The Christmas Shit Storm

My wife and I had come from South Georgia to Central Florida to help out with Mom and Dad so my sister, who provides care for my parents, could finally take a guilt free, well earned trip with her husband to ski in Vermont. Dad is incontinente and suffers from late stage Alzheimer’s. He can still get around with the aid of a walker but requires constant surveillance. Mom sleeps away most of the day which is good because Dad drives her nuts asking the same questions incessantly which she always answers but soon looses her patience and ends up arguing with him, adding to an already stressful situation.

To be honest, I was feeling down yesterday afternoon. Stonewall wakes me up about 2:00 am most nights and lays back down about an hour later after he’s asked the same 4 questions about a hundred times. You guys know the routine. He comes back in the room about 5:00 am and repeats the process for about 2 more hrs. I finally give up on getting rest and make his coffee, give him a shower, and feed him breakfast.

Dad had become much weaker, hardly able to get up and stand on his own. He’s fallen 3 times since Mary and I have been here.

The 1st night we were here, Mom came in about 1:00 am and asked me to give Dad a Xanax. After a long search we found the Xanax in a blue cup in the cabinet where Teena keeps their medicine. I wasn’t aware it was Kevin’s, my brother’s Xanax, 4 times stronger than Dad’s prescription. We’ll, that one morning he didn’t wake till after 8:00 am.

Teena later told me she already had 1\2 of his regular dose in his daily medication.

Today I didn’t give Dad any Xanax at all. He’s getting around much, much better. But he hasn’t stopped talking either, no naps, constant conversation about how he feels God is going to bless him with a huge Lotto Jackpot and everyone he wants to share it with. His kids come 1st you know, but after that just about everybody else on earth. He has such a huge heart, as difficult as he is to care for, you can’t help but love him.

With several people in the living room and being exhausted, I told Mary I needed a break and went to lay down in the back bedroom. Mary is a hard, constant worker and dotes over mom and dad, but came in and rousted me out 20 minutes later, saying “you need to talk to your parents, I can’t handle this!”

It’s funny what a person can do when they have to. And there is no limit to what a person can accomplish with a good attitude and God’s help. But I was tired and my attitude was beginning to suck and I just wasn’t feeling it.

Mom was dead set on taking us all out to dinner. Dad hadn’t had a bowel movement since two days before and all I could think about was cleaning Dad up in a public restaurant after the shit dam broke.

And then I thought about Teena who has been doing what Mary and I are doing for a couple of weeks, but doing it all alone for 7 frigging years with a wonderful, loving attitude no less.

I try to make excuses for myself. I tell myself it’s the effects of Chemo that’s left me lethargic all the time, having affected my kidneys and leaving me with stage IV chronic kidney disease. Or perhaps it’s the Opdivo I receive an infusion of monthly which for many patients leads to extreme fatigue. Or it’s the dead space in my left lung and the fluid the doctor tells me is filling up the lining around it again that’s causing the problem. Never mind my neuropathic aching feet.

But maybe it’s just the Shirley, my 83-yr.-old mother who’s convinced she’s been about to die since before my birth, coming out in me. It really doesn’t matter. By gosh if Teena can do this for 7 years with far less help than I’m receiving, I can do this. Especially with my wife, Mary’s help. And I can do it with a good attitude to boot!

But as hard as I tried and as hard as I prayed, things were not getting better. Almost last minute before we go to dinner, everyone decides they need a shower, I can’t find Stonewall’s belt, he needs to pee and and insists on going standing up and he ends up pissing in his diaper and down the front of his jeans. When we get in the car Stonewall needs his wallet and mom has to have a Xanax.

Sherri, my other sister, calls and informs me the Eatery where we had intended to eat is closed today. We decide to find a restaurant at Champion’s gate which means driving into that great parking lot at 5:00 pm known as I4.

As everyone is chiming in their opinion about the idiocy of getting on I4 this time of day, I pray harder. I start to think I need a stiff shot of Tennessee bourbon and ask for forgiveness. Then I heard that still small voice that said, “Why do you think I created Tennessee Whiskey if not for times such as this?”

Perhaps I was talking to myself but maybe not. As we waited to be seated I got everyone a menu so it wouldn’t be such a circus after we were at our table and then walked over to the bar and ordered a double Jack neat.

Everyone had conflicting ideas about where and how to seat Dad. By this time I was just beginning to feel that warm glow and I just smiled and seated him just the hell the way I wanted to.

The waitress was delightful and at one point asked me to thank Dad, who was wearing his Korean service ball cap, for his service. Dad ate all his food and everyone else’s within reach. With every bite he took I imagined the shit dam straining. Still, I ended up immensely enjoying dinner.

As we were finishing up, I began to think that we might just get him home before the dam broke. There were ominous signs as he bent over his walker as I helped him

Recent photo of Mom and Dad at a Granddaughter’s Wedding

on the way to the car. Like tremors before a catastrophic earthquake, I heard him breaking wind and smelled the fumes like foul gas leaking from a volcanic vent.

I figured it was too much to ask that I would get him on the toilet before he filled up his adult diaper to over flowing. But at least I would get him home!

Once home, I helped Dad position himself in front of the toilet and helped him unbuckle his belt and drop his jeans.

As I bent around Dad to ever so carefully help him drop his diaper, miracle among miracles, I realized it was not filled to overflowing. It was empty!

He sat down and had a most satisfying bowel movement. It all went into the toilet and none on the lid. Cleaning him up was a relative breeze!

That was without a doubt one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received. Thank you Lord.

With God’s help and a 5th of Jack Daniels, I might just make it through this Christmas Season intact. Mom and Dad deserve someone with a loving, caring attitude taking care of them.

I maybe 62, but when I finally grow up, I wanna be just like my little sister, Teena. God bless her and may she have a very merry Christmas and a most wonderful vacation! She certainly deserves it.

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