Rescue Me, Willy Wonka


Rescue Me, Willy Wonka

Mom's stroke left her with some hallmark deficits that are worsening. There are some things that I can easily put in check and approach with a sense of humor, others not so much.

The past few days, I feel like I won a ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory. I can personally identify myself as an Oompa Loompa. Yes, I am undertall and carrying more weight than I should. Thankfully, my skin is a healthier shade and my wardrobe consists of more t-shirts and stretch pants than stripped shirts and baggy lederhosen pants. Nonetheless, I identify with Mr Wonka's words when he explains the history of the Oompa Loompa people. "Poor little Oompa Loompas were so small and helpless, they would get gobbled up right and left. A Whangdoodle would eat ten of them for breakfast and think nothing of it."

This week in caregiving, the Whangdoodles are eating me alive. I would like to introduce you to the Whangdoodles who co-exist with me in my mom's home. Mr. Impulsivity Whangdoodle entices my mom to move from wherever she is and to throw all caution to the wind.

On Thursday, I settled my mom into the dining room chair to eat supper. She had everything she needed-- a bowl of beef stew, a buttered slice of bread, and iced tea. I went to sit on the couch which is no more than 10 feet from her chair. Mom began to eat supper but then got up, grabbed her walker, and headed into the kitchen which is also the short-cut to the bathroom. She usually navigates this path easily and I didn't think much of it until I heard a thump, crash, and ensuing chaos of other non-human things cascading to the floor.

I ran into the kitchen and saw her on the floor. There were two slices of bread on the linoleum. After I assessed her for injuries and dead-lifted her from the floor, I asked what she was doing. She said, "I wanted some more bread." She didn't ask for help as Mr. Impulsivity Whangdoodle whispered in her ear, "Go ahead, she isn't looking at you right now, you know you want some more bread, go get it." Impulsivity Whangdoodle, I hate you... go away.

Later that night, another Whangdoodle reared its ugly head. Meet Compulsivity Whangdoodle. Mom's routine is fairly predictable. When it is time for bed, we go into the bathroom and I help her undress, wash, and change. Compulsivity drives everything we do. Compulsivity screams commands in Mom's ear and she then repeats the ideas out loud to me. Mom is always three steps ahead of me. I want to scream back, "I know. I know. We do this every night. Do you think I need instruction?" I ask Mom to be patient as I can only do one thing at a time. My pleas are heard and acknowledged but are short-lived as she resorts back to giving me new instructions.

I fantasize about the day when Mr. Wonka comes to visit us and says, "Come and live with me in peace and safety, away from all the Whangdoodles, and Hornswogglers, and Snozzwangers, and rotten, Vermicious Knids."

I haven't met those other creatures yet but the Whangdoodles who devour my sanity are enough. Like the Oompa Loompas, I feel small and helpless.

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Oh, the Whangdoodles! You are doing a great job of identifying them! Thanks for such a wonderful post. There are so many caregiving lessons here that regular folks just don't realize the challenges we face. May you continue to find the humor and blessings every day!

Tracey Martin

LilMagill, I actually started to write this by creating the analogy of my mother and Veruca Salt. The \" I want it an Oompa Loompa NOW!\" mentality. I then thought about it as \"I love my mom, I don't love the behavior.\" Because of the vascualr dementia, she is not in control of the behaviors. It caused me to reflect and try to separate the two. This was my light-hearted attempt to acknowledge the forces that are pulling at her (and me) every day. Now, I keep telling myself, its the Whangdoodle not her.


This really made me smile! I love the Whangdoodle metaphors. :-) But I also really feel for you frustration.


Routine...I'd love for things to be routine at least in the restroom arena. And, I could really go for a Wonka bar (not that I NEED one...sigh).