On Thursday, we moved Mom’s furniture, again. Why? Well, we’d originally set up a room in the Memory Care unit of her current facility. We kept it while Mom’s been on the Skilled Nursing side, as we hoped she’d move back in. Instead, this week we will be moving Mom to another place altogether.
Never mind. I wanted to tell you about beeping.
Moving the furniture required that we prop open not one, not two, but three alarmed doors. When open, the doors beeped, or chirped, or buzzed. Loudly. So loudly. There were three of them, all with slightly different sounds, all on slightly different timers. You could turn off the noises, for about 30-60 seconds at a time, by pressing a 4-digit code, but each door had a separate code box.
The movers carried furniture. I disarmed.
Imagine, if you will, a woman walking quickly from door to door to door, along a 30-foot hall, pressing a code rapidly at each station. Repeating the whole thing at, let’s say, 3 minute intervals, to intermittent very loud noise.
And that was the optimized process.
I wanted to tell you that at one point I thought, “These doors and this beeping is a metaphor for our whole experience with Mom’s care.” I might have used a silent expletive. I surely laughed. You may have gone through something similar.
See, when the alarms first started beeping I panicked, overwhelmed. Then I started responding with adrenaline every time something beeped. Then I sat down and pouted because I hated it all. Then I started, reflexively, trying to figure out the pattern of the beeps. Then I played a game, “Can I keep these effing things quiet? Which one buzzes first? How long do I have before I have to push the code again?”
All we needed to perfect the care metaphor was a huge machine of metal and red light calculating dollars for every bit of beep, on one side, and the changing face of my mother on the other. Bewildered, cranky, beaming, lost. She is so innocent in this process. I am so responsible.
And then I wondered, “Wait, does it work if I press the codes PREVENTATIVELY?!?!” Yes it did. For a couple of go-rounds I walked quickly from alarm box to alarm box, keeping the beeps at bay.
Then I decided I just couldn’t care any more. So I disarmed at what felt like a reasonable rate and hoped we finished soon.
All of which is only to point out that a sense of humor and a desire to find meaning and mastery in any situation can do a lot to prevent overwhelm. Also, hence my absence. Beep beep beep. Have a good weekend guys.