I feel like such a failure, I know I shouldn’t. Failure is a terrible downgrading word for a human being. I am actually sitting here with tears kicking myself emotionally hoping I can learn quicker, be more gentle, and more understanding.
I try so hard to be the perfect sister and yet I fail more and more as he gets worse. This morning I greeted him with a smile and got one back. I fixed him eggs and french toast for breakfast.
He told me how the cat jumped up on his bed last night and wanted to be petted. Conversation was pretty nice. Then it happened, the shower girl came for his bathing.
Al had finished breakfast a few minutes before she arrived, so I helped him brush his teeth and shaved him. I was helping him to stand and grab the shower bar in order to sit on the shower chair.
It is unfortunate that either bathroom in our house is not wheelchair accessible. They are both tight fits. I have a grab bar in the shower and one on the wall for him to hang on to. He did pretty good until he got to the end of the bar and had to hang on to me for the three more steps.
Suddenly he started talking about how he was going to fall. I was telling him, “It’s alright, I am right here with you, holding you.” He continued on with his fear and I knew in an instant that he was going to give up his concentration on standing and walking those few more steps by arguing.
The crying started and then I was getting the look from him which I have seen many years. I tried to calm him down as the shower girl was standing behind us watching the scene play out. Nothing I said helped, he just kept saying he could have fallen.
Since he was sitting and safe now I turned the show over to the bath aide. As I turned to walk out of the bathroom I heard those old familiar words asking me, “What did you say to me?”
This is a signal I remember instantly. Anger, frustration and whatever else he could get out of his mouth. In past times he would try to hurt me. I am not afraid of that part now as he is too slow and weak.
I automatically went and got him one of his medications that I can use for him at these times so that he won’t explode and will calm down instead of carrying it on for hours. The shower girl was beginning her job and I asked her to stop just a moment so I could give him his pill.
After he swallowed it in applesauce he asked, “What did you give me?” I told him something to help him calm down. He said some choice words and I left the bathroom and came out in the living room and smoked a cigarette, frustrated.
After the shower was over and she was dressing him I walked to the door and calmly explained the urgency in not speaking while he is walking. I told him he could tell me anything once he was safely seated.
Dressed and ready for the bus I walked the shower lady outside. She told me, “He was afraid he was going to fall on the towel you keep on the floor for his bath. Maybe you need more bar grips placed in there. Maybe you should have just sat him back in his wheelchair and explained to him why he needs to concentrate on walking and then talk later.”
I felt like an ass, a total ass. I was embarrassed and humiliated. I had shown no patience with Al. I jumped on the issue of arguing because of memories gone by. I am always aware of what Al can do, although no one that knows him now is.
I freak out. I get scared in a way of what used to be. Why can’t I be better? Why didn’t I see that it was the towel he was afraid of and not me? I was thinking he just didn’t trust me enough to get to the chair. It took the shower girl to point out the real problem, the towel.
I know I am beating myself up. I know the fear that rises inside of me from past experiences with him. I can remember the hospital saying,”Although we know he is falling from his illness if you bring him in one more time for a fall we will have to call Adult Protective Services, APS. It is the law.”
I know that I am a good sister. I know that I would never hurt him or hit him or nothing. In fact it would be the other way around, he would hurt me. But knowing I didn’t catch what he was really saying because I was concentrating so hard on him not falling, and the shower girl observed it all, I am a wreck right now.
Lord, I need help in the mornings. Is this a cop-out? Am I saying I can’t really deal with him? Did I make an error in bringing him home? I swear I love him and I know it breaks my heart when he cries, but I caused this, and the way I coped with it was to think, I need to calm him down so he doesn’t let this ruin his day.
So I gave him a relaxing pill instead of actually listening and hearing. I did apologize to him before he left on the misunderstanding of the towel. I also expressed once again that when he has to walk a few steps we need to be very quiet and get to the seat so he doesn’t fall.
I am screwing it up and I need to stop and listen. He is the one who is sick, not me.