My Blog

December 8, 2017

Elderly Mothers and the Stubborn Streak

“No! Leave me alone!”

It’s 4:30 am and Mom is sitting on the bedside commode refusing to go back to bed. She doesn’t understand where she is or what the bed is. I’ve cut off the wet pull-ups and laboriously slid a new pair up to her knees but that’s it. Not moving any farther, and she’s not moving off the commode.

I’ve tried to talk to her, reason with her, convince her she doesn’t want to sit like that all night, or what is left of it, ask her to stand, to help me get her back into bed. She mumbles some incoherent reply but pushes me away. Her hands are clenched onto the arms of the commode. She lets go only to push at the pants that are at her knees. She fingers them uncomprehendingly. When I try to lift her unyielding bulk, she gets angry and shoves me away. She refuses to move. I can’t lift her without her help.

I’ve tried putting the oxygen tube on her in hopes that it will wake her up enough to acknowledge where she is. You would think she would be uncomfortable sitting all hunched over in the chair, head lolled over, arched back, elbows propped on the arms. But she won’t get back into bed. She keeps jerking off the tube and refusing to move.

We have just added Oxygen tanks and a large, pumping, beeping, gurgling Oxygen machine to the materials that Hospice has brought us. It amazes me how willing they are to bring anything we need. You would think they were Santa Claus. Nurse D called yesterday and is bringing another whole bag-full of bed protectors, wipes, gloves, pants, and mouth swabs.

During the day, the oxygen seems to revive Mom. Not to the point where she can carry on a conversation, mind you, but to the point where she knows what she wants—and gets it. She doesn’t yell or pitch fits. She just sits and won’t stir until she gets her coffee or whatever.

Last night at a very pleasant dinner for our reading group (yes, I do get out occasionally), several of the other attendees were discussing their elderly relatives and what they had gone through. Some of the women said they had relatives who were really unpleasant.

In one instance, my friend said her mother had become notorious for being mean and spiteful to her caregivers. She may have pinched or hit them, as well as fighting back whenever they asked her to do something. One of the caregivers, in my friend’s hearing, told her mother that she was going to hell for being so obnoxious. The caregiver was fired, but to be honest, I know how she feels.

Another friend said her father had become abusive and vicious to his caregivers. They had to physically manhandle him to get him on and off the commode or into bed. Needless to say, the nurses had to be pretty hefty to be able to do that with a grown man and I’m sure it took two of them, maybe three.

I’ve decided I’d better go back to weightlifting. I had quit going to Curves in the mornings so I could be with mom, but maybe I had better rethink that. I hadn’t realized I was going to have to lift 130 pounds of dead (not yet) weight on and off the commode.

I can’t see going to one of these gyms where they roll giant tires and jump up and down off large boxes. I’ve forgotten what those extreme places are called, but I definitely need to bulk up enough not to strain myself. My right shoulder got strained last night for the 1 am commode episode. I’ll have to ask the witchdoctor for some medication. I’m sure she has some.

I have figured out that I have to get both arms around Mom and have her lean into me when she gets off the commode. But if both my arms are around her, then I can’t wipe her or pull up her pants. I try to reach around while she is more or less balanced on me to accomplish that feat but Mom flops over into the bed before I can get the job accomplished. I’ll have to ask Blessed V how she does it when she gets here at quarter of eight.

Have you ever heard of a caregiver who not only takes all the sheets and towels home to wash, but also arrives early? And leaves late? And is always pleasant. And always says “Thank you” when Mom does something she is asked to do. And never gets upset. The woman is a paragon of virtue. I doubt if I can emulate her, especially not at 5 am.

Wait! Mom is moving. She’s mumbling. Maybe she’ll get into bed now. Yup. Hauled up, balanced, wiped, pants almost pulled up, tipped over into bed. But she is back in bed. Job accomplished. At least it is a considerable feeling of success when it’s done. I can go back to bed feeling victorious and virtuous. And ease the pain in my aching shoulder.

Elderly Mothers , ,
About Caroline Castillo Crimm
Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!
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