No doubt caring for my 93 year old mother with Alzheimer’s has worn me down to a nub. I can go and go until suddenly I can’t anymore. It has all caught up with me. Tuesday is bath day for Mom and I usually pretty much leave that to be the priority for that day. I don’t try to do much more because it’s so exhausting for me. Yesterday was Tuesday Aug. 5th and I pushed myself too hard. I knew it while I was doing it but still did it anyway.
I got Mom up and fed and got her on the computer to play games while I paid some bills online. I get everything ready ahead of time. I bring downstairs: her comb, my razor, a scissors, a towel, her earplugs, etc. I lay out the clean clothes she’ll wear after the bath. I get out her towel, washcloth and bathbrush. I put the 2 plastic gripper bars on the tile above 2 sides of the bathtub. I get out the No More Tears shampoo and clear away around the kitchen sink. I pick up the area rugs on the kitchen floor.
I cut my fingernails and toenails and then I cut her fingernails. She protests and pulls away to look at each one after I do it. It takes a lot longer than it should. Then I have her go into the kitchen and sit in the chair. I comb her hair and then start cutting it. I cut it about once a month. I’ve gotten better at it over time. Mostly because I care less how it turns out. I was always afraid of cutting too much and making her look funny. Now I just cut away with abandon and it turns out fantastic. I guess that’s what real hairdressers do! Afterwards, I throw out the hair I’ve put in the kleenex on the counter and wash the comb. I use the razor on her chin hair and mustache. I trim her eyebrows. I get the water to just the right temperature. I tell her what I’m going to do before I do it. I tell her I’m going to take her hearing aids out and put in the ear plugs. They are attached to a string that hangs down. I tell her NOT to try tucking it into her pajama because it just pulls them out. Then I show her how to lean over the sink so she’s far enough over that the whole kitchen doesn’t get wet. I take her glasses off and put the earplugs in. She leans over and starts tucking the string in her pajama. My words and speech are repeatedly in vain all day long, every single day. What I say has no consequence and doesn’t matter. I guess I know there’s more at play like her inability to hear, comprehend or verbalize a reply. Most of the time, I can shrug off the feeling but sometimes I can’t help but take it personally. Rationally, I know it’s ridiculous but after yelling and getting myself worked up, I’m completely irrational. I get her hair wet and before I can reach for the shampoo bottle, she is yelling, “Ya done?” Not quite. So I lather up her hair, massaging her scalp. I rinse it really well and wring it out. Then place a towel over her head and guide her back to the seat a yard away.
I dry her hair with the towel and comb her hair. I put her hearing aids back in and her glasses back on. Then I tell her to come upstairs and sit on her bed. I carry everything else back upstairs. She sits on the bed while I draw the bath. I have to keep checking on her so she doesn’t start putting the clean clothes on that are on the bed. I explain to her that she’ll have to use the toilet before getting into the tub or she’ll crap in the tub. She always says “but I don’t have to go”. I’ve learned to not listen to this EVER. I make her get on the toilet. I explain to her how to get in the bathtub. There’s only one way she can do it. She faces the wall with the window on it, holds the window ledge, lifts one leg in and then the other. She uses the grip bars and 1 side of the tub to lower herself onto her knees. Then she rolls onto her side and then onto her back. To get out she has to do the reverse. It should be simple but often she’ll forget how to get out or won’t listen to me and try to get out another way or just say “I can’t!” I put the lid down on the toilet and sit there and guide her through the bath. I have to tell her what body part to “wet” with the washcloth, then I squeeze liquid soap out of the bottle onto the washcloth for her and she washes said body part. Then I tell her to rinse it off with water. I have her start with her face, then do her neck and chest and stomach. Then if I’m not on the ball, she’ll start doing her face again. So I catch her and tell her to do her arms. Then it’s her hips, legs and feet. After that I wash her back for her with the washcloth and then the bathbrush. Then I wash under both her arms since she seems to neglect that area. Then I tell her to wash her crotch and then her bum. She seems to do a crummier job each time. I know eventually I’ll be washing more parts of her body as time passes. In the meantime, I want her to do as much for herself as she can.
After the histrionics of getting out of the bathtub, I wrap her in a towel and dry her off. She doesn’t even bother if I don’t do it. I have her sit on a towel on the toilet lid while I go get a pair of underpants and a pad. I put on her glasses and hearing aids. Then I get her to come into her bedroom to dress. I have to get out the paper towel, postal tape, Neosporin to wrap her leg. She’s still scratching it much to my chagrin. She also tears the bandage off within hours of me putting it on. She dresses herself with a little help from me. Meanwhile, I drain the tub and rinse it, hang the towels to dry, take down the plastic grippers and put them away. I come back in the bedroom and recomb her hair since she pulled her shirt over and mussed it all up.
I tell her to go downstairs and know she’ll be lost without a game up on the computer so even though I have things to do upstairs yet, I go down ahead of her and put a game up and get her a cup of coffee. Which she says she wants but then will forget to drink. She plays while I go back upstairs. I strip her bed and see that the sheets are torn and go to the linen closet and put a nice fresh set of sheets on. I take the others down to the basement to wash. I come up and get the broom and dustpan out to sweep the hair up off the floor and replace the area rugs. I put away the shampoo.
I then make our lunch and realize that I need to make a sandwich for my husband’s lunch the next day. By this time, I have to get her to the bathroom again, all the while reminding her not to pick her leg. We eat lunch and I go put the sheets in the dryer. Then I go upstairs and strip our bed and put our sheets in the basket to take down to wash. I then have to go back up another 2 flights of stairs to the spare bedroom to get the vacuum out. I take it down to the first floor where Mom is napping and vacuum the whole house. She doesn’t wake up until I’m vacuuming underneath her. Normally, I would do it Wed. so it is clean for the weekend but this morning I had an early vet appt. and I wanted to get some other things done. So I did what I’d do over 2-3 days in a single day. Not a good idea. The house looked better but I was ready to drop. I was hurrying since I wanted to have everything done before hubby got home from work at 7 pm. I went down and put the sheets in the dryer and then went back to the 2nd floor to take a bath.
So I get in the tub and I’m thinking about past birthdays and my next blog post. I stand up to wash my hair. I use the hand held showerhead to wet my hair. Then I put the shampoo on it and was lathering it. I’m completely bent over at the waist. I’ve done this thousands of times. Then all of a sudden I feel this weird sensation behind my left ear and SUDDENLY I’m so dizzy I can’t stand up. I started listing badly to the left. All I could think of was how I didn’t want to fall and hit my head. So I kneeled down. I thought it would pass. Instead it got worse. I had to work to keep my head from diving into the tub. Meanwhile, I have shampoo in my hair and it’s getting in my eyes. I NEVER go without putting conditioner on my hair. Due to its natural curl, it looks like I stuck my finger in a light socket when I don’t use conditioner. But I was physically unable to proceed so I pulled my legs out from under me and just sat in the tub. Face plant successfully avoided. I took the handheld showerhead and rinsed most of the shampoo out of my hair. I had to crawl out of the tub using the towel rack under the window. I thought it was going to snap from my weight. I sat on the toilet seat and was sweating profusely. I didn’t want to make any sudden movements for fear of passing out. I just sat there and made a plan to try to make it to the bed. First I had to use the toilet in a hurry and then I suddenly felt so nauseated. I stood up to wash my hands at the sink. Then I started vomiting clear saliva. It would be dry heaves except for saliva. I’d never done that before. I had 3 bouts of that. Once as I’ve mentioned, another after I was sitting on the bed and one after Greg came home.
After a few minutes, I attempted to get to the bed. I made it and laid out a towel to sit on. All I could think of was lying down. But there were no sheets on the bed, only the mattress pad and I was still soaking wet. I made another calculated move and went back in the hall and just reached in blindly for another bath towel. I put one on the pillow and laid the other one where my body would lay. I didn’t make it that far. Greg came home and I called to him to come upstairs. He helped me lay down and I had him lay next to me. He checked me to make sure I didn’t have a stroke. I didn’t have any body numbness and could raise both arms plus I had no slurring of my speech. I had my own clean clothes laid out on the bed so I had him help me get my underpants on. I just felt so weak and sick.
I made it downstairs to the couch and just laid with an icebag. A little later my face got red and very hot. Feverish. I had Greg take care of getting Mom to the bathroom and dishing up supper for the 2 of them. I had made a pasta salad the day before and that’s what we would’ve had anyway. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like eating. I skipped dinner. Me miss a meal?! That’s unheard of. Usually it doesn’t matter how sick I am, I can always eat. Well, this was a special kind of sick. I’m thinking it’s a bad sinus infection. We went to bed earlier than usual and I slept well, all things considered. I haven’t been sleeping very well all week so I really needed it.
I didn’t know if I’d be able to take Elvis to the vet today. But I got up at 7 am and made it over there by 8:30 am. I still feel weak and I’m feeling worse as the day goes on. I’ve had a headache for most of the day. I had planned to rest most of the day when I got back from the vet but that was not to be. The vet prescribed Benadryl for Elvis’ allergies and I had to drop him at home and then go to Jewel grocery store. While there I picked up a loaf of bread (we were out) and a gallon of milk (almost out). After lunch I tried to lay down on the couch but it didn’t make me feel any better. So I got up and worked on this blog post.
My birthday is tomorrow and now all I want is to feel better. :-( We didn’t really have any major plans, just treasure hunting and go out for a late lunch with Mom to a fish place. We just found it a month ago and it’s what I’m craving. I love fish when it’s fresh and cooked right. When I was younger, I didn’t care much for it. So many things change as we get older. If I don’t feel better by tomorrow, I doubt I’ll be going anywhere. I don’t want to have a reoccurance that I might not make it through. I don’t want sympathy, just some birthday wishes. If anyone else has had anything like this happen and can tell me what it was, please do speak up. If I don’t have a good birthday, at least I’ll have a memorable one. ;-)