I love my Sweetie like nothing else. He is my day and night and everything in between. I'd be lost and unhappy without him.
That said, I also have an almost uncontrollable crush on Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame. For some reason the dirtier he gets the more I swoon. Sweetie knows that if Mr. Rowe ever drives into my driveway in a Ford pick-up truck, wearing blue jeans and that cutie pie smile of his, I'd be gone in a heartbeat. Oh, for sure I'd come back, but to spend time getting dirty with Mr. Rowe is right up there at the top of my fantasy list.
So where, oh where, was the Dirty Jobs man when I needed him?
As distasteful as the subject matter might be, when I write my book about the life of a caregiver, it is going to have to have a chapter on "Poop Control ... or lack of."
Yesterday was just plain nasty. There's no one to be blame or be angry at, one just has to put on her industrial strength rubber gloves and deal with it. But first, 0f course, I have to panic a little bit. I made a series of phone calls to hospice, a doctor I know, the non-emergency Rescue Squad and back to hospice. Each time I got a voice mail I got a little more anxious. Dad's drug box was looking pretty good to me! The more Dad hurt because he couldn't go, the more I worried about how to get him to go. Taking him to the ER was getting closer to the top of the list. I just couldn't figure out how we would get him there. I figured we'd have to take a number and wait so I opted to wait in our own surroundings.
Finally an angel dressed in purple knocked on the door. Don't you know she was excited to be called out on a cold Sunday to deal with what she was about to face? Like almost every Hospice nurse who has come here, day or night, this one came in with a smile. She had a take charge attitude yet never let go of her southern charm. There is something calming about a sweet Southern drawl. It kind of puts you at ease without knowing it. She went right to work doing what she had to do to get things moving. Before she left she gave a list of instructions and hints about how to keep this from happening again. Which of course is almost impossible. Besides the fact that my Dad's digestive tract, from his swallowing muscles to his bottom, is old and tired, it is under the influence of drugs that slow it down. Not to mention he's dehydrated and moves very little. There is a fine line between not enough and too much when working with fiber drinks, stool softeners, and laxatives. Like a see-saw we're at a stage where we are either up or down, uncomfortable for both the patient and the caregiver(s).
After the nurse left, Dad began the trips to and from the bed side commode. It's nothing more than a step, but that step is fraught with peril. By the end of the night it took both my sister and I to hold him up, sit him down, clean him up, and get him back to bed. And for some reason known only to the man who must have felt like a human poo machine, he refused any medication to relieve his discomfort. Even though he hurt - duh! - he would not even let me squirt some medicine in his mouth. "I'll spit it at you," he said through tight lips. He glared at me in that defiant 2 year old way that let me know if I forced the issue I'd be wearing purple grape smelling syrup. Instead, I did what any caregiver at the end of her rope would do, I offered him a Manhattan, his drink of choice, and dumped the pills in that. I admit I worried that Ten High Bourbon and Schedule I narcotics could be a deadly combination, but not so much that I didn't think it worth a try. Besides the drink was only one part booze, one part pills, and several parts ice water. He took one sip and refused the rest. He told us goodbye as he did not expect to be here in the morning. He was going to be with my mother. I held his hand and tried to comfort his stubborn, hurting self.
Then my post-pneumonia stamina gave out. I had to go to bed and leave Dad in the capable hands of my sister. It was a l-o-n-g night. Just when she though there couldn't possible be anything left inside the man, he needed to go again. When I got up, Dad was in the recliner and Linda was on the bed. Both looked worn out.
What a difference a day makes.
Dad asked for pain meds, drank them right down. Crawled into bed and went to sleep. That was about 2 and a half hours ago. He sleeps the blessed sleep of exhaustion. As the day has progressed his trips to the toilet have been many but less intense. He's spent time talking to my mother and reciting poetry. It's hard to tell where he hurts more, his bottom or his heart.
One think I've learned from this experience is that when one opts for hospice at home, one learns a lot of things she never expected she would need to know.
Wishing for you a day spent surrounded by the sweet smell of roses,
P.S. Sweetie, I'm just kidding.
If Mike Rowe knocked on the door, of course I'd ask him in and offer him a drink, but I'd never really consider driving off with him. Now throwing a dishtowel into the commode so he'd have to whisk off his shirt and lay down on the floor to fix the plumbing, well, that's a different story all together.