Friday, April 15, 2011
So yesterday was Thursday, which is Ladies Night for me. I gave Bompa his supper and I headed out to dinner with my BFF. Jim and the boys were home having their boy's night. Bompa was all set up with his cold drink, and the tv tuned to baseball. He was wearing his oxygen because he has a touch of pneumonia. Normally he wears it only at night, in bed. I got home around 8:30pm and I went in to say hello. I asked "How are ya?" And he replied, shaking his head, "I broke something." I said "No worries, what did you break?" Now I'm looking for a broken mug, or hopefully not his new set of dentures. He holds up his oxygen tubing, which he has apparently cut into several pieces. I asked "why did you cut this, it has connectors, you can just pull the two pieces apart if you need to." I'm thinking it got tangled up in his wheelchair wheels or something. Oh no...he was trying to "fix the grass sprayer for the backyard." He cut up his oxygen tubing (for which I have no spare) to make a sprayer to spray the fertilizer he says is in his trash can. So it's a good thing I'm a Girl Scout because with the pieces of tubing and an extra nasal canula I put it all temporarily back together with electrical tape. Then I told him not to worry about the lawn we'll take care of it on Saturday. He says, "well make sure you don't lose those trash bags because everything we need for a nice green lawn is in there." "Ok Bompa, I'm headed off to bed."
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Yesterday was an interesting day. Bompa came into the kitchen and asked me what was going on in our community. I said "nothing new, why?" He said "well there's something going on. My brother Bill (who is deceased) sold me a brand new car and the keys are missing. They were right here on the radiator, but now they are gone." I relied, "I haven't seen any keys and the last I knew you had given up driving." He argued that he owns a car. Jim walks in and Bompa says "I gotta talk to Jim." Jim walks over to him and Bompa starts weaving his tale. According to him, Jim's friends were all shot dead in our backyard and then put into the trunk of Bompa's "new car". Then the car ended up in the water in New London. Bompa is worried sick because the registration in the car is in his name and the killers might be able to trace it back to us because Jim's name is on it too. Jim tries to tell him that everything is okay and his friends are all fine but Bompa won't have it. I try again to tell him to trust me that there is nothing to worry about. Bompa turns to Jim and says, "well there was anote with the keys that are now missing and it says not to trust anybody, especially your wife!" Jim chuckled and headed to the shower. I tried to go along with Bompa's story at least enough to say the registration was changed out of his name when we sold his car so it won't be traced back to us. He seemed to calm down a little after that. As I was making dinner it dawned on me...Bompa had fallen asleep with Walker Texas Ranger on TV, and the headphones on his head. He must have been dreaming and hearing the dialogue the whole time. From now on we're sticking to the game show network, cuz nobody gets shot in those shows!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Haven't posted in a while because the stories are so crazy I can't remember the details long enough to write them down. Bompa's mind is going 100 mph and what comes out makes no sense at all. The theme fr allof today's interactions has been digging a hole. When I went in at 9 am to get him up and have his breakfast, he was sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning over the seat of the wheelchair, covering the seat with both hands. He was also counting out loud...1 1000, 2 1000, 3 1000. I asked him what he was doing and he said you need to dig a whole right here. I said "why do you need a hole right here in the seat of the wheelchair?" "I just do," he said. I told him we needed to eat breakfast before we could dig any holes. He went to the bathroom, and came out to eat. He asked me how I was was. I said, "I'm fine." He asked how the bullet hole was healing. I said, "um I don't recall being shot so I guess it's fine?" He told me he shot me in the shoulder and the bullet was gold plated so I should dig it out and melt it down and inside I would find the diamonds I wore on my wedding day. I said, "ok, here, eat your banana." Then I went to do the laundry. When I checked on him later, he was asleep in his wheelchair but was bent over clearly digging a hole in his sleep. I gently woke him and asked what he was doing. He said, "I'm digging a hole." I asked, "why?" He said because the Dr told him to dig the hole. I said, "well, why don't you take a break and watch tv for a while." He said, "you better check my blood sugar, I've been working for a while now." I said, "I think you'll be fine, especially if you have an ice cream." He said, "oh boy, that sounds good." So he had an ice cream and immediately fell back to sleep. I wish there was some kind of rhyme or reason or pattern to the chaos in his mind. But in the meantime, I'm just gonna hide the shovels.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Yesterday was a really rough day. Bompa was angry that he is in "jail." My heart breaks that he feels that way. I wish him swearing at me made him feel better because I will take it. But it doesn't. The part of his brain that is lucid kicks on and off and when it's on he wants to go and do his own thing and is furious at me because he can't. When it's off we have mornings like today. He was in the bathroom and he had the door closed and the way his apartment is set up, he doesn't need to close it because no one can see in. I told him it wasn't a good idea to close it because if he fell I wouldn't be able to get in because the wheelchair would be in the way. He said, "well those kids were running around everywhere and I was naked so I needed to get dressed." I said "what kids?" He said "those big kids that went on the trip with me." He then proceeded to tell me about going somewhere very flat for as far as you could see. A place where he could go in his wheelchair all over and not have to go up any hills. I said "that sounds pretty cool." He said "I had a good time, but I would rather go in the day time." "Ok" I said. Then he said" Oh and tell that bus driver not to let those kids off in my room next time because they run all around and mess with my wheelchair." I said " ok I'll tell him." He then proceeded to take a nap in his recliner. About an hour or so later he comes into the kitchen and asks me to come into his bedroom because he wanted me to "take care of the grass that was growing under his bed." I told him there wasn't any grass growing under his bed. He said "the hell there isn't, it's long enough to mow." I looked again. I told him to look under because I didn't see anything. He looks and says "I must be seeing things." I said "you might be." He shook his head and said "what's for lunch?
Thursday, February 3, 2011
When I went in to get Bompa up this morning I noticed that his side table by his recliner had been moved across the room. So after breakfast I asked him and he said..."Well last night I decided to take the snow plow up to Lillian's house in Colchester. And as I was driving it out I saw that the back wheel was gonna catch on that end table. So I put it in park and got off and moved the end table across the room out of the way. Then I hopped back on the plow and started out but the door was locked. I tried to open it but it wouldn't budge so I parked the plow and went to bed." I asked him if I could put the table back and he said "yeah go ahead because that plow isn't gonna fit through that door anyway!"
Monday, January 24, 2011
Last night at 10 pm Bompa asked me to help him take a shower (which I am happy to do but not at 10 pm on a Sunday without a really good reason), because he was sweaty from the baseball game he just finished pitching. I asked "was a good game? and he said "it was a no hitter and that I scored the only run." I kinda laughed at that and said "wow that was some dream you had." He said he wasn't dreaming but I reminded him about the foot of snow still on the ground and he scratched his head and said "well I might have been dreaming." Then he held out his hand to me and asked "did you read the note?" I said "no I haven't read the note." He said "well you have to fold it up like this and he made the motions, then you cut it into small pieces, but while you are cutting you have to put a $ 5 bill in your mouth and chew on it until it's good and wet. Then you have to soak it in goats milk. Then you get a cake pan or a pie plate and hold it under your chin while you pour the goat's milk onto your head. Whatever runs down into the pan you have to drink. " I said "ok, but what does that have to do with the note?" He says "what note?"
Friday, January 7, 2011
So I have been thinking recently about the word "caregiver." Caregiver makes me think of nursing home workers, aides, nurses, dr's, etc. These are professional people who get paid to do this job. What about family members who do it? We don't get paid. We do it because we love them. Over the years I've thought a lot about the cycle of life, how we raise our babies up to be adults. We feed them and clothe them and do for them what they can't do for themselves. Then they go out into the world and do that too. What is the opposite of raise in terms of what I have done for Gramma and what I'm doing now for Bompa? It's like you get to a point in life where, although your age keeps going forward, what you can do goes backwards. With our kids we are "parent" but what am I to Bompa. Caregiver just seems so generalized, so minimal. It's more like backwards parenting. It should have it's own word. A better word. A word that describes the love, respect, hard work, weary mind and sad heart that go along with what we do all day for our loved ones. A word that describes the strength it takes to watch the person who helped raise you and teach you about the world slowly forget all those things. A word that describes the courage it takes to accept the huge responsibility of their care. Someone I met online, who cares for Alzheimer's patients, uses the words "earth angel" . I kinda like that one! A long time ago, I picked a song that reminded me of my Gramma. It was our favorite song. It's "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler. I played it for her at my wedding, and I had it sung in church at her funeral. It's funny how it seems to fit perfectly with being an earth angel. My whole life, Gramma was getting me ready for these challenges just like her Gramma did for her. Destiny? Divine Plan? Coincidence??? I don't know! Just something I think about once in a while...
So as is the norm in our crazy life, Sunday is chore day. Grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, cooking, and other various errands. I try to head out and do the running around earlie rin the day and leave the cleaning and stuff for last so I'm all set for work on Monday. Of course, this is also the day that Bompa's sister and brother in law decide to visit. I am at walmart, and jim calls my cell to say they are here and hurry home. I am thinking to myself, omg the house is a mess and there are 6 baskets of wet laundry waiting to go through the dryer from the laundromat since our washer is broken, and I'm sure Bompa has fallen asleep in some random place in his wheelchair because he does that now. He heads somewhere and falls asleep on the way, his teeth fall out, he slumps to the left and it's a little off putting to see him like that if you're not used to it. Jim tells me that he is telling his sister that he is in jail here and that I don't feed him or take him to the Dr or let him use the phone. OMG, then he asks her if he can go to her house. Jim is mortified! I, on the other hand am thinking, uhhh the man has dementia and it's pretty obvious by his deeper conversations. But everyday pleasantries he can fake it with the best of them. I could tell that she was concerned. And I was starting to think to myself, omg, she thinks what he is saying is true...until the last story he tells. It's about a man who kills somebody and fights with the police and then goes to prison. When she asks him who he is talking about he says Stan. (Stan is their brother and has never to my knowledge committed any murders or done any prison time) That was the moment I think that she realized he was a just a few fries short of a happy meal. She said her goodbyes and I walked her out. My close friends and family know everything that goes on daily, weekly, monthly... They know the stresses, the laughs, the love and the committment it takes to deal with this. I can't imagine what a 10 minute visit snapshot must look like from the outside looking in. I wish I had time to worry about that, but I don't because there's so much more to do today.