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.

Did You Picture This?

An American bathroom of a freshly renovated ho...

An American bathroom of a freshly renovated house, 2004 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This afternoon was a real blast! I don’t remember when I have had so much fun! As the Golden Girls eldest lady says, Picture This! I am sitting here in my computer chair checking emails, and my son texts me to ask if I am home. I respond back with a yes. Pretty soon he comes down and he is ready to work on my bathroom floor. I am having new tiles laid down. I have hated the floor all the time I have lived here. It is yellow plaids and reminds me of a kitchen floor, maybe used from some other floor in another house, and it was a piece left over, so they slapped it down. So as he is starting to do this job, Al is yelling in the bathroom, and I hear the familiar sounds of plunging the stool. Oh, no, not another time.This is at least a weekly ordeal that we go through. My brother was born without a Sphincter Muscle. For you that do not know what this is, it is a muscle in your body that lets you know with a signal that you have to use the bathroom. Number 2?? I can remember the trials and tribulations all through out my childhood, of perfect timing after dinner hour, sit until you drop it! I know, I hear giggles here. Mom and dad did succeed with this timing each night. Now that he is a grown man, he doesn’t want to listen to me, and so there is no perfect timing. I have tried prunes,and raisins. One time I tried apple juice, but that was a mess for me, so I didn’t try that anymore. So the son is here, that doesn’t want to hear any voices raised, and Al is in his bathroom raising his voice. While my son was in my bathroom, I was in Al’s bathroom, and we were taking turns using the plunger. If Al works at the plunger for over five minutes, he becomes very weak and the sweat is pouring off of his face and body. I had spent too much time in the living room talking to son before checking out my brother, and walked into a soaked bathroom floor, rugs wet, you know what everywhere. I couldn’t say a word. I didn’t want to upset my brother and cause more anger, and I didn’t want my son to get mad and walk out, room unfinished. My brother was on a rant and rave. Yelling at me that no one cares about him, no one cares about his problems. I am not quite sure why I get so mad when he talks like this, yes, I do. I get mad because I get sick of hearing no one cares. Who am I? What am I doing here? Aren’t I the one that does everything for you? I let him ramble on and once I took over he went and sat in his room. I finished the job, started the load of dirty towels and rugs, mopped the floor and cleaned the sink and toilet. After this was all done, I had a pounding headache. I get these if I hurt my neck by straining it at all, from some arthritis in my neck. I hate these headaches. It usually forces me on the couch for a nap, which is where I am headed after finishing this blog. I know it is late afternoon, but supper is in the crock pot, and Al is taking a late nap. He will be up at his usual time though, because this is his schedule and we don’t change it. After starting the laundry, the son tells me we don’t have enough tiles, so now tomorrow I get to go back to the store for one more box! Yipee! He left and I went and explained to my brother that I was going to give him a shower even if it wasn’t his shower day. All through the shower, I was rewashing tears and snot. I had  more soap on me in the end I think, but he was clean and in clean clothes. Whew! I am now exhausted and ready for the day to be over. Right before writing this down, I called a nursing home here in town and talked to them about a two-day respite care for Al. I can’ do it anymore without a break, just two days. They will call in the morning, because as usual, the person I needed to talk to was gone for the day. Alright, wasn’t this a blast to follow this blog today? Did you picture it?