Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bea’s Bed Goes High-Tech

Bea is her old self again this morning. The banana I happen to choose as a snack was stored in the refrigerator overnight.

“It’s cold,” she declares, handing it back with a frown. “Bananas should not be kept in the refrigerator.”

I fetch another, at room temperature.

Nurse Jane stops by to examine the bedsore. How boney Bea has become! I cannot help but be awed at the protruding ribs. When I do the changing myself, I don’t dwell on the physical aspect, but if someone else is changing Bea, it’s hard not to notice the degree of emaciation. After Jane’s departure, Lisa comes. Time to install the new air mattress, delivered yesterday.

“I’d like to change the sheets at the same time, and we’ll take advantage to do her hair,” Lisa tells me.

“Sounds like a plan.”

I plug in the mattress and the cavities begin to puff up with air.

Bea has not been in a state to have her hair done in weeks. The top of her head has become a no-man’s land for brush or comb. In fact, her hair is way beyond snarly. I am wondering whether we may have to cut some of it off when Lisa says, “Uh-oh. She’s closed her eyes on me.”

I look down and indeed Bea’s eyes are firmly shut.

“It’s a little trick she’s devised to make people go away,” I whisper.

“I want you both to know that I am 72 years old.”

I chuckle while removing pillows. Lisa does sheets. We both work fast, conscious that removal from the bed is going to be a bit of an ordeal.

“I want to go to sleep,” Bea repeats, in case we have not understood.

“We’re going to sit you in the chair,” Lisa explains.

“You’re bossy!" Bea protests. "You don’t sit people in chairs when they want to sleep.”

Carefully we have already begun to swivel her around. Lisa sits Bea up. For a moment I think she may faint. Then we lift her into the chair. I hold the fragile body to keep it from falling while Lisa installs the magic mattress. Shampooing hair is forgotten. Bea is much too frail for such frivolity. In less than a minute, Lisa is done. Gently we reposition my mother on the bed. The air pockets gently inflate and deflate, giving her body proper support while promoting circulation.

I had thought Bea was going to talk all afternoon, but the mattress installation has worn her out. She will sleep instead.

Let’s hope this gadget will help with the bedsore and prevent new ones …

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