Sunday visit

I went to see Mom on Sunday morning, about 45 minutes before lunch. She was sitting at the same table she had been at on Thursday, with two other women. I sat down next to her and asked how she was doing, and she said, “OK, but the pee is coming soon.” I said if she had to pee, we ought to go use the bathroom in her room. She got up and walked with me, and she said, “I feel so much better when you’re here. Let me hug you.” So we stopped to hug. It might have been the tightest hug I have ever given her.

When we got to the bathroom, she hiked up her shirt to start pulling down her pants, and aimed her butt at the trash can in the corner. “Over here,” I said, pointing to the toilet. “Oh. They’re similar,” she said. She was laughing. I said, “I guess…they are both…receptacles.” We laughed some more. I checked her closet, and found that one of the packages of underwear I had brought in had been opened – a good sign. I could hear Mom fussing in the bathroom. It turned out the extender seat – a raised plastic seat that’s put in place of a regular toilet seat so the user doesn’t have to lower him- or herself so far – was wedged up against the new roll of toilet paper, and Mom couldn’t get any of the paper off of the roll. I reached in and worked the roll around several times to pull off some paper for her. But it wasn’t enough. She had realized she had to poop, too. She was very dramatic about completing her bowel movement, grunting and leaning backwards. I told her not to rush. To just sit and let things happen naturally. And I turned the wedged roll around and around to get her plenty of paper. It was sort of a funny scene. She finished, and I flushed the toilet for her, but it didn’t completely empty. I tried again, and the water level rose dangerously high. I urged Mom to wash her hands. And I watched the toilet. It didn’t overflow. But I just left it. I figured if an overflow was in the toilet’s future, that didn’t have to be my problem.

Mom and I sat on the chairs in the little lounge area near her room to chat. She said she didn’t have any clothes but those that she was wearing – pink pants, a pink striped T-shirt and her Navajo-patterned heavy fleece jacket. And pink crocs with no socks. (I wonder if the staff members don’t know she has an entire drawer full of socks. She never has them on these days.) I told her she has a closet and a dresser full of clothes, and that staff will help her pick them out, and that they wash her clothes every day. She seemed impressed by that. As we were sitting there, I noticed a male resident across the program area from us. He came out of his room with jeans on, but no shirt. I didn’t see him for a little while, and the next time he was in my line of vision, he was wearing nothing but his adult diaper, which was sagging quite a bit. “You have to have clothes on,” said a nurse, who was following him around. She put a hospital-style gown on him. I didn’t see him anymore after that.

Mom and I took a little walk down the hall to the lobby. Mom didn’t seem to recall that she used to nap in the couches in the lobby. There were some families visiting there. And then another male resident, who had followed us down the hall, began to talk to us. I had no idea what he was saying. But I said, “We’re all going back down the hall to have lunch pretty soon.” I’m pretty sure he said he had already had lunch. He kept talking, and we walked down the hall together, and Mom and I stopped to sit on a rocking bench in a little alcove. This man sat across from us on a couch, and he kept talking. And I would nod, and say OK. And remind him that it was almost lunch time. This is a man I typically see keeping very quiet, sitting at the same table as us and not saying a word. I wished I could give him the proper response. I just tried to give him positive feedback of some kind. I hope he wasn’t as frustrated as I was.

I returned Mom to her table and we sat and waited for lunch. Another woman at the table got her tray first and started to eat. I kept looking at the cart to see if I could find Mom’s tray – it has her name on it – but I figured it was behind other trays and I didn’t want to go rearranging all the trays so I just stood around and waited. I went back to her table and the woman at the table had slid her tray over in front of Mom, as if to share with Mom. It was so sweet. She doesn’t talk much, except to say hello. I told her she was being generous but that Mom would get her food soon. The other woman at the table had to be roused from her nap to start eating. An aide finally handed Mom’s tray to me and I put it in front of her. I went to get her a napkin/bib thing that everyone wears and when I came back, I could see she didn’t know how to cut her ham. So I cut it up for her and told her how good it looked. And I pointed out her pumpkin pie – a past favorite of hers. “I have a piece of pie and so does she,” Mom said about the woman who had shared with her. “I’m not sure how that’s going to work out.” I told Mom everyone gets pie so it should be just fine. She likes sweets, so I imagine the pie was the most important thing on her plate. And then I told her it was time to go and I kissed her goodbye.

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