For once J is able to get Zetty in the bed before 2am, excited and sound asleep all hell breaks loose when the house alarm blares "intruder alert."
J is delirious, rubbing her eyes and trying to determine what to do. One thing is clear, secure Zetty in the bedroom. The problem is Zetty refuses to stay in the bedroom and demands to follow J to investigate the house.
J has navigate her fear, confusion and intense desire to protect Zetty. What unfold is anything but a routine night.
J Smiles sheds light on how the most mundane of daily blips in other households are chaotic events for caregivers.
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I was on night shift, and finally Zetty and I were asleep, asleep means I'm in her bed. Also, that means that the right side of my body is more like a concrete cinder block. She likes to hold hands, and I end up sacrificing that entire side of my body but whatever. We had gotten to bed early, Parenting Up family I was so who happy about it. The lights were out, okay, almost all the lights Zetty requires one small nightlight on her side of the room just to keep her from getting too disoriented. But the TV was off. We actually were able to cut the TV off before the infomercial started, a miracle. Boom. crash. Intruder alert. Intruder alert. Intruder alert. Intruder alert, that's the burglar alarm. I am in a panic. I don't know how long I had been asleep, but the sleep was deep enough that my brain was startled like an electric shock went through my body to be awakened so violently. What am I supposed to do now? I jump up, Zetty jumps up with me. I'm trying to tell her Hey, lady, stay in the bed. I'm trying to run downstairs. She's running with me, wait JG , wait JG where are you going? I don't know where I'm going, but you can't come with me, there's an intruder alert lady. Parenting Up- caregiving adventures with comedian J Smiles. It's the intense journey of unexpectedly being fully responsible for the well being of my mama. For almost a decade, I've been chipping away at the unknown, advocating for her, and pushing Alzheimer's awareness on anyone and anything with a heartbeat. Spolier Alert- I started comedy because this stuff is so heavy, be ready for the jokes. Caregiver newbies, OGs, village members trying to just prop up a caregiver. you are in the right place.Zetty:
Hi this is Zetty. I hope you enjoy my daughter's podcast. Is that okay?J Smiles:
Today's episode of burglar is breaking in on me and Zetty. Zetty's bedroom door is shut. She refuses to let me keep it open. I would like to keep the door open, so you could hear something. It's a greater sense of security for me to feel like I can have a sense of what's going on in the house, but whatever Zetty is not having it. So we're in Zetty's room, the door is closed, I'm jumping all around, trying to make her stay inside the room. She doesn't want to do it. She is determined to go with me. Lady, I don't even know what I'm doing. Y'all, I was so disoriented. I mean truly disoriented like my head was throbbing, my palms were sweaty. First of all, I am not a fighter, I'm a lover period. I want to hug everybody. I've never been in a fight in my entire life. I'm a word fighter. If you get past me, fussng a little bit and trying to intimidate you with some five and six syllable words, I'm done, I got nothing else. This was before Zetty was incontinent, so she had on real pajamas and underwear. She was really moving quickly. I couldn't sidestep this chick. She didn't have shoes on. I'm like lady stay in room. She will not do it, it was awful. I can't fight the burglar for me and you Mama, this is what I'm thinking in my head, but I don't want to say that out loud because she has Alzheimer's. I don't know where that's going to rest with her. The burglar alarm is still saying intruder alert, intruder alert. intruder alert, glass break, glass break, glass break, glass break, so all of that loudness is still ringing everywhere. And I'm arguing with zeti to go back in the room, and she says, No, I'm not. This is a hell of a time to be so clear and defiant mom, but okay. I said said I gotta go see what's going on. She says, I have to protect you JG, how sweet is that, what am I supposed to say that in a moment of sheer panic, I can't fight her and she's hitting me with the loving mother protection thing and she's also forcing us to be too loud. The burglar didn't have to know that there was people in the house. But now they know that there are at least two women, great Zetty, that's awesome. They can hear two chicks in here. fussing about not going out the room. Well, we sound very prepared to protect ourselves. I'm thinking through what to do. No one else is in the house. Whenever I'm the night shift caregiver, all the other caregivers are going about their daily lives. When I'm off thn there are typically three of us. The night shift caregiver is here with daddy and I'm at the house just being her daughter. That was not the case this night. I'm thinking okay, I need to get a knife and a broom or a bat, but I got to get to the broom and the bat and I got to get Zetty to quit sticking to me like a glove. I was like a bumbling idiot. I turned the lights on, I was like, no, that's not a good idea to turn them off. I'm trying to pseudo remember half of things I've seen on television. I love watching the murder shows like all this is going through my head while I'm trying to get Zetty to at least stay at the top of the stairs. At this point, we have come out of her room, but I'm trying to say well, okay, just stand here at the top of the stairs ma let me go down to the kitchen and I'll yell back up to you. And she's now wait JG, wait, just wait JG, just wait. That's when I turned the light on, I'm like oh, no, that's not a good idea because then they're going to know where you are in the house. Jay turn light back off. My heart is pounding because I have to protect my mother. I'm tiptoeing down the steps. I look up Zetty is coming down the steps to but she is sidestepping one at a time. She's not moving quickly at all, y'all I'm, like, is this really happening, is my mama holding on to the banister and doing right foot left foot, right foot, left foot. Somebody just go ahead and just shoot us both now this is not going to work. I look up I'm like mama no, she's like, hold on JG here I come. Absolutely not, don't come. I was so mad with her. Lady, why do you keep ignoring what I'm saying? I don't think the Alzheimer's was really top of mind, saving our lives was top of mind. I need you to stay yo little behind up stairs. Now her, behind ain't all that little, but she's shorter than me and I am currently in charge of you, lady. Oh if I could have choked her without killing her, you know what I'm saying, if I could have pinched a real hard in her cheek in the fat meat right behind, okay, in the middle of the back of your arm right there when you can just pinch it and they can turn like they used to do when you were in school like in elementary school, and it can bruise but they can't really say that they beat you. That's where I wanted to get her right there in between your elbow and your shoulder in the back. I was like lady really right now like we could go blow to blow on the floor except we don't have time because then the burglar would get us. I am having a horrible time processing everything that is happening. The burglar alarm is still yelling. I have yet to be able to get to the burglar alarm pad but honestly, in my brain, I'm thinking, I don't know if I want to turn it off. Because if I turn it off, that's going to alert the alarm company or the police, that I'm safe and not to come. You might be thinking J Smiles what about calling 911, the alarm company, right, up until this point, that had not crossed my mind, that is just how out of sorts I was. Everything rational eluded me. Once it was very clear that Zetty was not going to stop following me down the steps. I turned around, say, good job Zetty, we did everything we were supposed to do, let's go back upstairs and she was as chatty walking back up the steps. Huh JG, where are we going, what are we doing, but I grabbed her hand and scooped her right on back up into her room. I locked the door and thought, girl, where the hell were you going and what were you going to do? You can't fight nobody, you don't know how to shoot a gun, what you're going to do with the knife? I'm not really ready to kill nobody or stabbed nody and can you fight hard enough for yourself and for Zetty? And obviously, Zetty decided this was a tag team situation. Now I will say this, Zetty is my mom and who knows a moment of clarity and fierce protectionism may have come over her to take care of her child. I'm not gonna get into that, but I did not want to risk that kind of miracle needed to come from the heavens. We get in the bedroom, I lock the door, I get my cell phone, the alarm is still ringing and screaming intruder alert, intruder alert. Ya know how after a while It sounds like the battery is starting to get drained and the poor little computer man voice starts to get weak, intruder alert, intruder alert and I was like hell I hope the intruder is still scared or wherever getting the hell away from here. I call 911, they want to know way too much information, then it hits me, Jay, you're not calling from the landline. You're calling from your cell phone, so they can't track you sweetheart. They need to know the address, the color of the house, f you have a driveway, okay, I'm being a little bit of a snit, but they had to have way more information than I was in the mood to give. Because by this time, in my opinion, 12 years had passed. It may have only been six minutes in my heart literally at least 30 minutes had gone by. I'm sure it wasn't that long, but it was such an intense heart pounding adrenaline rush of whatever amount of minutes Zetty and I had gone through. I was like what just come, I kept giving the address. Well, ma'am, describe what's going on, stay on the phone. Y'all Zetty is in the background Steady asking questions because by this time Zetty is starting to get really agitated. She's starting to get disoriented. She's starting to get anxious. How do you hush up your mama while you're trying to explain to 911 that possibly an intruder is breaking into your house as you speak? Obviously, I don't want to scream, hey, there's a burglar in the house. I'm trying to whisper there's a burglar in the house and according to the alarm they're in the kitchen, mud room, breakfast room area. But if I need to talk over my mother's voice I'm almost yelling. What am I supposed to do put my hand over Zetty's mouth? Okay, again, I'm a black woman from the southern part of the United States the south eastern part of the United States, Montgomery, Alabama, to be exact. What I can never do is be disrespectful to my mother. I don't care what her state of mind is, Zetty still will not let me curse in front of her even with the Alzheimer's. If I say something like shit, or hell, she goes JG to this day. I digress, but again, you all are used to that. So the conversation is nutsola, and totally crazy with the 911 operator. That person is asking me very serious and very appropriate questions, but I'm frustrated as hell, because I'm ready for them to get here right now and I'm trying to calm Zetty down and tell her please hush your mouth. But that poor baby she doesn't understand hush, she doesn't understand be quiet. At this point it's 3, 4am she's been startled to she's walked up and down the steps halfway, this loud alarm is still going on. She can sense my energy. She can tell I'm rattled, so she starts to go off the rails, asking all kinds of questions. Now she's putting on her shoes, getting her purse out and trying to keep her from going out the door and she's grabbing her hand from me. Y'all you talking about chaos and I didn't want to put the light on. So her nightlight is still on, but not like enough lights in the room for me to feel comfortable and we still have on our pajamas, so I don't even feel like oh if we got to go jump out the window and do a tuck and roll, that's not gonna be good either. Eventually, the police arrive. Thankfully, the 911 operator stays on the phone with me until the police arrive. Because I tell her, Ma'am, I'm not leaving this room to even turn off the alarm. And so I will have no way of knowing that the police are here because there's no window from my mom's room for me to see the front of the house so please stay on the phone with. Thank goodness, they did that by turn the alarm off, I go down. Zetty comes in tow, right foot, left foot, so we take our little sweet time going down the steps. Zetty wants to talk to the police officers. She is having such a circular conversation. It is a little bit funny at this point because once the police arrive, I'm like, hey, we're safe, hatever they are trained and they have guns. By then I'm delirious in terms of fear and adrenaline all rolled up into frustration. but I feel safe. So I let Zetty just go for it, so at least for three to five minutes these poor police officers are trying to have a conversation with her and I will admit I didn't even stop it. Not that I was trying to be mean, I didn't have the energy. So Zetty was talking to them about how she had to go to work and how she needed them to move their car so that she could get out of the garage. That baby had her own reality. It wasn't really funny, but in the moment, I just needed to catch my breath and I couldn't even pull all my brain cells together enough to calm Zetty down in a way that would have been comforting to her. So I had to give her those four or five minutes to get all that extra energy out. And then I grabbed her hand, put my arms around her shoulder. I said that's right, baby, we're going to get all of that done in just a few minutes. And I said officers, my mom has ALZ and then I mouthed the word Alzheimers in a very low tone so Zetty couldn't hear me say the full word. ALZ thankfully has never clicked to Zetty as an acronym for Alzheimer's, so I can get away with saying that. And then the police officers asked me what happened. I described it to them and they said, "well, ma'am, you all stay in the house. We will do a perimeter check first and then we will come in and check the home." I say great while they were doing that,Zetty and I just sat in the kitchen and I was just holding her hand, letting her ramble and talk about whatever she wanted to and the conversation got more and more convoluted and twisted. As the time passed, and I just let her run with it. I didn't try to stop her at all. Guess what the culprit was? Apparently, a vehicle, the police believed it had to have been a large truck, possibly an 18 Wheeler or something larger than a passenger vehicle was barreling down the road and shook the ground around my house enough to cause a very large, heavy piece of artwork ornamentation, to crash off of the wall inside my house, the way it tumbled off the wall and hit near a window adjacent to the door, made the alarm go nuts. All that extra noise and intruder alert glass break was from a car passing by, y'all know I call the alarm company I said, Hey, I'm going to need you to maybe a little bit turned down the glass break or the sensor or something. Hell, I don't live in California. I'm not on our earthquake fault zone. What in the entire world? There was no person trying to get in. There wasn't an animal scratching at the door, a motor vehicle drove back too fast, oh goodness. Needless to say Zetty and I saw the sunrise the next morning. She was very anxious, quite clingy, and very chatty even after we got back to her bedroom, we got back in the bed, I did every trick I knew, to calm her down, it didn't work. That set of events was so uncommon and so disruptive to her schedule, to her pattern to our pattern, quite honestly, there was no trick to coming back from it. I wanted shots of vodka and a strong man to hold me tight, but neither one of those seemed wise in the moment. The next day was totally unproductive, I was trash. My entire schedule might as well have been erased. As a caregiver, you don't really know when things are going to be flipped upside down, or tossed out the window. As a caregiver so often is hard to explain to other people why we are so depleted, or why we don't have the energy or the wherewithal to even ask for help. Who could have known that the alarm would go off and cause such chaos for Zetty, overnight, in the middle of the night, which would then cause a domino effect for me the next day. In that instance, Zetty wasn't even sick, there was no medical emergency. The house didn't burn down. There was no financial crisis. But yet and still, as a caregiver, I was emotionally and physically drained. The next day, I was creatively, mentally, physically, and emotionally no good for anyone. How do you just call into your job and say, I can't come in today or I'm not going to be any good to you because my burglar alarm went off in the middle of the night. That sounds crazy, right because a lot of people's alarm might go off in the middle of the night, burglar alarm, fire alarm, but is not the same if you're a caregiver and your loved one is disturbed and wakes up and then they cannot go back to sleep and then you have to stay up with them, that's another world. That is a another ball of wax. The snuggle up- number one, non medical emergency can throw us off our day too. Be honest with yourself, those around you, your crew especially your caregiver crew, let people know you need a break, need some time off. If you've had a tough night, even something as small as the alarm went off and threw us way out of whack. Number two, if you and your ello are in a heightened situation, there's a lot of stress in the air, don't expect your ello to be in a better emotional state than you are. If you're freaked out and anxious and scared, just imagine what they must be feeling. Numbe three, remember to laugh. Somet mes you just after laugh at thi stuff. If you are physically o ay and not harmed, and your llo is okay, once the crisis i over, just laugh. Yeah, your e lo may have some c rcular conversations, it may ta e them a minute to calm down, ou get back to sleep, but su h as life is the life of a careg ver. Hopefully in a few days in few weeks, it will be an ther caregiving adventure tha you can share and laugh a out. Number four, join me very Monday night for a ideo broadcast, bodcast, it's a video podcast. It's all abo t caregiving, but a complete y different topic than we ha e her Same title, Parenting Up in partnership with getvokal.com. F llow us on social media, P renting Up has a presence on Y uTube, Facebook and Instagram w th unique caregiving content. T at's it for now. Thank you for l stening. Please subscribe for c ntinuous caregiving tips, ricks, trends, and truth. Prett Pretty please with sugar on to , share and review it too. I'm a comedian, Alzheimers is heav , but we ain't got