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Archive for March, 2012

AUTHORITY OVERLOAD


Since I was the one that went to the dietician and the main one to take her to all doctor’s appointments, I felt responsible for Clara’s health and without realizing it, I took on the role of the boss.  Especially when it came to her diet, I was the food police.  On most Saturday’s, Clara went out with her daughter to get something to eat, and sometimes stop at the store.  It wasn’t unusual for me to find some food item the next day that Clara was forbidden to have.  When I would ask Clara about it she would act like she didn’t know how it got there.  At times, I would call her daughter and she said she had questioned her mother if it was something she was allowed to have and Clara would tell her that ‘Michele said it was okay.’  If it wasn’t that she brought wrong foods home with her, she ate them while she was out.  I could always tell by either her sugar levels being off, or her ankles and feet being extremely swollen or the bathroom “accidents.”  From the years of neglecting her diabetes, her kidneys were failing and we already knew dialysis was not far away.  I would become so frustrated and angry because I felt like all the work I did the previous week was for nothing.  It wasn’t unusual for me to have to make Clara one meal at one time to keep with the eating schedule she wanted, then to make another meal for my family to eat when my husband got home from work so we could eat as a family.  Clara didn’t like most of the food that my family enjoyed, or they liked things that she could not have because of being on a sodium and sugar restricted diet.  We mostly ate boneless/skinless chicken breast; Clara wanted more beef.  My sons liked buttered pasta as a side dish, Clara hated that and wanted potatoes.  My husband’s preference was rice, so on most weekdays I made three different side dishes, and I won’t even get into everyone liking different vegetables!  So after putting that extra effort forth all week long, then seeing Clara’s feet looking like balloons, I would well up with anger.

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One day, Clara could not completely close the foot rest on her reclining chair, which meant she was not able to get out of the chair.  Since she was getting up to use the bathroom, that meant another “accident.”  After cleaning her up, I inspected the chair and the foot rest was broken, it would not close completely.   Off we were to the Lazy Boy Furniture store to find another chair that afternoon so Clara could test them out.  She wasn’t thrilled to miss her afternoon stories, but I insisted.  Clara did not have the arm strength to use the lever to put the chair in the reclining position, and wasn’t comfortable leaning back in the chair to get it in reclining mode, so that was something I would do for her.  Getting out of the chair on her own was a priority, so I made sure she found a chair that was comfortable and that she could put the foot rest down and get out of.  We drove home with the chair tied in and hanging out of the trunk of my car.  I wasn’t taking a chance that she would get stuck in her old chair again.  She ended up spending so much time in her new recliner; I would call it her “Lazy Girl” chair.

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Oh no, what’s happening to me?!


After that day, I was sure to keep that typed list I had about Clara’s conditions and medications very current.  I had an old prescription bottle that I used a garbage bag twisted tie to attach to the wire refrigerator shelf.  I would roll up the paper and tuck it in the bottle.  That way everyone in the house always knew where to find it.  Later we asked Zack why in the world he would think his aged old grandmother would take a nap on the floor as he first reported to us.  He said that we, meaning his parents, lay on the floor all the time to watch TV and figured that is what she was doing.  That’s when I realized, that even though I viewed myself as young and Clara as old, in Zack’s mind we were both old without much distinction!  I didn’t have a scare like that again for several months.

When I would go over in the morning to start Clara’s care for the day, she would already be sitting in her recliner with the TV on.  One morning when I went over everything was still.  I panicked that maybe she died in her sleep.  Then I thought what a peaceful way that would be to die.  From there I wondered if she did die, what would I do?  I figured that I would dial 911.  Now I had a plan of action, so I cautiously walked into her bedroom.  She was lying very still on her side and her back was facing me, I could not see any movement and I just couldn’t tell if she was breathing.  My thoughts were all over the place, what if she didn’t sleep well and finally got to sleep and here I am waking her up.  What if she was in a diabetic coma and I was wasting time thinking when I could be saving her life.  What if she was already dead, should I change from my pajamas before dialing 911?  A complete nervousness came over me that made me feel physically shaky.  With that, Clara cleared her throat and I felt like I jumped a mile, which startled her.  I explained that she had overslept and I was checking on her to be sure she was okay.  I skipped the part of all the scenarios that had been going through my head.  It was actually a relief that she was alive and okay.  As the years passed, on those rare days that Clara was not in her recliner when I came over in the morning, and I found her still in bed, my heart would beat a little faster, but I didn’t have conflicting thoughts.  Secretly, in my heart, I would hope that she was dead.  I knew Clara wouldn’t continue on forever, and I would worry that she would die a long, slow, painful death.  My hope was that one night she would peacefully go to bed and not wake up.  As I would stand there looking at Clara, wondering if today was the day, she would cough or clear or throat and I would think, ‘Nope, not today.’  On those days, I would feel like the most selfish person in the world because in my heart I knew my only motive was not that I wanted Clara to die peacefully, I wanted Clara to die to give me peacefulness.  How did I get to this place?  Those days were seldom, but happened just the same.

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