Sunday, July 27, 2008

You Can Never Go Home: The Poopsident Experience

“Ruuuurt!” I hear my mother belch, after she pushes her empty plate away.

“Oh Mom,” I say, “I forgot to give you your burp pill.” I hurry over to the medicine drawers sitting on the bookcase next to the table.

“Why are you giving me a burp pill?” she asks.

“You just belched a really stinky burp. These pills keep your burps from smelling so bad,”

“You think I burped?” she says. “I farted.”

“Well that makes me feel better. I thought your burp smelled like a fart.”

She starts to get up from the table. “Come on. Come on. Come on.” She says as she leans forward and pushes on her cane to boost herself up.

“What are you doing, Mom?” I ask her.

“I’m going to the bathroom.” she replies. “Oh no! I’m shitting myself.”

“You are?” I ask.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Damn!” she curses.

I follow her into the bathroom. She pulls down her pants and sits on the toilet.

“Shit! Shit! Shit!” she says as she looks into her pants.

“It’s okay, Mom.” I say. “Let me help.”

She starts to take off her pants by planting her cane in the crotch of her underwear to pin them to the floor, while she pulls her legs out of them.

“Wait Mom!” I tell her. I lean down and pull her pants and underwear off. I throw the pants in the hamper and the underwear in the garbage.

“Are we rich?” she asks.

“Sure we are, Mom.” I answer while pulling off her socks. “Let’s get you into the shower and wash off your butt.”

“Shit. I don’t know what is wrong with me.” she says.

“Shit happens, Mom.” I answer, setting up the shower seat in the bathtub and adjusting the water temperature.

“I must be getting old. Just shoot me!”

“Not my Mom!” I tell her. “Let’s transfer into the shower.”

She leans forward, pushing up on her cane and on the corner of the shower seat. “Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!”

I spray the toilet seat with disinfectant soap, after she clears it, and quickly wipe it down with a wet wipe and flush it, before she turns around. She plants her bottom on the shower seat and lifts her left leg over the side of the tub.

“Scoot over, Mom.” I tell her.

She scoots her bottom to the left and reaches for hand placement before swinging her right leg over the tub side. She retracts her hand as she sees the diarrhea smeared across the shower seat.

“What happened? Did I shit myself?” she asks.

“Just a little.” I say to her. “I’ll clean it up. Just get in the tub and we’ll get it done. Here’s your cane to help you.”

She uses her cane to lean on as she swings her right leg into the tub.

“Stand up, Mom and I’ll wash your butt.” I say to her. She slides to the edge of the shower seat and leans forward to grab the hand held shower head lying on the tub bottom.

I squirt liquid soap onto a scrubby and rub tight circles on the soiled shower seat as she rises. “Hand me the shower head, Mom.” I tell her. She does and I rinse the shower seat and the scrubby.

“Can I sit?” she asks.

“Wait a sec, Mom.” I say. “I’m going to wash your butt, first.”

She stands in the shower, bent at the waist, waiting. I turn the shower head to a solid stream and pull my mother’s butt crack open. I hose her anus, and then wash it with a scrubby. I rinse her. “Okay, Mom, you can sit down now.”

She backs up to the shower seat and lowers her butt, then leans back to a sitting position. I hand her the soapy scrubby. “You wash your ‘who-see-whats-it!’” I tell her.

She cleans herself and rinses off, spraying herself, me and the floor. I pull the shower curtain to catch most of the spray. I laugh at the expanding wet spots on the thighs of my denim capris.

“Hey, Mom, hand me the shower head and I’ll wash your back.” I take it from her, lather and then rinse her back.

“Can I turn it off yet?” she asks.


She leans forward, still seated and turns off the water. The shower head lies in its resting position on the bottom of the tub.

I hand her a towel. She dries her front side, and then scoots toward the edge of the shower seat. “It feels slippery.” She says.

“It is.” I acknowledge.

She lifts her right leg and clears the tub side. She tries to lift her left leg.

“Wait, Mom.” I say, “You have to scoot over a little more before you lift your other leg over the side.”

She slides to the edge, and then tries once more to lift her left leg over the tub side. She balances precariously for a moment, then leans forward to grab the toilet seat for support.

“Here, Mom.” I say, “Use your cane instead of the toilet seat. The toilet seat is a nasty thing to grab hold of.”

“Oh.” she says as she grabs her cane and uses it to hold her weight as she transfers to the toilet seat.

“Mom,” I say, “Stand up and let me dry your butt.”

She stands again and I dry her back, butt and the toilet seat. “Okay, Mom, you can sit now. Stay right there while I go get you some pants.”

I move quickly to her room, find a pair of pants that matches her blouse and return to the bathroom. I give her a front clasping bra. She holds it in front, slides her arms under the straps, lifts it over her head and clasps the correctly placed bra. I marvel at how she masters the complexity of putting on that bra. I hand her the blouse she had on prior to the poopsident. It is buttoned up the front. She opens the bottom, puts her arms into the sleeves and pulls it over her head.

I pull open a pair of disposable, protective underwear and hand it to her. She puts them on the floor, steps on the left side of them, stabs her cane into the right leg hole and uses it to pull the underwear outward to make an opening for her foot. She pushes outward and pulls upward to guide the underwear up to her ankle. She uses the cane to pull the underwear onto the left side. I wonder how she came up with the idea of how to do that. I hand her a clean pair of pants and she uses her cane to put them on, the same way as the underwear. When they are pulled up to her calves, she leans forward to pull off five squares of toilet paper, and wipes herself from the back. Afterward, she holds on to the edge of the sink and the side of the shower seat and pushes herself up. Standing, she reaches down and pulls up her underwear and pants.

She moves to the sink and sees herself in the mirror. “I’m an old woman!” she says. She picks up a comb, wets it under the water faucet, and drags it through her hair. “I look like Don King! If I had his money…”

I laugh. “Mom, wash your hands.” I say.

She touches the soap, rinses her hands and reaches towards the towel. “Mom, use the soap. Put it in your hands and roll it.” I tell her.

“You’re going to make me do that?” she asks.

“You taught me to wash after going to the bathroom.” I answer.

“Good girl.” she says. She picks up the soap and rolls it between her hands, working up a little bit of lather. She rinses again and dries her hands on the bottom of the towel. She leans towards the toilet and flushes it, then grabs her cane and turns to leave the bathroom.

“Do we have something crunchy to snack on?” she asks as she heads out of the bathroom.

“You just ate Mom.” I answer, knowing that I will be answering questions about food for the rest of the day. Such is the care for an Alzheimer’s victim.

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