Ray's imminent independence
Ray has been doing some amazing things lately. Unfortunately they are usually inspired by anxiety or anger, but I’m finding that he is capable of a lot more than he lets on. I may have told you I found him in the bathroom, on the toilet, one day recently when I didn't come down right away? I asked him a few days later how he did it, and he showed me: He leaned on the handrail with his elbow to free up his one good hand and can open his pants by himself. He always wears jeans, even in the hospital which they try to forbid, so it's not that easy...not even for me! That button can be tricky, but he is very dexterous. Then the other day I went to pick up the van at the mechanics, which is only a few minutes away; I didn't want to pay the extra fare for the cab, so I left him inside waiting by the front door. He wasn't happy, since cars are his specialty, he really wanted to go with me. When I got back five minutes later, he had gone down the ramp in the garage and opened the big door and was sitting in the driveway waiting for my return. He also is still the only one that can get our new weedeater started. And he installed the new battery on the lawnmower, or at least told me everything to do, including finding the right tools. And on and on, so much like his old self.
Anyway the social worker was here the other day, and we were talking about the lack of an available aide for us. They know I’m thinking of dropping them when the state program ends in the next few months, due to the Affordable Care Act. As we’re talking, I’m telling her all the things I told you above. I also told her that I feel we're sort of borderline as far as Ray being alone. I told her about Debbie and Bruce, and how it’s working out for them. I left Ray for three hours when I went down to the BBQ on Labor Day, same thing with the ladies neighborhood functions when I am just a minute or two away, he has been just fine sitting with the TV for the afternoon. I know this is because he chose not to go, so he was in a good mood and maybe even proud of himself; not the same as getting left behind with an aide, like a child. Luckily he never lost his ability to use the phone, so I’m never 100% nervous about it. Neither of us are used to strangers in our house, it really stresses us out sometimes.
The social worker said the only things they worry about are the bathroom, plus getting out of the house in an emergency, and he seems to qualify on both points now, based on my recent experience. So she is going to set up an alarm button, it's free for us, so we can try it out, and also will send a PT and an OT to do an evaluation of how he's coming along. I assured her that Ray is strong like a bull and never falls over, except when I do something stupid. So who knows. At least I won’t have to worry about Adult Protective Services if I have their approval. My only issue is that Ray really doesn't want to be left alone, he's a big scaredy cat. However I’m hoping it is worth forcing the issue, and then maybe he will learn to be braver. He was always like that anyway, not comfortable in his own skin. We will see how this plays out, but to tell the truth I am really sick of strangers in my house at this point. I have a major piece of gold jewelry missing right now and it’s freaking us out. I never got around to getting a surveillance device, stupid.
And then, this: We went to the beach yesterday, it was such a glorious day. We had it all to ourselves, so I left Ray on the boardwalk while I went hunting for beach plums and rose hips, to make jam for Christmas gifts. He seemed mellow and happy to just sit in the sun and look at the water. Ten minutes later, I come back along the shoreline with a shopping bag full of fruit, very pleased with myself. I called to him to let him know I was coming but he kept facing the other way, the way I had left. As I got closer, I see an older woman peering into the distance too. And then I saw that Ray was sitting on the ground. Turns out the woman pulled up in her car and Ray tried some kind of maneuver and fell out of the wheelchair. I was more annoyed than worried, but the poor woman. She knew he had had a stroke and was very worried, she offered to help me get him back up but I showed her I had it under control. I acted like it was no big deal, so she wouldn’t get the wrong idea. But maybe this independence thing might be more in my mind than anything else at this point! I’d better leave it to the experts for now. We shall see.