NPM – 24 of 30

Caregiving

when Dad was released from the hospital
to come home for hospice
they insisted that he constantly be on oxygen
low, whirring concentrator in his room
long green tubing
before his trek to the living room each morning,
then back again for naps and at night,
he’d ask for the cannula to be removed
afraid he’d get tangled in the tubing
I became an expert at reinserting the cannula
into his nostrils, placing the tubing up and over his ears

he asked me to help him put drops in his eyes
we did it in the living room, him reclining in his chair
I reached over him from behind, pinched the skin
below his eye to make a cup and dropped in the fluid
I was always afraid the pinch hurt him, but it never did

he asked me to rub lotion on to his feet
he reclined and I sat on the floor
dispensed the lemon-scented balm
gently applied it to his soft skin
he was lucky that the diabetes didn’t affect his feet
he had fine feet
one time he scrunched up his shoulders
exclaimed, “Man, that feels so good!”

this caregiving I provided was easy because it gave him comfort
the caregiving my mother did was different
while it also gave him comfort, it was the hard stuff
it was taking care of his abdominal colostomy
which was basically an open wound
that she managed like a pro for just about 6 years
cleaning, draining, changing
managing the bleeding

with him not going to dialysis, another issue came up
blisters, bigger than baseballs, began to form on his lower legs,
full of liquid, they would puncture and soak his pants
Mom began wrapping them so we wouldn’t need to
keep changing his clothes

Dad was mostly stoic through it all
Mom was dutiful, doing these tasks
because she was the only one who could
she shielded us from the nasty reality of it,
but when I got a glimpse of it one night
I smothered her with a hug

when I was little, my dad would back up
to a doorjamb or a wall corner
move back and forth to get a good scratch
he reminded me of a bear
one night before bed
Mom & I sat on either side of him
fingernails moving gently across his back

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One Comment Add yours

  1. josefa says:

    It’s funny how some things have been put away in my brain. I had forgotten about the leg blisters. I remember the nurse telling me to leave them open, but his pants, his bed got wet and he was more uncomfortable. I felt I would do what I thought was the best for him, so I wrapped his legs with pads and bandages and changed them as needed. After all those years, I felt very protective and thought I knew what worked best. You did a great job helping him be comfortable and both you and Sandy were like angels to him. I thank you both, I couldn’t have done it alone.

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