Friday, September 21, 2012

So, I get home from work last night and decide to leave my car in the drive because I decided that I was going to surprise Ron with a trip out to run some errands and get dinner. It’s been a while since I’ve taken him anywhere and he likes to go grocery shopping with me. I don’t like to take him because I’m an “in and out” kind of shopper and he s.h.o.p.s. – sllllooooowwwwwlllllyyyy. I’d rather take a list of what he’d like to have and then decide which items on the list I’m going to let him have. That sounds terribly mean but I like to keep his snacks as healthy as possible during the week. I get protein bars, yogurt, granola, fruit, animal crackers, cheese sticks, and sometimes – very rarely – some kind of chip or cracker for him to eat. He also likes peanut butter on crackers, so I try to keep some on hand for him.

I had tried to call him earlier in the day to get his wants and desires but he didn’t answer his phone. It’s having problems so I wasn’t too surprised. Since I was already going to have to go home to make the list, I decided that I’d just surprise him and take him with me. Since I didn’t park in the garage, I didn’t open the door to the utility room/kitchen but went in through the front door (if I had gone through the garage, I would have seen the mess right away). Immediately, I spot an Oxy Clean stain stick on the table by Ron’s chair. That cannot be good news because that means he spilled something somewhere and was trying to erase the evidence, I mean clean up after himself.

Ron: You’re home too early.
Me: Why do you say that?
Him: Well, I had a little accident.
Me: I see that. What did you do?
Him: I dropped the peanut butter. (Note: This was “natural” peanut butter in a glass jar from the health food store, so it was really oily in one layer and then the “peanut” portion was another layer.)
Me: What were you doing? (By now, I’m a little bit irritated – really quite a bit irritated – because we’ve had multiple discussions about him eating snacks in his chair in the living room. He has access to more than one area to eat but he can’t see the television from those spots. Ugh!)
Him: I was bringing the peanut butter and crackers in here for a snack and I dropped it. (The crackers are in a plastic tub with a lid, so in one hand, he was trying to carry a tub of crackers, a knife, and a jar of peanut butter. In the other hand, he had his cane. Of course, he has to wear his prosthetic leg when he’s walking but lately he’s not been wearing his left shoe/brace insert and has been going barefoot. We just spent $70 on a new pair of lightweight shoes so it would be easier and more comfortable for him to walk around the house. He’s lost his balance before when barefoot and has fallen more than once. The most recent was about three weeks ago when he fell and cracked a couple of ribs and broke the legs off of a Lazy Boy recliner from landing on it so hard.)

During this conversation, I’ve been setting my stuff down and looking at the floor by his chair and noticed blood. Lots of blood. (I’d just cleaned the carpet Sunday after I came home from Kansas City because he’d bled a big spot from not knowing that he’d scratched his foot. Amy and Rex had been there and as I came in she said she was just cleaning up for me. I had to borrow their small carpet cleaner to actually get it all up.) This blood was in almost the same exact spot as it had been Sunday. He said it was from his arm, which he’d cut from the peanut butter jar but I thought it was his foot. I looked where the bandage was on his foot and it wasn’t bleeding so I decided it must have been his arm.

I head to the kitchen to get something to clean up the carpet with and notice blood all over the kitchen floor. It seriously looks like someone has been murdered in there. Blood everywhere, along with broken glass and oil from the peanut butter jar. I went around the corner to the laundry area/utility room and found more blood. He had dripped and tracked blood all over the kitchen floor. So, I headed to the bathroom to get the mop and discovered even more blood. By now, I’m figuring I need to shampoo most of the carpet and that’s not happening right now.

I cleaned up the blood in the bathroom first and headed back to the kitchen where I proceeded to sweep the floor, vacuum the floor, then mop the floor. In the midst of all of this, I slipped on either oil from the peanut butter jar or because of the mopping, or a combination of both. I went down hard on my right knee, with my leg bent out away from my body, almost like I was doing the “splits.” My left knee didn’t hit the floor, which was good because it would have landed in a pile of glass, but it was stretched out the other direction enough to feel that pull, too. My left arm – which is already a mess because of the cartilage tear in my shoulder – got the brunt of keeping me from totally landing my whole body on the floor. I could barely get up and as I’m yelling a couple of lovely words, Ron is in the other room asking what’s wrong. When you hurt yourself like that, the last thing you want to do is EXPLAIN what happened. I had to catch my breath.

We had quite the lively discussion about his continued stunts. He does not even begin to think about something before he does it. Trying to walk barefoot (a big no-no), carrying a tub of crackers, a knife, and a glass jar while he’s walking is just one of the many things he’s done recently. Besides breaking the chair (which my landlord graciously fixed for us), he’s broken the glass front to the antique china hutch (that could have been so dangerous if he had fallen into it instead of grazing it as he fell past it), he’s dropped a dish onto an antique dish (which broke), he’s fallen out of bed (last Monday, I found him on the floor by the bed; he’d been there about an hour – slid out trying to get his leg on), he’s spilled cups of liquid on the floor (he thought they were empty) because he’s not careful of where he sets them or how close they are to the edge of the table, and he’s bled on the floor more times than I can count. It’s not like I resent cleaning up any of these things but he doesn’t learn from what he’s previously done to keep from doing it again.

I just looked at him last night and said I can’t continue to do this and that he had to quit acting like he was invincible.  Then, I decided I was going out but I didn’t take him. I knew that I just had to get away for a while. I went down the road to play “Alice in Wonderland” and it was a nice reprieve. But, when I got home we had to continue our little discussion.

There was more blood on the floor in the bathroom (and on the wall) and in the kitchen. He insisted that his ankle was not bleeding but I made him let me see his foot anyway. Not only did he sustain a substantial cut to the bottom of his foot, about where his big toe would be if he had one, he also has 10 puncture wounds. So when he thought he was “fine” he was actually cutting his foot up by traipsing through broken glass. I felt bad that I hadn’t noticed it before but I was concentrating on where he knew he’d been bleeding from. I got those all cleaned up and bandaged and asked him when was he going to learn; did he want to lose his other leg, too? He still thinks he could walk just fine on two prosthetics. Seriously? He can barely get around on one prosthetic with a cane. I told him he’d find himself in assisted living if he wasn’t careful because I was not capable of providing the care that he was going to need if he didn’t start taking better care of himself – and that includes wearing his shoe. I don’t expect very much of him – actually, nothing. He will sometimes wash up a few dishes but that’s really all that he can do and I usually end up re-doing them because he doesn’t see if he’s not gotten something clean (I never tell him though – I just put it in the dishwasher or something).

He’ll promise me that he’ll do things differently and then he forgets all about it. He’s supposed to wash the socket sleeve every day with mild soap and hang it over a form to dry. He has two of these. They cost $1200 each and our portion is several hundred dollars. He said he’d be responsible for washing them and taking care of them. He doesn’t remember and by the time I realize that he’s not washed one for several days, they both need to be washed. He’s only had these for six or eight months and already one needs to be replaced (skin oils cause the material to break down – that’s why he’s supposed to wash them after every wearing).

Too bad it was too late to go back out. I think Alice was calling my name. J


Lois said...

Oh wow - what a difficult, frustrating situation for you. I'm glad you went out, it was probably a very good decision. Hope you have some moments to breathe, quietly. be well.

Jimmy said...

Caring for a loved one is not easy, and I commend you for being there for him, you do have to step back and get a breather at times and taking the ride by yourself was a smart thing.

From his side I am sure he is convinced he doesnt need as much help as he does, so this is what gets him into trouble at times, just bear with him and continue reminding him of the things he needs to do to help.

I smiled at what you said in the first paragraph about usually going to the store by yourself because you are in and out and he is slow, my wife leaves me home for the same reason and my list of goodies she whittles down to what she knows I actually need.

Hang in there, you have a handle on it better than you think.

Pat said...

Wow. I could feel your frustration throughout the post. Ron wants to do things himself. He has to be smart about it, though. Otherwise accidents happen. I know that you love him and you care for him. If you put the fear of God in him by saying the next step is a nursing home because you can't care for him (even though you wouldn't do this) if he doesn't start listening to you and being smart about how he moves around at home - would that work?

thisisme said...

Oh my goodness Teresa, that was quite some post! All that blood all over the place as well. I honestly don't know what the answer is here my friend. I am aware how difficult it is to be a Carer, but I do wonder how long this situation can continue.Ron obviously means well, but surely there is a serious accident here just waiting to happen. I will remember you both in my prayers .

Mynx said...

Oh you poor love. I can feel your frustration. It seems men always seem to think they are invincible. And us women end up cleaning up the blood.

I think you taking a time out was a great idea.