Sunday, August 13, 2006

limitations

Yesterday, Obi-Wan got a rare visit from a beloved family member. His niece from Waco and her husband came by for the afternoon.

Obi-Wan has about 4 nieces around Texas who check on him fairly regularly. Regulary as in about once every month or 2. And usually with a phone call. But they have been known to drop by for an afternoon.

I've met this niece before about 6 months ago. Back then she was concerned for Obi-Wan's age and health and offered for him to move in with her and her husband in Waco. Obi-Wan politely refused. He's got his home and way of life. Plus, I and his home health care worker Nurse Gollum* visit him most every day. So he's not alone.

This visit, the niece and her husband insist on Obi-Wan going into a nursing home.

This is not the first time a person has suggested this to him. Nor is it the first time one of his friends or family members have tried to convince me to agree with them that he should move into one.

Getting old: it's a touchy subject. When people who love you (or appear to love you) have perceived needs in your life, they're going to suggest solutions whether you like it or not.

Fact: Obi-Wan is old. He is 89. He is an insulin dependant diabetic. His lower legs need daily attention. His hands are nearly frozen into a clutching position. He can hardly walk anymore. About the only thing he can do for himself is cook. And that's looking more impossible daily.

Everyone on the planet thinks he needs to live at a nursing home.

I don't.

His overall health and morale is very high when he's at home. Why wouldn't it? He's in his familiar surroundings and routine.

When he's away from home, such as the hospital, his health gets much worse. Plus there's the weird food, schedule change, etc.

Obi-Wan's stubborness is infamous. He's gonna do what he wants to do, period. That's probably why we get along.

But there's one thing about him that I've witnessed over the past three years:

When it's time for Obi-Wan to change something in his life because of his age, he'll do it in his timing.

For years Obi-Wan refused to ride those electric carts at the grocery store. I think he was too prideful. Plus he wants to keep strength up in his legs. But one day at the store HE knew his strength was down and suggested riding in the cart himself.

When I first met him three years ago, he was still mowing his own yard. The following summer he finally allowed me to do it as his balance got worse.

He knows his limitations.

If Obi-Wan needs to go into a nursing home, I believe he'll know it himself and he'll be the one to suggest it.



* - Nurse Gollum has yet to be introduced here on the agent b files. She is a major character in the life of Obi-Wan...a character I keep a strong eye on.

4 comments:

miller said...

dude, you understand some things about dignity and honor and compassion that many of us do not understand.

i was attempting to communicate something like this the other day to agent wife. i think it came out callous and insensitive.

i think it is more important to maintain a quality of life than to maintain life itself. if living with dignity and honor means living a shorter life...

i say live a shorter life.

i'm glad you and agent wife are there for Obi-Wan! he desperately needs an advocate.

thanks for being his advocate.

press on!

Anonymous said...

My parents were trying to figure out what to do when my grandfather's Alzheimer's was limiting his ability to live independently. He refused going to a care home even just for day programs, "I'm not going in there with those crazies." He was stubborn too--you probably would have liked that in him. My parents also tried getting him to move in with them. The day for that however,did come. Mom and Dad were over for a visit and when they were about to leave he walked out of the house with a comb and toothbrush in hand and told them, "I'm coming home with you." (He lived with us for over twelve years before his death at the age of 91). He may have waited longer than we would have liked to make the move to our house, but when it was time--he decided.
lil' sis

Agent B said...

Miller - thanks. In this case, I'd argue that the quality of life will equate to the length of life. Higher quality = longer life. Or...at least Obi-Wan seems to do much better when he's home versus somewhere else. Kind of like uprooting a mature plant and replanting it somewhere else. Hard to keep it alive in the new environment.

LS - thanks for the story. I didn't know that about your grandpa.

agent wife said...

neither did I- thanks for being our memory lil sis. Where was I? I don't remember any of that, except that I do think grandpa got better care with us than he would have ANYWHERE else. Even the home where I visit "Betty Cherry" with "Grandma Nelly", is pretty nice and doesn't smell bad and the nurses are so caring, but they just can't be there all the time for everyone. They can only do so much. I've noticed several things and had to go call for help. Obi-wan isn't at that point yet, and for him I pray he never will.

Have you seen Tuesdays with Morrie? really good. I'm about to read it.