CAREGIVING: It’s Friday night, and I finally can sit and try to get caught up a bit. Kathy is asleep — breathing well with the occasional cough. Marty is on his couch. I’m on mine. It is thundering out and pouring rain. One of the main reasons I feel a need to write this stuff down is that time flies – whether you are having fun or not – and I have a hard time remembering stuff. My last post was supposed to be a play on One step forward. And this was supposed to be two steps back. But in retrospect it wasn’t a terrible week.
On Monday morning Hope gave Kathy a sponge bath. I’m still learning bits and pieces: the best ways to do it to make it easier on Kathy; and on me. Hope wheeled Kathy into the kitchen for breakfast, because she was sitting up pretty well in her chair. We rarely eat at a table now so, it was good for a change. Unfortunately, Kathy started coughing and developing her congestion right away. I was able to get about a cup or so of her smoothy into her but no cereal/oatmeal. Hope cleaned her teeth before she went to her next client.
Later in the morning a different physical therapist came. Her name is Jean and she came to work with me on my transfers — moving Kathy without dropping her or hurting my back. Kathy was still coughing from attempting to eat my breakfast, but I wanted to show Jean the problem I was having with Kathy in the bathroom. It is such a struggle moving her safely: from the chair to the commode; then wiping her; changing her depends and getting her pants back on; and then back to her wheelchair. We are both exhausted. There have been occasions when I would bring Kathy in there and it would take close to an hour. The main problem was that she had already wet her depends so she really didn’t have to go again. But she felt like she needed to. So, by the time she gave up on the idea of peeing and I got her safely to the chair in the cozy confines of our bathroom we were both shot. My plan was to move the commode chair off the toilet and into the living room where it would be easier.
Jean looked at the bathroom setup first and thought in some ways it looked like it should work. It looks ideal I think she said. She rolled Kathy’s chair in there as a “dry run”. (I didn’t realize that was a pun that slipped by me.” She didn’t like my web of dog leashes to keep Kathy from falling off of the chair, though. Ok, we don’t want to do that. She decided she needed to see what was actually happening so I asked Kathy if she needed to go to the bathroom or if she was wet? She couldn’t speak at that time so I couldn’t tell. We wheeled her into the bathroom and I showed Jean how I transfer her from the chair to the commode. Kathy tries to help by holding on to a grab bar. She can’t stand long enough for me to lower her clothes in the one transfer so, she sits down in her pants. She stood once or twice for me to get her pants down. Then stood again so I could get her depends down.
She sat down again before I could stop her. She had soiled the depends and now it was on the seat. On her leg. Jean said Oops. I said Crap. What can you do? There’s no point in being upset so you just have to see it as humorous in some way. Or maybe humorous some day (if not right then). Jean was a good sport. When I would lift Kathy up, she would wipe part of the seat while I kept on trying to clean Kathy. Pulling the depends down made more of a mess than tearing it off. I just hadn’t been concentrating enough. It isn’t every day that I have a meeting in the bathroom with two women.
While we were working Jean asked how often “Kathy actually uses the toilet to go to the bathroom.”
I said “If we are lucky once a day.”
“Then this is just a changing area, now. You might be better off using the bed.”
Yes. Changing her in bed is a LOT easier and cleaner. I did it that night and Tuesday morning. I just kind of did it the way that made sense to me at the time. I was a bit frazzled the first few times. Used a million towels and wipes and stuff. I had to keep rolling Kathy back and forth to get her stuff off and on. I ended up having to completely strip the bed and wash everything. I wanted to make sure everything was clean after. Tuesday afternoon a nurse named Kristen came to check on Kathy. I told her about the changes and she wanted to check the blisters and the red area on her butt. I needed to check Kathy again anyway so, again, we had an audience. Fortunately, this time Kathy was dry. She thought I was doing a good job of taking care of the red spot. Kathy’s vitals were all good. She watched as I gave Kathy her meds and Kathy swallowed them Ok. Kathy had to skip breakfast because she was coughing, but after Kristen left, she ate a good-sized lunch of mac and cheese. Tuesday afternoon my Peapod order arrived, so I put everything away.
On Wednesday Hope came again and gave Kathy her bed bath. I had already changed her when she got up, but she needed to be cleaned again by Hope so I watched some of what she was doing. She suggested using damp paper towels for some of the really messy stuff. The baby wipes aren’t really wet enough and aren’t really big enough to keep using a clean spot. She said the paper towels I had were really too flimsy to use. I had to go to pick up some of Kathy’s meds at Stop & Shop later and I would pick up some quicker picker uppers. While Hope cleaned and watched Kathy I ran errands, got the meds at Stop & Shop and then ran to Aldi’s to stock up on stuff. I’m sure I am buying too much food, but I have such a hard time getting out I never know when I’ll get out.
While I was out on Wednesday, Hope’s scheduler at Medical Resources called for me. She had some questions about the new services we have been approved for. When I talked to her she said her goal is to try to get the same person to do all the evenings so Kathy will feel more comfortable. There is a slight chance it would be Pat, which would be ideal for Kathy. The only issue is that Pat already has a ton of hours already.
On Thursday Jean the PT came back to show me some range of motion exercises to do on Kathy to stretch her out more. This visit went better. I heard from the wheelchair company that they located a loaner chair for us to use and they would deliver it in a week and that the hospital bed has been approved. So, now I just need to juggle some furniture around.
On Friday, Dilcia came to do housework. She explained more about how to do the bed bath and clean Kathy. Top to bottom. I’m still not doing it right. When Dilcia went out on our deck, she saw a garter snake and that freaked her out. But not that much because she still took a picture of it and posted it to Facebook.