Monday, August 16, 2010
On the second day Dad was in rehab, he was sitting in his wheelchair while I straightened up his room. An elderly woman wheeled in and headed straight for him. She rolled to a stop next to him.
“May I help you?” he asked with obvious surprise.
“No,” she replied.
I said hello to her and she turned an icy stare my way. “Go away,” she demanded. She then reached a shaky hand over and placed it on Dad’s knee. He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and mouthed, “CRAZY”.
I stood there with my mouth gaping as I watched her smile and put her hand back on his leg (on his thigh this time). He politely told her hello. She began humming under her breath as she slowly started to rub his leg. When she didn’t respond, he asked again if he could help her. Once again, there was no response.
Not at all sure what I should do, I casually made my way over to the bed. As I straightened the linens, I pressed the nurse call button. I turned around to see her hand groping his crotch. Thanks to the Depends he was wearing, I don’t think he felt a thing. He was looking from her to me and appeared completely oblivious to where her hand was. I was frantically searching my mind for a way to handle the situation when the nurse walked in. She took the whole scene in with a quick glance.
“Now, Ms. G, let’s leave these nice folks alone to visit.” The nurse gently but firmly disengaged Ms. G’s hand and started to wheel her out.
I thanked the nurse as they were passing me. The old lady turned her head to look at me and leaned in my direction. Her voice was a loud, scratchy hiss, “BITCH! He’s mine and you can’t have him!”
My mouth dropped open as I looked from her enraged face to the smiling face of the nurse. “Welcome to the neighborhood. Ms. G used to have a “friend” in this room. She has trouble remembering he’s gone. She knows she’s not supposed to be in here so just call us if she comes back. Sorry.”
She leaned down and said to the old lady, “Come on, Ms. G, I’ll take you back to your room.”
As they made it to the door, Ms. G started to whine, “It’s my job. I’m the package inspector. Let me finish my job. Why won’t you leave us alone and let me do my job…”
Dad looked at me and shrugged his shoulders. “Poor thing,” he said, “she’s crazy.” He shook his head sadly as he stared at the empty doorway. And as he does with anything distasteful to him, he promptly forgot any of it ever happened.
Our second encounter of another kind with Ms. G came a couple of days later. Dad was stretched out on his bed behind me while I was gathering his daily laundry to be washed overnight and returned the following morning I heard him say, “Well… hello.”
I turned from the closet to see Ms. G wheeled up next to the bed with her hand up the cuff of Dad’s pants leg.
“May I help you?” Dad asked very politely while looking like a deer caught in headlights.
“I’m going to help you,” she said as she slid her hand further up his leg.
He cleared his throat and asked, “What’s your name?”
She began to hum by way of a reply and continued her upward trek, now somewhere in the region of his knee.
With no hesitation this time, I jumped for the nurse call button and summonsed help. “Ms. G, don’t you think you should go back to your own room now?”
She turned to stare blankly at me before she demanded through clenched teeth, “Get out! Can’t you see we want to be alone?”
She had made it to Dad’s thigh by now and realized she could go no higher than his lower thigh with his pants on. Not to be deterred, she simply dropped her other hand onto his lap and began groping him. I was beyond relieved when the nurse walked in. She immediately began trying to untangle Ms. G’s hand from Dad’s pants leg with one hand while she attempted to remove the still groping hand with the other.
As soon as she had a hand free, Ms. G reached a hand out to Dad. Much to my surprise, he asked the nurse to wait a minute and he took it in his own, patting it softly. “Thank you for stopping by,” he told her politely.
She grasped his hand and pulled it to her cheek. “Was it as good for you,” she asked, “as it was for me?”
As the nurse ushered her out of the room, Dad looked up at me with tear-filled eyes. “Poor thing,” he said, “She’s crazy you know. Poor, crazy, lonely thing.”
I am happy to say that Ms. G was successfully kept out of his room after that (or at least to my knowledge she was). But, from then on, when we would encounter her in the halls, Dad would sadly shake his head and say, “Poor thing. Poor crazy, lonely thing”.
And to this day I am convinced he wasn’t at all aware that she tried to feel him up. I’m not sure which I am more thankful for in this case… the Alzheimer’s or the Depends!
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Dad has been in Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy for a month now. Signs of physical improvement are so great he was released from OT this week and PT has been reduced to twice a week. But as his physical capabilities have increased, his mental capabilities have slowly been decreasing.
At a doctor’s appointment on Friday, Dad was asked to fill out a questionnaire. He asked me how old his parents were when they died and what their medical history was (2 questions I don’t know the answers to). When I told him I wasn’t sure, he proceeded to make up answers. He couldn’t remember how many children he has, their ages or if they are living or deceased. Finally, he became to frustrated to finish it and asked me if I would do it for him. My heart breaks to watch him struggle with the tiniest of things, things that most of us take for granted every day in our own lives.
On a note of levity, I cracked up when I came to the section regarding his educational background. He had listed that he had completed 2 years of college, then checked the box that said, “reads and writes poorly”. I explained they were trying to determine literacy. He insisted (with a twinkle in his eyes), that he can’t even read his own writing.
For almost every negative we encounter together, he manages to find humor somehow, and for that I am eternally grateful.
When the doctor came into the examining room, he announced that the lab work looked good. I was overjoyed to hear that his kidney function had gone from 32% three months ago to 50% currently. The doctor and I both burst out laughing at his cheerful response, “That’s great! Now I can start pissing on myself more often!”
Tonight ended on rather a sour note. Dad lives for watching football games on TV. It doesn’t matter who is playing, or what league it is, and he usually has it muted so you can’t hear a thing. It doesn’t matter to him it’s about WATCHING the game. He asked me all day what day it was. And I told him repeatedly it was Sat. He started looking for a game on TV about 7:00. After an hour of me trying to check the listings on the TV Guide channel, with him taking the remote away periodically to channel surf (his version, which means randomly pushing buttons or not pointing it at the TV when he IS pushing them), he finally gave up. Not because he believed there wasn’t a game on, but rather because he was angry he couldn’t locate the one he was sure WAS on.
He insisted there had to be one on because the newspaper had listed all of today’s game times. I tried to point out it didn’t say anything about it being on TV. In a fit of pique, he threw down the newspaper and the remote and announced he was going to bed because “the damn TV is broken anyway!”
We’ll see what tomorrow brings…
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Pressure Sensitive Patient Alarm The Patient Alarm utilizes a pressure sensitive pad and connected battery powered alarm that alerts caregiver with audio sound when patient gets out of a chair or bed. Pressure Sensitive Patient Alarm Features: New and improved. Pressure sensitive pad connects to ...
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Cons: Rather Pricey
Best Uses: Elderly, Dementia Patients
Describe Yourself: Caregiver
Primary use: Personal
It is easily secured to bed and is not bulky at all. Only major drawback is there seems to be a slight delay before the alarm goes off. It is the best product I could find available to me since I am not a medical professional.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
When last I wrote, Dad had just come home from the hospital. He still has no memory of the 27 days he was in either a rehab facility or the hospital. For the 1st time since I moved here, I have had real, medically trained professionals coming in to help me with him. For the 1st time since moving here I have had any help at all.
Dad is doing amazingly well. He moves around the house frequently without his walker (the wheelchair is, at least temporarily, a thing of the past). He has gotten up on a few mornings and made his own breakfast. He has unloaded the dishwasher on many occasions (virtually nothing ends up where it belongs, so cooking has become something of an adventure). He sets the table for dinner (ALWAYS incorrectly but he tries SOOOOO hard). He is eager to help and he and I both know it’s because he KNOWS he is slipping more and more into the world of Alzheimer’s.
Unlike after Mom died he no longer lays in bed all day or sleeps all the time. He rarely even takes a nap currently. He may sit in his chair most of the time but he gets up and fixes himself a drink more often than he asks me to get him one. He reads the newspaper everyday. He reads magazines and even watches the TV unmuted more each day. Now that he knows the reason he quit reading books (he can’t remember what he has read once he puts the book down because there is too much for his brain to process and hold on to). Magazines and newspaper articles are short so easier to grasp and retain. They are less daunting in a lot of ways.
Once again, we are making great strides on the physical side of things. Meanwhile, his Alzheimer’s days are steadily getting worse. He has become argumentative. So much so, I have begun to arrange a moment alone with his nurse and therapists to communicate any concerns I may have. I often laugh to myself when I think of Mom’s ingenious plan to start flying a warning flag like they do at the beach. A way of warning everyone what kind of day they can expect. We are most often on at least a yellow flag day (the last 2 days have been red flags for sure).
I went home for an overnight trip last week and was startled to see that my grandmother is deteriorating at a fairly quick pace. I left over 2 hours later than I had intended because I organized her medications and made med lists and gave them specific instructions on things she should be doing. I was still so distraught on Monday when our home health nurse came I told her about it. She immediately got on the phone to a supervisor in her company who in the space of 24 hours had the ball rolling to get them in to help my mother take care of my grandmother. We are arranging everything by phone while my mother is on vacation. By the time she returns, we should be ready to have all the different departments in to make their evaluations. My grandmother is finally getting the help I have wanted for her for over a year and Medicare WILL PAY FOR IT!!! I just wish I could convince her to move in here so I could look after her myself!
Life has begun to get increasingly harder and I find the need for introspection quite necessary. I also find that I roll into bed every night praying for the strength to get through the following day. The demands of my family have grown bigger and more complicated. I find myself quite weary at the end of every day rather than just occasional ones.
I know there will come a time where I will find peace for myself. I know that time is not yet. My peace will come from within and it will be the most solitary thing I ever do. But for now, my life is on hold as I hold hands, change diapers, kiss & bandage enough injuries to keep a walk-in clinic in business, cook, clean, chauffeur, listen to people's sad tales of their problems(and try to offer good advice), attempt to be a good friend to my friends, a good daughter, grand daughter, sister, mother and most importantly, try to be a good mate to a husband who is paralyzed with fear at dealing with his own father’s illnesses and recently, at times, life in general.
But for now, the pain I feel that emanates from this family (Dad, his children, his grandchildren, and even his great-grandchildren) drains the very life out of me at times. So if I should temporarily go into hiding on here… please feel free to message me. Trust me, a good, swift kick in the pants just might be what I need!