Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Decision

The decision to place Robert in an assisted living facility was not an easy one. It isn’t easy for anyone but, to be honest, it was not only gut-wrenching but I was pretty hard headed about it. Denial is a highly regarded trait in my family and I wasn’t about to give it up now.

Before moving Rob to his Care Facility, Robert lived in a town 90 minutes away from me. He lived with Judy who is several years older than Rob and also suffers from epilepsy. They have been together for twenty years or so although Rob actually tells people they have been together for 35 years. That puts him at, um, age nine when they got together. It’s quite amusing to watch the listener puzzle through the math once Rob says this but I know how important it is to Rob to think he knows how long he and Judy have been together so I usually let the listener remain puzzled, and eventually, slightly alarmed.

Rob and Judy talked about marriage for many years but both would lose some government assistance if they married. They are very religious which made the decision for them not to marry all the more disheartening for them. They purchased rings anyway, lived together, cared for one another, went to church together but, ultimately, never married.

Rob’s mental ability declined over the years due to the seizures, brain surgeries and head injuries and Judy’s has never been much better. Despite these obstacles, they took care of their household, walked to the grocery store together, somehow got to doctor appointments and church on their own and managed their medications by themselves.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dry by Morning

I’m warning you right now. Read no further if you don’t like discussions of bodily fluids or messy diapers. Hey, sometimes people needing assisted living or extra care (the elderly, the disabled) have bathroom problems and while it may not be glamorous it is a part of their (and us caregivers’) existence. If you have a weak stomach, recently ate or just don’t have a desire to read about urine (or worse), then please stop reading and come back another day. You’ve been warned.

Lots of people use “protective underwear” (aka, diapers for adults). Incontinence is a huge problem for many people whether it is an ongoing disability, a temporary health problem, age-related or something else. Anyone who has shopped in a drugstore knows there is a large amount of space dedicated to “protective underwear.”

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Losing Robert

“Um, Trish? Is, um, is, um, Robert with you?”

Is Robert with me?? It’s 9:30 on a Thursday evening the week before Christmas. I’m changing into my sweatpants because my regular pants are way too tight in the middle of this holiday season. I have presents to wrap tonight, stocking stuffer loot to sort, cookies and brownies to bake (see above, re pants problem) and Robert’s Care Facility is calling to see if I have Robert? NOOOO! I do not have Robert. You are supposed to have Robert.

The nurse gave me a quick summary of the last time they saw Robert (7:30 that evening) and how they’ve looked everywhere for him, asking one more question to be sure I didn’t have him (I don’t think I’d forget if he was at my house or if I left him anywhere) and then me saying, “I’ll be right there.”

I finished pulling on my sweatpants, threw on some boots and flew out the door with my husband right behind me. Now, I’m not known for my mad driving skills. The slow lane is my home and I like it that way. I drive a van, for goodness sakes. Danica Patrick, I am not. But, I was making even my husband nervous as I sped along the freeway toward the Care Facility.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Power of Prayer

Robert called me at work this afternoon. I discourage people from having personal calls come through our receptionist and here I am one of the biggest offenders. Rob calls me when he is out of shaving creme. He calls when he is low on toothpaste. Rob calls to ask me to come over to play cards. You would think with all these calls from him needing supplies and company, I never visit him. Far from the truth -- I visit Robert at least 3 to 4 times a week and diligently check his supplies each time I am there. I keep Robert well stocked with supplies and visit frequently, playing cards most every time.

I have no idea why I am suddenly gripped with the urge to defend myself! Caregiver guilt? Always thinking I don't do quite enough for him? Well, you will have to trust me that I manage his supplies (there's even a backstock in his cupboard!) and care for him quite well, thank you very much.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year

It's 2010 already! Robert ushered in the new year a bit early -- I woke up to my cell phone vibrating on New Year's Eve. That's "eve" not "day." December 31.

Caller ID showed the call was from Rob; my alarm clock showed it was only 6:00 a.m. My mind immediately went to "the nurses found him unresponsive in his room" and are calling to tell me to meet him at the hospital. (yes, that's me being a bit overdramatic). However, with Rob, sometimes you never know.

I answered, bracing myself for the worst, and was greeted with a robust "Happy New Year!" I didn't have the heart to tell Rob he was 18 hours early but for all I know, he was watching television broadcast the New Year dawning in some far away corner of the world. I wished him a Happy New Year back, said goodbye and laid in bed tickled that he was so happy this early in the morning.

Happy New Year, little brother. Happy New Year.