Something New, A Sign of Things to Come?

Yesterday was my day for Rotary, and that means the Monday sitter, Cindy. As I typically do, I went to wake Kate about an hour before she arrived. I turned on an album of cello adagios a short time before going to the room. When I got to her bedside, she was sound asleep. I said good morning to her softly. She didn’t respond at all until I sat down on the bed beside her. She looked at me and smiled but didn’t say anything. I explained that it was my Rotary day. I also reminded her that Cindy was the person who takes her to lunch. Then I told her I would like to help her get dressed before Cindy arrived. She indicated that she didn’t want to get up. I asked if she wouldn’t prefer that I help her get ready rather than Cindy. She said, “I can dress myself.” She wanted to rest.

I left the room and came back about two or three other times. We went through a similar conversation with the same results. She said she wasn’t getting up. By then it was close to 11:45. I felt that my only choice was to leave her and let Cindy take care of getting her up later. When Cindy arrived, I took her into the room to let Kate know that she was here. Kate greeted her with a smile and said she was glad to see her. While they talked, I left.

When I got home four hours later, I saw that Cindy was sitting in the family room alone. Kate was still in bed. Cindy said that she had gone in several times to see if Kate wanted to get up. She said she wanted to stay in bed. I chatted with Cindy a few minutes and then went to check on Kate.

She was awake. At first, she didn’t appear to recognize me. I said, “Are you glad to see me?” She said, “Yes,” but without a great sound of relief. At that point, I knew she had been in bed for at least nineteen hours without having gone to the bathroom. I’ve heard other caregivers’ reports of a variety of “toileting” or “hygiene” issues. Fortunately, we have had only minimal experiences with bladder control. This time it was bladder and bowels. It could have been worse. She didn’t have diarrhea.

I said, “I bet you would like to go to the bathroom. I’ll take you.” She didn’t hesitate. She sat up and sat on the bed. Before helping her up, I said, “I’ll be glad to help you. Do you know you I am?” Rather firmly, she said, “Yes, you’re part of the family.” I said, “Do you know the relationship?” She said she didn’t, and I told her. She said, “Oh.”

I took her to the bathroom and prepared the shower for her. I didn’t have to coax her. She was ready. She took a long shower. While she was showering, I put the sheets and night gown in the washer.

When she was finished, she wanted me to help her dry off. Because she had been in bed so long, I thought she would not want to get in bed after her shower, but she did. She relaxed in bed for about thirty minutes before I got her to dress for dinner. At that point she seemed quite normal and even referred to me as her husband. We went to dinner at Chalupas. I was surprised that she didn’t eat all of her food after not having eaten since dinner the previous night.

We came back to the house and had a very nice evening with the news, iPad, and music before turning in at our regular time. The day ended as though nothing of significance had happened. I was concerned that she might have trouble going to sleep, but she didn’t. She is still sleeping as I finish this post.

Having reflected on yesterday’s experience, I imagine that she wanted to go to the bathroom but didn’t know where it was and didn’t feel comfortable having Cindy help her getting to the bathroom, showering, and getting dressed. Before she got in the shower, I asked Kate if she had been scared. She indicated she had. It had to have been an uncomfortable experience for her. I’m puzzled by the fact that she didn’t call for me. Cindy went in several times, but she probably couldn’t remember Cindy was there for long after she went back to the family room. She must have felt alone and didn’t know what to do. I suspect she was awake the whole time. I hope this doesn’t happen again. If it does, I hope I am here.

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