I Don’t Want To Be A Stoolie!Posted: October 27, 2012
Once Mom came home from rehab, she was still pretty weak. She couldn’t use her left arm, even though she didn’t have to wear the sling, because the fracture was still healing. She could barely stand up for longer than a couple of minutes – and that was after Bill or I hauled her up from her seat on the couch. And, she couldn’t walk more than ten feet without wobbling, stumbling and threatening to topple over. All in all, she was probably in worse shape than Agatha, the precog in Minority Report (cool film, by the way).
I know I’ve written about many of Mom’s idiosyncrasies in the past – in particular her fascination with her daily “waste” output (see the “Waste Management” category for more – if you dare). I had to swallow back my gag reflex on more than one occasion during several lively conversations about regularity, consistency, load dumping speed, and – worst of all – blockage relief methods. We’ve had discussions about the pros and cons of various brands of stool softeners and arguments over dosage (daily, twice a day, every other day, just drink more water!). But, until she came home after her three week stint in rehab, I had no idea of the close relationship she had with her poop. That is until the first time I had to take her to do her “thing.”
You see, until she regains the use of her left arm and both her legs, I’m her in-house transportation. I have to cart her in a wheelchair into her bathroom, then reverse out of the narrow space after she stands up so I have room to go back in and pull down her outer and underwear. Once she finishes her business, I have to help her stand, pull her clothes back up, bring the chair back in and hold on tight while she collapses into the seat, after which I wheel her back out to the living room. Once there, I make sure she gets situated on the couch before replacing the ottoman under her feet and adjusting her slippers. None of this was a surprise and I’m not complaining about it, just relating the ritual. The only part that I wasn’t prepared for, however, was, what would become, the daily stool inspection, which started the second day she was home.
The first day, I thought we’d established an amenable bathroom routine. Wheel in, standup, pull down, sit, finish, flush, standup, pull up, wheel out. Easy peesy. That is until it came time for her first Number Two. As I reached around her to push the flusher down, she stopped me with a “No! No! Don’t flush yet.”
“Why not?” I asked. “You’re done, aren’t you?”
“Yes, but I have to see what I did,” she informed me.
“You can’t figure that out while you’re actually doing it?”
“No, I need to see what it looks like,” she said as she struggled to her feet. “You can pull up my pants now,” she declared once she had bent forward to grasp the shower door towel bar to steady herself.
“Why on earth do you need to look at it?” I cried in exasperation. My frustration wasn’t because it seemed like a stupid and gross thing to do… it was because, in the course of pulling her clothes on, I’d have to lean forward with my face mere inches from the open toilet bowl.
“I have to see if it’s hard balls or getting soft so I know if the stool softeners are starting to work again. You know, they didn’t give me any in rehab and my BMs got harder and… ”
“Okay, enough,” I butt in. “I get the picture, you don’t need to go into gory detail.”
“Well then, pull up my pants so I can turn around and take a look,” she instructed.
I closed my eyes, bent forward and groped along her calves for the top edges of her underwear and Capri pants. I was hoping to lift both at once so I wouldn’t have to make a return trip. I got everything pulled into place and stepped back out of her way. She turned, stared intently at the “deposit” and then, with an approving nod and a grunt, declared, “Well, I guess it’s okay for now. We’ll see how it looks tomorrow.”
I guess I should be grateful she’s only a once-a-dayer. I should also be grateful she didn’t break something that made her bedridden so that I’d have to do more than just wheel her to the toilet. And I guess I should be especially grateful to Red Beard and Long John Silver for introducing western civilization to the joys of rum.