My problems resulting from the car accidents I was in were getting worse. I even went under some painful procedures to help. It would only take one incident of Clara having trouble getting out of her chair with no one else being home to help and I had to help lift her up that would undo all the progress I made. I finally sat down with Clara, and as kindly yet firmly as I could explained that I wanted to take care of her and never wanted her to go to a nursing home. I told her I had observed when the physical therapist was coming, she made quite a bit of improvement, but after the therapist released her from her care, she would refuse to do any of the exercises, most of which were done while sitting in her chair. Clara just listened. I told her in order for her to stay living with us I required three things from her; that she be able to get up out of her reclining chair by herself without assistance, be able to get out of my car without me pulling her up, and to be able to get off of the toilet by herself. I asked Clara if she felt that was unreasonable and she said it was not. Then I added that if she could not do any of those three things, I would no longer be able to care for her because my health was being compromised. Before I finished my sentence Clara was marching her legs in place while sitting, one of the exercises she previously refused to do. I knew Clara trying to do more for herself was good for her, and I really needed it. After that, there were many times she said she could not get up, and I would remind her that I could not help her and she would try a bit harder and be successful. There were other times that she wasn’t feeling her best and she refused to try again. At first I would end up helping her, then feeling frustrated and resentful because it would cause muscle spasms in my neck and back, often resulting in a migraine with vomiting.
One day I was helping her in the car and somehow she sat on the ledge of the car frame instead of the seat. I was in disbelief that she missed the seat. There was just no way she could ever get up from sitting so low to the ground, and of course no one was home and I said a cuss word at her. I have always worked hard not to use foul language, I thought the words many times, but always wanted to set a good example for my family and just didn’t say them. Here I have my eighty-one year old mother-in-law sitting on the edge of the car saying she was going to fall out on the driveway, scared to death, and I pick this day to mutter my frustration by saying, “Oh SHIT!! I can’t believe you missed the seat.” Then I felt like a big bully. I told her not to fall off the ledge that we would work it out together. I had her wrap her arms around my neck and I wrapped my arms around her waist and on the count of three I picked her up. I wanted to pick her up to the seat but she wanted to stand back up and then try sitting again. So I got her standing up, but she is now so out of sorts, her legs were buckling under her. With authority I said, “Clara, stand straight, strengthen your legs” and she did. Our way of getting her into the car was to back her up until her calves felt the frame of the car, then she would sit on the seat, and I would swing her legs into the car. It was a good system. We worked together and got her in, by now I was drenched with perspiration and embarrassed that I cussed at Clara. As I got in the car and turned the air conditioner on, I apologized to Clara for saying a bad word to her out of frustration and she sweetly said, “I didn’t even hear it.” Her hearing was bad, but not that bad, those were the things she would say that would endear me to her. Off we were to dialysis and we got laughing about something else. After that day, she would try to grab her pants leg with her hand to help lift her own legs into the car, she was trying.