|Bill sitting out back under our shade tree late this afternoon, recovering from last night.|
Last night, just as I was falling asleep at my normal time of 12:30 AM to 1 AM, Bill's medical alarm rang. He was having an emergency.
I rushed downstairs to his basement bedroom and sure enough, he was shaking all over. He didn't know how to stop and I didn't know what to do either.
I called the 24/7 hospice nurse line which is what I was told to do if Bill had a medical emergency. No more calling 911 and a trip to the Emergency Room which just results in generating more bills and no resolution to Bill's medical problem which is just old age and he's wearing out.
"Debbie", the sainted person on the other side of the line (who takes jobs like this anyway? I can't imagine) asked the routine questions which I won't go into here except "is he in pain?" (he wasn't). Then Bill had to go to the bathroom, immediately! We didn't quite make it, his pee was going down his leg then I heard the poop. Yep, he was pooping (shitting) his pants. What a mess.
I managed to get him to the bathroom and on the toilet, just. He had the biggest dump I've ever seen. Of course part of it was on the floor, toilet seat, down the right leg of his pants but most of it was in the toilet. I took a picture of it just to prove to his hospice nurse. Apparently Bill was constipated. We didn't know that. Maybe that's why he had the uncontrollable shakes.
As I was getting him up off the toilet and into the nearby shower to wash him off (after pulling off his pants and underwear, couldn't get his shirt or T-shirt off so that went into the shower), Bill fell. He just missed the seat in the shower/tub enclosure. No pictures here but this is one of those cheap, one piece plastic builder grade showers. Thank goodness no tiles to clean after the poop mess. My brother was faced with that problem when he was taking care of our mother at the end of her life. It was messy too.
Bill fell in a crumpled corner on the floor of the shower. I couldn't get him up as much as I tried. When I thought I got him part way up (he was very weak) he slipped and fell again and this time part of him was wedged in between the base of the shower and his toilet with the metal grab bars. He hit is head (the bruise shows). I couldn't get him up. Tried for at least forty-five minutes. Then I called his hospice nurse again. I told her of the problem. She told me to call 911 and have some EMT's come out and pick him up and put him in his chair where he sleeps at night.
They were at our house within ten minutes (seemed less). Two burly guys who had no trouble extracting Bill from being wedged in between the base of his toilet and the shower base. They held him up while I washed off the now dried encrusted feces (shit) from his right leg and his butt. Then they took him into his bedroom. They were very gentle and spoke soothing words to him, which greatly impressed me. Two big burly guys so gentle. They held him while I put on a Depends underwear, which is what Bill is going to wear from now on. I also put on his jogging pants that I bought initially for him when he returned home from the rehab after his hospital stay in January. No more regular underwear for Bill nor his usual Levi jeans, too much trouble to clean. They settled him in his chair while I gathered up all the soiled garments. I rinsed out his underwear in the toilet (something I quickly learned to do from previous "accidents"). One thing that I learned is true what my friend Glenn told me (he was his partner/husband's longtime caregiver), you quickly get over the "shit" part of caregiving. Not so squeamish anymore, just do what you have to do.
After rinsing off his underwear, I put all into the washing machine and turned on the extra rinse cycle. Been there, done this before too.
By the time the EMT guys left, daylight was dawning. I had been up all night as was Bill. That's right, no sleep all night. Last time I did that was when I was a night auditor at the Hampton Inn in Exton, Pennsylvania in t he year 2000. I was alert but felt out of body at time. I've been running on fumes all day.
My big fear was that Bill wouldn't be able to walk. What would I do now? His hospice care worker was coming over today at 8:00 AM to check on him, special trip after last night's call. I had about an hour to sleep. I also had a weekly Zoom call scheduled at 10:00 AM with my friends Stuart, Lar, Pat and myself. Today was Lar's birthday so we didn't want to miss that. Lar is my friend who has ALS (diagnosed four years ago). And yes, he has his bathroom issues too and his fall down issues (his family has had to call the EMT's to get him up off the floor on occasion).
I laid down on my bed and quickly fell asleep. I had asked Alexa to wake me up at fifteen minutes to eight. When she did I heard movement in the kitchen. I rounded the corner from my bedroom (which is right next to our kitchen) and there was Bill, walking albeit slowly and unsteady. He refuses to use a cane for walker (which the EMT guys told me he should use). Thank goodness he was walking! I can't tell you how relieved I was.
"Abby", the hospice care worker arrived about 8:30 AM. She took Bill's blood pressure and it was normal. I told her what happened and she surmised that Bill suffered an anxiety attack, which makes sense. Bill is so worried about leaving me (dying) but he is tired and because he can no longer read or do his projects because of his eyesight and his other problems, he's in a quandary. I told him so often that I can take care of myself but after fifty-seven years it's hard for him to leave his responsibility to "take care of me." She advised him to try and think of nice things and not dwell on the negative, which Bill tends to do.
Abby left after about an hour's visit.
The rest of the day here was surreal, as it is when one doesn't sleep the previous night. And today was the day I had my landscaper Ferdinand trim my nineteen holly trees (at $700), which I don't know house much longer I'll have that job done. I'm tempted to just let those holly trees grown out. If I'm left here by myself I have to cut out expenses like this. Let our backyard go natural.
After I finish this post I'm going to bed. Bill is sleeping peacefully now in his Archie Bunker chair. Hopefully we can both get through the night without any more emergencies. Neither one of us can endure many more nights like we had last night.