Living

Annie: Nature's call concerns sick man's sister

DEAR ANNIE: I'm the baby of seven. Two siblings died several years ago, and last May, my eldest sister died of pancreatic cancer. In July, I found out that my older brother is losing his battle with pulmonary fibrosis. Two days later, my other brother, "Carl," was diagnosed with eye cancer that has metastasized to other parts of his body. He is not expected to live through the end of the year.

I am devastated, as is my other sister. But the reason I'm writing is to help my dying brother not lose his dignity. Carl moved to my state to be closer to my family. He decided against additional treatment and accepted hospice care. He was weak, but still able to use a walker and get to the bathroom.

Within weeks, Carl became alarmingly weak. I wanted him to stay with me, but he said he didn't want to burden me any longer. He said his friend was in a nursing home and he thought it was fine for him, too. It broke my heart.

Once there, Carl was constantly reminded to stay in bed and not walk on his own due to the risk of falling. I spoke to the night nurse and explained that Carl would still try to get up to use the bathroom, and I wanted her to check on him. Her reaction was to tell me that Carl was wearing an adult diaper, so it wasn't a problem. She didn't bat an eye or try to assist him. She simply doomed him to a fate that no grown person should have to face.

Telling a man to ignore the call of nature seems so harsh to me. Is there anything I can do? -- My Brother's Keeper

DEAR KEEPER: We understand your concern and grief. But nursing homes have staff that must deal with multiple residents, many of whom have the same issues as Carl. Although the night nurse's attitude was not very compassionate, it is simply not possible for her to get to each room in time to escort every resident to the bathroom. Accidents are going to happen. We are so sorry.

DEAR ANNIE: This is for "W.," the woman who said her neighbor complains about perfectly reasonable sounds coming from her condo. Please tell her she can buy soundproofing drywall and have a handyman install it right over her existing drywall. Crown molding can be removed and put back up over the new drywall. It's really easy. She should get the type that is 98 percent noise canceling.

I've done this before, and can tell her she could scream at the top of her lungs and her neighbor will hear nothing. -- M.

DEAR M.: Thanks for the suggestion, although it seems like a lot of bother for a neighbor who seems to be exceptionally (or irrationally) sensitive to sound. But the writer may find it worthwhile.

To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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