Friday, February 28, 2014

The Plumbing Fiasco

While dad was off in Colorado, helping my Aunt’s family, there were some plumbing issues brewing back at home.

Right before he left, dad had noticed that his floors in the kitchen and his back bathroom were feeling warm. He attributed it to a slab leak in the hot water pipe; he thought things would be okay if he waited until he returned home to go in and fix it himself.

While he was gone, my sister and I were noticing day by day how much worse the heat in the floors was becoming. It was spreading throughout nearly the entire living room. Despite the cool, 70 degree weather outside, the inside of the house felt like a sauna climbing to temperatures above 80 degrees. When I looked on the side of dad’s house, water was starting to flood the planters. I was worried that the leak needed attention before dad was able to come home.

By Monday night, dad decided to call in a plumber. He set it up for the plumber to come over the following day, mid-morning. He must have missed the mid-morning part, because at 7:00 in the morning dad received a call that the plumber was there. With dad being gone and a strange man in the house, dad just knew this was going to be a disaster. My brother-in-law, Melvin, went over right away to assist the plumber and try to reason with mom.

By 9:00, I got a call from my dad (while I was out on a morning walk) that mom was unruly and Melvin needed some back up. Soon after I hung up with dad, Melvin called.

“Your mom is yelling and throwing things; she’s pulling her hair and crying and telling everyone to leave.”

Clearly, mom was not handling this well. Not only was a stranger in her house, but her routine was being shaken up, and mom’s entire being centers around her routine nowadays. I was in the middle of a walk, so I rushed back to my house as quickly as I could and hopped straightway in my car. By the time I arrived at mom’s, she was calmed down a bit. I found her hidden in her bedroom. I unlocked her bedroom door, let myself in and sat by her side. Immediately she let me know how disgruntled she was about the man in her house,

“Tell those people they need to leave…they’re messing up my kitchen too and Bud isn’t going to be happy and they’re making so much noise too….”

Of course there’s no reasoning or explaining the situation to her; her comprehension is lost. I tried to distract her,

“Let’s go walk over to Aunt Ellen’s house,” I suggested.

“No, I usually go to her house on Fridays or Saturdays, I don’t need to go today.”

Mom eventually went back to her business…putting on make-up, curling her hair and playing her computer games (she skipped her shower which was a good thing because the hot water was turned off). But every time she heard loud noises she was reminded of the plumber and she banged on the walls to let them know she wasn’t happy.

Later on, my sister (who came over between a break from work) and I tried to convince mom to go out to lunch with us, knowing it was a lost cause but trying hard to distract mom. We also knew that her going into the kitchen to make her peanut butter and jelly sandwich was going to be a disaster. Yep. She had another fit when she walked through the living room and saw the mess. She was upset that the door was open and confused as to why there was a large hose going through her house. She tried pulling the hose out and closing the front door; we had to physically redirect her. She tried to move the oven back, knowing that it didn’t belong by the trash can and kept saying how mad Bud was going to be when he came home.

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The plumber, who was well over 6 feet tall and had a solid frame, became a little nervous of my mom after she came through the kitchen and kicked at him while he was down on the floor and grabbed onto his arm to pull him out of her house. Melvin had to step in and pull mom away. She didn’t hurt him (her kicks were more like swatting at a fly), but it was enough that the plumber was a little wary that she might actually hurt him!!

There’s a lot more I can write, but you probably get the gist of the situation. It was an ordeal and I hadn’t planned on spending that day with her. But, there’s always something unexpected that comes up with dementia. We are learning how to adjust and deal with these situations. House emergencies are not our favorite!!!


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  8. Plumbing can turn into a huge fiasco. All of that sewage.. Bronx sewer cleaning would come in handy

  9. Oh, I’m so sorry that you had to go through this. I had an aunt with dementia, as well as a host of other things, and any changes to the status quo can be a huge issue to deal with. I don’t know anything about plumbing, but that seems like quite a problem. I hope everything works out!

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