First off...you should know that I love my mama. I've committed to her...to myself...and to the Jesus I follow...that I will care for her to the best of my ability for as long as it is needed.
And...my writing of this post is in no way meant to dishonor or disrespect her.
Many years ago...before the overwhelming burdens of her life had turned her a little bit angry and a little bit bitter...I KNOW she would have laughed herself.
We used to laugh a lot...about the stupidest things...one of us would get tickled at something the other one had said...or done...or we had seen or heard...and...next thing you know...we'd be cryin'-laughin'.
...I miss those moments...It's been a long time.
And..maybe...just maybe...someone out there in this cyberly-connected world NEEDS to read these words. Maybe...just maybe...someone out there is going through this same sort of thing...facing these same kinds of shoot-from-the-hip-and-do-the-best-you-can-with-what-you-have-kinds-of challenges..and needs to be reminded that you aren't alone...needs to be reminded...given permission...that sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.
My mom has Alzheimer's. And, as if that weren't enough...she no longer has the part of her brain that controls balance--it's been wiped out...completely...by a series of mini strokes.
Now, that may not seem like a big deal until you realize that the Alzheimer's causes her to forget she has no balance. The Alzheimer's causes her to forget she ABSOLUTELY HAS TO STAY in her wheelchair.
Before the Alzheimer's became THIS bad, I used to blame her NOT using her walker on the fact that she is just so DAD-BLAME STUBBORN!
For several months...the Alzheimer's and Stubbornness vied for FIRST PLACE. But...for the past few months....Alzheimer's has "won."
So...I've resigned myself to knowing that falls and broken bones and ER visits and hospital stays and surgeries and PT and long-term-skilled-nursing facilities and follow-up doctor visits will simply be her (and my...and our...) future.
Fortunately, this most recent fall, which resulted in a broken kneecap, didn't require surgery or a hospital stay...just an immobilizer...which she keeps trying to take off...because she forgets that her kneecap is broken. (I think you get the picture.)
Today was supposed to be a simple follow-up doctor visit.
If I say so myself...I've gotten this whole follow-up-doctor-appointment thing down to a science. I call Shannondale and make sure she's awake and dressed, and tell them what time I'm coming to get her. For the most part, she's waiting just outside the 5th floor elevator when I get there. Then, we elevator down to the lobby, where my Honda mini-van (aka "The Blueberry") is waiting right outside the electronic doors.
Anyway...things were off to a smooth start this morning for her appointment. We arrived with time to spare. After filling out yet another round of medical forms (REALLY???.... AGAIN??? ... And WHY does EVERYONE I ENCOUNTER ASK ME WHO HER FAMILY PHYSICIAN IS SINCE I'VE WRITTEN IT ON THE FORM....AGAIN...).
Yes...I know I digress. But, for the record, in case you aren't one of the lucky ones who frequently get to listen to me rant--OUR MEDICAL SYSTEM IS BROKEN!!!
Anyway...after hearing the receptionist's announcement that the doc we are there to see is running 25 minutes behind, I had settled in for a short winter's nap...when...mom announces to me and anyone within earshot, "I have to use the bathroom." To which I whisper-replied, "I think you can hold it." Well...for all of...oh...40 seconds, I managed to convince her. But...let's just say...she didn't stay convinced.
So...I asked the perky receptionist if I could take her into one of the office bathrooms. But, there must have been a note in the file about what happened at our LAST appointment (...another story for another time...), because the perky receptionist sweetly...but firmly...informed me that I would have to take her to the public restroom out in the entrance atrium hallway. With a perky, sugary smile, she assured me that it was "fully wheelchair accessible."
So...off we go.
Well...I get her "situated," and step out in the hallway to give her some privacy. About...oh...30 seconds later...she starts hollering (literally), "OH, LORD, SOMEBODY HELP ME...SOMEBODY HELP ME!" So...of course...I dash in thinking I'm going to find her on the floor...again...but this time....well...let's just say...she needed help of a completely different kind.
And I gave it...She's my mama....That's what daughters do.
For sake of moderation...and your gag reflex...I won't give you details. I'll just give you parts and pieces of mine and mom's dialogue:
Mom: OH, LORD, HELP ME!
Me: Mom, you have GOT to PUSH!
Mom: I can't.
Me: You've got to. We CANNOT leave this bathroom unless you do.
Mom: It hurts!
Me: I'm SO sorry, but you HAVE GOT TO PUSH...HARDER!
(I interrupt this dialogue to inform you that toilet tissue--especially the brand most commonly found in public restrooms--is sometimes USELESS.)
But, back to mine and mom's dialogue...which, for the most part, just kept repeating itself for about 15 more minutes.
Oh...I should probably mention that...about every 2-3 minutes...someone would knock on the door...to which I loudly and pointedly replied, "I'm. doin'. the. best. I. can. We'll. be. out. when. we. can!"
(THANK the good Lord above that the motion-activated paper towel dispenser and foam-soap dispenser did not run out...and that the toilet did not clog from ALL the wet, soapy paper towels I kept flushing down it.)
FINALLY...I get her cleaned...me cleaned...the potty cleaned...the sink cleaned...the floor cleaned...I think you get the picture.
And...as I'm backing myself and mom out of the bathroom, I wheel around and...standing there in the hallway are FOUR...count 'em...FOUR...women...and, for some reason, a solitary man...all with deer-in-headlights looks...just staring at me.
So...I stop...look at each of them...and make the following announcement: "I'm sorry for your wait. You need to be careful because the floor is wet with soapy water. I cannot vouch for anything else you may find in there. Have a nice day."
And I wheeled my mama back to the waiting room...
We're supposed to go back in two weeks.
I'll keep you posted.