I moved into our new home on Friday and it's Sunday and here I sit with no TV (it won't turn on) and no internet (they come tomorrow) so what else to do but write about the saga that has me here …
Mum fell in November - tripped on a median strip and broke her knee and elbow. The elbow required surgery and pins - bummer. She was a bit of a mess for a few days with a very heavy cast on her elbow and unable to get around without a lot of effort. As is the lot with my family, she had somebody with her almost every waking minute so after a week it was off to respite care and I'm sure the medical staff were happy to see us go!! We were happy as well - until we arrived at the most miserable place on earth!! St. Margaret's!!
.. ok - I'm sure there are a few other places worse than this - and I know we should be grateful that we even get medical care - and we are - but dear me! This old (key word) old, convalescent home has been up and down, given things and had them taken away and is now the holding ground for CAP Patients (Care Awaiting Placement) … and hidden in that name is the clue that it is full of mostly old people, mostly with dementia, mostly with an injury (permanent or not) and without exception all needing help/care for everything they do. Oh dear - it needs to be modernized, it needs brightening up (I tied up the curtains to let in more light) … it needs some TLC - but I figure the staff are reticent to complain lest they decide it's too much bother and delete it forever.
Still … as with everything that has happened since that day in November … there was a silver lining … and we took advantage of mum's situation to have her assessed for care: respite in a nursing home, permanent placement in a nursing home or qualify for TCP - and she passed all of them with flying colours! (She was on so much OxyContin it rendered her incoherent most of the time.) So we took Door #3 - TCP (Transitional Care Package) - AT HOME!! That was clever - she would come home so I could look after her (yikes!) but I would have all kinds of help (physio, bathing, O.T. etc.). We just needed to have the house assessed …
So I cleaned up; cleared away, cleared out (paths to/from bathroom etc) and mum came home (first time in four weeks) to show the therapist/person/whatever she was (well she was about 18 that's what she was) how well she (mum) could cope. Mum did well; "we'll put a little ramp here", we'll but a rail here", we'll put a whatever there" said the seemingly-18 year old … and then she said "Beryl, show me what is in this room"!! … and poor mum opened the door to the dark garage, didn't see the step and because she was wearing that (stupid) brace, her knee didn't bend and down she went onto the concrete floor (luckily covered in carpet)… and because she was wearing a (very) heavy cast on her arm, it jammed her into her shoulder and … it broke!!! "Well I'll just call St Margaret's I think they have a mobile Xray machine!!" … "oh there's no answer" said miss therapist. So I told the seemingly 18-year old that there was no answer because it was lunch time and every available person was delivering meals to the poor wretched souls and I was pretty sure there was absolutely no hint of an X-ray machine there - mobile or stationary! (I knew there wasn't a footstool for mum's broken knee, I knew there wasn't a million other things and I was pretty sure I didn't run into an X-ray machine either.) I suggested she call an ambulance! … and there we sat for nearly an hour - mind you, the operation to get her into the ambulance was pretty impressive, with a blow-up piece inserted under her bottom that forced her into a sitting/standing position once it was inflated! … and into the ambulance she went and off to hospital she went … AGAIN!! Poor mum said "I must have done something really bad to deserve all of this"! … but she didn't - she never did - and it almost broke my heart.
Same emergency doctor, same nurses, same everything, except, it turns out, there is nothing much can be done for a broken shoulder (who knew?) so off we went … back to St. Margaret's!! Back on the OxyContin, back to how it was four weeks before!! We didn't think any of us could handle more of this, so I called TCP and suggested that given that the reason mum was in this predicament (not so much said, as insinuated by the skillful use of my English/Canadian language) was mostly due to the seemingly 18-year old therapist (nice as she was) so could we just transfer the same program to the nursing home, and could we do that soon, and given it was Christmas in a week, could we do that really (really) soon. … and … they did! Mum went from being a CAP patient to a TCP patient … and a different world.
Philip Kennedy Centre is primarily a nursing home with a section devoted to getting some patients rehabilitated and ready to return home (TCP). Mum had a lovely private room (don't get too comfortable they said she'll be moved soon - but she never was) with the most lovely nurses and carers and the loveliest 90 year-old man I have ever met sitting next to her at the dinner table (he wore a Toronto t-shirt and turns out he'd been to T.O. and he'd worked in FINLAND!!! and his favourite movie was Four Weddings and a Funeral). It was truly a Christmas Miracle!!
So mum came home for Christmas Day that was 39c, and because the air conditioner upstairs broke down (urgh), well mum couldn't climb the stairs anyway, all 15 of us crammed into Mum's room downstairs (separate ac unit) and we opened presents, had a drink and then wheeled mum to the hotel around the corner for the most yummy Christmas dinner EVER!! … then we all nearly melted walking/wheeling back … and then … we took mum back to PKC and as it turns out - it was the last time she was at the house.
Back before November I decided to swap houses with my sister. She's much better at looking after mum than me (pretty useless) and we decided to do it just after Christmas - Joseph was leaving for Canada, Mexico and beyond and then it could be explained to mum that the switch was because Joseph was going away (me too) and not because she needed more care. GOOD PLAN!! We decided to keep mum in respite while we made the switch and when she was better she would come home … to Jen. We decided to switch on Friday, Jan 6th , so Joseph would only have a few days to wreck my sister's pristine-white house before he left. On February 5th I packed! - Loose use of the term "packed"! On February 6th, after we had "packed" , and carried the boxes downstairs and my house was in "sister move-in condition" - sister Jen, called to say husband Michael had to go into hospital for emergency surgery on his head. (MIchael has hydrocephalus and a shunt and something was wrong.) So the move was OFF !
Poor Michael had FIVE surgeries in four weeks (and as of writing this two weeks later he's had another one) to remove the shunt, to fight infections, to put the shunt back and at one point being very very sick and fighting back … poor Michael … poor Jen!
After his 2nd operation it was obvious that Michael couldn't come to our house and Jen couldn't look after both him and mum so … here's another silver lining … it was a chance to take advantage of mum already in the nursing home and have her moved from "getting-ready-to-come home care" to respite care while we waited for a permanent room and all this was possible because way back in that "house of horrors" that is St. Margaret's, mum, in her Oxy-infused state, passed the "I need care" test!!
I don't know what it's like going into a Nursing Home anywhere else - but here's a snippet of what it takes in S.A. (feel free to skip ahead)…
In S.A. (since June 2015) if you own your own home and have a bit of money - you are required to pay a RAD (Refundable Accommodation Deposit) between $350,000- $500, 000 just to get in to the home! Then there are daily fees (these fees, conveniently, add up to the same amount as a senior's pension) … and you need to sell your residence to qualify and to come up with the $$s. IF you pay this amount ($450k in our case) in full it is fully refundable (hence the name RAD) … If you can't afford the deposit - no matter!! - they can take it out on a weekly basis along with the other fees except … then it is NOT refundable!! (I don't know what the acronym for that scenario is!) … The "good" thing is that you have six months to pay the deposit - otherwise you are charged interest, compoundable interest (whatever that is - but it's not good me thinks!) So - off you go and sell your home! (you should know if you don't own a home or you own an inexpensive home you can still enter a nursing home - you just don't get to choose where, etc. etc.).
Joseph of course is long gone and because the a.c. isn't working upstairs and because most of our worldly possessions are packed into boxes downstairs and because I will NOT carry those boxes back upstairs, I am living out of those boxes in mum's room downstairs. And … because it's above friggin' 35c every day and not below 30c some nights the a.c. is blasting day/night , and because the Fritsch's have looked after the kids during school holidays about as much as they should, there is babysitting the darlings and because it's now actually February and it's school for J, there's that added bit of excitement to every babysitting day where I try to have the darlings fed (breakfast - I can do that!) dressed (school uniform for J - anything we can agree upon for B!), lunches made (luckily J knows exactly what he wants to eat) and attempt to get to school for 8.30 A.M. (luckily I start all this at 7.00 a.m.), and because we need $450,000AUS we need to sell this house.
I remembered joseph mentioning after our Christmas party on the dock with the neighbours, one of them said he would buy our house if ever we wanted to sell. Well - we did so off I went to see if he wanted to buy our house or if he wanted a deal. Turns out he wanted to buy the house and offered $30k more than we paid for it! That's a good deal … and because he had to sell his house, and because joseph was way until July and because we had until july to pay the deposit to the nursing home, he was most pleased that we could settle around the end of July. Phew! This is good … this is really good! My family is very pleased with me - I'm pretty darned pleased with myself!
Then I went to see the financial advisor who specializes in Nursing Home placements/stategy. Her name is Sharee and the first thing Sharee did was to explain that the nursing home CHARGES YOU INTEREST ($71/day), EVERY DAY until you pay the deposit! Huh? No wonder they don't mind if you take six months to pay!! They certainly didn't mention it to us when they called to say we had about 1.5 hrs to accept a permanent position or somebody else would take it (and if you refuse you go to the BOTTOM of any waiting list!)!! Sharee then did lots of calculations and showed me lots of numbers (she doesn't know how I deal with numbers) and wrote down lots of things and it turns out that even though mum had money - it was really only barely enough to keep her going until death do us part in the nursing home. SO she said it behoves (my word) you to bring the settlement date as far forward as you can and eliminate the interest payments. Well that's easy - I'll just tell Peter (he's the neighbour-buyer!)
Peter is about 70, now single much to his surprise and he is (supposedly) an engineer who now lives and works in Port Adelaide. Poor Peter - he used to live in really fancy places but now not so much. He sees our (bigger than his) lovely white house on the corner as more befitting him. He also has a holiday house down south that he'll sell so he's not poor! He agrees to the request to bring the settlement date forward to mid-April but of course - there will need to be compensation. How about $20k less for the house!! Gulp! I said er … NO … my siblings wouldn't accept that! (Funny(?) thing is if he had offered that price originally we probably would have taken it!) So he compromised and said - half way. So we agreed (mostly it was him who agreed) on $660k - $10k less than the original price and still 6 weeks of interest for us to pay. Gulp! Now my family isn't quite so pleased with me … and neither am I … and I need to be out of the house in about four weeks! (All this time my poor sister is dealing with poor Michael in hospital with operation after operation!)
Joseph and I decided we wanted to live in North Adelaide - a nice area close to town and close to Cassia and pretty close to Mischa. So off I go looking for a place to rent without Joseph! I tried, I tried really hard to be frugal, but those frugal houses were quite a change from the beautiful house-on-the-water-with-the-view that I had become used to these past four years and I was going nuts. … then I remembered Peter saying nonchalantly that I could "rent it if I wanted". So that was the answer !!! I would rent back from him until Joseph came home (mid July) and then we could find a place together and Joseph would be here to help MOVE!! Yippee - this is good!! … Except Peter wanted me to pay him $400/wk rent. He said he could probably get $500 (yes he could) but goodness me - here I was only living downstairs (my choice for sure) so only wear and tear on such a small portion of the house and here I was, somebody he knew and obviously could be trusted to not wreck the place - and I thought (and still do) that surely that was worth something!!?? Something like $350/wk? So we agreed (mostly it was him who agreed) that I would pay him r$400/wk rent until July … unless the situation changed for either of us.
..and that's where the saga should end! … Mum settling into the home nicely - unaware it's permanent (or is she?) - we just don't use the word … Michael came home from hospital and was doing well (until 4 days ago) … and I could relax and concentrate on Cassia and baby, babysitting the darlings and preparing for my trip (Spain/Canada 6 weeks). … but as Joseph so wisely said "I knew if I left you alone for that long (4 months) you would do something like that".
"That" turned out to be a chance sighting of a rental property - in an apartment building (rare) in N.A, with a view, very close to Cassia (10 min walk) and Mischa (10 min car), 3 bedrooms (space for everything stuffed into the garage), 2 bathrooms AND a garage with a remote door-opener and cupboards along the back wall (spider infested -but cupboards none-the-less!) $480/wk.!!! Too good to be true - so I applied and - "we" got it!! Yippee - two weeks to move!! I'll just pop along and tell Peter that "… the situation has changed for me" and after the settlement (April 21) i won't be paying you any rent. Oh dear - that impacts his financial situation! Never mind - we're neighbours, we know each other, we can work something out. So we agree (mostly it was him who agreed) that I would pay him $1,000.00 in lieu of rent. (I think he forgot about the clause that said "unless the situation changed for either of us!!! urgh!).
Never mind … I packed (I thought I was already packed but there were the things we "left until July"!!) … and there were mum's things that needed to be dealt with; sell? take? dispose? Jen helped a lot, poor John did the trailer run to deliver and to the dump. I advertised on Gumtree (Craiglist equivalent) and I did quite well;
Mum's china cabinet
- nothing extraordinary - just a nice solid piece - $25.00!
Yep - replied within minutes ! Come Sunday - and Sunday she did , except Sunday was very windy and when she was loading it into her truck it blew over and smashed!! She didn't ask for her money back so I gave her mother (who wanted the cabinet and was distraught) about 10 other things of mum's for free!! … and they left happy!
Jen's single bed.
…er KING SINGLE! never heard of it - but it's a wide/long bed with a trundle that pops out and up and turns it into a KING BED!! $200 Jen says - even though I know she paid close to $1,000 for it.
Yep - replied and came to pick it up - except there was a mark where I had attached a note to the bedhead with scotch tape - so take $50 off (out of my pocket) and they were happy!
Jen's white table
Jen moved her table over here in anticipation of them moving in.
Except I scratched the top so I had to replace it $150.
So $50 - yep that's a deal - except they offered $40 so I took it.
Jen bought a stroller 6 years ago and never used it - she wanted to give it to me.
I already had a used one from an uncle - so we decided we could get more for the new one!
$50 (figured she paid $100 -turns out she paid $60)
Yep - a lady wanted it but had to catch a bus to pick it up. I offered to deliver but she wouldn't be home until 10 that night but that's OK with me - I'm busy during the day anyway!
Turns out the lady is 46 with a 14month-old baby who was taken away from her due to domestic violence. The baby has been in 14 different homes and now she can get him back if she agrees to not let the Father have anything to do with them. She has older children and the 26 year old thinks she should have the baby and is telling the authorities that her mother isn't fit to look after the child. She's also waiting to find out if she is pregnant again. She also has a snake in her house and cats and a lot of things. But she is very happy with the stroller and she said "thank you Jill" as I was leaving.
Out the back of our house on the weekend (lots of people around on weekends) I sell (give away) lots of things that should have fetched more - but I'm just happy people are taking them away. … and I end up with $5!!!
I decide I need movers and the air conditioner is ready to be installed on the same day as the movers are coming and I'm about to collapse when the neighbours invite me down for farewell drinks! How lovely - such great neighbours! I'll miss them. … I'm supposed to meet with Peter to go over things at the house -so they see him walk past and invite him up for drinks as well (urgh!) … and somebody mentions that he had sold his house! WHAT!!??!! Whao!! - yep - he sold his house (I know not when and I know not for how much (but I will find out)) and when I ask he tells me that settlement date is "in about a month"!!! So it seems that "the situation changed" for Peter as well but he forgot about that clause and he forgot to tell me and he certainly didn't suggest I forget about the $1k!!
Never mind (well I do - a lot!) - but here i am in this lovely, large apartment with the most wonderful views (7th floor) over the city - looking towards the zoo (and hearing the Siamangs) and towards the hills and while it's not all new and fancy it is old and well-made … and tomorrow I'll go and pickup our car that has taken four weeks to bash out the hail-bumps and I'll hope that Telstra (phone/internet) only take the afternoon to install and not two days that it took to get electricity hooked up … and then I'll be gone! … and I hope Joseph will love this place as much as (so far) I do!
SO THAT'S THE END!! … or is it???