A caregiver grandson waves to his grandmother as a dog friend fades into light

My IBS Prepared Me To Support My Grandma

My mom is the best caregiver my grandma could ask for. She’s been there for the sloppy and sick, rain or shine. This woman gives and gives while managing working on the side and making yummy southern meals that make my tummy go "yay!" Often acting gigs can take all day, with 14 hours on set, leaving whoever is home to care for my 84-year-old southern grandmother.

Her road to dementia and aphasia has been slow, but with every missing task and loss of body autonomy, we know there will be a day when 2 boys can’t do what a mom can. When my mom leaves, it’s harder for us to tend to her needs. Ever since moving back home, I’ve found myself trying harder and harder to keep the degrading down to a minimum.

My mom is my grandma's caregiver

There was once an ‘ole southern grandma and a beautiful black lab. They were 2 of the oldest and sweetest ladies you could imagine. Both are in diapers, losing their continence, but happy as a peach with big smiles and wagging tails. Bailey, our black lab, never failed to squirm and dance on her back, begging for tummy rubs. Losing her this September was really hard on all of us. She was, according to my dad, my sister. A super pooch who would always, every night, visit each and every one of our rooms to make sure we were safe and in bed. We were there for each other, even until the very end.

Since Bailey passed, my grandma’s own health state has declined. Her stuttering, struggle to find words, and mental wellness have taken a dip; with that, her bowels are following. She’s still so stubborn! Getting annoyed and sway her hips while making chirping noises, to get out of flushing the toilet and washing her hands.

My mom helped her in the bathroom to ensure she wiped herself and tidied up all neatly. But, like everyone, she’s a working woman! The inevitable realization of having to stay home full time has been a battle but as an IBS patient advocate, I knew there was something I could do. I didn’t move back in to help and aid for nothing. I can do more than watch from the sidelines!

How I support my grandma

I’m a fixer, always looking to prevent the worst outcome and mitigate problems with a helpful solution! For some reason, MOST of them revolve around the bathroom.

It's like all this time has been preparing for this moment. Where I take my daily tummy cramps and upsets and use what I've learned to help others. I’m the one who suggested we put my dog in a diaper when she couldn’t hold in her own little bladder. Thanks to my savvy knowledge of butt and tushy wetness, you KNOW your boy bought and installed a bidet in her bathroom. Trying that thing for the first time was like an icy punch to the butt—a feeling I will NEVER forget, but a helpful one nonetheless. And after a consultation with my grandma’s doctor, Imodium has been approved for her while my mother is away, so nobody else at home has to handle a sloppy poop time!

Here’s to hoping that these stopgaps help in the long run. Being able to help my family through the lens of my personal bowel experiences is such a blessing. I have all this knowledge and insight, so why not use it for good?! I loved being able to help my family. To give back and make bathroom time an easier experience. All this gut pain can’t be for nothing!

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