Flying (Hans) solo.
Or, it’s not wise to upset a wookiee Mom.
This week my solo care giving stint has been going much better. No fathomless black holes of rage from me, and Mom's temper tantrums have also taken a turn towards moderation. Two showers in a row now have been achieved with no crying! (Okay, some pleading and then lots of pouting, but in dementia that's a galactic win!)
I've been successful in lowering my frustration levels by using choice a lot more. And after having Saturday night off and getting to sleep in on Sunday (with the help of an overnight care giver), my patience also got the boost it badly needed. For example, Mom was adamant about skipping a shower the other morning all while desperately attempting to get out the front door. The first time she said no, I didn't force her, instead I cheerily agreed and told her I'd take my shower first then we'd get hers. The second time she said no, I replied no worries we could wait until I had gotten myself dressed. The third time she said no, while again trying to bust out of the house, I said not a problem but we couldn't go have adventures until we had both gotten cleaned up, so she should let me know when she was ready for that shower. It worked! She finally chose to get cleaned up over being stuck indoors. Begrudgingly, yes, but success none the less.
The choice method is resulting in slightly higher percentages of cooperation than my usual strategies - and considerably higher than last week's screaming and hurtling things into the stratosphere strategy. Turns out that don't work at all.
So my stress level has abated somewhat. And as such, I'm able to focus and enjoy our good moments - like our verbal back and forth, precious to us as language is something she can rarely access any more. This last week she's had me in stitches more than a few times.
Me (hopping back in the van after a quick stop at a convenience store):
I got us a lottery ticket, Mom. On Saturday night we're gonna be RICH!
(giggle) Yeah, right.
Guess what we're gonna do with all our millions?
That's right! Wreak havoc on our enemies! Revenge shall be ours!
You ready to destroy all who have crossed us?
(I laughed thinking she meant she'll let me take the first shot at my foes, but then slowly it dawned on me...)
After a difficult round of getting Mom, and our dog Barnaby, in the van at the same time, I was teasing her for being so ornery; she gave me a naughty smile in response.
Why you so mean to me, Mom? Mean as a snake you are! Good thing I like you like that.
Mom (bending over Barnaby and rubbing his ears):
Good baby. I like you too.
Mom (pouting while toweling off after her shower):
(mumble, mumble)... you don't like me. You are going to put me in the garbage.
Should I? That's not a bad idea. Garbage day is Wednesday so remind me to stick you out on the curb tomorrow night.
(Glare of DEATH!)
So I guess we're gonna make it through this solo care partner voyage. The Other Girl will come home next week and find us both weary of each other, but alive, with nary a scratch, or bruise, or knife wound. (It may be a tad too early to bank on this, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and risk the declaration anyway.) We, in turn, will be overjoyed to see her.
This morning, as Mom was walking towards me to get in the van, she stopped, grabbed my hand, looked at me with a rare expression of joy, and said "I like your... ff fa faa... place!" Then "boop"'d me on the nose.
I laughed. Hugged her. Buried my face in her neck and replied, "I like your place too, Mom. In fact, yours is my favorite place in the galaxy."