Saturday, July 23, 2011

My day at Clara's

Today I'm at Clara's house. My new least favorite client. I read the notes from the other caregivers since I was last here last Saturday. It looks like she's been giving everyone quite a time.

I'm feeling good this morning. After I left Debra's yesterday morning at about 8 I went to Palmdale to pick up my son. We spent a little time in the house laughing with family and then headed down to Los Angeles. I haven't been in my new home since the 15th, my first night there. It felt great walking in with Uraeus. My roommate D, Lynette and Laura came by later. My three girls! We laughed and had a great time and they all loved up on Uraeus. They have all known him since he was very young. Lynette has known him since I was pregnant with him.

Uraeus loves comedy. We went into the backroom and watched old comedy videos and I enjoyed listening to him laugh. I remember my aunt/friend Val saying that she wanted to raise boys she could be friends with later. I feel that way. Uraeus is a person I could be friends with. He is someone I can laugh with, talk with. At his age I am giving instruction and discipline. And we still find plenty of time to laugh. We still talk. I like where he is growing.

I feel free this morning. We woke up early because I had to take him down to Long Beach and then be in Los Feliz by 7. We left L.A. at 5:30 but I still feel very awake. Very ready for the day. Things are good in my head. Things are good in my life. I would like more time to hang out with my son but the time we are spending is quality for sure. I get off tonight at 7 and we will spend another evening together and start over tomorrow when I'm scheduled to be back here at Clara's at 7.


Already I need to breathe. Clara is being...herself today. She is sitting at the breakfast table going through everything on the table accusing the caregivers of not giving her her medications and everything else she can possibly think of to complain about and accuse.

C: People today don't seem to want to read. Weren't they taught to read? Technology isn't good for anything today. What is this?

Me: It's the gift card for your groceries.

C: But it says I owe $32.98. I didn't know anything about owing Trader Joe's $32.98. How am I supposed to know I owe Trader Joe's $32.98?

Me: You don't owe them $32.98. That's a gift card. We use that card to get your groceries. $32.98 is how much money is left on the card.

C: Well how would I know that if I'm the one who has to go and get the groceries? Who am I supposed to make the check out to? I don't even know if that's the correct amount.

(And so on.)

C: I need to have a meeting about the suppositories and such that aren't being given. I have a new card here from DMV and it expires next month and it's not quite that yet.

I talk when I can but mostly I let her go on. I haven't been here in a week and she hasn't been out of bed in a few days. Mail is lightly stacked on the table and she is going through each item.

I gave her her morning medication. After she took her medication I went to the restroom.

C: Helloooo! Helloooooo!

Me: Just a minute, I'm in the restroom!

C: What!?! Whaaaaaat!?

Me: I'm in the restroom!

C: Well, bring the telephone in here when you come out!

Me: (sitting next to her) What do you need to call the doctor about?

C: Because I took the wrong medication and I need to let the doctor know.

Me: You didn't take the wrong medication. I gave it to you myself.

C: Well I feel it burning in my throat.

Me: Then here, drink some more water.

C: But it says here that this is supposed to be stool softener and I swallowed it and now my throat is burning.

Me: You're supposed to take the stool softener by mouth.

C: No you're not! Who would put stool softener in their mouth? Call the doctor! Call the doctor!

Me: See, look. It says right here.

C: So you think I need some more water?

Me: Yes.

She drank the water and we are on to the next topic of the day. She is reading the newspaper so there will be many topics.

C: Do you wanna buy a three bedroom condo with a pool in Pasadena for only $380,000?

Me: No, thank you. I have a place to live.

C: Well, I'm not reading it to you for you to buy. I'm just keeping myself informed about what's going on everywhere.

Now I'm thinking about how I'm going to remove the phone from the table so she won't get any other ideas about calling anyone else.

This is cool. I never write this much while I'm with her. It helps. There is other work to do and eight more hours on the shift to do it.

I'm watching the ABC kids time on television. The Emperor's New School is coming on now. I've never seen this before but it looks silly enough for me to keep it on. It is a change from the Law and Order I would be watching if I was with Debra.

I gotta get her away from the table because now she has the bottle of stool softener in her hands again. I anticipate her next move will be to either open the bottle or look for the doctor's number again. But then, she looks deep in the paper still.

Ok Jaha, get up. This blog entry is going to get boring fast (if not already) if I keep sitting here with my notebook and pen in my hand.

Yawn. That's me. Really yawning. Already my head is dreaming about next Friday being off and going school shopping with Uraeus and to the movies. And maybe skating. We haven't been skating in a while.

This cartoon might be too silly for me.

Seriously Jaha, get up.


Haaaaa. She's so funny. So when she's irritated she asks me to call her friend Mary so she can talk to her. Mary has a caregiver too and when they are on the phone together they talk bad about their caregivers. Interesting because neither of them would be able to talk to each other if the caregivers didn't make the call.

C: Helloooooo!

Me: Yes?

C: Where are my cushions that go to the sofa?

Me: These right here?

C: Well those are cushions aren't they? They cost over a thousand dollars.

Me: K.

It's almost time for lunch. I don't know what that will be yet though.

It's interesting you know (I've got to find a better word than interesting) how the people in charge of our most intimate care get treated so disrespectfully. I'm not just speaking of Clara here, but of her and all of my clients and everyone who needs someone else to wipe and clean and care for them. These are the people many of them choose to speak to as if they (we) are nothing.

Take Clara for instance, she speaks so badly about Mexicans. "What do they know about cleanliness? Why would I ever eat anything they cook?" Her verbal attacks on Mexicans are super harsh. Yet who does she think most of her caregivers are? Mexicans. I wouldn't be surprised if when I leave she talks about black people worse.

I was talking to a coworker recently and she told me about

C: Do I have a diaper on?!

Me: Yes you do.

C: Well I'm doing it now. Wee wee.

Me: Ok.

She was telling me about one of her clients. He's one hundred years old and white. She (my coworker) is a a Mexican and full sized woman. That sounds crazy. Like there are half sized women. Anyway the woman she works in the house with is a black woman. He, according to him, can never remember her name so he calls her Herculeus. Wow. One day he called for her and said, "Hey Herculeus, where is my coon?" Yes he did.


I just came from the laundryroom downstairs and immediately cleaned Clara, washed all the feces off of her buttocks and put a new pair of "briefs" on her.

She is sleeping now and looks so peaceful. I wonder what she dreams about. Is she back in Paris, her mother's hometown? Is she in San Francisco, where she grew up? Is she dancing with her son who passed away at only twenty-seven? Fought in the Vietnam War. Lost to agent orange. She talks in her sleep. Words I can't make out. I don't try. Words said in someone's sleep belong to them. Even if you are there. The are not your words. I may not like Clara sometimes, but I am decent enough to not hear her sleep words.

Hey Therman, this is for you because perhaps you are the only one who ever reads my blog. Remember when we were in the house in Georgia and I worked at the hospice? Remember the nurse I used to tell you about everyday? The mean one. The one who used to be so rough with the old woman with all the bed sores. I thought about her today. Silently I said a prayer for her. As if any prayer is ever silent. But I said a prayer for her and patients in her care. The staff in her charge. The people who share working space with her. I don't know why, but I did. I wished peace and ease for her.

I was there. I know how it is to be around

C: Are you making a grocery list?

Me: No, I'm not. Would you like me to?

C: Yes, put pasta sauce on there.

Me: Ok.

I know how it is to be around that much death, sickness and pain. As caregivers, we take that in. Too often we wear it and carry it with us where we go. I have God. I have you. I have friends, my son, my family, merlot. I have art and poetry, photography, laughter and Red Stories.

I prayed today that she has someone, something that feeds her. That gives to her.

Just four hours left.

C: Is that a grocery list you're writing?

Me: No, it's not. Would you like to write a grocery list?

C: No. I was gonna say tell them to get graham crackers.

Me: Those are graham crackers you're eating.

C: No it's not. I know a graham cracker when I taste one and those are not graham crackers. They are something else. Did they change the recipie? Are you sure those are graham crackers?

Me: That's what the package says.

C: The package says that? I am an old old person and any old person knows what graham crackers taste like. They must have closed the original company and started a new one. You say those are graham crackers?

Me: Yes.

C: Those are like a mix between a regular cracker and a graham cracker. Certainly not a full complete cracker. Where is my mail?

Me: I gave you your mail. There it is.

C: All this mail?

Less than four hours to go and I'll be leaving Los Feliz and going to Long Beach to see my favorite person in the world. Uraeus.

When he was a little boy I used to say that to him every night.

C: Did you read this about bananas?

Me: No.

C: It says that bananas are rich in potasium. A banana will keep your heart healthy and strong and they will sinch the amount of salt in your body. So if you've had too much salt then eat bananas. It can alter the course of aging by eating bananas. They keep your mind healthy and your body slim and vigorous. Did you hear that?

Me: Yes I did, thank you.

C: Well I've always known that.

I used to put Uraeus to bed and say "Who is my favorite person in the world?" And he would say "Me."

C: A banana a day will reduce sodium. I've always known that bananas are the healthiest vegetables.

Me: (thinking) I thought bananas were fruit.

Now Uraeus is taller than I am with his deep voice and big hands and long feet. Hairy legs and fuzz on his lip. And still my favorite person.

Uraeus was taking some things out of my trunk last night and my new landlord came out and gave him my mailbox key. He came upstairs and said, "You know, he looks partially like Uncle Therman and partially like Uncle Herman." I didn't notice before, but he does. My observant son.

So, I did a lot of writing today. And a lot of work and the day was easy. I need a massage. I'm lifting Clara too much for my back. It's a strain on my back every time I change her and especially when I lift her from her bed to her chair. Then from her chair to the couch.

C: Helloooo!

Me: Yes?

C: Can I do a bm in this diaper?

Me: Yes you can.

C: Hellooooo!

Me: Yes?

C: Are you interested in hearing something?

Me: Sure.

C: (clears her throat) It says that a banana a day can reduce sodium and cholesterol. It is one of the healthiest things you can eat you know. It's very good for you. Just one banana a day can do that much.

In about ten minutes I'll go downstairs and get the laundry from the dryers.

Dear Clara's family,

It's not that I don't enjoy watching and listening to infomercials all day. Hey, I like to stay up on the new juicers as much as the next woman, buuuuut, maybe think about gettng basic cable for your aunt. I think she would be much happier being able to watch, I dunno saaaaay, Law and Order around this time. Think about it.

Thanks. Have a nice day.


Gotta go get the laundry.

C: Hellooooo!

Me: Yes?

C: I have to have a bm! Can I go in my diaper?

Me: Yes.

C: Are you sure?

Me: I'm sure. You can go. Let me know when you are finished.

C: Hurry! I don't want to soil my pants. I'm going now! I'm going now!

Me: It's ok. It won't leak onto your pants and I'll clean you when you finish.

C: Well you have more experience then I do I guess. I don't think I'm going to have a bm, just wee wee. I can't seem to have a bm today. I don't think I'm getting all my medication. I didn't even get any today!

Me: Yes you did. I gave it to you.

C: Did I take it?

Me: Yes.

C: Ok.

I cleaned her feces, changed her diaper and dressed her.

C: I just don't seem to be able to have a bm. I don't know what's wrong.

Me: You just had a bm. For the third time today.

C: Well you say that but I don't know how much.

Me: Two small ones and one big one.

C: Oh yeah. Well, that's good.

Ok, Judge Joe Brown is on and there is a black defendant being sued by his white ex girlfriend/children's mother. The defendant is wearing a bunch of jewelry and telling the judge his reasons why he hasn't been able to pay back the plantiff.

I'm waiting for Clara to say something about him. I know it's coming.

Surprisingly, no comment.

It's 4:12pm. Let me fold the rest of the laundry.

Ok, I need to change the channel. On this case the plantiff and defendant are both white so she probably won't make any comment but still there is way too much drama going on.

Quiet time. Folding clothes. Judge Joe Brown.

C: (groaning)

Me: What's wrong?

C: Well what do you think is wrong? Everything is wrong. I'm trying to have a bowel movement and I'm hurting.

Me: What's hurting?

C: Well, the concern over not having had a bowel movement all this time. Get my doctor on the phone! I want some results around here. Do you think it's all in my head or something? A person is laying here trying to have a bowel movement and it's just very serious.

Me: Ok.

C: And I keep on asking and asking and asking! Will someone get me a wet cloth so I can wipe my face and put some makeup on?! Hellooooooo! Is anyone there!

(Now watching George Lopez)

C: I don't wanna watch something as silly as this. I'm sure you're not watching.

Me: What about this?

C: Well of course. That's I Love Lucy. That's a very good program. She died didn't she?

Me: Yes.

C: What about Zsa Zsa?

Me: Ummm?

C: Did she get her legs cut off?

Me: I don't know.

C: I never heard anything else about it. I think she got her legs cut off but she is so vain and rich that she called the people at the paper and demanded that they not tell anyone. I think that's what happened.

Me: I think so too.

C: Well sure. You know a woman like that doesn't want people to know.

Me: Oh sure.

C: Hellooooooo! Are you there?

Me: Yes.

C: Well would you put my eyebrows on and make them even?

Me: Sure.

C: Well I can just feel that that one is too low. You have to follow the bone structure you know. They have to be even you know. And not too heavy you know. I don't need dark eyebrows on with my complexion.

Me: How's that?

C: (Looks in mirror) Well it's too low. They don't match. Well just give it here.

Me: You need a new eyebrow pencil.

C: Just do it lightly. I don't need dark eyebrows. See, now I need a new eyebrow pencil. That's because you don't fix it after you use it you know.

Me: Of course.

C: (Putting on foundation, lipstick and mascara) Ummm, hellooooo! Do you have an extra eyebrow pencil?

I Love Lucy is over

C: They don't have any good programs like that anymore. Can you open this one up? (Her blush)

Me: Sure.

C: So you only have one eyebrow pencil, huh?

Me: Yes.

C: Oh, I have a lot of them at home. (She is home.)

I Love Lucy is on again.

C: They don't make good programs like that anymore you know.

The clothes are folded.

C: So what will you have for supper?

Me: Well, I'm going to go home for supper, but someone will be here soon.

C: Oh you live somewhere?

Me: Yes.

C: Oh that's good. Well it was sure nice of you to come over.

Me: Oh no problem.

C: Well I wasn't discussing if it was a problem or not. I was just saying it was sure nice.

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