Household Comedian


I don’t know what it is about Friday that gives me the best stories from work! Honestly, I don’t time these things….they just happen. Also, for those of you keeping up with me, I will now refer to “my boss” as “Geek Boss.” He is an electrical engineer by training, and as I was told by another electrical engineer, “You don’t have ‘Geek’ without the double-E.”

The typical Friday schedule is to get the Geek Boss out of bed (remember, he has ALS), get breakfast, and do morning routine hygiene before he either works in his office, attends to a project, or has a home visit from a hospice worker. Friday is one of his shower days, in which thankfully, a home health aid comes to assist with all the extra lifting, etc. needed to make it successful.

Geek Boss has a diaphragm pacer to help his breathing along with a PEG tube into his stomach.  With any patient/client who has sensitive skin, a caregiver needs to be on the lookout for skin breakdown along with administering proper care and cleaning. Geek Boss’s PEG tube has given him trouble in the past 6-9 months, so all of us are on the lookout for any discoloration, extra discharge, or anything out of the ordinary. His diaphragm pacer consists of 4-5 wires poking out of his skin, just below his rib cage, that converge into a port where a battery is plugged in at night.

Anyway, after inspecting the PEG tube and making sure there wasn’t any abnormal sensation or discharge, I moved over to the diaphragm pacer site. Usually, the area is fine with a little bit of skin sloughing off. It looks red, but is completely healed; the wires could be pulled out, so I’m careful but as long as I don’t give anyone a good pull, they are fine. I typically clean the area with a little rubbing alcohol, thus I loaded a Q-Tip with it and proceeded to clean the wires and his skin.

“Oooooh! Ouch.” My boss said under his breath.

I immediately stop. “Oh, no! Are you alright? Did I get something?”(I’ve had experiences with alcohol on open wounds. The last thing I want to do is inflict that sort of pain on someone else.)

“No,” he said shaking his head, “I’m just teasing.” At which point he cracked a huge smile and began to chuckle.

“You’re horrible! Don’t make me freak out like that!” I gave his shoulder a push. We both laughed at his little moment of successfully pulling my leg.

A few minutes later, the Home Health Aid and I had almost finished getting Geek Boss dried. His breathing was doing well that day, yet with him being off the Bi-PAP for 10-15 minutes, we wanted him to have it on before he needed to stand up.

“Sit there and take a few breaths. Even if you don’t need them, just make us happy.” I said to Geek Boss.

The Home Health Aid chimed in, “We just want you to have a good air supply.”

At that very moment, Geek Boss expels flatulent gas.

All three of us burst out into laughter. Through the giggles, I asked, “Did you time that?!?!?”

“No, I didn’t.” Geek Boss says with a chuckle. His wife missed the whole thing, but came rushing to the bathroom when she heard the laughter. Even now as I’m typing, I can’t believe the sequence of the whole situation. When you’re not sure what disappointments await you for the coming days and weeks, it’s nice to have a little humor in life – planned or spontaneous.

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