Sunday, November 11, 2012

Moody: Setting the Tone

LimoncelloBefore we got into our weekly routine and invited Bill along and were blessed with the awesome aide, Nigel, we didn't know how things would go. Sometimes aides would disappear. Sometimes they wouldn't be strong enough to move him around in his wheelchair if he felt he was slipping. Sometimes things just weren't going the way that Moody wanted them to go.

Back in the days before the accident he was a...let's call him a difficult task master. He liked things done a particular way and, while he was always willing to delegate, he was also willing to stand over you and micro-manage the way you carried things out. Going from a life like that where you were able to get things done your way all the time, where you were known for doing that, to a life where you can't even clean your own glasses or push them up on your nose must have been...I don't think devastating is too strong a term.

On probably the second movie date we wound up in the lobby after the movie sans aide. Keeping his catheter clear and urine moving through his system was a full time job and something that was always on Michael's mind. In the end the failure of that process was part of what killed him, too. Before and after every movie he and his aide would go to the rest room and empty his bag. I didn't know that on this second meeting, though. Moody got antsy and asked me to come with him and help.

Wildly uncomfortable I submitted to the instruction process and performed the necessary work. We went into the handicapped stall in the men's room. I got out a urine jug from the bag on the back of his chair and some gloves. By lifting up the cuff of his pant leg just a little I could get to the valve on the catheter tubing. You put the tube in the jug, turn the valved and the bag empties into the jug then you can dump the contents in the toilet, rinse the jug and be done. It was the sort of thing that I really didn't want to do but, like dancing for your grandma, you do out of love. Saying no just didn't seem like the way to go.

I'd never spent significant time with someone who had physical disabilities before. I didn't have any training in setting boundaries, making choices, having the conversations you need to have. On the one hand this should have been a conversation with his aide but on the other hand it's one that Moody should have had with his aide. He may have been testing me. Friends suggested that, in his previous life, he was used to people, me in particular, working for him. In his new life most of his aides were women so it might have followed that it was acceptable to ask a woman friend to help out, even in a non-emergency situation.

He never asked me again. I don't know if he talked to someone else about it or if he just took the temperature of the interaction and decided it wasn't ok. I actually considered not going out with him again and may have canceled the next date while I mulled over what to do. Maybe I should have refused and maybe I should have done it then said I wasn't comfortable doing it again. It all worked out, though.

Part of me still feels uncomfortable remembering the bodily fluid transaction. Part of me, though, is the tiniest bit grateful to have learned a little bit about how his new life worked.

1 comment:

  1. We take care of each other. It's what we do.
    I love you.