Tuesday 30 September 2008

Two Brain-Damaged People

Dad has come to live with us. He has some dementia and some aphasia. So now there are two brain-damaged people in the house-- me, and Dad.

Now I know that the official words for my brain damage is "t.b.i." or "traumatic brain injury." The reality is that traumatic brain injury equals brain damage. My brain damage was acquired after the age of 21 in a motor vehicle accident. It is brain damage nonetheless. One physical therapist from Sunnyview Hospital in Schenectady tried to tell me that "brain damage" sounds like one is "damaged" somehow. Yes, my brain is damaged. Why not just call it what it is?

Dad has some restlessness and is wanting to do housework and fix up the house when he is not sleeping in front of the television set. Last week, we decided to stain/waterproof the back deck. First we had to locate the two buckets of stain and the brushes. That wasn't any problem as my friend Ed had given us those things and they were sitting by the back door. Then we had to wait for a sunny day. That happened.

It was a very sunny day. And hot, considering that we live next door to Alaska. So Dad insisted that we wear long-sleeved shirts. The stain getting on our skin would ?eat it? stain it? At any rate, on went the hot shirts. Then there are the latex gloves-- same reason. We started working out of one bucket but then that went to, "Here's another bucket spike. You use your own."

There was lots of staining, doing and redoing. I redid some of Dad's area and he redid some of mine. Two half-gallons were left when we got done. Between us, the stained deck was definitely personalized. There are some drips and dots from my work. And some heavier stained areas from Dad's work. With two brain-damaged people staining a deck, the results will be interesting. A guarantee.

Yesterday, Dad decided that we should put together a clothes rack with vinyl bag hooked onto it for the clothes he has that he no longer wears. This particular clothes rack/vinyl bag thing was manufactured in mainland China. And I swear whoever wrote the instructions hit the "from mandarin to english" button on babelfish. To complicate things further, Dad dumped all of the numbered poles out of their respective bags. The first attempt came out with two longer sides and two shorter sides. There was a break then during which I hoped in futility that Dad would forget about this particular tortorous clothes rack/vinyl bag thing. Didn't happen.

After some "Divorce Court" on teevee, we went back upstairs for a second go 'round. This time we managed to get the vinyl bag installed but then the poles kept pulling out of their holes. And so this clothes rack/vinyl bag thing stands loosely in a corner looking more like a modern art structure than anything remotely functional.

Because of my difficulties with multi-tasking, perhaps I would have had a shot at putting the thing together if left alone in a cave far away from human civilization. No chance of success yesterday. Dad kept up a running commentary as we were working. And between my t.b.i.-related perception problems and Dad's dementia-related perception problems, shoving poles into holes at flush 90 degree angles was not a task destined for fantastic results. Husband said he will "look at it" today.

I think there is something to be said for joining a nudist colony and forgetting about clothes and things like that.

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