Caregiving · Health · Humor · Military · Short story

High Butt Pressure

back blast area

My poor sons were raised in an adult foster home so they have some rather peculiar perspectives on life. Yesterday I was taking residents’ blood pressures when one of my boys said, “Did you just say blood pressure? All these years I thought you’ve been saying ‘butt pressure’.”

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One of my residents, Judy, was coming off some wicked antibiotics and pain medications that left her terribly constipated. We’d been fastidiously following her BM regimen to try and get her relief but it finally came to the big guns – the enema.

After days of being backed up, she was miserable and ready for anything that would give her relief. I was teaching my caregiver Lora how to administer the enema. Our miserable Judy lay moaning on her bed, facing the wall, obviously a very humiliating and vulnerable position. Lora was on her knees on the floor behind her, quaking with nerves. I was bending beside Lora, soberly walking her through the daunting process. Unfamiliarity,  risk, and pain made them both skittish.

Lora is a luminescent personality. She is Texan and ex-military, meaning she always has a straight-faced badinage that leaves people around her rolling on the floor snorting in hysterics. I was talking in low confident tones and slowly rubbing Judy’s back with my gloved hands to relax her. I started to say, “Lubricate the nozzle and very gently insert…” when Lora poked her head straight up, enema in hand, and interrupted me with, “Now, Judy, in the military, when you’re about to fire a shoulder mounted rocket launcher, you scan behind you to make sure no one is in the danger zone and yell,” –  and she YELLED, “”Back blast area clear!” Then you fire.”

“So I would ap-rciate it if you would give me that there courtesy pr-cautionary proclamation if you feel you are about to expel any hot gases or other dangerous explosives in my general direction seeing as I am in the primary danger zone,” and she bent back down to business, leaned towards me and said quietly, “Pardon me m’am, please continue.”

It’s been two weeks and neither Judy nor I can tell the story without crying.

Image retrieved 4/10/18 from:

http://www.inetres.com/gp/military/infantry/antiarmor/Javelin.html

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

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Together Forever – Thwarted

goodbyeI.

Today the Rancher separated the 3 calves from the mothers to wean them. They are across a fence from each other. The mothers moo forlornly for their young who are frolicking carefree in the next field. Even while they chew, the heart-sick mother’s moo. It’ll be a long week hearing their pathetic bellowing.

Curly

II.

Precious family friends bid farewell to their dear son today. He joined the US Army. They dropped him off at the recruitment center, were able to stay only a few minutes, and that was goodbye. He was instantly distracted with protocol and procedures, his eager heart racing as information and orders were flung at him in rapid fire. His life will never be the same. Thank you for serving our country Dustin.

usarmy

They must be reeling. Was it a silent ride home. Unspoken fears. Is anyone even able to  complete a sentence? What a long ride, everyone engrossed in their thoughts… Their world now plays in slow motion, pauses and rewinds erratically. They are transported to a new existence without him.

Parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles are all breathing deeply and sensing an undefinable loneliness. Their faith and love hold them strong. They know he will be strong. They know he will be used to be a source of encouragement and strength to many. They know he will hurt, and grow, and serve, and grow. They pray they will see him again. The tears flow freely.

 

It will never be the same.

III.

lufthansa

It’s midnight and I sit in my airplane seat athwart the aisle from an excitable lady who speaks loudly to anyone who will listen. She sits and stands several times, each time taking down her massive luggage from the overhead bin, retrieving an item or other, then asking the next person walking up or down the aisle to return it for her. Each time she held her hands in Namaste at them and bobbles her head in gratitude. She would settle in and get comfortable but in no time, she was up again. This was going to be  a long trip!

It was my first time in an airplane and here I was flying clear across the world. I looked out of the narrow window at the twinkling lights way, way below. The engines whirred in the background and my ears hurt from the pressure. I saw my face in the reflection and I remembered my dear family at the airport, noses and hands plastered to the other side of the cold glass when they’d taken me as far as security allowed. I’d touched my nose and hands to each one, and we mouthed our farewells. So close, yet so far. My mind swirled with mixed emotions as I clutched my blue carry on-luggage with BOAC written on it in large bold letters. My dad had owned that bag for close to twenty years and took it on all his oversees travels.

I couldn’t believe I was leaving. Where was I going? Weren’t there colleges back home? How does one even navigate an airport. I would be navigating 4 international ones in twenty four hours. How would I know if I was flying the wrong way? What was I doing? Who’s great idea was this? I had turned back to see them for the last time. Some were crying, some where covering their mouths in shock, some staring in disbelief. I pulled down the white plastic window cover and tried, in vain, to get comfortable in the small seat. I fiddled with the the seat belt and watched the safety videos studiously.

Dustin leaving today make me think of what that drive home, twenty four years ago, must have been like for my family. A couple of quick decades and a child is ready to take off on their own into the big wide world? What on Earth!

Did they say much in the crowded car? Did dad try to break the silence with bad jokes that fell flat and they returned to the strained silence? I remembered my parents’ words: Find God’s people and you’ll be okay; you are strong; the Lord is with you. I knew they were praying and that was like their collective arms around me, blessing me, sending me out into what was unknowable to them but part of a beautiful plan of an all-knowing God for my life. And He could be trusted.

What was it like to pull into the gates at home? I know how it’s been when I pull into the property for the funeral of a family member. Even the air feels different. It’s just not right. A huge piece of the whole is missing. What was it like for them to walk into my mostly empty room? I’d given most of my stuff away and packed my essentials into a green and black plaid suitcase dad gave me. Did their hearts feel like my sparse room? It’s like an empty shell after a critter molts and leaves it.

In the words of Ritu Ghatourey, “Goodbyes make you think. They make you realize what you’ve had, what you’ve lost, and what you’ve taken for granted.”
And life is never the same…