Tony was already up at night at least once for a bathroom visit; and over our years together I seemingly kept my ear attuned to his movements. I either lay still to await the sound of a flush or half-leaned on one elbow to watch for his shadow coming into the room again. One night I saw that Tony was fumbling with anxiety at the closet door, his need to get to the bathroom was urgent but the way was somehow not clear. I called out to him, and arose to take his hand and lead the way, then waited in the hallway until he emerged. He immediately turned the wrong way and began moving toward the stairs!
We spoke naught of Tony’s confusion the next day, but that afternoon I set out to buy a folding baby gate to install in the upper hallway. Tony did not seem to have any recollection of uncertainty the night before; and was both affronted and verbal when I told him of my concerns for his safety. “What the hell are you talking about” he roared. We felt sure it may well have been an isolated incident – I reassured him that I would take the gate down as soon as we were certain Tony could get to and from the bathroom without mishap.
I had no experience whatsoever with a baby gate….I’d seen them in place before for puppies and small children but the “how to” was not hands-on information! I did realize though the probability that Tony could easily trip over the top edge – especially if he was moving forward and didn’t realize it was there, so I set it in place about chest high. He would at least feel some resistance and hopefully would realize where he was.
Sleep did not come easily that night; I stayed alert. Eventually the mattress lurched and I quickly sat upright to watch and wait. First, the flick of the bathroom light, followed by the flush… a momentary silence…Tony walked into the gate and swore vociferously. His reaction was more from surprise than displeasure; my brain whirled as I tried to visualize an early-warning system!
The next day, with a giggle, I searched through one of the many boxes of Christmas decorations and retrieved a cluster of jingle bells, which I tied to the gate.
In time, with increasing side effects, Tony was redirected to a different drug and the baby gate was taken down and set aside.