On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

I was going through some old files last night looking for an outline I thought I had started on a book idea. I never found the outline, but I came across something I wrote on November 3, 2010 after taking Mom and Dad to the lab to have some bloodwork done and then out to breakfast. It was just six weeks before they moved from my home into an assisted living facility near my brother Jim. I was rapidly approaching burnout, and I wrote this saga to get rid of some of the tension from the outing. I posted it in my Facebook notes, but I didn’t start my blog until six or seven months later, so I thought I’d share it with you. It’s rather long, so I’ve broken it into four parts and will publish a part each day from now through Friday.


It’s 10:30 in the morning, and I’m exhausted. Today was test day for Mom and Dad. They have their six-month check-up with their PCP next week, and they had an appointment at 8:40 this morning at the lab. Since they had to go in fasting, I planned to take them to breakfast afterward. I knew it would be an adventure. I was right.

My day started early, around 6:45. I set my alarm for 7:00 to make sure I didn’t oversleep, but I woke up a few minutes before it went off. I got myself ready and then went to wake The Kids. Some mornings they’re up by 7:30 or 8:00, but most mornings they sleep in. Today they were still snoozing when I knocked on their door at 7:45.

“Good morning,” I said. “It’s time to get up. You both have appointments to get lab work done this morning.”

“OH-kay,” said Dad in his little sing-song morning voice, snuggling down a little further under the comforter.

“Huh,” Mom said in confusion as she struggled to free herself from a tangle of sheet and blanket.

Since there was no physical exam involved in today’s visit, I kept the hygiene regime simple – wet wipes, deodorant, fresh shirts, hair brush, toothbrush. Thirty minutes later, we were headed toward the door.

“Where we goin’?” Dad said – again.

“To get lab work done,” I said, holding Mom’s hand as she stepped over the threshold onto the front porch. Once she was safely out, I let go and lagged back to lock the front door. When I caught up with her at the car, she was tugging unsuccessfully at the handle of the driver’s door.

“It’s locked,” she said.

“I’ll get it,” I said. “You don’t want to drive, do you?” said the Sarcasm Gremlin that lives inside my head.

“Huh,” she said, confused again.

“Here ya’ go,” I said, shoving the Gremlin back into his box and opening her door. “You sit back here.”

“It’s cold,” Dad said.

It was around 70 degrees, but knowing how sensitive their thermostats are, I had grabbed jackets. I handed him his, and while he put it on, I took his walker and put it in the trunk. The jacket was a welcome distraction. Even though we both know he has neither the strength nor the balance to fold the walker and stow it, his macho pride forces him to try every time we get in the car.

With Dad taken care of, I turned my attention back to Mom. I handed her a jacket and helped her put it on.

“Do you want me to stand up,” she said.

“No,” I said, slapping that Sarcasm Gremlin upside the head, “I just need you to lean forward a little bit.” Then I fastened her seatbelt and we were off.

Getting out at the doctor’s office was a little easier than I expected. Mom can still unfasten her seatbelt most of the time and get out by herself. And Dad is slow enough that I can have the walker out and in front of him before he gets out. The waiting room was easier than normal, too. We only had to wait a little over 10 minutes, and Mom never got into her why-are-we-here-and-why-do-we-have-to-wait-so-long routine. The tests themselves were also easy. The doctor had ordered blood work only – no urinalysis.

A urinalysis may seem like a simple test, and is it for Dad. He can take care of that by himself. But Mom is a different story. Just imagine trying to get a specimen from a 2-year-old girl. A boy can point and shoot, but with a girl, it’s a different story. Now imagine the girl is 89 and has Alzheimer’s. Take my word for it. It’s not easy. (See my post titled “Peeing in a Bottle.”)

Come back tomorrow for Breakfast Adventure – Part 2 (Ordering).



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