I feel as if I have failed Miss Cathy.
This thought comes to me as she and I sit next to one another in her therapist’s office. In these closed quarters there is the distinct odor of… how shall I put this…body odor.
But, is it body or booty? I can’t be sure which but what I do know is that it ain’t me and there ain’t nobody else waiting to get their head shrunk so it’s gotta be Miss Cathy.
With all that she’s going through it’s definitely not her fault. It stands to reason that if she’s trying to put her tops on as bottoms that she might not be as attentive to her bottom bottom during her ‘toilette’.
If anything I was remiss in not considering the possibility that even very personal routines might be affected by her recent confusion.
I guess I’m still a work in ‘caregiving’ progress because I (thought) I was ‘allowing’ for her independence and personal space by not policing her personal hygiene but I should have smelled this coming once things started to go south mentally.
I really shouldn’t beat myself up (it’s not like that’s gonna freshen up the air around us) the thing to do now is to focus on making sure that this never happens again.
So, after we leave here I will need to have a conversation with her about hygiene in the car on the ride home.
Since I’ve been her caregiver there is little I haven’t done already (including bathing, clothing and feeding her) during those times when things were really bad but those times are few and far in between and there seen to be different levels of boundaries and intimacy depending on how sick or well your loved one is at any given time.
Hygiene is a difficult subject to broach with someone, no matter how close you are or how boundary-‘less’ you seem, there comes a time when the conversation turns to cleaning.
We decided to add ‘moist-towelettes’ to her routine and to always have a small bottle of mouthwash and spray perfume in her purse so she can freshen up.
It seems to me that this is yet another ‘marker’ on the great ‘slide’ downward.
Just when you think its ‘one’ thing, another ‘thing’ pops up to remind you that your loved one is slipping away.
Things may be difficult and we’re juggling a host of issues from cognitive, visual and emotional, but she’s still Miss Cathy, a woman of great dignity and it’s my job to make sure that dignity stays intact, even when she’s not aware of it’s absence.
Be that as it may, if she is slipping from now on she’ll fall into therapy smelling baby fresh with just a hint of her favorite ‘Oscar De La Renta’ perfume.
Update: This post was written on April 14th during a challenging time that has since improved, yet another example of the ‘up and down’ nature of this disease.
I’m happy to report that (for now) Miss Cathy’s does not need as much supervision or so close a scrutiny as to have to pass the ‘smell test’.