Emotional Support Lizards? …Sure

My Bearded Dragons have been here for me. I provide them food and love. In return, they provide me with non-human-given love and laughs that I appreciate. Here’s an example:

I was against hospice as an option for my Mom, it seemed like a soft murder, or something. Then, I had to consider whether or not it was fair to allow her to suffer. What would Mom want? I knew she wanted to live, but this was not the life she wanted. I couldn’t find the answer within myself. I was already stressed to what could be a breaking point in other areas of life. Thankfully, I had Murph to hold as I thought about things, and his needs & cuteness forced my mind to take a break now & then. It was an awful time to make an awful decision. I could not find a nursing home I (or Mom) was happy with, having already arranged her moving to a better place once (still close for Dad to visit her nearly daily), this and with some research, I concluded:

These places are under-staffed even though there are a lot of employees. Although many people chose a career field such as this, only some of these people truly care and are happy with what they do. The rest, well, they’re just going to work. I once found my Mom nude from the waist down, uncovered, soaked in urine with the door shut and the air conditioning cranked to the coldest setting (which was 1 of many problems). She was sleeping from pain pills (that she was able to keep ingested) and freezing. No one seemed to know who left my Mom that way. Would they leave their Moms that way?

Eventually, I knew my Mom could never go home again. Her mind, the remainder of her amputated leg, and health were declining. I did however, encounter a hospice care with sincere people whom equally despised the functioning of most nursing homes. They altered/assisted with her medical care and visited her often.

Thankfully, family traveled to see her the night she left her prison. I told her earlier in the day I love her, that it was okay to leave. I said I hope I was doing right by her and I hope I was forgiven by her for not being the better daughter I believe I could have been, and forgiven for this decision of an hospice ending. I knew not what she would choose, if she could do so.

I played songs to her that day, like The Oak Ridge Boys, “Elvira” to be exact. She loved the harmony and deep voices 🙂 and Kenny Rogers. I played a ‘Journey’ song we danced to one night when I was a teenager, and wow, one of her favorite songs is from Metallica! Of course, I played that “One”. She said the song reminded her of her fiance (long before Dad won her heart), of whom she was told had been shot & killed while serving his country. It’s about a man’s thoughts as he’s trapped inside his body, immobilized from war injuries. She became trapped like the man in the song. However trapped,  I’m sure she was head-banging to it in spirit. She truly loved that song. She liked Elvis, Native Indian music, bird songs (in nature and on cd), some gospel, and more, but I played what I knew were all-time favorites.

No one knew when she was leaving, but perhaps I had a feeling. I guess that’s why I told her those things and played the music that very day. I had been with her for hours, I went home and was about to eat when I got the call. I didn’t get to my phone in time. I had a 13 second-long message. It was my sister. “Mom passed, I hope to hear from you soon.” I didn’t call back. I went back to that place, her room now filled with many people and love, Dad is in the hall. How did they all get there before me? The answer is still unknown. But, Mom’s soul was the one I felt more than the others’. I know it was my reaction that broke their hearts most of all. I was my Mom’s only child, but my Dad’s last born, although Mom was mine biologically, my older siblings have loved her as their own. I only broke my embrace with Mom because I eventually had to.

How does all this apply to lizards, you may be wondering? Well, they help me forget. If only for moments at a time, about problems and pressures. Don’t take it wrong, life’s not all bad. We simply all have ‘those days’ or months, some times. I find the silence of reptiles peaceful, especially when they just be, with their mouths open as if giving an hour-long grin! It makes me live in the moment with them, where we are. Their curiosity is sometimes like a child’s, they learn by watching. They can grow smiles with a funny shuffling acrossed the floor or when I know they want to be held & nothing more. They don’t whine and nearly always want to travel to different rooms or places with me. They give others cheer too, I’m sure of it. I hope knowing Murph, and reading of Copper in our archives has placed smiles upon your faces!

I want to mention some of those other problems I hinted to earlier to make aware to anyone who may need this knowledge, some of what is common-place at facilities. Just maybe this will aid in the better care of someone later. Some facility employees are  aware of which patients’ families and/ or hospice team has people looking out for them, and go as far to make things appear fine before a scheduled hospice team member arrives. It’s ridiculous out there.

When I noticed the same chipped water pitcher had been in my Mom’s room for some time, I decided to open the lid. Employees kept filling it with water, never washing it and replacing it with a different one. So, I stayed observant in this new arena of disgust.

I created such a stink about discovering mold in bed-side pitchers of water, that the staff got new instructions to date when fresh water was given, and ultimately they did away with the pitchers altogether shortly after the day I walked (carrying another less-than-clean pitcher from Mom’s room) with a person of a high position there to a storage room  where “washed” pitchers still had a line of mold in them. I knew this because I opened the lids of these “clean” pitchers each time one was handed to me. Three “washed” pitchers were this way. I stated they weren’t washed well or being dried out properly. They emplemented a system of ice in coolers, lids, cups and straws placed on carts in the halls for employees and family to retrieve fresh cups as needed. There were no more pitchers in any rooms.

Other problems were, at two of the places Mom stayed, her items getting stolen either by patients wandering into her room, staff, or just not getting returned after washings. I spent much time browsing through a laundry storage with employees rarely finding missing items. Some missing things written on a list by a lady in an office were found in other patients’ rooms. I wrote a description of every article of clothing and blankets that belonged to my Mother and would take inventory when I visited, AND LATER THE LIST VANISHED TOO! Sometimes, my Mom was given meals and no one put her dentures within her mouth or cut tough food for her. Some mornings I discovered her dentures remained in her mouth all night, which sometimes led to a sore place on her gums. Sometimes Dad or I had to brush her dentures because the staff did not see to their cleanliness. This is common folks.

I once told a lady as she sat, doing nothing but mindless chatting to a person beside her at the desk that my Mom needed help immediately to go to the bathroom before I left that hall. I was leaving for home, but decided to return a few minutes later to check out the situation. When I found her still sitting there, I informed her my Mom was probably now in her own feces and glared at her until she got her butt out of that chair to come help with my Mom. She was a nice lady, but nice doesn’t mean efficient or even good. I often believe I am too patient with others’ non-sense, but I don’t take kindly to cruelty, be it by intention, deceit, or neglect. I took my Mom to their home to visit Dad and their cats, or out for a drive, or a walk (she in her wheelchair) around the facility and neighboring area as often as I felt I could. It brightened her so, I could see the light and mental clarity come back, with these, shined her personality.

I wish I could have taken care of my Mom. Her care was so extensive, she had so many problems. I do not possess the medical expertise, nor does my home have the physical requirements her care entailed. If you love someone in a similar situation as my Mom, look closely, take notes of potential clues that your loved one is not being treated with some dignity and fight for them. Thankfully, we may have a wonderful animal(s) at home awaiting our arrival after battle with the humans.

Copper was here for me too – for 7 1/2 years. We needed each other very much, but that is a different story.


“Give me Lizardry or give me Death!” – Dawn Renee♥

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