Apr 11, 2010

Alzheimer's Disease Another Round of Poop Agita

Agita: a general feeling of upset. To be disconcerted. Feeling bent out of shape. The word -- Agita -- is Italian-American slang derived from the Italian "agitare" meaning "to agitate".

Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I noticed on Wednesday afternoon that Dotty was listless. She wasn't talking, she wasn't paying attention to anything, and she "wasn't there". I started trying my usual techniques and I just couldn't bring Dotty back to the world -- the now.

When Dotty gets like this I get worried and I get scared. Is Dotty going to go over the edge, right here, right now? I don't like this feeling. The feeling can best be described by the word "agita".

After Dotty goes to bed, I am sitting around thinking about what I am going to do, or what I can do? Out of the clear blue sky I think -- poop. Is Dotty suffering from a dreaded case of poop-E agita? Is she clogged up? Is this the problem. I make a mental note to check Dotty as soon as he gets up in the morning.

Sure enough when Dotty gets up I check her stomach. Harder than a rock. Dotty is almost 94 years old. She doesn't have eight minute abs. When Dotty's stomach gets hard there is only one conclusion that can be reached -- Poop-E war.

As I am feeling Dotty's stomach she gives me the definitive tip off. She says, "my back hurts". I ask where and feel her back. Lower back. Poop-E. When Dotty gets clogged up her back hurts. It is easy to understand. When clogged up Dotty's stomach gets big, hard, and it pulls on her spine. Poop-E war.

I already described in the article -- Alzheimer's and the Dreaded Bowel Movement -- how after years of trying I finally figured out how to beat Poop. So this time around, I am ready to get into action and send the Poop out of Dotty and to the Delray Beach Sewage Treatment plant.

Instead of waiting around to give Dotty the magic elixir -- prune juice -- at lunch time, I shoot it in to her before breakfast. Dotty doesn't notice that this is not our normal pattern of behavior and really doesn't give me much resistance. Slowly but surely she drinks the prune juice.

I figure we will wait around a while before we have breakfast because Dotty is going to need to make a bathroom run. Hmm. Doesn't happen. I wait around and by lunch time no Poop-E run. No problem, we will give Dotty her second injection of prune juice and that should do the trick.

One hour, two hours, three hours. No Poop-E. By now I am getting worried. One reason, we have to go pick up some medication for Dotty. A second reason, we also need to go to the store.

Finally, we have no choice, we need to run our errands. I am getting worried, is it going to take an enema to defeat poop? The first enema in the history of my life. Yikes.

Under circumstances like these, I can expect to be on the road in the car for five minutes when Dotty announces she has to go to the bathroom. Nope. We get the medication and move on to Walmart.

I get hung up in Walmart. By the time I get back to the car I take one look at Dotty and ask, Poop-E agita? She tells me she has to go to the bathroom.

Good news so far, my nose tells me we still have a chance to make it. Five minutes later I am taking Dotty in the door and she heads right into the bathroom. After about 20 minutes I finally have to yell in to Dotty, are you still alive? She tells me she is coming out.

Dotty comes out of the bathroom. I am tempted to describe in detail what my nose tells me. Let's put it this way -- think dead animal.

That is the bad news. Here is the good news -- we won the Poop-E war. After a bit I feel Dotty's stomach -- I take it back, we did not win the Poop-E war. Dotty's stomach is still hard.

I don't know how much poop Dotty can carry around at one time. I figure is must be like a five pound bag of potatoes.

Ok, now its Friday. Poop-E war round two. On Friday, Dotty is pooping away and I am coming to this conclusion. I wish I kept all the poop. This could qualify Dotty for the Guinness world book of records.

I guess I'll just skip up to Saturday. Finally, the Poop-E war is over. Victory. Thank God for prune juice.

And now to my point. I never wrote about this before.

Often when Dotty gets listless and "not there" the explanation is Poop-E. Two much poop in the system just drains her of all life. I am serious. Dotty doesn't talk and its like she is in another world.

I notice that every time Dotty complains that her back hurts. Lower back. I feel her stomach. Its hard as a rock. Poop-E war. Once we send the poop to its final resting place, Dotty no longer has a sore back.

I don't like to put pills, laxatives, or anything pink into Dotty when she is suffering from Poop-E agita. I put prune juice in her. Prune juice is the magic elixir and of this I am connvinced.

My name is Bob DeMarco, I am an Alzheimer's caregiver. Sometimes you just have to think beyond the obvious when dealing with Alzheimer's disease. Once you finally think beyond the obvious for a solution to a problem it is usually the most simple of all solutions that works best.

I really don't know why the simplest of all solutions usually works best for Alzheimer's caregivers. I do know that it is hard to figure out the simplest solution when you are being bombarded with all the stress that comes with caregiving.

So it seems to me that the best thing to do is think, feel, and give it your best shot. Or in this case, make sure you never run out of prune juice.

Agita: a general feeling of upset. To be disconcerted. Feeling bent out of shape. The word -- Agita -- is Italian-American slang derived from the Italian "agitare" meaning "to agitate."

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Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized expert, writer, speaker, and influencer in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide. The ARR Knowledge Base contains more than 4,700 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room