My family has a term for urinating and bowel motions - we call it ‘pishy and kuki’ things.
I know it seems undignified and bad taste to talk about others’ toilet habits, especially ones' old mother's. But when you’re caring for someone who has dementia, this area becomes an integral part of daily life. I feel it’s important to bring to light and share some of the challenges I’ve experienced.
I’ve got the smell of kuki in my nostrils. I could feel it getting stronger as I walked down the corridor towards mum’s room. In those few seconds I warned myself to be ready for the mess awaiting me. My head shifted into gear and I felt prepared. I opened the door to stuffy dense air.
Mum’s little head poking out was all you could see under her doonas. I pulled them back and immediately saw that she had taken off all her layers of nappies. Just a few hours earlier she had also slipped off her nappies and had pished all her sheets. Thankfully this time mum was still dry.
I got her out of bed to the toilet. I washed her bottom and took off her soiled pants.
Using all my patience and trying to be as clear as possible I explained to her why she should not take her nappy off .. (it makes a lot of work for me, I have to change all the bedding and all your clothes again, and I am tired’ ...).
I dressed her in fresh pyjamas and tucked her into bed.
I decided to try and explain the nappy thing to her once more:
‘Mum, do you know why I was upset ?
She could almost remember - something to do with nappies.
I felt I had consciously scolded her enough for one night. Most likely it won’t help anyway.
I feel sorry for her - so little and helpless. I also feel a little sorry for myself - it’s midnight, it’s been a hard week and I’m very tired.