Thursday, September 13, 2007

Living with Dad is not easy. Or perhaps, living with me is not easy. Either way, Dad and I have finally found something of routine for living together. The most important part of this routine is getting his compression socks on in the morning, and then taking them off at night. Dad is mostly wheelchair-bound and with limited mobility on his left side, as the result of a stroke he suffered almost five years ago, it is next to impossible for him to put on socks or shoes. This is especially true in the case of his compression socks which are designed to minimize the effects of gravity by squeezing the legs tight enough to keep fluids from swelling in his feet. With two good hands, getting the damned things on him is a challenge for me, also.

So the other night, I was tired rather early, and noticing that Dad was going through his normal before bed routine, I announced my intention to also go to bed. "Good," he said, "me, too." I waited in the kitchen for him as his took his night-time pills. He looked at me. I said nothing. "What do you want?" he asked. "Nothing," I said, "I'm just waiting for you to go to bed so I can take off your socks." "Oh, I see." So, he swallowed his last pill, wheeled himself into his room and got himself into bed. I got his arms and legs situated (he has to really work at adjusting himself to get into bed properly), then I yanked off the socks and left them hanging over the foot of the bed.

"Do you need anything, Papa?" I asked, as I always do before turning off the light. "No, no, I'm fine." So, I said "good night", switched off the light, then went to bed myself.

Not long after I got into bed, but before I fell asleep, I heard the creak of Dad's bed (it's a motorized hospital bed). Then shuffling. Then the click of the light switch and the squeak of the wheelchair. This was all followed shortly by the sound of water running, a toilet flushing, teeth brushing and more water. Then a pause. Then wheelchair clicking, shuffling, squeaking, light switch, and settling. Then nothing.

My only explanation for this was that the old man didn't want to ask me to wait an extra 10 minutes so that he could finish his routine before getting into bed, possibly irritating me or preventing me from a few more minutes of sleep (not that I would have been annoyed). So instead of just telling me he wasn't ready for bed, he played along, went through the motions, then sat there in the dark waiting for me to fall asleep before getting himself back up to do what he had to do.

What nerve!

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