About Last Night…
The tale of a bad night–the start…
Last night was bad. Mom didn’t have a good day yesterday. She drifted in and out of a mental fog. At breakfast she asked how many people were in the kitchen. She didn’t want to eat with strangers. There was no one but our usual gang of four here.
She refused to come to dinner. I made her sit at the table with us. If she only drank fluids, okay, but sitting in her chair all evening was not an option. I hate sounding like a parent to my parent, but there’s no choice. The more she sits the harder moving becomes. I know she doesn’t feel well. I’m sure she is in pain much of the time, though she seldom complains. I can feel her fragile bones crackle and pop as I help her stand and sit. Her right knee is always swollen, the cartilage is gone, it’s just bone rubbing on bone. I’m know she felt comfortable in her chair. Doing what’s best isn’t doing what’s easiest.
Under protest, she came to dinner, ate a little bowl of fruit and drank some Gatorade. She can’t drink plain water due to electrolyte imbalance. After dinner she wanted to go straight to bed but it was too early. With her bent spine and weight loss, the tiny bones of her scapula poke the skin of her back. Too much time in bed would cause bed sores. As it is her skin is reddened there when she gets up. She needs to sit up during the day, keeping pressure off her back.
When I finally put her to bed she was irritable, restless and confused. I was afraid of a long night. I was right.
At three AM she pushed the bell calling me. When I got there she was half on, half off her bed and disoriented. I tried pivoting her bottom around on the mattress edge so she could stand. She needed the bathroom. In her confusion and fear of falling, she did all the wrong things. She flailed her arms grabbing anything she could and got her center mass over the mattress edge. There was nothing I could do but lower her to the floor.
The entire time this wrestling match was happening, my dad was awake, sitting up, back turned. He didn’t know she was awake and was oblivious to the drama going on six feet behind him. I know he can’t hear without his hearing aids out but wouldn’t you think he could feel the commotion sitting on the same mattress?
Once Mom is on the floor, she can’t get up. She can’t put weight on her right knee, so the method of getting on your knees to stand won’t work, plus she was so confused she couldn’t cooperate. I had to go wake my husband to help. I hated waking him as today is a work day. He got up without complaint, helped me get her on her feet then he went back to bed. I’m so thankful for a calm and kind husband and for one who goes back to sleep easily. (How to get up from a fall for the elderly.) https://nihseniorhealth.gov/falls/ifyoufall/01.html
Once back in bed, lying down, she said, “I need a drink.” This meant sitting her up again because she chokes. I got her up, gave her a drink, but she was so tired and confused, her swallowing muscles didn’t work. She choked on the Gatorade, spraying both of us and the sheets. Gatorade’s not fun to clean up. Finally, the bed was clean, straightened and she was back in it. I hoped the night was over. It wasn’t.
I can’t sleep after a near disaster. When I finally fell asleep, she got up again. She forgot how to push her button. Dad had to help her call me, but at least she got up without falling or near-falling.
When her caregiver arrived, I went back to bed. Morning sleep never feels very restful to me. I had a six-hour respite until my turn again. Now I’m down to thirty-five minutes. I still feel tired. I’m not looking forward to taking over again but I will, because that’s what caregivers do. As they say, “Everything in this world is temporary including bad days and sleepless nights.”
*I used military time subtitles thinking I could pretend is was a thriller novel, or maybe a dream.
By the way, tomorrow is “National Respect For Parents Day.” So I respectfully relate this nighttime tale.