Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oops -- My Bad

Rob called me about ten minutes after I had woken up this morning. Pretty good timing, considering he could have called when he wakes up (5:30 a.m. or so). Fifteen minutes before 7:00 didn’t seem too bad even though it was the weekend. I was still a little groggy and in the middle of the morning routine of feeding dogs, cats and the turtle but cleared my head when I saw it was Robert calling.

I try to guess why Robert is calling before actually answering to get a head start on preparing myself for whatever it might be. It’s a habit a control freak like me can’t seem to break. What in the world did we (“we” as in me and the other control freaks) do before caller id?

My mind runs through a few scenarios but the first is always: “This is the nurse. We heard a crash and came in. Robert needs to go the hospital.” Then I stop being such a drama queen and move on to more mundane reasons for the call such as “Do you want to come over to play cards?” or “I’m out of toothpaste” or “My remote doesn’t work.”

Just answer the phone already!

Today, it’s “It seems I’m out of aftershave.” Okay, not a problem. I’ll pick that up later and come over this afternoon and we can play cards if you want.

“Are you out of anything else?”


“Did you already shave?”

“Yes. I’m almost out of my aftershave.”

“Okay, got it. I’ll bring that later. Did you get your shower?”

Robert gets showers three days a week and lately, he’s missed a day here or there because the person who helps him wasn’t available. I like to check if he’s getting one or not so I can notify the Care Facility of a problem.

“No. It seems there was a problem with the shower.”

Well, it’s an older facility. Maybe the knobs weren’t working right.

“A problem?”

“The bottom was plugged up and the water is still running.”

Ah, the water isn’t turning completely off. Drip, drip, drip. Maddening but easily fixable. I’ll check on it when I come over later. Maybe I’ll bring a wrench in case the repair person isn’t working today.

“Did you tell the nurse yet?”

“No. I’m about to.” Pause. “It seems the floor is all wet.”

Uh oh.

The last time the floor was wet it was because Robert had a seizure and fell against the toilet, which didn't just break it, but shifted the base from the floor and flooded the bathroom and adjacent hallway in record time. Yeah, I had no idea you could break a toilet much less shift it from where it’s supposed to be.

“The floor is wet? Okay, Rob, you need to call someone right away. Use your call button. And don’t go in there otherwise you’ll slip.”


Long pause.

Still pausing.

Robert processes conversations slowly so I’m used to his pauses. A pause this long means he is avoiding telling me something.

“You already walked in there didn’t you?”

“I might have.”

Okay. Once we got through the questions about wet socks (“I had my shoes on”) and confirming there wasn’t a fall involved (“I was careful”), I told him to call the nurse immediately. This was very important.

“Okay, but can you bring me some aftershave?”

Note to self: discuss the concept of priorities with him.

Shortly after this call, I received a call from the nurse at the Care Facility. Apparently, the shower wasn’t the problem at all (sometimes Rob mixes up his words) – the toilet overflowed because it had been stuffed with disposable washcloths.


This one is on me. Wet cloths work better for Rob than regular toilet paper so I keep him stocked with whatever brand is on sale in the “incontinent” section of the drugstore. How was I supposed to know there’s a difference between “disposable washcloths” and “flushable wipes?” They’re both next to the diapers and I thought, well, they’re all used for the same thing, they can be flushed. Apparently not.

So, on this quiet Saturday morning I’ve learned two things: the difference between “disposable” and “flushable” and how much a plumber costs on the weekend.

Now, about that aftershave. . .

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