(I got voted off Survivor Island. sniff)
December 11, 2000
What constitutes death? My aunt is dying. Oh her body is doing just fine
at the moment, but her Alzheimers is progressing and we are watching this marvelous,
bright, witty, intelligent person fade away. Its so terribly sad. She has good days
and bad days, but her normal days are long past.
My uncle called today to ask about a news story
hed seen last night. A new MRI study is underway, under the auspices of the
Department of Psychiatry at UC Berkeley. They want to test Alzheimers patients and my
uncle thought this might be a good thing for them to investigate. Unfortunately, my aunt
has been having regular seizures as part of the horror of this terrible illness, and that
automatically eliminates her from participating in the study. So we just sit back and
watch her continual decline. Its so very sad.
My aunt was a writer. Not a professional one, but she
kept the family entertained for years with her observations on life, especially her own
life. I love her writings and always aspired to put things to paper with the same wit that
she had. Sometimes I do, but never with her consistency. I looked for something short I
could put in my journal that would remind all of us who know her and those who are hearing
about her for the first time, of what a talent she had. The best ones are too long, but I
found the following which is part of a very long story about her hospitalization many
years ago. Enjoy:
It Shouldnt Happen to a Dog
(c) Barbara ODonnell
Hospitals are demoralizing dens. I lost all sense of
shame and modesty after those monsters had me in their clutches for a time. Take the lowly
enema. At best, its the work of the devil. The enema of my childhood was a white
enameled can, with a red hose and a black nozzle attached. This hung on a hook on the
bathroom door and served as a deterrent to anything that I might consider getting into. I
was subject to this in case of warts or bad behavior, or anything else that might come my
way. Castor oil was always applied at one end and an enema at the other. How could I go
wrong with a hookup such as this!
We have progressed!
First frozen food, then disposable diapers and now a
canned enema. These precious things come in cans such as shaving cream and bug spray.
Ive had a pet hate for this sort of packaging since the time I sprayed my arm pits
with toothpaste, thinking I had the shaving cream. I never knew whether I would end up
shaving my teeth or brushing my armpits. The only thing that these canned enemas have that
resembles the old fashioned type is the nozzle. Below this, is a little button, which is
pushed after the nozzle has been inserted. Once pushed there is no turning back. Its
all or nothing!
Since I was paying a premium for my supplies, I suppose
they wanted me to get my moneys worth. What the contents of the cans consisted of, I
wouldnt venture to guess, but the sensation I got was that they had procured a tire
pump, shoved the hose up my rear end and gave forty or fifth healthy pumps on it.
My lower bowels have always been in perfect condition.
My upper bowels have never given me a bit of trouble either. They both need very little
coaxing to do their respective jobs. This I attribute to the castor oil and enemas of my
youth. As a matter of fact, a suppository is all I would ever need. As a matter of fact, I
told the nurses so, but as usual they knew more than God did, so under protest I was
awarded the order of the canned enema.
These saintly sisters were nice about it; they did
allow me to lie on the bed while they did their dirty work. After much sucking in of
breath and blowing out of every nasty word I could remember, I managed to take into my
upper and lower quarters all that the damn can had to offer. When it quit blowing and
sputtering, they removed it and told me I could trot to the john and sit for awhile.
Knowing my physical reaction to such things as enemas a
little better than they, I knew that these ghouls were living in a fools paradise.
The bathroom door was twenty feet from my bed and I suspected that the minute I stepped
foot on the floor, my backside would explode. I suggested that perhaps it would be better
all the way around if they brought me a bedpan. This, they said, was out of the question.
I was mobile and anyone who is mobile could not have a bedpan. Mobile, I
learned, meant that I had both legs--whether I could have moved them or not made no
difference. They were there and, by God, I had to use them.
By this time, I hated them all so thoroughly that I
didnt much care what happened. I got out of bed and started for the john and it was
then that my latent talents came to the rear. I never before realized that I could
interior decorate--but there it was.
By the time I had reached the bathroom door, I had
sprayed the most beautiful wainscot along one wall and, to my eternal delight, had painted
the nurse in the process.
* * *
So sad to see a mind like that fade away. We love ya,