A Round of Applause.

JoeThis afternoon Joe was very polite and subtle when he announced to Dot and I that he needed to “take a shit”.  As quickly as I could, I got him up off of his recliner, maneuvered him down the hallway with his walker to the bathroom, and got him safely seated on the toilet.  There is always a last-minute fear of what I might find when I help any of my clients to pull down their Depends, but today I was relieved to discover that we’d made it to the toilet on time for a change, and I had to fight the urge to sing the Hallelujah Chorus.

I was playing Scrabble on my iPhone as Joe did his business, when all of a sudden he looked down and saw my shoes (I was wearing my oldest pair of black Converse).

Joe:  “Those are some fancy shoes you got there!”

Me:  “Oh yeah, they’re pretty fancy alright.”

Joe:  “Yep.”  He looked up at me:  “Hey, what are you doing hanging out in the bathroom anyways?”

Me:  “Oh I’m just here in case you need any help.”

Joe chuckled:  “I don’t need any help.  I’ve been shitting by myself for many a year.”

Me:  “Well I don’t really have anything else going on so I thought that I may as well hang out with you in here if you don’t mind.”

Joe shrugged:  “That sounds alright to me.  I’m sure there are better smelling places to hang out around here, but if you can stand the smell then you’re more than welcome to stay.”  He looked down at my feet again and said, “I guess that’s why you’re wearing your fancy shoes huh?”

Me:  “Yep, that’s exactly why.”

When Joe was finished doing his business, I helped him to wash his hands and then we wandered slowly back to the living room.

Dot:  “Well how’d you do?”

Joe:  “How’d I do what?”

Dot:  “How’d it go in the bathroom?”

Joe:  “Well I took a shit if that’s what you’re gettin’ at.”

I added, “And Someone even made it to the toilet on time!”

Dot clapped her hands and said, “Wow!  Good job Joe!”

Joe cracked up:  “If I knew that I’d get this much applause every time I took a shit, I’d have started telling folks about it a long time ago!”


JoeI got Joe all tucked into bed the other night and he started snoring almost instantly.  Five minutes later, Dot and I were watching TV in the living room and we heard a giant THUD!  

Joe had climbed out of bed (over his bed-rail) and hobbled into the bathroom where he did a complete face-plant on the linoleum floor.  When I found him he was unconscious and non-responsive, so I asked Dot to call 911 while I checked to make sure that he was still alive.

While I was checking for a heartbeat, Joe came to and started laughing.

Joe:  “What the HELL am I doing on the floor?!”

Me:  “Dot, tell the operator that he’s talking!”

Joe:  “Who’s talking?”

Me:  “You are.”

Joe:  “I am?!”

I got up and grabbed the phone from Dot so that I could tell the 911 dispatcher what was going on.  She told me that paramedics were on their way and that I shouldn’t let Joe move.  

I hung up the phone and went back into the bathroom with Joe.  He was already trying to get up.

Me:  “Joe, don’t move okay?  Just stay right where you are.”

Joe:  “Well okay, but I’m on the floor.  How the HELL did I end up on the floor?”

Dot:  “You fell down Joe, and the ambulance is on its way now.”

Joe:  “Who fell down?”

Dot:  “You did!”

Joe laughed:  “Oh I never fell down.”

Dot:  “Then why are you on the floor?”

Joe:  “Because it looked comfortable!”

Joe tried to move again.

Me:  “Joe, just stay where you are okay?  The paramedics will be here any minute…”

Joe:  “Paramedics?  Why are they coming here?”

Me:  “They just need to check you over to make sure that you’re healthy.”

Joe:  “Oh I’m healthy.  I eat all of my vegetables, don’t I Dot?”

Dot:  “Not that kind of healthy.  They need to check your bones.”

Joe:  “My BONES?  What the hell do my bones have to do with anything?”

By then the paramedics had arrived on the scene.  They all know Joe because Joe used to be a volunteer fireman.  I spoke to the man in charge to explain what had happened, and the other guys went right to work.

Fireman:  “Hi there Joe!”

Joe turned his head so that he could see the man kneeling at his side.

Joe:  “Hello.”

Fireman:  “What seems to be the trouble?”

Joe:  “Nothin.”

Fireman:  “Well it looks like you had a pretty bad fall, and you’re banged up pretty bad.”

Joe:  “Is that right?”

Fireman:  “Yep.  We’re going to get you loaded up and head on over to the hospital okay?”

Joe:  “I guess that’s alright.  Are we going in the fire truck?”

Fireman:  “We’re going to load you up in the ambulance actually.”

Joe:  “Oh yeah, okay.  Well if you need any help just let me know.  I can help you load up the hay barrels.”

Fireman:  “Okay Joe, we’ll let you know if we need a hand.”

Dot stayed at the house while Mike (Joe and Dot’s son) and I followed behind the ambulance.  Thankfully it was a slow night at the ER so Joe was seen by a doctor right away.

Doc:  “Hi there, Joe.  How are you feeling tonight?”

Joe:  “Not too bad.”

Doc:  “I’m going to check you over okay?”

Joe:  “I guess that’s alright.”

The doctor started at the back of Joe’s neck and worked his way down the spine, asking Joe at various times if he felt any pain.

Doc:  “Does it hurt here?”

Joe:  “Nope.”

Doc:  “How about here?”

Joe:  “Here what?”

Doc:  “Does it hurt when I touch your back here?”

Joe:  “Oh.  Nope.”

Doc:  “Does it hurt here?”

Joe:  “Boy, you sure do ask a lot of questions.”

The doctor smiled:  “I’m just trying to figure out if you have any injuries.”

Mike (Joe’s son):  “Dad, you had a bad fall tonight.  The doctor just wants to make sure that you’re okay.”

Joe:  “Well…I guess that’s alright.”

Doc:  “It actually seems like you’re doing pretty well Joe.  Do you have any pain anywhere?”

Joe:  “Well, now that you mention it, my knee is a little sore…”

Doc:  “I will have the nurse take you back for an X-ray.  Anything else?”

Joe:  “My ass feels kind of funny.”

Doc:  “Do you mind if I take a look?”

Joe:  “Well you can take a look if you want, but it’s not going to be a pretty picture.”

The doctor laughed:  “I think I can handle it.”

Joe:  “I will tell you what you’ll find if you look back there.”

Doc:  “What will I find?”

Joe:  “A pile of shit.”

Mike:  “Dad!”

Joe:  “Well?  He asked!”

Doc:  “I will have the nurse get you cleaned up.”

The doctor wrote down a few notes, smiled at all of us and left the room.

Joe:  “Boy, we sure had to go through a lot of trouble to get some clean pants!”

Joe was discharged from the hospital with a minor knee sprain, a few bumps and bruises, and a clean pair of pants.  While we were driving back to the house Mike patted Joe on the leg and said:  “I’m just so glad that you’re ok, Dad.  

Joe:  “Of course I’m okay, why wouldn’t I be?”

Mike:  “You had a pretty bad fall tonight, Dad.”

Joe laughed:  “Not me.  I never fell.”

Mike looked at me in the rear-view mirror and shook his head:  “You’re a pretty tough old bird, you know that?”

Joe smiled:  “Damned right!  

A few minutes later he looked back at me:  “Now, what’s for supper?”

It was 1AM.

Laundry 101.

Someone was truly a Brainiac today and accidentally threw a pair of Joe’s adult diapers in the washing machine. I thought I’d seen disgusting things before, but nothing compares to the gummy explosion of dirty Depends all over the “clean” sheets and towels. I’m still dry heaving just thinking about it.

The Lady Shadow.

JoeNow that Joe’s dementia has progressed, he is hallucinating almost every night.  Some nights he talks and talks all night long to things that aren’t even there, and it gets a little spooky, especially since I sleep in a bed right next to him.

We’ve figured out that one of the things that he fixates on are shadows so we try to keep his room as dark as possible when it’s bedtime.  Last night, I got up to change his Depends and get him straightened up in his bed (he prefers to sleep sideways for some odd reason).  I had to turn the lamp on so that I could see what I was doing, so he was fixated on my shadow above his bed.

Joe:  “Oh no!  Look at the size of that guy!”

Me:  “What guy, Joe?”

Joe:  “Look up there!  That’s one mean looking man!”

Me:  “You don’t need to be afraid Joe, it’s only my shadow.”

Joe:  “It’s your shadow?”

Me:  “Yep, it’s just my shadow.”

Joe:  “Well you’re a Lady, so that must be a Lady Shadow then…”

I smiled:  “Yes, it is definitely a Lady Shadow.”

Joe chuckled:  “Oh good.  Lady Shadows are nice to me.”

Me:  “Yes, they are.  Lady Shadows are the nicest shadows.  Goodnight Joe.”

Joe grinned:  “Goodnight, Lady Shadow.”


Practical Joke.

I woke up at 2am this morning, because I could hear Lois rummaging through the kitchen cabinets.  Quickly, I put on my slippers and stumbled toward her with my eyes only half open.

Me:  “What are you doing, Lois?”

Lois was full of energy:  “Well Good Morning!  How are you today?”

Me, rubbing my eyes:  “Lois, it’s only 2 in the morning, what are you doing up?”

Lois:  “Oh, I just needed a little snack.”

And that was when I fully became aware of what was happening.  There was Lois,  clothed only in a white tank top, a pair of Depends, and slippers.  But that wasn’t the strange part.  The strange part was that she had her face and her head completely wrapped up with one of her sweaters, and all I could see were the whites of her eyes.

Me:  “Um, Lois…?  Is your head cold?”

Lois:  “Well it was…but it isn’t anymore.”

Me:  “Lois, you’re going to catch a cold if you stand in front of the refrigerator in your underwear.  Can I help you with something?  What kind of a snack do you want?”

Lois:  “Oh, I don’t know…anything…PUMPKIN PIE!”

She shouted so suddenly that I jumped.

Lois laughed:  “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Me:  “That’s okay.  Would you like whipped cream on it?”

Lois:  “Well of course whipped cream.  You can’t have pumpkin pie without whipped cream!”

Me:  “Of course not.”  I pulled everything that I needed out of the fridge, when Lois decided that she needed her pie to be heated up.  (Lois does not have a microwave, so heating anything up takes FOREVER.)

Me:  “Lois, since it’s 2 in the morning, would you mind just eating your pie cold?  Midnight snacks are always cold.”

Lois:  “But this pie is so OLD!  I could get sick if I eat it before it’s warmed up!”

Me:  “I bought the pie from Fred Meyer yesterday.  It’s not too old.  Plus, just so you know, I would give my left foot to be able to eat a cold piece of pumpkin pie right now, but I can’t since I’m on a ‘no-sugar’ diet, so I will just have to live vicariously through you.”

Lois:  “You like COLD pumpkin pie?”

Me:  “Yes I do.  It’s my absolute favorite.  Well, next to cold pizza.”

Lois looked a bit suspicious, but after she thought about it for a minute she smiled:  “Well, okay then.  For you…”

Me:  “Thank you, Lois.  One thing though…”

Lois:  “What’s that?”

Me:  “You’re going to have to uncover your mouth if you’re going to eat your snack.”

Lois laughed:  “Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that!”  I helped her to unwrap her head.

I laughed:  “You know, I didn’t want to say anything, but you should see yourself right now. (This may seem unusual, but Lois is still at a stage in her dementia where she can snap out of it with the right cues.)  You have your entire head wrapped up in your sweater, but you’re practically naked everywhere else!”

Lois felt around for her bare arms and legs and then she cracked up:  “Boy, I must be quite a sight!  You know…Sometimes I think that old age is just God playing a practical joke on us.”

Me:  “You think so, huh?”

Lois:  “Well yeah, I mean the urine alone would be enough to keep Him entertained!”


When I first started to take care of Joe, Dot was recovering from a broken pelvis in an assisted living facility, so it would just be Joe and I at the house.

He was not happy about Dot being gone and it really confused him.  He would ask about her every five minutes, and I would explain again and again that she would be coming home once she got stronger.  The nights were pretty rough especially because he’d wake up and realize that Dot wasn’t there and he’d try to go looking for her.

One night, at about 2am, I heard Joe open the front door of the house.  I jumped out of bed and took off running to find Joe outside, in the rain, in only his Depends, t-shirt and slippers (this was in the middle of winter).

Joe was trying to take off through the field to head to town.  I hollered out at him, “Joe!  Get back here!”

He stopped and turned around.

Me:  “Where are you going??”

Joe:  “I’m going to find Dot.”

Me:  “It’s the middle of the night and pouring down rain!  We’ll go visit Dot in the morning.”

Joe:  “Well you can do what you want, but I’m heading there now…”

I realized that I needed to try a new tactic.

Me:  “Joe, if you don’t come back here in 5 seconds, I’m calling the police!”

Joe stopped in his tracks and turned around slowly to look at me.  “You wouldn’t do that…”

I went and grabbed the phone so that I could show him.  “I’m calling the cops right now, Joe, if you don’t come back inside.”

Joe laughed, “I’m not doing anything illegal!”

Me:  “Yes you are.  It’s against the law for a man to run around in public in his underwear!”

Joe looked down at himself:  “Is that right?!  What the hell…?  Where’d my pants go??”

Me:  “3 more seconds til I call the police…”

Finally Joe relented and started to walk back.  As he came through the door, he looked me square in the eye and said, “You really think they’d throw an old man in jail for running around on his own property?”

Me:  “If he’s running around in his underwear and all soaking wet they would.”

Joe came to his senses and said, “Yeah, you’re probably right about that.  Well we might as well go back to bed then.  It’s cold in here!  Turn the heat up, would ya?”

I think I must’ve scared him about calling the police, because he never pulled a stunt like that again.  Thank God!