthorne and had the lunch special. She was in heaven!

Hot and Sour soup! Or maybe Egg Drop soup. I can't remember, they both look the same.

Le really enjoys shopping at Target and one of the things that makes her experience even better is the power chair carts she can use to get around. She buzzes all over the store in that thing! She can put her oxygen in the basket and really enjoy her visit. I think we go up and down every single aisle in that store. The only thing Le can't do is get items off of high shelves but she has me to help with that.

Crusin' around Target.

Le has a lot of her daily and food needs covered at The Terrace but she still likes to get a few special items for herself. She always has some interesting mission to fulfill--this time it was to get a new lampshade. Other times it is to exchange a throw pillow or find a matching decorative linen set.

Independent shopper! 

She's really filled her basket. 

I can't believe I last saw her in February. I'll have to contact her soon and see if she's up for some lunch.

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