The following is my advice to anyone who may be wondering how they could possibly be, as awesome as me, on a Monday:
For most accurate results, it is best to first stay awake all night long…
As many of you already know, I am currently the Care Manager for a sweet elderly lady in Seattle, named Ethel. We have had an extremely difficult time filling a couple of the night shifts, so I have volunteered to work Sunday nights as a caregiver. Ethel is very excited that I’m staying the night with her now, and unfortunately for both of us her excitement has translated into insomnia.
Ethel’s insomnia seems to stem from her constant need to have me to sit next to her bed and hold her hand, massage her legs, massage her arms, massage her feet, reposition her in the bed, adjust her pillows, remove her covers because she’s too hot, add more covers because she’s too cold, etc. There were a few times last night when she felt a little guilty because she knew how tired I was, and to my relief she would say, “Oh Winnie, you really should go get some rest. You must be so tired. Please go get some rest Winnie…”
But as luck would have it, I would no sooner have made myself comfortable on the couch again before I would hear her call out from her bedroom, “I miss you, Winnie! I miss you! I miss you TOO MUCH!!”
I have experienced this many times over my 12+ years, working as a Caregiver, and I can attest that it is both a blessing and a curse to be loved so dearly and so exuberantly by an elderly person who suffers from dementia. While on one hand they love you so much that they are concerned for your comfort and safety (“You really need your rest, Winnie…”), they soon forget (dementia) how much time has passed between them telling you to get some rest and you actually resting (approximately 30-45 seconds), and in that short span of time the anxiety that they may never see you again sets in (“I miss you too much”), and at that point nothing becomes more important than coming up with any excuse to see you once more (“legs ache, tummy aches, shoulder aches, too hot/cold”), and therefore your life becomes an exhausting/endearing sort of living hell.
Then at around 3am they look at you with so much love in their eyes that it almost makes you feel uncomfortable, and their sad eyes well up with tears, and they say, “You are so nice, Winnie. You are the nicest person I have ever met. You are the nicest person IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!” and then your heart melts a little, and you just smile and continue to hold their hand until they start to nod off, and then you attempt to tiptoe out of the room…
“Winnie, Winnie! Winnie, WHERE ARE YOU? Oh thank God! Thank God, Winnie! I had a dream that you left me and I never saw you again! But you’re HERE! God Bless You. God Bless You, Winnie…”
After very little sleep and several cups of coffee, proceed to begin walking the first of 6 dogs…
I left Ethel’s apartment at noon so that I could begin the dog walking festivities for the day. Since I was already on Dixie’s side of town (Dixie is a Golden-Doodle) I picked her up first, and as always she was over-the-moon-happy to see me walk through her front door. She was briefly disappointed that her boyfriend Nash (my yellow lab) wasn’t with me today, but she still enjoyed herself immensely during our long walk around the neighborhood. Had our walk ended without any diversions, this particular Monday may have been much like any other. But since Dixie had been such a good girl on our walk, and since we had the north end of Madison Park to ourselves (other than the fellow mowing the lawn), and since she was missing her boyfriend Nash so much, I decided that Dixie deserved a little off-leash time at the park.
Dixie was ecstatic to be off of her leash, and she rejoiced by sprinting back and forth along the waterfront as fast as her long Golden-Doodle legs would carry her. When she paused just long enough to hunch awkwardly over a tall patch of grass, I groaned to myself that “of course she has to poop at the very bottom of the hill ugh” and reluctantly got the poop bag ready to clean up her mess for the second time that day.
It works best if you don’t pay any attention to where you are going and just focus on the poop and the poop bag and the task at hand…
On about my second or third step, I felt the earth give way under my feet, and I realized much too late that the bright green grass covering the steep hill toward the lake was merely an optical illusion. There was no way to know (other than the fact that it had rained all night) that beneath the springtime glow of the glistening blades of grass at Madison Park, there lived a thick basin of slick, slimy, yucky, quick-sand-like-mud. Before I could even find time to spew out a curse word, my two feet shot out from under me and my rear end was quickly transformed into what can only be described as a butt-sled. As I tobogganed halfway down the hill, Dixie came bounding toward me and I hollered out to her to “get out of the way! Save yourself, Dixie!!”
When my joy ride finally came to a stop, Dixie tried to resuscitate me by slobbering all over my face. “Great, just great” was all I managed to say before I began the process of picking my aching bones off of the ground.
When you think that things couldn’t possibly get any worse, think again…
Not to be deterred from the mission at hand, I found the poop bag that I’d thrown in the air during the whole hoopla, made a quick assessment as to the percentage of my body that was saturated in mud, (my butt, calves, arms, hands, shoes, and I could not help but notice that the mud had actually found its way DOWN my pants and made a home in certain crevices) before I began my descent down the hill once again.
I had no sooner taken a step forward with my right foot before, once again, I became a victim of the menacing, slippery-slope, and this time I completed my journey down the hill, entirely on the right side of my body. I had mud in my armpit, on the side of my face, in my right ear, and all through the right side of my hair. Dixie, being my noble companion and all, decided to come and lay down beside me (white dog laying in the mud, great, just great) and lick the mud off of the side of my face.
Between these two falls, I had actually managed to dislodge a significant portion of earth.
Once I was able to look back at my tobogganing pathway, I was horrified to see that there was a stretch of about eight feet of exposed soil, with a large mound of grass and dandelions piled up at the end. When I went to pull my pants back up (they had practically fallen off of me by then) I actually had to pull a bunch of grass and dandelion stems out of my crack, and that was when I said to Dixie, “Seriously? I mean…SERIOUSLY? F*#KINGSH*TBALLS!!!”
The lawn mowing guy (ie; Sole Witness) must have 0bserved my acrobatic skills from afar, because I noticed that I no longer heard the engine running. I looked over at him and waved (with my clean arm) to reassure him that I was okay. He hollered out, “Sure you’re OK, ma’am?” and I just waved him off again with my muddy arm.
By then I had practically landed on the poop-pile’s front door, and I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t just slide right through it. Of course, since Dixie was frightened by my elegant trip down the hill, she was unable to complete the process of pooping. In other words the whole disastrous slip’n’sliding incident, all of which began because I was trying to be a good citizen and pick up after my dog; it all of it had happened in VAIN! While continuing my cursing rampage under my breath, I picked up Dixie’s little tiny turd-nugget with the poop bag, tied it up, put Dixie back on her leash, and we set off for home.
Remember, I STILL HAD TO WALK FIVE MORE DOGS after this fiasco! In PUBLIC no less…
Fortunately, since I had stayed the night with Ethel, I did have a pair of pajama bottoms that I could change into, so I quickly weighed out the pros and cons of which would be worse; to walk all around Seattle in a pair of pajama bottoms, or to walk all around Seattle looking like a swamp person who may have possibly crapped themselves?
I opted to go 90’s grunge-style and tie my raincoat around my waist for the rest of the day.
By the time I had finished walking all of the dogs that day, I thought that I might die from exhaustion. I drove home as fast as I could, parked my car halfway in the yard, and plowed my way downstairs, to the coziest couch on the entire planet. I kicked off my muddy shoes, but didn’t even bother to change clothes before I collapsed onto my favorite part of the sectional and shouted, “Hallelujah!”
My yellow lab, Nash, is not allowed to sit on the furniture, but when I looked over at him and saw his adorable brown eyes looking at me with more love than I could ever possibly deserve, I couldn’t resist him. I said, “come on up, little buddy” and in less than a second Nash had positioned himself entirely on top of me so that he could close his eyes while he enthusiastically licked my neck and face.
My phone started ringing. It was Ethel…
(Keep in mind that Ethel has a caregiver there with her 24/7, so she is never alone.)
Ethel: “Winnie? Are you there, Winnie?”
Me: “I’m here, Ethel, how are you?”
Ethel began to cry: “Not too good. I’m not too good at all, Winnie…”
Me: “Uh oh, are you feeling kind of crummy again?”
Ethel: (sobbing) “I feel so BAD, and I MISS YOU SO MUCH, WINNIE!”
Me: “I’m sorry that you’re missing me so much. I’m sure that you caregiver is taking excellent care of you though, right?”
Ethel: “Well…I suppose.”
Me: “Maybe she needs to give you some medicine to help you feel better?”
Ethel: (sobbing again) “I don’t need medicine, I need YOU! The only thing that will make me feel better is YOU, WINNIE!”
Me: “Well I’m not able to come and visit you tonight Ethel, because I am really tired, but I can talk to you on the phone for a little while. Do you think that might help?”
Ethel: “I guess so…but it’s NOT THE SAME!”
Me: “Hey, guess what, Ethel? Guess who is sitting on my lap right now?”
Ethel: (sobbing sounds)
Me: “Nash was so happy to see me when I came home, that he just had to lay on top of me and lick my whole neck and face!”
Ethel: “Oh…WINNIE! (whimpering sounds) I WISH I COULD DO THAT!”