A Near-Real-Time Granddad Experience

[A disclaimer that should have been included in the previous posts on my grandfather as well: I love him. These are just the daily frustrations and comical happenings we experience together. Sure, some of this sounds harsh, but it’s mostly meant to just show loving, but truthful, aspects of helping one’s grandfather overcome his own resistance to getting well. Everything I do is out of love, including chronicling these tales for future reference. Seriously, this stuff is funny.]

My mom calls around eight to tell me my grandfather wants to cancel his physical and occupational therapy visits for the day. His bowels are acting up, according to him. Somewhere between diarrhea and constipation (which I think is called “normal” for the rest of us). He also has an eye appointment with the dumbass who nearly killed him during the initial retina surgery.

When Misty (who is legitimately feeling ill but who will still work from home in the afternoon) and I arrive at my parents’ house, my grandfather is in the bathroom — his walker in the hallway, a 15-foot oxygen cord trailing through the bathroom from the walker basket that holds the tank and to his nostrils on the raised toilet seat. He flushes. Misty looks at me with surprise from the coffeemaker where she’s brewing our morning cups. “He flushed,” she says. It’s something he’s recently started doing. Before, brown or yellow, he’d let it mellow.

He asked me to cancel all the appointments except the eye appointment. The man’s bowels are so mercurial he can’t walk around the house for exercise but they’re just fine being bumped around on the drive to the clinic and wheeled around by me in his wheelchair. We’ll come back to this later.

He’s adamant that we cancel the PT and OT appointments. I tell him he hasn’t exercised all week. He wants to get his bowels squared away, he says. I tell him he’s making excuses. He gets close to telling me he wishes I were in his place, but instead says it’s hard. I tell him I know it’s hard. It’s like running two miles to me. The doorbell goes off and Misty answers it. The OT walks in.

My grandfather doesn’t cancel OT when he arrives, like he claimed he would. In fact, Granddad did quite well for light upper-body exercises in bed. I inform him that I’m going to cancel the eye appointment since he’s not feeling well. Oh, he doesn’t like that. His bowels will be fine by two, he claims. Obviously, I am dealing with a man who truly knows his body. I note that — given the laughter coming from the OT — it really sounds like he’s making an excuse to get out of PT.

When OT leaves, though, he’s still on canceling PT. He tells me he wants to go to the eye appointment, though, to get a last look by this moronic doctor (also, everything is going VA now instead of through this doc because I don’t trust him — moneygrubber). Again with the bowel stuff. I’m not having it this time, though.

I explained to him that since he doesn’t feel good now, he probably won’t feel well in a few hours. So we must cancel both appointments. We then debated whether it was ten hours, two hours or four hours (as I claimed) until the eye doc appointment. Another line of attack: The truth.

“You don’t mind going to the appointment because that’s just work I have to do. I drive you there and push you around in your wheelchair. But you won’t walk around the house,” I tell him.
“You get paid for that, don’t you?” he demands.
I lean in and get a bit louder, “I get paid to make you healthy.”
“And I want to be healthy, that’s why I want to go to the eye appointment.”
“I want you to be healthy, too, and that means getting exercise. But if you can’t walk around the house a little, I have to assume that in a few hours you won’t feel well enough to go to the doctor.”
He then started with a chorus of “Just forget its.” I agreed with him to forget it and left the room.

Misty is amazed by the fight. A mixture of delight and fright on her face when I return. I can’t help but laugh. I don’t take these fights too seriously any more. They’re sometimes the only motivational tools that work. He just learns that I can be even more hard-headed than he and gives in. He loses.

By this time, I’ve already texted the PT, Kevin, twice letting him know my grandfather is malingering just like on Tuesday (and with the same excuse), but he’s doing upper-body exercises with OT. Now, a third: He can always just pretend to not receive my messages. Kevin replies, “I’ll be there at 10:45.”

I pull out my computer and begin writing this post.

A little while later, I go back into his room and tell him Kevin hasn’t replied to me yet but I’ve tried canceling twice. He says he’ll just do what he can if Kevin comes (I win!).

Then:

“Oh, I also want to stop by a dollar store while we’re out to pick up a new charger for my phone.” He sets in to complaining about how his phone chargers have walked off on their own and there’s no way they’re gone and only three people have access to them and all three of those people looked last night for them and, boy, is he upset by this. No wonder his bowels are out of whack. As I leave the room he jokingly calls me an asshole and I give him a half-way middle finger.

As it stands now, he completed all his exercises with Kevin. His bowels didn’t explode. We will go to the eye appointment. I agreed to “play it by bowels or ass,” he preferred the latter. (A note: I learned that had he canceled this appointment with PT, they would have stopped coming altogether.)

Or, maybe, just maybe, he was making an excuse to get out of exercising but is really interested in getting a phone charger.

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