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MEMORIES WE SHARE – Part 15
You are still asleep this morning and I enjoy the solitude and my coffee. I feel guilty that I enjoy time when you are asleep but logic screams in my ear that any respite, no matter how short, allows me to regroup, calm myself and hopefully will strengthen me for this challenge.
So much has happened since I last wrote and the times and days are all mingled together like a puzzle fallen open from the box that contained it, now strewn about in small fragments. I have never been good at puzzles, never enjoyed searching to connect the tiny little pieces into a whole. I do not feel I am good at this either, this job I did not apply for, that I feel ill equipped to handle. The responsibility for your life, and whatever quality it will have has been taken from your hands and placed into mine and I am making choices for you that I never expected to have to make and do not enjoy.
At the Hospice doctor’s request, you agreed to go for tests at the Pulmonology Clinic of the University Hospital on this past Wednesday. You were a little unclear where we were going or why, at first, but soon remembered as we were on our way into town. The tech was a delightful, funny man who kept you engaged in conversation and your mind was fairly clear. Just the day before, as a service tech was here installing cable, a landline phone and the internet service, now in my name, you loudly announced, “If you hit me one more time I’m going to have this gentleman KNOCK YOU OUT!!!” I replied that I was sorry and didn’t realize I had hit you and you said I had, repeatedly, in the back of your head. We were feet apart and I had not so much as bumped into you but it was very real to you. The poor tech went to get something from his truck and when you went into the other room I explained that you are very ill and have confusion. He handled it well and quickly finished his job.
Two days before the Home Health Aide was here and so was the Hospice social worker. I had asked you many times to allow me to help you shower and shave but you stubbornly refused and the sponge baths you did allow were not enough to keep you presentable or comfortable for that matter, with all of this humid weather. They ganged up on you and you retreated into the bathroom after I adjusted the water temperature and laid out clean clothes for you. Then they ganged up on me and told me to go … go have a cup of coffee, take a drive, do something for half an hour and get out of the house. I grabbed my purse and retrieved the car keys from their hiding place, took some water and started the car, not knowing which way to drive or where to go. Time alone? Half an hour to do whatever I wanted to do? My mind would not comprehend this idea and all I could think was to drive out of town, onto the highway with no destination, no purpose except to feel the power of the vehicle respond as I pushed down on the accelerator. I returned in twenty minutes or less, not knowing still what to do with this freedom and found you sitting in your lift chair … VERY unhappy. The aide said you were not at all pleased with her as she helped you shave because you were falling asleep in the shower. Any relief I had gained was diminished and replaced by extreme guilt for leaving you vulnerable to the one thing you have repeatedly refused – help in self-care from someone other than me. Your eyes told me I had betrayed you and after she left you told me she was never to enter our home again … that she spent more time in the shower than you did and then you climbed into the hospital bed and fell immediately asleep.
I sat in the recliner next to your bed and stared at the television, seeing nothing, feeling numb. When had this confusion started and why was it progressing so? Was it the Oxycontin that replaced the Morphine? Was it the decrease in oxygen that your Care Team decided to try to diminish the spasms that cause you to throw anything you have in your hands flying across the room or down to the floor and onto the carpet that I have shampooed so many times now there are threadbare spots where the machine sucked up coffee, Ensure, your dinner. I think back to the conversation I had with the lady at the phone company and the two cell phones you came home with that you told me you paid a penny each for. It seems they were $27.00 each and you had paid in cash she reported. Well, that explained part of the $400 overdraw notice we had received from our bank. Part of the problem was an error you made in subtraction but another amount had remained a mystery until I viewed checks you had written at the grocery, the gas station, always for cash back. These things happened back in July when I thought you were fine, that your mind was clear. I was happy for you that you were driving over to your favorite coffee shop, the local clinic, the grocery store to pick up odds and ends that we needed. It wasn’t until you and a friend were supposed to take the momma cat and remaining three kittens to the no kill animal shelter in the town over twenty miles from here that I realized your ability to drive has diminished to the point I now have to hide the car keys. He was too tired to go with you when you wanted to go so you set out alone. It was hours later that I learned you had, indeed, arrived at the shelter over an hour and a half before I called them. After checking with your friend and discovering he was not with you and he went looking for you my mind pictured you in a ditch or worse involved in a horrible accident you had caused, hurting not only yourself but some unsuspecting car full of other people. I was sick by the time you walked through the door, looking a bit sheepish. You understood that you had lost your way, both in going and returning and you were exhausted from your adventure and feel quickly into a three hour nap.
You are awake now and I do not see you, the clear blue eyed love of my life, but my confused soulmate, trying to find the bathroom. Another day has begun, it seems, and we will see what it brings.