Monthly Archives: June 2014

Driving….your friends crazy

You know how you always think you’re smarter than every one else? Especially if you’re a caregiver. Mostly because you are reminded on a daily basis that you are at least thinking harder than most everyone you come in contact with.

A smart person with a person who thinks she's smart
A smart person with a person who thinks she’s smart

And yet, there are those days, where  you are reminded that even you, Superhuman Caregiver can be the dope.

When my friend was felled with a traumatic brain injury, her friends rallied around to make sure she went to all necessary doctor appointments. One does not traumatize the brain without adding things like, broken bones, sprains, strains, cuts, bruises and vision problems in with the mix. Driving yourself is out.

I really hate driving in the city. It used to scare me.  Admittedly, once you’ve driven into and out of the big city a million times, you hate it for different reasons. But a traumatic brain injury and it’s accompaniments require big city, good hospitals.

I volunteered to be the driver, so long as another friend would go along for navigation, walking to the door, or whatever else would be required.

The first time we went, the directions led us to a parking lot a thousand miles away from the building we needed. The second time we went, we found the super secret parking lot right at the back door. The third time we went we couldn’t remember how to get to the super secret parking lot. The fourth time, well this is what happened.

We pre-planned so that we could once again find the super secret parking lot. When we got to the highway exit for the hospital, it was closed. We took the next exit and ended up about 52 blocks away from our destination. Undaunted, I drove down those numbered streets until we reached the magic number….34th Street. Whereupon we came upon a busted water main break flooding the entire block north, south, east and west.

Appointment time was getting ever closer, as we sat in snarled traffic wondering what to do, I concocted a brilliant idea.

“Get out!” I said to my injured friend and my trusty sidekick helper.

They just looked at me, like I was Noah kicking them out of the boat.

“No, seriously, get out and start walking. It’s only four blocks. I’ll park anywhere I can and find you, and then I’ll go get the car when we are done at the doctor.”

They hop out into six inches of fast flowing water and jump over as much of it as they can. Tonto, the sidekick holding on to the patient hoping against hope that she doesn’t fall over and drown both of them.

I sat there for another five minutes, traffic finally starts to break and I drive around in circles. Miraculously and quite by accident I ended up at the super secret parking lot.

When Tonto and the patient enter the lobby, drenched from the knees down, there I was comfortably and dryly, waiting for them.

Hard to believe they asked me to drive again.

“You just have to Laugh……”

Cathy Sikorski

What do Depends and Dr. Pepper have in common?

I just read an article that says there’s  a ‘new trend’ that men are becoming caregivers. Hmmmm. I picture this:

Me: Honey, I need you to go get Depends.

My man: Okay. Where? What aisle? What size?

Me: Go to WalMart. They are in the aisle where there are feminine hygiene products. The package is green. Get Men’s Large.

My man: Okay. Which Walmart? Where is that aisle? How many packages do you want?

Me: Go to the Walmart in our town. Go behind the aspirin aisle. Get two packages.

My man: Okay. When do you need them? How much do they cost?

Me: Never mind.

See.. here’s the thing, My  man has done absolutely nothing wrong. He wants all the right information. He wants to do it correctly and I want him to read my mind, clearly and accurately and I don’t want to explain anything.

I’m sure many a caregiver would gladly give up her caregiving duties to a member of the opposite sex…but it’s like diaper changing ………you’re just not doing it right……………..and that’s where you get in trouble.

Don’t scare your male helper away. Trust him. You did marry him, or raise him, or punched him when he was your big brother tickling you. It’s like Dr. Pepper:  I can do it, you can do it, he can do it, we can do it, wouldn’t you like to be a caregiver too?

P.S. This is not to say the those brave men who are caregivers already, don’t know what they’re doing….they are apparently just more ‘trendy’ than women caregivers.

You just have to Laugh………..

Cathy Sikorski





It’s not the size of the Ship……

A ‘side effect’ of Multiple Sclerosis can be a myriad of urinary tract infections. If left unfound for even a day or two, these infections can turn ugly very quickly. In the old and infirm any nurse (do not translate doctor, only nurse) can tell you that a UTI can make the patient seem crazy, terroristic, and downright demented. Once the infection is under control, your loved one returns as if they were on an amnesiac’s vacation.

Caregivers who experience this more than once are always prepared and at the first hint of trouble, we get a urine sample, a doctor’s appointment, an antibiotic, or whatever it takes to stave off the impending doom.

And………………you make sure, as a caregiver, that no one steps on your toes, whilst trying to prevent a UTI.

After spending three consecutive Friday nights in the ER due to UTI infection, even my brother-in-law doesn’t allow any shenanigans when it comes to prevention. The one thing that can cause a UTI faster than you can say ‘UTI’ is a Foley catheter. This is an internal catheter, not to be confused with a Texas catheter which is the big ol’ nice name for a condom catheter.  Oh, those Texans, anything big and manly belongs to them.

One fine Wednesday night, my brother-in-law spikes a blood sugar that Willy Wonka would be proud of and must high tail it back to the hospital. This spike, sure enough, signifies an infection. His white count is higher than Mount Everest and his behavior is actually still normal. Yay….we caught it in time.

Hooked up to IV antibiotics, treated for a few other annoying maladies, and complaining about hospital food tells me that recovery is just around the corner, with one tiny (or he would have you believe extra-large) exception. They don’t have his size catheter in the hospital. Really. They don’t have his size catheter in the hospital. Because every single man in the entire tri-county area is one size fits all. And girls, you thought size mattered.

I make a hasty trip to my brother-in-law’s apartment to snatch from his personal Texas catheter supply. As we entered his hospital room, my husband said to my brother-in-law:

“No worries, man, we have brought the ‘hombre grande’ catheters you ordered.”

And even though I can believe almost anything any more, three days later, I had a suspicion and grabbed a fresh supply of catheters to take to him. I eavesdrop through his hospital door as they are changing his sheets.

“You aren’t using my catheters,” said my brother-in-law, “these don’t fit.”

“Yes we are,” said the aide,” I think the nurse is getting a Foley catheter, so we don’t have to change the sheets so much.”

“No, no, no.” I heard him say. “I have UTI’s and a Foley is not for me.”

I burst through the door, like Cathwoman :

“I bring the correct catheters!” Sort of Shakesperean and Marvel comics at the same time. “There will be no Foleys, these are the ones that fit.”

As she leaves the room, with a weird expression on her face, I checked the supply of his private catheters in his room. Nope, they have replaced them all with the wrong size.

You have to be on guard….and…………..

“You just have to Laugh……………..”

Cathy Sikorski


The wheels on the bus go round and round….

Wheelchairs break.  ( See:  When Wine and Wheelchairs do Mix)  To fix them, you call a wheelchair repair guy. The first time I did this, it was because the joy stick was not working properly.

“Hi, this is the repairman. I’m at the apartment.”

“Yes,” I said, ” I’m so glad you’re there.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not allowed to work in the chair if the guy is in it.”

“But it’s only the joystick,” I said. “He can’t do anything if his chair doesn’t work, and unless you are going to lift him into his bed, you can’t fix it.”

“I’ll have to come back when he ‘s not in the chair.”

“Okay, when will that be? Can you tell me and I will make sure he is in his bed at that time.”

“No,” he said, “you have to call and make an appointment.”

Round One: Wheelchair repair guy.

The next time it was broken, I made sure that my brother-in-law wasn’t in the chair when they were coming.

“Okay,” the new wheelchair repair guy said, “we can fix it, but we have to take it with us.”

“I sincerely hope you brought another chair with you,” I said, “because you can’t strand him in bed until you get the parts you need. ”

“Ummm, yeah ok, we got a chair in the van.”

I rush over to his apartment, there sits a 1957 circa barely electric wheelchair for a person of very small stature. He looks like he’s practicing to be a contortionist.

Round Two: Wheelchair repair guy.

Last week the wheels became so stripped from bumping into the footrest that I called them to replace the wheels.

I made sure my brother-in-law was not in the chair. He was safely tucked in his bed watching TV. I made sure they knew exactly what was wrong with the chair so they could bring the requisite parts. I made sure they had my cell number to call in case of any problems. And I emphasized that he needs this chair. Period.

Okay, I admit, at the time of the wheelchair repair appointment, I was at my book club discussing The Burgess Boys and how messed up the world is. I see a call come through on my cell, but it didn’t ring and it’s the wheelchair repair guy.

“Hello, is everything ok?”

“No, ma’am. I have been knocking and knocking on the door but no one answers.”

It was so very hard for me to remain calm.

“Well, sir. I can understand that. You see, it’s your company policy not to allow the customer to be in the wheelchair when you are there. So in order for that to happen, he is confined to his bed and cannot get up and answer the door. A Catch-22 wouldn’t you say?”

No answer.

“Why don’t you just knock, and then go in? Okay?” I tell him.

“Well, I guess this one time. We’re not supposed to go in, if no one answers the door.”

This is a wheelchair repair guy.

Round three: Wheelchair repair guy.

Yup, I just can’t win.

“You just have to Laugh…..”

Cathy Sikorski