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Achy afternoons

October 5, 2015
by Kathleen Mears
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Each afternoon I lie in bed my feet up and use my laptop. But, on some afternoons I have a hard time getting comfortable. It may be because I sit most of the day; or it could be over-65 stiffness. When I am having an achy afternoon, I have to ask my aide to adjust me. If I need to be repositioned more than twice, I start to get funny looks from the aides. Then I start to feel a growing tension between us.

To combat this situation, I take one regular strength over-the-counter pain reliever. But sometimes that is not always the answer. I think stress and tension build up, which increases my discomfort. I wonder if the aides wish I would just take a stronger pain pill and get more comfortable. But, what younger people do not realize is that pain relievers affect older people differently.

I can certainly understand when they seem to get frustrated by my need to be adjusted. Sometimes I think they feel I am intentionally giving them a hard time. They do not realize how much I want to reposition myself so I will not cause them extra work. I do not relish hearing them say, "Her call light is on again!"

On achy afternoons I frequently act like I am comfortable, hoping eventually I will be. I know that sitting idly by makes me edgy. Anxiety does not make anything better. If I get busy with my laptop and begin working on a project, it is easier to ignore my aches. That is why I want to get propped up so I can use my laptop to stay engaged and be involved.

There are times when the aides ask if I would like to lie down mostly flat to alleviate the discomfort. However, if I lie down without my arm propped, I cannot watch TV and be able to change the channel. I just have to lie there.

The aides probably do not experience my type of discomfort experience with the other residents who require my level of care. They take more medicine than I do and sleep most of the time. Other residents are more mobile than I am and can adjust their position themselves.

I have no solution to achy afternoons. When aides work with me so I can be as comfortable as possible, they lessen my anxiety. When I can work at something, I feel a sense of accomplishment.

On days when comfort has escaped me, I give in and lie down to let my body rest. As I get older, I realize I cannot ignore my body when it is telling me it is tired.


Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...