Blog 34: Incontinence

Although I found the help that I received from both Blue Care and OzCare to be invaluable, there were still twenty-two hours in each day when I was solely responsible for Bill’s well-being and, I have to admit that, as Bill’s abilities declined and life became more difficult, there were many times when I contemplated putting him into a Care Facility.  The problem for me lay, not in the fact that I lacked the strength or the desire to do the job of caring, but rather in the fact that Bill would not let me do it.

As incontinence took hold, for example, I would often find Bill to be very wet when he awoke in the morning.  In those early days (late 2010/early 2011) Bill refused, adamantly, to wear any form of incontinence underwear, exclaiming, as he pulled the pad out of his undies and threw it on the floor:

What’s this? What’s this? Get it away!  Get it away!

As a result, his shirt, singlet, shorts, undies and even his cardigan could be sodden by morning.  His chair was well protected by plastic and Connies  but he, himself, would be wet.  It was nothing to be concerned about.  It was just a matter of gathering everything up and throwing it in the washing machine.  The trouble was, Bill would not let me change him out of the wet clothes and nursing help would often not arrive for a further three hours.  For both of us, the ensuing battle could be, not only lengthy (up to two hours) but exhausting.

It would start with me coercing Bill into the bathroom and trying to get his clothes off.  But once he was there and he began to understand that that was my goal, he would move into anger mode and start yelling at the top of his voice:

Get away from me!  Get out!  Get out!  I’ll kill you!

And he would often throw his sandal or a spare toilet roll after me as I retreated through the bathroom door.

At one time, he picked up a heavy ornament from beside that door, made to throw it, tested its weight, thought better of it and then put it down again.  He was like a Year Three child, whom I had once taught, who used to throw things in the classroom.  Like that child, Bill didn’t really want to hurt me.  He just wanted me to stop trying to make him do things that he didn’t want to do.

In most cases, after Bill had calmed down a bit, I would try to get his clothes again, but the result would invariably be the same, repeat performances going on, as I have said, for well up to two hours.  At some point in time, though, as it was with the Year Three child, Bill would know that he could fight no longer and, with tears in his eyes and exhaustion crumpling his face, he would co-operate. Sometimes, the nursing help would arrive mid-performance and be there to help me change and sponge him but, at other times, the changing would be already done, minus sponging, and we would bundle Bill into the car and I would wave him off with very grateful heart.

Then I would be left saying to myself:

This can’t be good for Bill!  There’s got to be a better way!  Maybe he has to go into care! 

There were other occasions, as well, listed similarly under Incontinence, when those thoughts were in my mind.  At those times Bill, still not wearing incontinence aids, would soil himself and, though I would get his shorts off him while he was sitting on the toilet, once he was off the toilet, he would not let me near him to clean up his backside.  Each time that I would try to approach him with bucket and cloths, he would back away.  It was like a choreographed dance, or an operetta, set to the tune of Bill yelling:

Don’t come near me!  Get away!  Get away!

And me singing out, in reply:

Don’t go on the carpet!  Keep away from the lounge!  Don’t you go in there!  We’ve just had that lounge re-covered!

Eventually, as was the case with the change of wet clothes in the mornings, Bill would become exhausted and would have one of his crying fits.

I can’t do it!  he would sob.  I can’t do it!  I wish I could …..

And, at last, he would let me clean him up.


This difficult, transitional time went on for three or four months during 2011, but then, as happened with the bringing in of the mail  (c.f. BLOGS 29 & 30)  Bill’s brain deteriorated, he failed to differentiate between his ordinary undies and the incontinence ones and he let me slip the incontinence undies on him.  The Blue Nurse helped me find the perfect type for Bill:

Depend Underwear for Men, Medium, 52-86kg, Waist 71-101cm. 

That was in June 2011.  Depend Underwear served us well for the next nine months and thoughts of putting Bill into a care facility faded.

  1. Dave

    Certainly benefits in not being in a care facility …

    August 6th, 2013 // Reply
  2. Fay

    I agree, Dave, and most of us would prefer to keep our loved-ones at home with us. Sometimes, though, as you well know, things don’t work out and those loved-ones just have to be institutionalised. But, from what I can gather, it’s not all as bad as we fear it might be. It seems loved-ones do settle down eventually in their respective care facilities, that partners often manage to visit most days and life goes on. Barbara Davies gives us some insight into this very situation in her comment at Blog 30. Thank you Barbara.

    August 12th, 2013 // Reply

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