Enema: The Awkward Conversation Topic To Have With Mom
Posted on April 27, 2015
There are just some conversations I never expected to have with my parents, especially my mother. I can now technically say anything I want to my father and he’ll forget about it in less than a minute, but that takes the fun out of it, doesn’t it? And I say a lot to you folks, too. Sometimes it makes some of you uncomfortable, especially when I discuss what’s going on with my father and what he’s experiencing with the Alzheimer’s. I won’t apologize for that, though. I’m not trying to demean my father, I’m not speaking ill of him, but I am talking about what the disease is doing to him because he’s not alone. So, you’re invited to continue that journey with me through these posts or you can wait and see what I write in the next one if it’s non-Alzheimer’s-related.
I mentioned previously that Dad fell two weeks ago and fractured a bone in his hip. The recovery has been slow and agonizing in the fact he can’t remember from one minute to the next that he’s hurt. He therefore frequently tries to stand up—he can’t be left alone because of this—insists he can walk and do everything he used to do, then cringes when he feels the pain when we do help him stand up. The doctor in the ER last weekend put him on a painkiller, so he’s had a week of it in his system. There’s been a side-effect.
The phone rang this past Saturday night at 11 and my mother was in a very unhappy state. Dad had been constipated a couple of days and when he was trying to use the bathroom that evening, there was some blood. I got dressed and headed right over to the house. We got Dad in the vehicle and off we went to the ER again. They took an x-ray and, yes, saw the man was blocked up. Suffice to say they gave Dad an enema to help, which it did…a little, and that was okay. It was about half an hour later when the doctor examined him that it got uncomfortable. I stepped out to give Dad a little privacy while the doctor and two nurses—for lack of a more subtle way of putting this—unplugged him. That was NOT a happy experience for Dad. Or Mom for that matter. Fortunately, Dad forgot about it a couple minutes later.
Now, I step back into the room once the procedure was complete and while the nurses are helping Dad get his shirt back on, the doctor tells my mother he’s giving her a prescription for an enema kit so that she can give my father an enema at home should the need arise.
“I can’t give him an enema,” Mom says. “There’s nowhere to lay him down flat for that.”
“You don’t have to be laying down flat to have an enema,” I announce matter-of-factly.
“How do you know that?” Mom asks.
Um…awkward. So I look over at the doctor.
“Would you care to explain it to her?”
“No.” The doctor shakes his head. “Go ahead.”
Even more awkward.
“You can be standing or squatting, but there are ideal positions, obviously.” That’s as far as I’m willing to go.
“Okay,” Mom stares at me, “but how do you know this?”
“Now would you care to explain it to her?” I ask the doctor again.
“No.” He shakes his head. “You’re doing fine.”
“There have been times when I’ve needed to…” I refuse to blush at this point “…perform this particular procedure on myself in order to achieve a certain cleanliness.”
That should do the trick, right? I mean, that’s about as subtle as I get and the doctor is absolutely no frickin’ help. She has to have figured it out now unless she was trying to embarrass me, but since it’s now 2:30 in the morning, I can’t imagine that’s the case. So she and I are on the same page.
“When my husband is home,” I reply, tightlipped and hating the fact I ever opened my big damn mouth.
“Oh.” Mom shrugs, then thinks about it for a moment. “OH!”
Yes, thank you. Oh. Thank you so very much. I look over at the doctor.
“Unless you’d like to explain that one to her.”
“I think she figured it out,” he announces.
I look around at the two nurses in the room.
“I think everyone figured it out.”
Of course, I now can’t wait until my husband joins us for a weekend just to see if my mother looks at him with some new kind of recognition on her face. Yes, I believe the awkwardness should be a shared experience.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.