Thursday, August 09, 2007

130 "Get in the shower"

Monday my mom called, frantic, saying "get over here and deal with your father."
He couldn't find the bathroom, couldn't ask for it, and pooped himself. Fine, no reason to make a big deal, right? But he refused to remove his soiled clothes or take a shower. My poor husband was in the bathroom with this smelly wreck of a man for a good half hour. He started off asking nicely and then progressed to threats (I will cut your clothes off with scissors) and yelling (take off your clothes! Get in the shower!). I just sat there in the living room like a useless lump, knowing that going in there would make things worse --remember how he freaked out when he peed himself a few weeks ago and I was there?
I can't say how much it sucks--you've heard it all, and if you're in this situation, you already know.
Here's another perspective: a friend of mine saw my dad recently. She had known him before he was diagnosed, not well, just as a friend's dad. This is what she wrote me when I told her about the above incident:

I can’t even say how I feel about your father. Seeing him that day ... just opened my eyes to what “Alzheimer’s” is/can be. I probably shouldn’t say this but I start to get all teary eyed when I think about him/it. I just can’t even image how that must be for him. In Monday’s case all he sees (lack of “knowing”) are people yelling at him & not understanding why these “people” are there and upset at him.

I just don’t get it/understand/know why things like this happen. What the hell are you/your mom etc supposed to “learn” from this. Isn’t that what they say “You learn something from your life experiences”? ahhhhh………. I’m just going to stop there because I think it’s something you could go on & on about.

My dad is having more and more trouble articulating even the most simple things. I've decided to bring my camera over there tomorrow and take pictures of everything he looks for: pens, pencils, wallet, keys, dog, cat, toilet, etc, and put them in a photo album so he can just point. To be reduced to breaks my heart and more than that, it makes me so damn ANGRY. Anger makes me want to rant, and like my friend said, once you start ranting on it, you can't stop, because nothing makes the outrage go away. There is no panacea for this rage.

Last weekend, I took my dad with me to see some ragdoll kittens at a breeder in Cheshire, Willow Pond Ragdolls. Linda was very kind, not upset that I showed up towing my whole family (well, me and my parents) or that my dad was mentally impaired. He was reluctant to hold the kittens ("too small") but held one of the mama cats and enjoyed watching me sit on the couch and play with them--she's got 8, 2 litters of 4 each born about 10 days apart. How do you pick? I fell in love with one of the littler ones, a seal point. He was the size of the palm of my hand and when I held him to my face and said "I'm going to eat you, you're so cute" he rolled over so I could scratch his belly. I will be going there again this weekend, to see which one I'll actually end up buying.
I already bought one, from Bluberri Cottage Cattery in Ledyard, where the breeder is also named Linda. He is the cutest, sweetest, smartest kitten I've ever owned, a seal point mitted with a blaze on his nose. I named him Chocolate Moose, the breeder named him Andy and my husband named him Sputnik Gauntlet. We call him Sputz.
We still have Nutter. He'll be 14 next week. He's got an ear infection, and of course he's still got lung cancer. Sputz loves him, jumps on him, licks him, follows him around. Nutter is not amused, although he is happy enough to eat Sputz's premium kitten food and lay on his window shelf. Once Sputz has a friend his own age, I hope he will calm down a little and they won't gang up on my poor old kitty.


Mauigirl said...

I's very difficult. I'm glad you are getting another cat, hopefully it will help cheer you up, and it sounds as if your dad enjoys watching them.

The last time I went on vacation with both my parents, when my father was starting to have a lot of problems with his Alzheimer's, we stopped at a rest stop on the way home. He had a "problem" in the men's room and my husband had to go in and get him because he was gone so long. Apparently he didn't make it to the toilet in time and was trying to wash out his underwear in there...

Marilyn said...

I have read your blog many times. It was more fun when your dad-and my mom - were kind of pleasantly confused. I totally identify with your rage. My mom has lived with us for several years. I have had caregivers 12 hours a day 6 days a week while I work. My feelings of anger and frustration make it almost too much to deal with my mom from 8 p.m. until I can FINALLY get her in bed several hours later. I love my mom and I feel guilty that I have all this anger and frustration which more and more comes out at her - the victim of this whole thing. It's not her fault but somehow I am always wanting to "straighten her out" and spend time trying to explain things to her and ask her questions about why she is doing something. Of course, it's a waste of time and I get more frustrated the more she doesn't understand. I can hear it in your posts so I know you understand..........I have to give alot of credit to your mom to be able to deal with this on a daily - all day basis. If I won the lottery tomorrow and never had to work again, I could not stay with my mom 24/7. Sad to say but I know it would not be good for either of us. Thanks for sharing so honestly!

Mauigirl said...

I know what you mean; with my dad I was always trying to "straighten out" his thinking or reason with him. But with my mother-in-law, maybe because she's not my own mother, I am more able to roll with it and just agree with what she says or go along with her conversation even if what she's saying isn't making sense.

Marvel said...

Quick notes while I have a minute...

Bert please talk to your mother about having your father checked out by his doctor for urinary infections or other possible health problems. Sometimes there are underlying infections or dietary sensitivities that can cause incontinence.

He may also respond to toilet training. That is, taking him to the toilet every two hours. Also, watching for signs of needing to urinate or have a bowel movement. Not asking, just guiding him and helping him if needed.

Giving him pants with elastic waistbands might make it easier on him. He may have forgotten how to unfasten his pants.

Having a portable urinal nearby and an adult "potty" next to the bed is helpful too. He or a caregiver can just whip out the urinal for him if he can't get to the bathroom or starts to urinate on walls.

It may be hard but try to make it all matter-of-fact and offer comforting words and gestures. Feeling shamed or punished can make things much worse for him.

We are still battling Grandma with bathing but we take it a bite at a time. She doesn't get a shower, she gets toilet baths. She gets her hair washed with a no rinse product on another day. She has her bottom cleaned twice a day, ointment applied and diaper changed. Her nails for her hands and feet done on different days. She just WILL not cooperate much more than about 10 minutes at a time.

She can get violent but so far none of us has been hurt. We have discovered that giving her something to do with her hands helps. Holding a wash cloth. Holding a mirror while I do her hair. Having a treat in her hands. We don't ask, EVER or give her choices. It only agitates her because she is so confused.

Some caregiver's use music or songs to calm the AD family member but this tends to irritate Grandma.
Which is odd because she went to college on a music scholarship.

I agree with Maugirl about the frustration level being lower because she's not my mother. Her son is quite frustrated and angry. My anger is directed at the so-called professionals who won't listen to us.