Stool Softener Death Spiral

Mom believes she’s suffering from incontinence.  She’s convinced that her incontinence is a result of having an abnormally small bladder.  She’s never been professionally diagnosed with this malady, it’s just something she’s manufactured because she feels that going to the bathroom more than half a dozen times a day is too often.

So when a new, over-the-counter patch to help with incontinence became available a few months ago, she was all over that.  As soon as she saw the ad on TV she called out me with an urgent, “Patty!  Come quick!”

“What?” I huffed, as I jogged into the living room.  “Are you alright?”

“Yes, but I want you to get me this stuff,” she said, pointing at the television.  “It’s was on the commercial.”

I looked over my shoulder at a cartoon Pop Tart pulling itself out of a quicksand hole made of peanut butter.  “You want me to get you some Pop Tarts?  That’s the emergency?” I asked, somewhat confused.  “What flavor do you want?”

“No, not those,” she said.  “The other things that were on before.”

“And how would I know what that was, Mom?  I was working in the office.”

“It’s a new thing that helps you not go to the john so much,” she explained.

“Oh, those,” I sighed.  “The patches.  That’s what you want?”

“Yes.  The next time you go to the drug store, get me some,” she instructed.

After doing the research, I learned that there was no conflict with her current medication, but the side effects might prove interesting.  One common side effect is that wearing the patch make you thirsty.  Currently, Mom only consumes about 2 ounces of water a day because she claims if she drinks more she has to go to the bathroom more (duh!) and this is something she doesn’t like to do.

The patch also causes constipation and, as many of you know and all of you are about to learn, she takes a stool softener each day because she already has this problem – mainly because she doesn’t drink enough water.

So… dehydration and constipation.  She’ll want more water, which means she’ll have to go more, so that won’t last and she’ll cut back – again.  So then she’ll probably need more stool softeners since the patch will sucks all the moisture out of her and her current ‘problem’ will only get worse.

Do you see where this is going?

But I finally caved and bought them for her because she wouldn’t let it go.

Fast-forward two weeks and one box of patches later to Thanksgiving.

“I got these new patches,” Mom announced as the bowls and platters of turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes were being passed around the table.

“What kind of patches, Grandma?” my daughter Dana asked, passing the bowl of stuffing to her husband, Allen.

“They’re so I won’t go to the john so much,” Mom replied, spooning cranberry sauce onto her plate.

“Mom…,“ I interrupted, trying to stop the inevitable details that I knew would follow.

“Do they help?” my son Ryan asked, stabbing a slice of turkey from the serving platter, completely oblivious to what was coming.

“Not really,” she said quite calmly.  “They dry me out so I get thirsty and drink more water so I’m probably going more than I did before.  But the worst part is they…,”

“Mom!” I cut in again.

“What?” she asked, staring at me innocently.

“Please don’t go there,” I begged.   “We’re trying to eat.”

“Alright,” she sighed.  “I’ll just say that there are some things that I’m doing more and some things I’m doing less.  A lot less and a lot hard…”

“Mom!” I broke in for a third time.  “Please!”

I looked around the table at my son and his wife and my daughter and her husband and at Bill.  They all had a napkin covering their mouth to hide their smiles and stifle their laughter.

“Okay, okay,” Mom replied begrudgingly, steering the Red Menace away from the table.  “Anyway, I have to go to the john.  Again.”

“Happy Thanksgiving everyone,” I said, hoisting my wineglass in a toast before I put it to my lips – and drained it.



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