It's been a tough couple of weeks and sometimes it feels like we're sliding backward instead of progressing. I thought the worst was over, after that first month Bob was home, but now it feels like I've landed back in time.
I'm talking about the nitty-gritty stuff of life here, the unmentionable stuff: the process of elimination--to be polite, or "piss" to put it bluntly--- and that damnable urinal.
When Bob was hospitalized, the first thirty days after his stroke, he spent in ICU in critical condition and in a drug-induced coma because of severe brain swelling. He had a Foley catheter then. After he developed the second bout of near-fatal pneumonia, he was sent to yet another ICU at Kindred (a special pulmonary hospital) where he was put on a "vest airway system" which is a sort of inflatable vest that wraps around the patient's chest and literally shakes the secretions out of the lungs. He was on what they called a "Texas catheter" then, a sort of condom device attached to a tube. He spent four weeks at Kindred (a regular hell-hole of a hospital, in that all the patients were attached to some sort of life support machine and it felt like walking into a horror movie set). Finally, he was discharged to Acute Rehab, where he was first on the Texas catheter, then later in diapers. I had asked them, repeatedly, if it wasn't possible to teach him to use a urinal or bedpan, however this did not happen. So, he came home. In diapers. And I was determined from the start to teach him to use a urinal. I mean, changing diapers six to seven times a day is a pain, not to mention expensive.
The first couple of times it worked like a charm. Bob used the urinal. I dumped it. Piece of cake, right? Then we started running into problems: i.e. spillage. He seemed to be losing control of the urinal, especially at night, and the whole thing would get dumped: all over the bed, all over Bob. And I am up six or seven times every night, changing sheets, changing his clothes and that first month, my dryer broke (aargh) and I remember piling mounds of urine soaked sheets and clothes in the back yard because I wanted to keep some of the stink out of the house. Oh, those were the days.... and then one night, we had what I like to think of as the "urinal war". It was 3:00 in the morning, or some such god-forsaken hour, and I was changing out yet another set a sheets and I lost it. I told him: that was it, no more urinal. Just go in the diaper. That's what they're for, after all. He flipped. I mean, really flipped. I know that when someone has a left-brain stroke that his "logical" part of his brain has been compromised and the right side takes over, the child-like emotional side, and that night was the first time I really saw it come through. He threw a tantrum that would rival any two-year old. He began screaming, first "DIAPER! DIAPER!" then "BOTTLE!" then just "GA! GA! GA! GA!" I relented. And gave him the urinal back. But with warning: one more time, and it's gone. And wa la! It worked. No more spillage. Until now....
For some reason, we've slipped backward here. And once again, I am up every night changing out the urine soaked sheets, the clothes. At least my dryer works, but.... Now, it's me who wants to scream GA! GA! GA! and last night, I lost it again. I hate to admit it. I'm only human. But I took the damnable urinal away. He didn't throw a tantrum this time. But I could tell he was upset. And later, he more or less asked for it back. I gave it to him. With another warning. God, I do hope this works again.
I don't know why I'm writing this. It's not very pleasant or uplifting. It would be so much better to have something good to report. But, alas, I do not. I guess I'm just venting. Getting things off my chest. Letting you all know that life is not a bowl of cherries here. Sometimes it's just hard.