Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I Pee My Pants?

At least she understood the word incontinent.

That's about as happy as I can be about the scene in G'ma's apartment last Thursday. The physical therapist was discharging her from home care.  She's walking better than she has in years, lifting her quads and bending her ankles and using her entire leg in the process. The PT has instructed the staff and watched as they perform the two sets of exercises my two-months-past-her-broken-leg-90-year-old mother does every day.  She complains. She moans. She cajoles.  She complies. The therapy is working.  She's made enough progress to continue on her own.

Thus, the creation of a discharge summary and a plan. The PT, G'ma, and I sat in her apartment and reviewed her systems, inside and out.  Heart, lungs, activities of daily living... all were considered.  "Can she brush her own hair?" set my short hairs on edge... she was sitting right there and was as aggravated as I was.

"Of course I can brush my own hair... and my own teeth, while you're at it."

I love it when my feisty mom reappears.  The PT apologized for talking about her instead of to her and the rest of the questions went more smoothly.  She has stand by assistance for dressing and bathing. The alarms will remain on her chair and her bed. She's capable of getting into and out of her regular bed, and I must make arrangements to retrieve it from my garage and return it to her bedroom this week.  I'll be discussing an order for a safety rail with her gerontologist, but she's strong enough to sit up and get started on her walker now, so the immediate danger has passed.

She eats well, if little, and has no problems chewing or swallowing... if you don't consider traveling dentures an issue.  My mom does not. We moved on.

There are no household chores to be done, the major benefit of assisted living according to my maternal unit, so that section of the discharge plan could be skipped. She's actively involved in activities, if active means she goes along when prodded and has a good time once she gets there. Her lifelong reluctance to exercise has persisted; she is a willing if cranky participant in her exercise regime.

Her blood pressure medication is still being monitored, her other pills remain the same.  Yes, she is on a medicine to prevent leakage, and yes she is, on occasion, incontinent, and...

"I pee my pants?"

There was horror and shame and worry and confusion on my mother's face. She was humiliated and surprised and shamed.

We jumped into the fray.  "Not often." "It's a natural consequence of being very old." "You never smell."

As usual, changing the subject rendered the conversation moot. She had no memory of it as we moved on to how and who and when the exercise program would be continued. My heart wasn't in it any more, though. I pee my pants??? was running on a continuous loop through my head.

I've gone out of my way to keep her life a series of happy days. She knows I was shot, but adds in the ass with a smile every time.  Life isn't pretty, but she's not unhappy.  I've known for a while that this state of affairs depends on me being the buffer between reality and my mother. They will take care of the things she used to focus on. You don't need to worry about that; I've got it under control works for bills and presents. She knows I am in charge and she trusts that she raised a person who is capable of caring for her so she relaxes.

She goes with the flow.

Oh, I am so sorry I typed that.  I'm laughing and I'm crying at the same time. She is too slow to get up and to the toilet and so she has accidents.  She wears protective undergarments (notice my reluctance to use less awkward terminology) and she is never wet for long. She doesn't carry the odor of an unclean old woman - her major fear of aging, truth be told. But yes, she pees her pants.

I know that I am the only one of us who remembers that conversation.  I know that I am the only one of us who is concerned about that conversation. Still, I remember. I am concerned.

But, she is not and that's what's important.  I will do a better job of shielding her from the harsh realities of her life, and I will try to live in her moments, rather than mine. I don't know what else to do.


  1. Buying "the pants" for a parent seems like such a watershed moment. In my Mom's case it was a relief, she had no control, and she accepted them with grace because they allowed her to get through a meal without having to make a run for the bathroom. I am sitting here doing Kegels as I write this. Not looking forward to that event.

    1. "Kegels not Poise Pads" is my motto for the future! This is preventable (according to my gynecologist last Friday) up until your 90's. So, I suppose G'ma gets a pass...


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