What the H____ Am I Thinking?


English: Photograph of a bathroom with toilet,...

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.

51 thoughts on “What the H____ Am I Thinking?

  1. You are the furthest thing from a failure! And you know what? Now you about the towel. I imagine there will be more to learn, but you’re there, and you’re trying. Its ok to not know all of the answers, no one is jumping. Not even the shower aide.

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  2. You are never going to be perfect so quit beating yourself up because you are not, each step gives you a little more insight to what is needed. Forget for awhile that Al is an adult, truly he is not and remember that children know which buttons to push and fear unjustifiably.
    perhaps of holding on to you, let him hold on to the shower aide, and you be back up! God bless you Terry!,

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    • Yes, you are right. I already told myself that is it for me and his showers. She should be getting him in his shower chair and she should be shaving him, not me. This is why she is here

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  3. I echo the sentiments of others when I emphatically assure you that you are no failure. This isn’t about failure – this is just hard as hell. And some days, some moments, some minutes, go better than others – and there is no one at fault. Perhaps that is the hardest part of all – you can’t blame yourself, Al, etc. You are an amazing, loving, devoted sister – who arguably needs to focus a tiny bit more on being good to herself – you deserve that.

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    • You shouldn’t beat yourself up about one mistaken conversation with Al. You are feeling so bad because you just want everything to be right for Al. I remember when I first had Ava and she wouldn’t feed properly. She wasn’t putting on weight properly and they had to formula feed her instead of breast feed her. I felt like a major failure. I thought lots of paranoid things and self depreciating things when really, it wasn’t my fault at all that Ava wouldn’t feed she was just trying to get used to me. Al didnt come with an instruction book on how to handle every single situation that comes in his way, you just have to work it out together.

      You’ll both get there Eventually 🙂 xx

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    • focus on myself, I have reread that over and over. How do I do that? help me learn how to do that……………..all I can see is Al’s sickness, Al is dying, I need to think about me but how do I do it…………….

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      • One moment at a time, one walk around the block, one moment to see the world outside your home. Small moments in between the herculean ones. A song on the radio, a bird resting on a tree limb. They are small, but they are steps.

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      • yes they are. I don’t know how I got so carried a way by one little thing………thanks for pointing me in the right direction

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  4. I concur with everyone elses replies…you are doing the best you can and it is a tough job you have taken on. All will be well, pray and ask the Lord each morning to give you a happy contenance, strength when needed and kind thoughts and words. Also forHis peace and love to reign in your home and hearts. You will be fine just takes a lot of faith and confidence in yourself. I am proud of you Love and hugs (((xx)))

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      • I asked him or I should say I talked about it tonight at supper with him and he said he was never mad at me. I was shocked to hear this. I think with his meds he has more forgotten it than normal. He would usually hang onto it the entire day

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  5. Terry, you were looking out for him and in the process you got up in a less smaller picture. It happens to all of us and therefore it does not make you a failure of a sister or caretaker or human being.  At some point we all have trouble understanding communication from loved ones, but unlike some people you were doing all that you could to help him by trying to understand and treat what you thought was wrong. For the shower girl, it would have been easier for her to handle things and receive the ensuing information because she was a more objective viewer with less history to go on. Please don’t beat yourself up over this. Maybe you can change the towel in there to one of the sturdy grip mats, and use a stool with wheels to get him the last few steps from the bar to the tub? I hope you find something that works for both of you. Do take care♥♥♥

    Sent from Samsung Mobile

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  6. that old saying about old habits die hard is so true. don’t beat yourself up, next time just before he gets up remind him gently that this is the time to concentrate on the task at hand. telling him afterward will not stick the way it will if you do it at the right time.

    you know you are a good sister. you are doing your best in a very difficult time. i really respect your effort and i too hope it was the right thing to bring him home. you are the one i worry about. al has you to worry about him. lucky brother:)

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  7. Terry, Forgive yourself! Jesus came to teach us forgiveness. You need to forgive yourself and not hold onto all your self perceived failures. It is done and you learned from this experience. Move forward with the help of the shower girl. Take care of yourself while you take care of Al. You work so hard it is unbelievable! Have a good day now! 😀

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  8. Oh…my…don’t do that to youself…While doing things… it’s hard to see the whole picture…so next time you change a few things…no big deal!…I would just suggest look around …access the situation…and do the best you can…
    I so remember things between my son and myself…and no one but, me feels the anxiety…just like you and Al…It just tumbles in on us when something little happens…

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    • You are right Marilyn. I hope I have fixed things now. I have purchased another grab bar plus a bath mat. I don’t know why I worry so much, I am not Super Woman or my wallet would be filled

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  9. Terry you give the best you have to Al, and no one is perfect. You deal with him every day. It still was a good decison to bring him home. You are doing a great job and are amazing how you do it. Don’t let that get you down. You have learnt something today and now just use it and start the next day! Every day brings new challenges for you , so concentrate on the new day, and lthink of the day before as a lesson! Keep doing the best you can!

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  10. Dear, dear Terry, please take heart from all the comments you’ve had, which I completely agree with. You are not a failure, far from it. You do need to get some perspective (and that isn’t intended as criticism) It is very hard to see the big picture when something happens to make you feel so bad.

    You are doing an amazing job, you just misunderstood one little thing. If all else fails, remember that he was getting a shower because you are putting in all this effort, recently you were fighting to get the aides to clean Al at all!

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  11. I’m glad you have this blog to vent your frustration and hurt. You apologized, you’ve learned something. Done. Let it go now. You’re doing a wonderful job in a very difficult situation.

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    • I am doing that this evening, just trying to put it behind me. I talked to Al tonight when he came home from Day Program. he told me he was never mad at me, what? I thought he was furious with me

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  12. Terry, the blessing in this story is that the shower girl was able to see what was going on and communicate it to you. Now, you have a better way of handling the situation. You are human and as humans we all have moments in which we feel like failure but really it is God’s way of showing us a new way to do things.
    my thoughts and prayers are with you and Al.

    🙂

    ivonne

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  13. You are a wonderful human being, and an amazingly supportive sister. Not a failure by any stretch! That shines abundantly clear in your every word. No one is infallible, and you are being tested and stretched to new limits every minute of every day. If you did not feel as you do, then you, quite simply, wouldn’t be human. You are doing all you can, by learning from mistakes and arming yourself with new ways to cope. You are a trooper, and the best possible person to be fighting in Al’s corner. Cut yourself a little slack Terry, you are truly amazing!

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    • Bless you and thank you. I am coming to terms tonight with what happened. My scolding for myself has lessoned. I have always tried so hard, but I am unable to beat his M.S.A. So from now on I will try my best but be more lenient with me. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment

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  14. Terry here’s a different suggestion. I think you are finding your self-worth in how good you do for Al. Who are you aside from Al? Do you do anything for yourself? From what I read, you don’t even pay attention to your diabetes care or your own pain. That’s not good.

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      • why not now, when you need it more than ever for your own health and survival. while i know how much you care about Al, you’re life and well being is important too and there is more to life out there for you then only Al. xo

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      • true, very true, but there are meetings for Al all the time, Hospice nurse visits, supply deliveries where I have to be home, house to clean, always laundry, cooking meals, groceries, bills, his finances. I just don’t have time for me yet

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      • not clean!!! Did you hear that Aunt Bee?? This person doesn’t want me to clean for a week. Oh my gosh Andy, I am going to have to tell the girls at the club about this. I just don’t know what they are going to say!!!!!! Andy Griffith!

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