Saturday night Grandpa had another bedroom-bathroom disaster. I somehow was exhuasted enough, or he was quiet enough, that I slept through the unfolding disaster and only woke up to face the results.
I first started waking up when Grandpa sat down on my bed to lay back down. Dragged into a half-awake state by the sensation of someone almost sitting on me, it felt like too much work at that moment to explain to Grandpa that he was on the wrong bed. So I lay there waiting for him to realize he had made a mistake. He seemed to realize something was wrong with the bed–a funny lump or something–because he kept trying to re-situate himself. Finally, seeing as he wasn’t going to quickly realize his mistake and get up, I made some groggy comment about how he would have more room in his own bed.
Grandpa made some comment, (probably about his mistake,) laughed, and got up and moved to his bed. When I am awake enough, I always try to tuck Grandpa in for him because while it makes me a little more uncomfortable to get out of my nice bed I actually suffer more disturbance if I must lay listening to him wrestle and mutter at his blankets for ten minutes as he tries to cover himself. However, that night I was still only half away so I lay listening to him mutter and struggle with his blanket. I reached over with one hand and turned on my bed light, hoping that would be help enough, but the light shone in his eyes and he asked me to turn it back off.
In the darkness once more, I heard him say, “Ahhh, it’s all wet.”
Okay . . . time to check on him, I thought. Groggily, I sat up in bed and swung my feet over the side and set them on the linoleum covered floor.
. . . And set them right into a cold puddle of urine. That will wake you up quickly. Eeeyaaah, I think, (or something like it,) and reach over to turn on the light, wishing I had something handy to wipe off my wet foot. A good look at the room shows it has become a disaster area. The sheet is half off Grandpa’s bed, and his blanket is half on the floor and various items are scattered about on the floor. A quick check confirms that his blanket is only wet where it has fallen on the wet floor–Grandpa only peed all over the floor, not all over his bed. One small mercy.
Next I try to discover the extent of the damage on the floor. Grandpa’ winter hat is lying on the floor, and his glasses are wallowing in another puddle of urine over by the commode. After picking my way about I manage to determine that it seems all the pee has been contained on the linoleum in the bedroom–he never made it out into the hall to track his trail of wetness to the bathroom. Time to move into damage cleanup.
I wadded up the slightly wet blanket with the other wet clothing items and chucked them into the corner. I took one of my spare blankets and gave it to Grandpa. I put him back to bed, cleaned up the floor, and cleaned up his glasses.
I’ve now decided to keep a roll of paper towels permanently in the bedroom. I don’t want to have to walk all the way to the kitchen when I need something desperately for cleanup.
Sometimes Grandpa is completely unaware of his difficulties, but I am still a little surprised by the other times when he shows such clear self-awareness of his problems. Yesterday afternoon Grandpa was trying to communicate with me and was having the usual difficulty . . . he would use the wrong words, or sputter and stutter and be unable to get any words out. Finally he stopped and said, “I don’t know how anyone can understand what I say.”
He knew he was sitting there and speaking nonsense. What it must be like to open your mouth and know that all that comes out is babbling foolishness that means nothing–to see yourself so clearly and be unable to do anything about it.
Last night was a tough night. It is actually easier for me if Grandpa has an accident than if he has a hard time sleeping. If he has an accident I can put him back to bed, quickly clean him up, and get back to bed myself. If he gets agitated in the middle of the night I can only wait until he exhausts himself again. Thus it was last night. He initially woke me, and got up, to go to the bathroom. For nearly the next hour he was up and down, in and out of the room, turning the light on and off . . . all trying to take care of various things . . . or find something that needed taking care of. Since he was simply agitated . . . he didn’t know what he wanted or need, and if he did latch on to something and I resolved that problem he simply moved on to another, I had to ride it out until he finally tired himself and went back to bed.
These type of situations are what take on a nightmarish hue to me. When there is a midnight mess that needs to be cleaned up I’m in control of the situation and while it might not be fun I can at least clean it up in my time and go back to bed. But when Grandpa is simply agitated and five minutes runs into ten, and ten into fifteen and fifteen into half an hour . . . you start wondering how much of the night this is going to take, and imagining being up all night watching Grandpa go about trying to set things right. It’s a situation where I’m not in control . . . I can “fix” the situation, and I can’t ignore it. I can try to prod Grandpa in the direction of bed, but mostly I must simply sit there and wait for events to run there course.
Now, onto the main story:
This past Thursday I took Grandma and Grandpa to their “normal” doctor for their regular checkups.
Grandma has been running extremely high blood pressure, and had conclude that the artery to her second kidney had become significantly blocked (as her first had several years ago) and this was causing her blood pressure to go so high. On Wednesday I took her in for some testing related to that. The results came back on Thursday and the doctor agreed that the results showed a lot of blockage, so sometime in the future a test will be scheduled to go in a look further . . . if something can be done they’ll insert a stent in the artery of her kidney to open back up the flow.
In other news, Grandma has decided to not have anything done about the significant blockage in her neck arteries. She decided that operation was not worth the risk.
Grandpa’s appointment was a non-event. He had gained five pounds from the last time I took him in, and since he is underweight that is a good thing (and make me feel pleased that at least I am feeding him well). His blood pressure was back down to only 7 points above what the doctor wanted, which wasn’t worth doing anything about, she said. And that was that. Grandpa was hale and hearty . . . except for the fact that his mind is falling apart.
Which is the same thing they said last time I took him in three or four months ago. Grandpa refuses to take pills for a long period of time, so there is really nothing the doctors can do for him. Last time I took him in they gave him a battery of tests to see how advanced his Alzheimer’s was–I thought the test was interesting. It showed that, at that time, his “time sense” was completely shot (year, time, age, etc) but that his sense of place was still intact. There were other aspects of the test as well, and I was interested to see how well he did on them again, now three months later. However, the nurse told Grandma that she wasn’t going to test Grandpa anymore. He was only going to get worse, and there was nothing they could do for him. It is probably for the best . . . the testing only embarrassed Grandpa and did nothing for him, and there is no point to make him suffer it just so I can track his slide into oblivion.
And really, for the same reason it is pointless to take Grandpa to the doctors. It is a source of stress, agitation, and embarrassment for him, and they can do nothing for him. He body is, more or less, hale and hearty and they can do nothing for his mind. Why take him to the doctors so they can check his weight and blood pressure?
Even Grandma is agreeing with me now, so this was probably the last of Grandpa and the doctors for a long while. Grandma, on the other hand . . . there are a lot more doctors in her future.