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Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
~Kurt Vonnegut
Friday, May 18, 2007

Hello! Somebody Help Me!

"Hello, somebody help me!"
I used to hear those words often, over and over again when I was a kid while doing volunteer work in a nursing home. I would hear them when I was older as I visited every inpatient floor in the hospital while I added the lab reports that had been generated for the day into each patients chart.
It seemed there was always someone yelling those words. More often than not, the nurses ignored them. I wondered why, but I didn't question.

The answer is cruelly apparent to me now as I force myself to ignore the same pleas from my mother.

Over the past two weeks a new and mysterious sensation seems to have overtaken my mom's world, and subsequently my own. She seems to think that she needs to pee constantly. Constantly, means 30 minutes to an hour intervals, and, even on occasion, more frequently than that. Though she has been treated for two UTI's in the past 6 months, there is no infection now. Even when she had the UTI's she didn't have these symptoms and had been quite content to leak urine into her 'padded panties' during the 6 months I've been here, interspersed with normal requests to go to the bathroom.

With her immobility this means I have to take her to the bathroom each time she yells to go. That leaves virtually no time for me to go outside to water the plants, take a shower, or think about going to the store.

I decided I would test it one day and refused to take her, telling her, 'If you need to go that bad and can't pee in your depends, you'll have to find you own way to the bathroom'. She did! She hasn't done that in more than two years as a rule. It isn't safe, because even with all the railing in the bathroom that my dad installed, she is still a fall risk, but what that did tell me, pointedly, is that the sensation she's getting is very compelling. Most often when she gets to the bathroom, she really doesn't have to go. No surprise there, but try as I might, I just can't get her to make the connection.

It's one thing to her if the urine leaks into her pull-ups, but quite another thing for her to 'try' to pee into her pull-ups. I can understand that. I don't think I could make myself pee my pants either if there were any other option in my surroundings.

The biggest problem comes at nap time. She used to take 3-4 hour naps. Now she is waking in an hour having to go to the bathroom and yelling, 'Hello, somebody help me!'

I have tried everything. Yesterday I even made a sign to set by her clock that read 'Cyndy will be back at 3:30'. I silently refused to go in there until 3:30 while she yelled for and hour and a half. I had really hoped she would eventually give up and go back to sleep. Of course when I did get her up, she didn't produce any urine because it had already leaked out, yet that sensation was still there and she continues her bathroom trips hourly.

We have a prescription now to help deaden the sensation, but it doesn't appear to be working yet, after two days. I'll give it a few more days and hope.

I have set up my own little refuge in the garage where I can go to get away from the yelling, and I'm forcing her to undertake the risky habit of taking herself to the bathroom late in the day when my patience is spent in the hopes that she will wear herself out, give up, and try the depends.

I fully understand now why there is always that old person in the nursing home yelling, "Hello! Somebody help me!'. The nurses have tried. They can't help.
They probably dream those words at night, like I do.
posted by Cyndy | link | | |


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