My first adult diaper change
After three relatively busy days of the long holiday weekend, I had decided that today, Sunday, would be a day of leisure, for the most part. I saved most of the laundry for today. And I wanted to take advantage of a day off to visit Mom. I have tended to think that visiting her in the morning is best. She seems to have a little more energy than she does after lunch. And I have had better luck lately finding her alone rather than with Mr. R if I show up in the morning.
Sure enough, she was sitting alone in the lobby when I arrived at about 11:25 a.m. Another resident was pushing a chair around and a woman was sound asleep on the couch. Mom sat in a distant chair by herself. I pulled up another chair and sat down, facing her. She smiled at me and started talking a little bit. I noticed something bunched up under her pants. I felt around a little bit and realized it was Mom’s diaper, pulled down almost to her left knee. I tried not to fret too much about it. We sat quietly, sometimes bobbing our heads to the jazz music playing on the sound system. I tried to hold Mom’s right hand but she kept it held in a clenched position for some reason. Her skin was cold to the touch but she didn’t complain about being cold. As we sat, Mom would stare off from time to time. At one point, she closed her eyes and I thought she might fall asleep. Her eyes opened suddenly and she said, “That was fun for her.” I thought to myself that she was saying that this visit was fun for her. I’ll never know for sure what she’s talking about so I tend to decide what I want to be going through her mind.
We sat together for about 25 minutes, and it was almost time for lunch. I encouraged Mom to stand up with me and walk to the program area so she could get lunch. She walked sort of awkwardly, what with her diaper hanging down her leg. A nurse greeted us in the hall. I told her Mom was losing her pants and she encouraged me to find someone to change her. I said I was going to try to take care of it if that was OK. “Sure, if you want to,” she said. “Look in the closet for her diapers.” Up until about now, I have always called Mom’s undergarments disposable underwear. I’m not sure why – I suppose I don’t like to think of her wearing diapers. And I certainly helped her change out of plenty of pairs of disposable underwear when she was still in assisted living, but also still able to use the toilet by herself most of the time. Now, though, Mom wears diapers that are attached just like baby diapers rather than pull-up disposable pants.
I coaxed Mom into her room. Knowing that she sometimes objects to being changed, I didn’t want to startle her by just yanking down her pants. I told her what I was going to do, and she seemed agreeable. I pulled down her pants and did yank on the diaper until it came off. It was heavy and wet. But I noticed that Mom’s pants were not wet, miraculously. I wondered if she had pulled on it to get the wetness away from her skin, poor thing. She stood with her pants around her ankles and I got a new diaper out of the closet and put it through her legs. And then I took about two minutes examining the sticky connectors because they weren’t, in fact, sticky. I pulled at them, trying to separate two pieces of plastic, convinced that I would have to do that to make the diapers stay on. Mom sat on her bed – and pulled the diaper out from under her – while I went into the bathroom and looked at the diaper in the trash to see how it had worked. It turns out the material on the connectors wasn’t sticky like adhesive, but effectively held when taped against the diaper material in the front. I stood Mom up and arranged it as well as I could and connected the back to the front as snugly as I could. And then I hiked up her pants and checked again that her pants were dry. She looked bunchy in the butt area but I didn’t want to risk making things worse by trying to reattach the diaper again. And then I washed my hands.
We went out to the program area and I encouraged Mom to sit in a chair at a table so she could eat her lunch. I put her bib on. The two ladies at the same table have been at the Alz center since Mom has, and one of them is not looking very good. Her head drooped severely and she seemed to slightly convulse from time to time. She was in a wheelchair after having spent most of the last two years using a walker. I had heard she has been having a rough time but haven’t seen her up close in awhile. I said hi to her but wasn’t sure that it registered.
I got Mom’s tray, poured her milk and cut up her pot roast. It was a Bonnie kind of meal – beef, small boiled potatoes and mixed vegetables. Instead of ice cream, she had a cup of vanilla pudding. Mom speared a potato with her fork and it dropped into her lap. While she picked it up and ate it, I used the fork to cut up her potatoes, too. She took a few bites before turning to dessert, sipping on her pudding cup. Seeing that she was nicely focused on her food, I decided to leave. I noticed as I walked away that she had started picking up her food with her hands. But she was eating, so it didn’t matter.