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Confessions of squeamishness - Carers UK Forum

Confessions of squeamishness

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One of the many learning curves I have encountered over the last couple of years is the need to participate in and supervise my husband's 'personal care'. I have discovered that my extreme squeamishness has made things much harder for me (and him) than if I were one of these enviable people who can deal with the messier aspects of life with calm and resignation. This problem, even more than my husband's memory loss and periods of confusion, has deeply undermined my feelings for him. On a practical level, it has also sometimes been difficult for me to assess what was normal for him when he was well, and therefore the degree to which the dementia has affected his skills in those areas. It is easy enough to see that his handling of cutlery is now much clumsier than in the past, but eating is a public activity; when he was well, I took no interest in how he took care of himself in private matters, so I can't make comparisons.

For example, washing: I would classify my husband's current self-administered ablutions (now under my supervision) as not much more than a delicate tickle with a wet flannel, and a certain amount of messy splashing. Not the vigorous scrubbing with soap, thorough rinsing and towelling dry that I call 'washing'. But I have a suspicion that he always washed that way, and he certainly never seemed to dry himself properly after a bath or shower, even when he was completely compos mentis.
He was also always fairly cack-handed with clothing, e.g. dragging sweaters off by seizing them by the scruff of the neck, though his current tendency to be unsure whether underwear goes on before or after the outer clothing is, of course, the result of his mental condition.

And above all, the 'toileting' issue — how I hate that word! It has never occured to me to notice how many times I need to use the lavatory in a day, so having to start keeping track of my husband's patterns of urination and defaecation has come as a horrible shock to me. I have never brought up children, which makes it worse; I can assess instantly and accurately when a kitten or puppy is about to pee or crap, and take appropriate action, but I regard humans past the toddler stage as responsible for themselves in these matters, and I have carefully avoided babies and young children as far as possible. I am shamefully and incurably squeamish about the whole thing. Having to dispose of wet incontinence products makes me heave. For me, one of the most unspeakably dreadful aspects of being in hospital when I was seriously ill in 2012 was the agonising humiliation and shame of being unable to control my own bowels, and of being cleaned and washed by nurses. This has scarred me far more than the post-operative pain, the boredom, the hallucinations from the drugs, and all the other miseries of being in intensive care.

One of my earnest hopes about the long-term residential care that is now being planned is that I can start to relate to my husband better emotionally again, because I shall no longer be responsible for this nursing-type care. Disgust undermines affection. I realise this is a fault in me, and I know there is something weird going on (why can I clean up cat-vomit relatively calmly, though swearing heartily at the cat the whole time, but human vomit makes me totally hysterical?) but I can't begin to work out how I might change, at my age.

Tristesa
Dont beat yourself up about it tristesa. From your previous posts I remember that there are many pros about him going into residential care and I think this is just one more
(((((hugs)))))), cos I think you still feel guilty, even though you have no reason to be.
Thank you, Crocus. I wish I were better about this matter, though. Plenty of people must be less squeamish than I am, or nobody would ever take up nursing as a career!
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Tristesa
Hugs. x x
I can't understand why someone would want to swim round the Isle of Wight, absolute madness, but someone has just done it. I shipped steam engines round the world at the tender age of 23. Madness, but I did it, for fun.... and money! The swimmer wouldn't have been able to do what I did, and I can't do what she did. It is important to recognise and accept our own strengths and weaknesses. We do not ask to be made as we are. So don't beat yourself up if you can't do something someone else can do easily. It's not your fault.
You call it a fault? Ok, if you must call it that, but bear in mind it tends to be the most common reason for having to hand over the full time care. It is a natural weakness, that is all and you know that, so please don't be stressed by it, you have enough stress already.

In my case, I manage a similar situation better than I expected to, I think by playing mind games with myself and totally focusing on the need to relax him and thereby avoid any aggressive behaviour (yeah, dementia carer to my OH) prompted by his feelings etc etc. Avoiding falls etc.

Exhausting too isn't it? specially when we are possibly both also coping with our carees mobility problems and possibly our own as well.

Yeah, nurses and care workers. Hmmm we often malign them and I too have had reasons to be stressed by "services". But oh boy, not an easy job. ((Yeah yeah don't all shout at me, I know they are paid for it).

Dunno if I have stuck with your question or not.

Ps .... My confession .... Can't cope with his oral hygiene.
Pss ...... And isn't it irritating when outsiders think it is all ok cos we have carers coming in. I can't pee or poo to the clock and nor can he!!
just to let you know,I used to be a nurse,but you have never met anyone more squeamish than me! It is a nightmare, it has got worse as I have got older. Really bad!My daughter's dog was car sick a few times and we would get out to sort it,and I would have to hold onto the dog for my daughter to sort out the car, as the retching would be so bad. If I am changing my grandson's nappy,then I have been known to have a bowl at my side to throw up into! It never used to happen and it is a pain in the neck.
I am exactly the same. I am so worried about the future. At the moment, my husband who has incurable cancer can take care of himself but has had a few accidents recently. I worry about when I will have to take over as I know I will retch. He is already telling me to leave him all the time as it isn't fair on me, this will make the situation even worse.
I am also an ex nurse like LazyDaisy and an ex funeral director whose stomach could stand anything but the older I have got the less I can stand it, I know the day will come at some point where I will have to help my husband with more personal care die to his mobility problems and I am dreading that day!