one a day

One day it was a visit to the dentist (me). The next, the doctor’s (me). The next a screaming meltdown (me). I’m having some weird symptoms — head rushes accompanied by a fog that drifts over the lower part of my right eye. Next week I’ll go for a neck sonogram and a blood test and see what they turn up. I imagine it’s just stress. Did I say JUST stress????!!!
I’m making every effort to take care of myself while we try to take care of my mother. She’s eating very well but is still weak. And her ability to focus mentally on anything continues to wane. She wants to talk incessantly because that’s all that she seems able to do, unless she goes into her bedroom and moves things around in her dresser drawers — which my sibling thinks she shouldn’t do (he wants her to sit and watch tv and rest) but I think is better for her than just sitting and sleeping all of the time. When we sit together, she drives me crazy telling the same stories over and over, asking the same questions, confusing situations and people… I’m getting to the point at which I can’t stand spending time with her when I don’t have actual caregiving chores to do. Those I actually don’t mind. I like to be busy.
When she goes to her follow-up doctor’s appointment next week, he will give us a referral for some home care that Medicare will pay for. What she needs more than anything is a companion — someone without the baggage I still carry around who might even find her an amusing and charming little old lady. I have never found her either, and I can’t get past that.
I do try. I really do. Every day if she feels up to it (and the idea always seems make her a little more chipper), I turn on the CD player and spin some of those oldies that a college chum sent me and some slow polkas that our cousin down in Florida sent us, and we do some small dance steps around the living room. I let her lead. She likes to do jitterbug turns under my arm, but much more slowly than they are supposed to be done. She smiles. I smile. She is up and moving and she doesn’t need to talk. The music makes us both feel better. Dancing is the one thing we both like to do.
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The comments I keep getting from blogger friends also makes me feel a lot better. And I also get encouraging comments and emails from non-bloggers who have googled something they were interested in and found my site by happenstance. And, of course, of course, my family. It all makes a difference in helping me keep on keeping on. It really does.
So, thanks to Shelley the Burningbird, and Maria at Alembic, and the divine Betsy, and tamarika, and to all of you non-bloggers who also keep me in your thoughts.
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I keep thinking that I always have the choice to turn around and walk away from all of this. Maybe that’s what keeps me here — knowing that I have the choice not to be. In my mind, I put myself in her place, in her head. It’s scary. Really scary. I keep telling myself that I won’t become like her. I’ve lived a different kind of life, physical, mental, creative. I will not allow myself to become bored; there are too many things I like to do. And I can do lots of them sitting down, if I’m limited in that way. If I keep using my mind, use it so that I don’t lose it, maybe I won’t be stuck someday driving my own daughter crazy telling the same stories over and over, asking the same questions, over and over, and confusing past, present, and fantasy.
Please, please. I hope.

9 thoughts on “one a day

  1. It’s a tremendous amount of stress you’re dealing with, not just day in and day out, but all those nights too. You have to take care of yourself, and it’s good you’ll be seeing the doctor.

  2. Elaine, best wishes on your own medical situation. As to the last paragraph in this latest entry, so many of us share this same hope and fear as we watch our parents deteriorate. You describe it beautifully.

  3. Dear Elaine,
    Stress definitely affects the body. We have to react and get it out somewhere. So take good care of yourself too. I simply cannot imagine what you are going through. And with our mothers it is always difficult to know where one begins and the other ends. That resonates with me in my life so much. Try and remember that you are not your mother. You had different life experiences, parents, configuration of genes … you are you and your beginning, middle and end is your own … done in your very own way.
    I continue to hold you in my thoughts.

  4. Well I’m glad to hear you are getting a referral. If you are having medical symptoms yourself (which I don’t like hearing) then it is time for you to back away some and let someone else take the reins some of the time. So I encourage you to really move forward with that. Get someone in as soon as possible to help and start focusing on your own well being. That is as important as taking care of Nan.

  5. Agreed with previous post. Enough is enough, E, and you’ve reached that point. It’s time for fulltime help, medical and otherwise. What good do you do anyone by making yourself ill? None. I know what you promised once, and you’ve kept it. I also know about this mother/daughter guilt scenario that women are plagued with. Time for all of that to be disregarded in favor of 2 things: salvaging your own health, and getting your mom the professional help that’ll do you both good. As I said: enough is enough. There’s no shame/guilt connected with admitting it’s gone beyond what you can handle now. Please: major help.

  6. Elaine, i am reminded of you nearly every day in little parts of the real world I see around me, especially when I see an older daughter and her even-older mother at the store, one sort of caretaking the other, and I think that’s probably how it started for you, and now you are doing ALL the caretaking, and don’t know how you muster the stamina — after all these years of doing it — to keep on. I’m glad you are going to the dr. for you. Keep us posted.

  7. I have to say I’m surprised that, in all the supportive posts for you, no one else has said you’ve done more than enough. That you needn’t feel badly/guilty/failure by seeking outside assistance to come in and take some of the burden. Personally, I’d like to see more stating support for YOU getting the help YOU need to help Nan.
    REmember, you have a daughter, a son, a grandson who prefer you around for along time to come. Please don’t jeopardize that out of some sense of super-obligation. You’ll still be there for her even if you bring in someone else. But it will take the solo pressure off you.
    I’ve said all along, you’ve done, and continue to do a wonderful thing for her. But you no longer need, or should, go it alone. Her deterioration is too great to care for without help. And it has taken enough toll on you.
    You have done all you can on your own — now bring in someone to assist. You aren’t abandoning, or handing her over. Just getting the help you need to continue to care for her at home. Which continues to be a noble and loving thing to do.

  8. “Yeah… b!X, get yer lazy ass over here…!”
    That, I must immediately point out, is written in jest. Elaine, you put it best:
    “I keep thinking that I always have the choice to turn around and walk away from all of this. Maybe that’s what keeps me here — knowing that I have the choice not to be.”
    Daily, over decades, I’ve chosen not to drink. I decide on inaction, difficult as it may be. Should I choose otherwise, act and decide to take that drink, I lose all choice in the matter.
    I dunno, Elaine, they say these things are sent to try us. They do, but I reckon they’re sent to teach us too. I think it’s about love and you should, by now, know better than most that you are the one person you can trust to make the right decision for you.
    We’re leaning posts. So lean on us. But do whatever you feel you need to do. We’ll be around as long as you. No matter what.

  9. Well, I spent the afternoon out on my own roaming the dollar store et al. Tomorrow I have a massage. So I am doing some things for myself. On Tuesday, when we take mom for her doc follow-up, I will know better where she stands and will line up help accordingly. I don’t mind the work as long a I can have more time to myself. I’ve got a plan….

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