Friday, September 01, 2006

Bedridden Blues

At some point in our lives everyone has been bedridden. Often the experience accompanies sickness. Usually it occurs during childhood with a parent nearby to offer love and support. The warm bed provides comfort, escape from school or daily chores. We all remember the smell of hot chicken soup and the cozy feeling of wiggling toes under the covers. Once the initial cause for bed rest has been remedied, we revel in the novelty if confinement lasts a day or two. After that we get antsy. Our goal becomes resumption of daily life. Not so for elderly people who must remain in bed.

Because of short-term memory loss, every seventh day or so Bea forgets her bedridden state. My mother will throw off her blanket or comforter in a desperate effort to rise, a plan foiled by the side rails on her hospital bed. The mixer Bea’s mind has become blends actual experience with dreams. She really thinks mobility to be an option.

“Help me get up,” Bea demands. “They need me in the next room.”

“You can’t get up,” I tell her gently. “You haven’t walked for five months.”

“Of course I have! I walked back and forth today.”

At 96 ½, it is hard to accept being bedridden, perhaps because implicit is the fact that the end of life is approaching. The caregiver needs to take into account the distress immobility can produce and stand ready to empathize.

I am so grateful that the team from Hospice & Palliative Care of Cape Cod is an available resource as I navigate the murky waters of my mother’s extreme old age. Should I have a question, I know a quick phone call will probably resolve it. Bea’s comfort is their main concern. When Lisa or Nurse Jane leaves, Bea is ensconced in the nest her bed has become, clean, and happy. As her caregiver, I feel empowered by the visit, flush with the moral support it provides. Thank you, Hospice & Palliative Care!


Blogger alasfrench said...

A friend of mine (Karyn) directed me to this blog in one of her posts. What a beautiful experience, and thank you for writing so frankly about it.
Bea is so lucky to have you and Sven.
You are all in my thoughts!

9:50 AM  

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