Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Mother (get it?!) of all UNEXPECTED days!

Jumping back over here to share yesterday (which I feel MUST be shared for posterity and perspective) on another One Word Wednesday over at my website My Sweet Peanut.  Today's word is UNEXPECTED!

One of the funny (to me, at least) things about blogging is that back-of-your-mind thought, no matter what is happening, that at some point - you HAVE to write about it.  Details get mentally jotted down so you can remember to add that to your post.  Photos are taken (not yesterday - far too personal and unphotogenic) to really accentuate your words. 

And then you sit down at the computer.  And if your day was weird or bigger than life or totally UNEXPECTED - you just don't know where to start.  I giggled.  I played it back out in my mind.  I said a prayer of thanks and decided the best way to write it, was to just WRITE IT.

Yesterday started a bit different than some other days - I was coming off a day of escape and freedom and rare 'me time'.  So, I was probably better rested.  I was definitely basking in the glow of reconnecting with lots of friends.  And I was ready to face my caregiving responsibilities with renewed enthusiasm.


My son dawdled.  Eight minutes of dawdling that cost me 5 or 6 laps in the pool. But that's okay - at least I swam, right?  To make up for it - my daughter had a good hair day and liked her very first outfit.  Back on track.

Then it was breakfast time - mom was moving slowly.  Not tortoise-slow, but slow.  And she was needy.  LIIIISSSSSA????  She needed a lot of confirmation and affirmation of every step of her morning routine.  But that's okay too - I was renewed and refreshed.

It seemed to make mom angry.  She was kind of cruel to my kindness.  But there were a couple of variables in play that probably contributed to her mood.  1.  My husband was off work and she doesn't understand or appreciate or enjoy when he is around all day.  and 2.  the pain medicine she takes for her arthritis could not be refilled because it is now "a controlled substance" and her doctor didn't write the correct type of prescription at her last doctor visit.  I, of course, tried to refill it last Friday afternoon - about 30 minutes after the doctor's office closed for the just got worse and worse and worse.  The Tylenol wasn't making a dent.

So, the stage is set for the day.

Bad mood.  Extra person.  Achy. 

By themselves, I could have handled yesterday with maybe a Coke Zero and a couple of Tylenol... and maybe a bite of chocolate.

But yesterday wasn't just any day - it was mom's birthday and she had a raging colon (I just didn't want to type the "d" word).

So, every time she heard our 'nice friends' on the Today show announce the date - a look came over her face and she would ask "What day is this?" and I would say "Tuesday"...nice try!  She would keep asking until we got to talk about her birthday.  And she got to say what a shame it was that NO ONE REMINDED HER of HER OWN BIRTHDAY.  Then we would talk about how old she was.  She just couldn't wrap herself around 87.  It added to the confusion and bad mood.

We got through breakfast.  We made it out into the living room where mom likes to nap while I study or blog or wander the web.  No nap today.  She glared at my husband.  She talked over us as we tried to catch up since we hadn't seen each other for more than a few minutes at a time.  And she paced.

The only positive to mom being in a bad mood is the extra exercise she gets.  She paces round and round our home.  Sitting down.  Standing up.  Round and round.  Up.  Down.  I hate to see her that agitated, but my silver lining is the extra exercise.

Somewhere in the pacing and the complaining, mom had an accident.  A #2 accident.  Only the second time ever.  And she was mortified.  Especially because there was a strange man (my poor husband) in the house.  And because she had to ask for help.

I felt like I did everything right.  Respectful of her privacy.  Making it no big deal.  Providing her with everything she needed to clean up, including my assistance if needed.  And then the soiled brief disappeared....

We were hysterical looking for it.  In drawers.  Under cushions.  The refrigerator.  Everywhere.  We thought about the toilet, but it was flushing way a Depend would fit down the toilet and still flush.  No way my frail mother who can't force the cap off a tube of chapstick could stuff a full-sized brief down the toilet....

And the day went on.  The date was tormenting her.  The smell of her cake baking was driving her batty.  Me disappearing into the laundry room to decorate her cake made her mad and caused some serious LIIIIISSSSSAAAAA screaming.    

AND she had 2 appointments.  Her home health aid came to help with her bath.  And her nurse came.  They have been avoiding getting a urine sample for 3 weeks - it's like no one wants to do it.  Mom is not exactly cooperative, but that's kind of what they do, isn't it?  Anyway, just pile this all on the bad mood.

I picked up her pain meds early, but they didn't seem to be working.  She seemed to be in even extra pain - her right hand (usually it's the left) was really bothering her.  More on that later!

Lunch was awful.  She started asking about lunch at 10:10.  I got her a snack.  She was still eating it when she started asking about lunch again.  Finally after she followed me and asked and asked and asked, I made her lunch (at 10:45) and she complained that she was eating alone.  And not just your everyday variety of complaining.  She went mean.  I know I shouldn't let it, but it really upsets me.  These are the situations you just can't win.

The entire day was about her being unhappy.  Too hot.  Too cold.  Too overcast.  Too bright.  Too much food.  Not enough food.  Too loud.  Too quiet.  Too many people.  Too much to do.  Where is everybody?  Don't we have anything to do around here?  And the pacing...

As the kids got home and then left again for dance and a volleyball game - it got worse.  She started to sing.  And to have very loud conversations with no one.  And then she went into the kitchen and started going through our mail basket and tucking things into her walker basket. 

Then she started opening cabinets looking for snacks.  I think she doesn't recognize things at all any more.  She looked right at boxes of cookies and crackers and trail mix and random fruit snacks in the pantry and little containers of grapes and carrots and berries in the fridge - but she just kept saying how there was nothing to eat. 

My husband and I ate dinner with her.  She was completely silent.  No amount of questions would get a response.  The only time she would talk was if we tried to talk to each other.  And then she wouldn't talk to us - just at no one in particular.  So, we ate quietly.  At least she ate her dinner.

The kids were excited to come home and have cake and ice cream and light her birthday candles and sing and give her their cards.  But right before I was going to light the's toilet wouldn't flush.  And then the world backed up.  It was a major blockage. 

We went immediately into homeowner fix-it mode.  And mom lost her mind.  She couldn't understand what all these people were doing in her bathroom.  She made lots of ridiculous statements at all of us to explain why she needed to be in the middle of everything and why we had no business in her bathroom.  It was tense!

And, when you are on the brink of a full sewage back up into your home - patience is scarce.  I had to send mom to her room.  It was awful.  She fought hard.  She got in the way.  She wanted to prove she was in control.  She wanted to understand.  But she couldn't.  And we didn't have time to explain it over and over and over.  It was awful.

Thankfully, we have a home warranty.  Thankfully we knew the right jargon to get our 'emergency' status approved.  Thankfully Jim, the Master Plumber was on call.  Thankfully Wayne, the superstar guy on the phone was the night on call guy.  Thankfully, the staff at American Home Shield (Travis and Tamika) were kind and helpful and quick!  Thankfully, the depend that mom has stuffed down the toilet (there's your explaination for her sore right hand) was in a place that made the repair 100% covered by our home warranty.  Thankfully, the toilet did not overflow to the point of needing to pull up flooring.  Thankfully, my husband was off-work.  Thankfully, my kids were calm and helpful with mom.  And thankfully, she finally went to sleep.

There was no cake and ice cream for mom.  No birthday candles or cards or singing.  We will try again tonight.  I am hoping for a more traditional evening tonight...I guess we'll see.  Right now mom is talking about the "real cute goat" in the living room...I think it's our dog...but it could be a figment of her imagination.  I just can't tell anymore.

I'm just glad she's calmer.  I love it when my husband has a day off, but today I'm glad he's safely at work.  Mom is happier.  The atmosphere is less cantankerous.  All Depends are accounted for.

I'm on eagle-eye duty today.  No more major repair surprises for me today.  Not if I can help it.  No more UNEXPECTED drama.  Just a nice, quiet, Ellen-watching day with mom....I hope!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks...I've thought about locking myself in my room with mom's cake and a fork...but I hug from you may save me!!!

  2. I'm exhausted just hearing about your day. We spend our lives dreading getting older, but we really don't realize how lucky we are to get older and still be in good health. We take so much for granted.

    1. I am convinced I am living this life to remind me of how precious my own health is and how I need to value every single moment with my family and friends. I see women ever day at the pool who are still swimming or taking water aerobics every day. Lunching with friends and shopping and driving - and many of them are the same age as mom. It's just not fair. And it's sad. Luckily, mom has no idea that there is anything wrong!

  3. OH LIsa, what a terrible day and I am sorry but parts of it made me laugh and I pray that in a couple of days (or months) you will be able to laugh at it too. Hugs my friend.

    1. It was terrible...but it is funny. If you take yourself out of it and can get the sweating to stop and the $ out of it - it's one of the stories that we will tell for years when we talk about this time. If you could have seen my husband looking for the soiled diaper (before we discovered it had been stuffed) you would have died laughing. It was like he was expecting a giant rat to pop out or something. He was opening the drawer in the refrigerator and opening the oven...I had to sit down so I would pee my pants!!!!