I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, I was agitated as soon as I was awake. Martha was forgetful, not unusual but because of my agitation more frustrating. She stepped by my door every 1 – 2 minutes saying “good morning, are you ok?” Each time I would repeat “morning, yes, time to get dressed now.” I tried to say awake, alert and not annoyed. I made my way out of bed, bathroom, dressed and tidying the house. I had endured for the fifteenth time “morning, are you ok?” I tried to be honest with Martha. “Look, I am getting a bit frustrated Martha, can you just get dressed” This would start another trip to the bathroom and the cycle of bathroom, shuffling, “morning, are you ok?” would start again. By the 20th time it was like fingernails on a chalk board.
“Martha” I commanded. “Either get dressed or go to group in your PJ’s” and thus the turn happened. I wasn’t aware at first, she shut the door to her room, I assumed for privacy, she emerged semi dressed but as soon as she looked at me I saw the agitation in her. Grinding her teeth, sullen, angry. I, in my petulant frustration had woken the beast. I made breakfast and thought if I just hurried us along she may forget she was agitated by me. I stood shoveling my breakfast in my mouth and then moved us into the car. I turned on music and did my best impression of being happy. In all honesty I was so grumpy, irritable and tired from this mornings repetitions. On our journey my agitation only grew, the question no longer “are you ok?” now “where are we going” what felt like for the 1000th time I said “to group, you are going to group and I am going to work.” Less than a minute later the nails on blackboard were back. As we approached Lavender Cottage I felt a sense of relief wash over me. Thank goodness, for the next six hours I have reprieve.
We parked and I knew that she had turned completely, I was now the enemy. I coo’ed at her, trying to entice her with my love and soft voice. “Martha, let’s go in” I anticipated her next move and watched as her fists clenched, she would either strike out at me or throw something, but whatever she did do, she would then get out of the car. She threw a bottle of water, by the time it reached where I was, I was no longer there. She was out of the car but I was quicker. We danced on the driveway, a familiar dance of love and hate. I knew the steps and Martha didn’t. We danced until she grew tired and I was able to move her with my body. Arms out-stretched on her lower back, guiding her towards the gate. I swiftly opened the gate and pushed her in, the air rushed from my body as the weight of the world lifted. Six hours I thought, six hours of freedom. By the time we reached the staff, a mere 20 steps Martha had forgotten our dance. I said goodbye and turned quickly, “when will you be back?” the nurse responded first “you’re going home on the van, Martha.” I smiled and left.
Six hours until I have to dance again.