Moving Rev. Absurd’s World into Every Day Life
Written February 25, 2015
This is a story about an experience I, Rev. Absurd, had during the
1 1/2 years my husband, Herb, was in extended care with dementia.
On Monday, 2/23/15, I received a call from the company, that Matt, the young man we have hired to help my husband, Herb with showering & grooming, was having car problems and could not come. So I went and told the ladies I couldn’t make cards that day, and went to prepare myself to help my husband.
I spent time preparing myself as I did when I was a clown going out. I grounded and centered myself. I was focused and present, to begin my journey. After all, last Monday, I had been quite successful! So, why not this time? I walked over to his building. On the 3rd floor, I ran into a CNA & told her Matt couldn’t come today, and I was going to give Herb a shower. Then I ran into another CNA, and I told her the same thing.
Upon entering, I told Herb that Matt had car trouble and couldn’t come. As usual, Herb wanted a cup of coffee, so I went and got him one. I settled down to talk with him for awhile.
On the way to the bathroom to get the shower water warm, and turn on the heaters to make the room warm, I noticed the bed wasn’t made. I take Herb after the shower to the bed to get dressed and to put lotion on his skin. It was after 3:00, so I felt OK about asking a CNA to make the bed so Herb could use it after his shower. She came and made the bed and I lay clean clothes out on it for him.
Herb and I started in on the shower. Everything was going well, and together we did a thorough job. I had really moved into the experience, as I do as a clown, which creates unity in the experience between the participant and myself, the clown. Being a therapeutic clown since 1981, I was using Rev Absurd’s skills in a loving way.
All of a sudden, I hear voices in the bedroom. Since I had closed the bedroom door to keep the heat in, I was even more surprised. I opened the bathroom door, and there were 2 CNAs who had stripped the bed. “What are you doing?” I asked. They said, “We’re changing the linen” they said. “What? I’m ready to bring Herb out to get dressed now.” I said.
I closed the door and unclarity and uncertainty took over my calm, centered state. Having lost my Rev Absurd consciousness, I started making decisions on my own- not checking my inner guidance. I helped get Herb out of the shower onto the rug VERY carefully, hoping that the toweling would take up the time for the bed to be ready, but the drying had mostly been done in the shower. By now I was completely out of my rhythm and the pattern that Herb and I usually follow. This, of course caused Herb to be confused, because a therapeutic clown holds the energy field with and for the other and himself. The toweling was complete and I was going to check to see if the bed was finished. But I turned around, and Herb had taken a step towards the door, and lost his balance and was going down. It was slow and gentle, but I couldn’t stop him.
The CNAs heard him go down as Herb has put on a great deal of weight. They opened the door and started doing their thing. Calling for help. Equipment, pulses, temperature, oxygen level, and blood pressure. Of course Herb had completely changed from calm to afraid, and angry and his dementia personality had activated. And there I was again, in the middle of a nightmare that DIDN’T have to have happened.
It took a belt, 3 CNAs and myself to get him up. I was trying to restore Herb and myself to our familiar pattern of sitting on the bed, so I said to him, lets go sit on the bed, and took his arm. One of the CNAs said “No, Herb, come and sit on the toilet seat. I had the creme I put on the rashes in my hand. The CNA said, here let me do that and took the creme out of my hand. This was always a pleasant, calm experience for both of us as I put lotion on his body. NOT THIS TIME!!! The CNA’s dressed him, got him to his living room chair and that was that.
I, being my typical self was apologizing and saying I was so sorry Herb fell. Of course, since the fall H’s nasty dementia self had surfaced, and he had let his frustration out till he got to his living room chair. It was nasty. But you know what? This time I didn’t blame him. I felt the same way, but I stuffed it the way I often do, just glad it’s over! It took quite a while for me to get Herb calmed down. I assured him that was NOT his fault. Things were going so well at first, and I was thinking we would have some quiet time together. Besides he had missed our favorite part, putting moisturizer on his skin.
In a sense, I’m trying to understand and get an inside glimpse of how a person with dementia would process this experience.
Would this experience-in his subconscious mind-make him more jumpy? less trusting? less secure? Would it make him feel more safe in his environment? And how about trusting the people that surround him and are helping him in his now VERY SMALL world? I don’t know, but as Herb’s wife of 55 years, and a therapeutic clown, I intend to support him as much as I can.
A therapeutic clown enters into the world of the participating person.
Upon getting home, fairly shaken, I asked my inner guidance what had happened. I knew I missed something somewhere. My experience as a therapeutic clown is visceral. When I am in Rev Absurd’s world, my head, my heart, and my belly are all in sync. I had spent years developing this skill, and now I was having difficulty transferring it to every day life. It had left when my thinking mind took over. I had become compartmentalized, as we are taught in our society. My mind had taken over, but I had spent years training my heart to be in command. That skill had left me quickly, in a split second, and now I needed help.
After taking a long time to settle myself down so I could hear my inner guidance. I heard Him say:
“You were afraid of hurting the 2 CNAs feelings. Had you not panicked, you would have heard me say ” The 2 ladies, the 2 ladies——kindly, gently ask the 2 ladies to leave until you have finished getting H’s skin moisturized, and help him get dressed. It won’t matter if the bed is finished-you can use it. NOW.”
This is what I would have said to you.
And there it was! Plain for me to understand. My inner guidance told me what I needed to know and let me play it through until I had a thorough understanding of all nuances. SIMPLE! SIMPLE! SIMPLE!
In a sense, it reminded me of an incident way back in our life. We had a ladder to the balcony. It was attached to a beam, but it came loose one night and I heard a loud crash! I ran upstairs and screamed to Herb, Are you alright? are you alright? The ladder was laying on top of Herb. He replied, in a calm and low voice, ” If you’ll take the ladder off, I’ll get up and see.” And he was OK, and it reminded me of the calm voice of my guidance. My Mother always said that Herb is a rock. Always dependable. Good in emergencies. He was on the ski patrol, and had good practice besides being the protector of our family. So now we’ve come full circle, and he needs us to be calm and strong.
After working with my guidance since 1981 as a clown, learning how to move Rev Absurd into my daily life, has brought up many lessons. But hey, I’m making progress. Isn’t that what it’s all about?