Aging · Burt Reynolds · Caregiving · Dementia · Insomnia · Musings

Like a Fart in a Frying Pan

Burt Reynolds

I care for a priceless lady who is pleasantly demented. Her mobility has decreased significantly. She marvels that she wants to get up and move but her knees just sit there and do nothing. She stares at and then smacks them and says, “Come on knees!” The way she does that, I keep expecting them to kick up and take off like a donkey that was rudely awakened.

At 2 a.m. last night, she was up for the 3rd time needing to use the bathroom. She has a night light so I don’t turn the light on. It takes me less than a minute to get to her when she pushes the foghorn of a buzzer. No sooner do I walk in than she says, “What are you doing here?”

My foggy eyes still shut, I smile and say, “You buzzed me.”

“Oh yeah. Well you came too quick.” She responds.

I breathe deeply as the last concept of whatever dream I was immersed in slips away. “What can I do for you my dear?”

“I gotta go bad. Let’s do it real quick and we can go back to sleep.”

I raise the head of her bed and tell her to swing her beautiful legs over. She sits there a minute, scratches her head and says there must be bugs in there. Sometimes  it’s “Do you hear that choir singing? Must be at the church.” Or, “We really need to stop opening the windows. Those blasted raccoons marched right through here in a row and now they have cereal all over the living room floor. This is ridiculous!” There’s no end to what’s going on at any given time.

It’s a wonder, and a shame, what we take for granted.  It used to be she could move and talk at the same time. Any more, that overloads the system. Desperate as she is “to go”, she also normally has something she really needs to tell me, which puts her in a bind. Last night her son had called her to chat.

“That kid amazes me,” she scratches her head. “He said he just got his first job out of college and he’s so excited.” In reality he’s in his fifties and has been working forever. “They just love him. I really need to go.”

“Swing those beautiful legs over,” I say.

“These  ugly legs? They haven’t been beautiful forever.” She finds a wart on them and inspects it.

“Bring them right here.” I stand where I need them to be.

“Right there?” She clarifies.

“Right here,” I clarify.

It takes her a long minute to get there. It takes several steps and much coaching to get her feet where they need to be so she can stand. She moves to the spot by the transfer pole where she’ll stand. She’s breathing audibly now and I ask her to stand whenever she’s ready.

“Okay,” She says, revving to go. “Let’s go.” She is her own best cheerleader. She rocks back and forth, rearing like a champion stallion. Nothing happens. She sighs, exasperated. I’m ready to help her but her knees need to join us, otherwise she’s dead weight.

“What’s this on the floor?” She asks suddenly and reaches down.

“Where?” I ask.

“There are bags down here,” she asserts.

I guess the light is coming on. I turn it on, dimmed.

“Oh, they were there a minute ago.” She finds and leisurely fondles another wart.

“Stand when you’re ready.”

“Where are we going?” She asks innocently.

“Right here to pee.” I point to the bedside commode.

“Well, that’s a great idea, coz I gotta go. I don’t know what I’d do without you to tell me these things!”

I’m a regular genius. I snicker.

“Come on knees.” Smack. “Look at ’em. They just sit there.”

“They’re coming,” I reassure her. “You be ready when they are. Keep your hands on the pole.” My hands are on her and her body will give me the feedback I need to know when to hoist her. It just takes the knees a minute. A long minute.

“So this Burt Reynolds is just a regular hunk and he thinks my son is the best thing since lined paper. He told him, “you tell your mother she did a good job raising you, kid!” and I said, well I agree with him but every mother thinks they did a pretty good job.”

“Okay, come up to standing mama,” I say urgently. Her knees give me a narrow window.

“And he is so good looking but I tell my son, “I’m a married woman. I don’t want any shenanigans. So don’t you keep telling him how great I am. God, I gotta go.”

We’re half standing now but she forgets which way we’re going and suddenly heads towards the head of the bed and plops down.

I breath deeply. I can do this.

“Do I lie down now?” she asks.

“Do you need to pee?”

“You know, I do! How did you know?”

“Mama, put your hands on the pole and stand when your ready. I’ll help you.”

“Oh I don’t need help. I’ll just stand and sit on the pot. I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.” She puts her gorgeous hands on my face. “I just love you. I’ll never forget you. And if there’s ever anything I can do for you, why, you just let me know.”

“Thank you mama.” I kiss her forehead and fondly rest my head on hers for a minute. “Stand when you’re ready.”

That’s how it goes at 2 in the morning, when you gotta go, but the knees won’t move, and this is where it gets real good because Burt Reynolds, God love him, the way he cocks his head when he smiles that big smile of his, well he told my son…, “knees move!” Smack!

We’re partway up again when she plops right back own and says, “Honey, can you check  if there’s a snake in that pot, coz if there is, you’ll be chasing me clear to Kentucky. You think I’m fast now, I’m like a fart in a frying pan when I see a snake!”

Public domain photo retrieved from Criterion.com

Acceptance · Aging · Body image · Caregiving · Dementia · Elderly · Humor · Musings · Scripture · True Story

My Body is a Sagging Tent

odometer

A dear friend, 6 significant years younger than I,  contacted me feeling woebegone.

She’s about to turn forty and she feels lousy. Her eye-sight is suddenly failing, her metabolism is on strike, and her children – all under the age of 8 – think they are smarter than her despite her doctorate degree. She’d envisioned running a research department at a prestigious university by this age, but now she sits in a dingy diner trying to make out the blurry menu and not kick her rugrat crawling around under the table who just said, “those last people had weally good Fwench Fwies.” Sigh.

Since I’m about to turn forty five, I laughed my head off at her. I bought myself the sign above at a fun store in Rockaway Beach. Poor baby. She has no idea that she’s living the best times and that it’s downhill, fast, from there. See dear, we are now officially middle aged! That’s a true fact. Read it again.

It’s funny to me how 60 year-olds think they’re middle aged. Anyone that thinks we are not middle aged, is actually old and in denial about their status unless they think they will live to be 120.  Which is not going to happen. Please scoot your walker forward, you’re knocking on geriatric. If you don’t own a walker yet, you can get one at the local senior center for a $5 donation. Go get it. I said, (a little louder, and with hand motions) go get it. You can thank me later. The only exception is my 100 year old resident who frequently observes, with disdain, other residents who are much younger than she, and says, “I hope I don’t act like that when I’m old.” Ha!

Our conversation called to mind these superb words from Ecclesiastes 12.

Remember your Creator
    in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
    and the years approach when you will say,
    “I find no pleasure in them”—
before the sun and the light
    and the moon and the stars grow dark,
    and the clouds return after the rain;
when the keepers of the house tremble,
    and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
    and those looking through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are closed
    and the sound of grinding fades;
when people rise up at the sound of birds,
    but all their songs grow faint;
when people are afraid of heights
    and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
    and the grasshopper drags itself along
    and desire no longer is stirred.
Then people go to their eternal home
    and mourners go about the streets.

Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
    and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
    and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
    and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

The “keepers of the house” must be our muscles, “the strong men” our bones. The “grinders” are our teeth. By “fear of heights” the inspired writer means the curb. Be grateful that you can hop right up or down from it today, my dear. A time will come when you will pray that a Boy Scout (who might be a girl- don’t try to understand that) is walking by so it takes you 5 instead of 30 minutes to maneuver getting up or down that curb.

Is the silver cord our hair that will all have fallen off or is it our spinal cord whose reflexes will be calcified. Is the golden bowl our once brilliant PhD brain which will lead us to crawl under the table eating the previous occupants Fwench Fwies? Can you picture carrying a full pitcher and a walker, with shaky hands and a stooped back? Forget about it!

The “wheel… broken at the well” tells you there may be water down there but you ain’t getting it. Just about all you do takes too much effort and creates problems of its own. Or is the spilling, broken pitcher at the spring addressing the deficiencies of our bowel  and bladder functions? Maybe that refers to the female process while the wheel with its defunct rope refers to the male. How annoying to have a bladder full of liquid, move heaven and earth to get to the bathroom, then dribble three drops of urine and be done? That is until you get back to your power recliner and you gotta go, NOW!

But don’t feel bad about this prognosis. There are numerous upsides to the aging process as your youth disappears, the best of which is you can say whatever you darn well please. I can’t remember the rest. But I do remember a brilliant quip some senior citizen came up with that goes something like:

“I can’t walk, I can barely talk, I can’t screw, I can’t poo, I can’t see, and I can’t hear. Good thing I still have my driver’s license!”

So my advice to you is from Ecclesiastes 11.

Light is sweet,
    and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
However many years anyone may live,
    let them enjoy them all.
But let them remember the days of darkness,
    for there will be many.
    Everything to come is meaningless.

You who are young, be happy while you are young,
    and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
    and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
    God will bring you into judgment.
10 So then, banish anxiety from your heart
    and cast off the troubles of your body,
    for youth and vigor are meaningless.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/disappear/

Scripture reference from the New International Version

Anxiety · Attraction · Battle at Kruger · Buffalo · Caregiving · Dementia · Family · Health · herd · Hormones · Lions · Maturity · Oxytocin · Parenting · Photography · Photos · Prayer · Psychology · Relationships · Self-Regulation · Tattoo · Teepa Snow · Tribe · YouTube

Meant to Belong to a Herd

 

Part I: OXYTOCIN

I took a magnificent Dementia class by fellow occupational therapist Teepa Snow. She taught a contact technique to use on people with dementia. She elaborated that it led to the release of Oxytocin, a hormone produced in mammalian brains.

I call it our herd hormone.

I later learned it controls social recognition among like kinds, and is involved in attraction, orgasm, and bonding. It affects factors like trust, generosity, and eye gaze. “An oxytocin nasal spray caused men in a monogamous relationship, but not single men, to increase the distance between themselves and an attractive woman during a first encounter by 10 to 15 centimeters” (Scheele et al, 2012). Sheep injected with Oxytocin inhibitors did not show maternal behavior towards their young whereas virgin sheep injected with Oxytocin exhibited bonding behavior towards strange lambs (van Leengoed, Kerker, & Swanson, 1987).

Wow!

When I got home from the class that night, a young man delivered medical equipment for a new resident of mine. I shook his hand at the door and commented that he had a great, firm handshake. I have a thing about handshakes and frequently request a redo if I get a limp one.

“Turns out firm handshakes elicit Oxytocin release,” I said to him as we were setting up the equipment, eager to teach him what I had learned.

“Dude!” he exclaimed, “I AM the Oxytocin man!”

“What do you mean?” I asked, taken aback.

“I love Oxytocin so much I have it tattooed on my shoulder!”

“I’ve got to to see it,” I said wide-eyed, leaning in after looking over my shoulder to make sure my husband wasn’t walking in on me gawking at the delivery guy taking his shirt off. I expected pretty calligraphy of the word.

People! The guy had the chemical formula of Oxytocin tattooed down his shoulder and clear across his chest! Mind. Blown!! I squealed in delight and disbelief as I snapped the picture below, quite like a giddy school girl.

Needless to say, I stood transfixed (10-15 centimeters further away) and stared at him in rapt attention as he assembled the equipment and taught me about Oxytocin.

Part II: CO-REGULATION

Fast forward to co-regulation, a term I recently learned. You might be familiar with self-regulation which has to do with self-monitoring so as to control our own emotions and behavior. Self-control requires time, thought, and deliberate decision making (a top-down process.)

Co-regulation, on the other hand, entails herd members influencing each other’s emotions and behavior. It is the “continuous unfolding of individual action that is susceptible to being continuously modified by the continuously changing actions of the partner” (Butler & Randall, 2013). American social worker David Belford says, ““being with“… [emphasis mine] can help co-regulate the other person more quickly because it bypasses our thinking brain (bottom-up processing).”

Co-regulation is fundamental to all human relationships from conception to death. We become stable human beings if we receive healthy regulation from our primary caretakers. If not, “we struggle with our own regulatory challenges and may turn to drugs, alcohol, sex, food or other externals to regulate our anxious or depressed systems. If this goes on long enough, we can find ourselves in addiction. Living in isolation or addiction is self-destructive, while turning to responsive people to soothe our pain is constructive.” (Katehakis, 2017). Katehakis asserts that co-regulation is a main reason why adults are in relationships.

Part III: ADRENALIN

This is an abbreviated version of what is, hands down, my favorite YouTube video in the world. Please take a minute to marvel at it.

This video has over 79 million views! 66 million are mine. What you don’t see is that at one point in the course of the scuffle, the baby buffalo falls into the grateful jaws of a crocodile! Not only is he officially having a bad day, but he doesn’t stand a chance!

Imagine that you, mum, and dad are strolling along at Kruger National Park, enjoying some family time by the river when a pride of lions waylays you. Before you now it, you are squealing for your life as the lions mount, claw, and bite at you. You have no idea what hit you in the watery brawl before you are dragged and pinned helplessly onto shore. Mum and dad are off at record speed and you are dead meat. The lions growl and snarl with drooling, primal pleasure. It’s a wonder you can hear it over your visceral groans. The uproar intensifies as they tear at you despite your failing fighting efforts. You are a sorry match for these killing machines.

Adrenalin floods your heart and the earth thunders to its deafening rhythm. Boom. Boom. Boom! The drumfire should be fading along with your draining life, yet it gets louder and louder, rumbling, stampeding. It’s not just nature’s greedy heartbeat as she gapes her ravenous jaws, it’s the hooves of a hundred irascible kin on a rescue mission. Boom. Boom. Kaboom!

Suddenly, your neck is released and surprised lions are flying in the air. Kicked cats are whimpering and scampering for their lives.

All because your tribe came back for you. It’s a fuming , foaming sea of them. You can’t make out mum or dad for the massive, cranky herd. You’ve never seen so many, never heard such enraged bellowing. It’s dizzying. And it’s all for you. That’s the power of belonging!

It gives me chills EVERY TIME.

I, for one, am just dipping my feet in the warm ocean of these beautiful concepts and can’t wait for an exploratory swim.

Have an Oxytocin rich day!

Video retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGvj7NxMMMU on 10/20/17

Scheele D., Striepens N., Güntürkün O., Deutschländer S., Maier W., Kendrick K., et al. (2012). Oxytocin Modulates Social Distance Between Males and Females. The Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 46.  PMID 23152592.doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2755-12.2012.

van Leengoed E., Kerker E., & Swanson H. (1987). Inhibition of Post-Partum Maternal Behaviour in the Rat by Injecting an Oxytocin Antagonist into the Cerebral Ventricles. The Journal of Endocrinology, 112(2), 275–282. PMID 3819639.doi:10.1677/joe.0.1120275.

Butler, E. A., & Randall, A. K. (2013). Emotional Coregulation in Close Relationships. Emotion Review, 5(2), 202–210. http://doi.org/10.1177/1754073912451630

Katehakis, A. (2014) Co-Regulation. Mirror of Intimacy, Daily Reflection October 8, 2017 via email.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/release/