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Mom and the bathroom

January 3, 2011

Back in May, 2009, I flew to Syracuse and then drove Mom out to Kalamazoo, Michigan to visit one of my sisters. After leaving Michigan, we stopped near Toledo, Ohio to see my father’s relatives.

After several hours on the road, we arrived at my cousin Ken’s house. He and his wife, Sharon, have a beautiful home, and after admiring it, it’s time to visit their powder room. With her limited mobility, Mom can use an elevated toilet without any assistance, but she definitely needs help with a regular toilet. I went with her to help her sitting down and getting up again.

Let me set the scene for you: The bathroom is off a short hallway directly off the family room. It’s not in the main part of the downstairs, but not really secluded, either. It’s on the small side, as most powder rooms are. The toilet was along one wall, with the vanity next to it. The doorway is kind of in front of the vanity rather than the toilet. As you’re sitting on the toilet, there’s plenty of room between the toilet and the wall for the person using the toilet, but not much extra room. There are thick, plush throw rugs on the floor.

So I help Mom sit down, and wait outside until she calls out that she needs help getting up. To get her upright from a seated position, I can only use her right arm, since her left shoulder is too painful. We generally grasp right forearms, and then I keep solid while giving her a little bit of assistance by pulling. In other words, she needs help for the leverage, but it’s not a matter of pulling her up.

Now the fun begins. Unlike a stall bathroom, or a home bathroom where the doorway kind of opens up to the toilet, there’s not enough room for me to stand directly in front of her and help her. So I get to the side . .  only problem, it’s her left side. Since she’s getting up using her right side, my help isn’t much help at all; all that’s happening is that she’s twisting a little. I try to get her to swing her legs to the left to get better aligned, but the vanity is in the way. She tries to get up on her own, to no avail. I try again, this time actually pulling more, and we both start to slip on the throw rugs.

By this time, we’re both laughing hysterically, and trying to hush each other so these relatives who we don’t see very often won’t think we’re total loons. We take a break while I reassess the situation.

“We may need the jaws of life,” I tell her.

“Shut up and get me out of here,” she responds.

It’s time for Plan B. I pull up the throw rugs and set them aside. Then I reconnoiter the hallway outside, to make sure there’s no one around. There’s not. For all I know, they’re just around the corner listening intently and wondering what kind of people they’ve invited into their home. After all, we’ve been in the bathroom for quite a while, and snorting peals of laughter isn’t usually associated with going to the bathroom. I don’t see anyone, so I leave the door open while Mom worries that someone’s going to walk by and see her.

Now we’re ready. I move back so I’m part in the doorway with plenty of room to vigorously pull, plant my feet firmly, and commence pulling. Part way up, there’s a split second where it could go either way. We fight through it, and are victorious!

I put the bathroom back in order, we compose ourselves, and go join the family as though nothing untoward has happened.

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From → Mom stories

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