Tag Archives: parents

Caregiving challenges

His face a maze of rivulets and ravines, crutches help bear the weight he carries,
his feet heavy, movements ponderous. Yes, age has wormed its way into his bones
but more, he carries the years upon years of caring for a willful, capricious wife –
most times removed, caught up in her own world, with people and presences
no one else can share or know, leaving him alone with the battle of care.

Caregivers have a heavy burden even with the easiest people those with minds still clear, bodies more or less functional. Whose age or disease make the need for care, daily or occasionally, a burden, willing or not.

But for others, caregiving  carries a much different burden. When they must manage a violent or mentally challenged person, a person with bipolar or schizophrenic
episodes, one whose body has worn out, needing total care, it can make the caregiver
sicker than the person cared for.

That old man has cared for his wife since she had nervous breakdowns forty years prior, sitting by her bed every minute, ignoring all else, including his only son, alone, left to fend for himself, do the shopping, laundry, cleaning.

He has abided her demands, given into whims, defended her right to choose not to medicate. In so doing, she has chosen a tangled trail leaving her family to carry a hard burden of care allowing the right of self-choice to medicate and feel largely better or be “in control” of herself as she berates, hits, babbles, ignores him or
or talks gibberish. BUT always remains the center of attention.

The burden of caregivers is their lives aren’t their own, at the least for sizable chunks of time.  From bill paying and shopping, to bathing, feeding and all facets of self care,
they spend from Sunday visits to constant care for family or hired professionals.

When it comes to Alzheimer’s, all bets are off. You are not often recognized for yourself. Hitting, endless paranoid pacing, constant distraction, inability to  voice thoughts coherently . . .it is exhausting. But it is also a means to give back, to make amends, to relish the moments you have because they may not be long.

That old man now must also contend with a son who believes his mother has every right to choose not to medicate, even though all who are part of her life are negatively affected by that choice. The son refuses to listen to his own children who have enough detachment to see the situation more clearly.

When the Father is overwhelmed, the son brings her, 600 miles away, to his home
where she sits alone, hour after hour, or wanders off with the dog, lost, unaware of where she is or why others are yelling at her to get off the street. It’s not care, not a solution, it’s an ill-chosen stop-gap measure that could hurt or kill her.

We need to be aware of the long-term effects of the decisions we make for our loved ones or those under our care. Sometimes the right solution is personal care by the family, sometimes it’s professional care within the home, but assisted living or skilled nursing homes may be the best options too.  Money is, of course, a vital component in decision-making, as is insurance coverage, and what the impact will mentally have for the person being cared for.

Perspectives

They yelled, shouted, screamed . . .
The old man with tears running
in the wrinkled rivulets of his skin.
The old woman babbling to her voices
giggling like a girl
or reigning supreme . . .
all attention on her.

The old man may too soon
buckle under the strain of her care,
under the lack of care to himself –
a good man, a kind man,
who wants the best
for a woman who would rather
listen to her voices
than be with him.

Their son firmly believes
in her right not to take medications
which would normalize her life
at least in fractions
of the beautiful woman
so terribly traumatized
by the Communist government
that over rid her land, her people,
making her beg for an egg for her child.

The triangle continues
but not as fierce as this
those watching hearing her secrets –
her hitting of a mate of 60 years
over and over again.
He sitting by her bed
for months at a time
when she was in crisis
and unable to rise and rejoin the world.

How her son snatched
roles of husband, father, son –
emasculating the man who deserves
so much more
by not respecting his father’s
needs, wants, care and pain.

While the old man’s tears course down,
and the babble of voices
inside her head
swirl madly around.

Setting the Record Straight

Setting the record straight

My daughter recently asked for more information about the years when addiction to prescription drugs had me in its jaws. My paranoia ratcheted up – was she going to build more walls between us? Accuse me yet again? Would she use the material to push me further away? I feel the loss of her love, the loss of a child before it was destroyed by memories of dark times. What do I remember? ( Please understand I don’t remember everything because of the drugs and the TBI) Crushing depression, manipulation, arguments with my mother and theft from her accounts. At times a total incomprehension of responsibility, of providing enough support for my children and myself.

Days upon days in pain, when I could not get off the couch. Driving my daughter and her friends while pills sloshed around in my stomach, seemingly weekly Doctor visits. Going to bed one Day and waking two days later to the incessant calls from my daughter to pick her up from work. I couldn’t walk much less drive. Driving my son and daughter to activities in no shape to operate a vehicle.

Of seizures followed by hope and a teenager’s anger of betrayal. Of other people parenting her when I could not. And of other people not trusting their children at my home. And her embarrassment.

Of negating the parenting of my son because he was so hard for me to control. And letting him live 3,000 miles away, raised by members of his church because his dad spent his time at his girlfriend’s and not checking to make sure he had a safe and nurturing life. I didn’t know this at the time. Not until I was a few years sober.

Of a letter jacket showing up on our doorstep – one I should have gotten myself. My daughter was one of 3 people in the history of Gilbert School, and likely the only girl, to ever earn 12 Varsity letters with no jacket to put them on. In an over 100 year old school. I just couldn’t think of it.

Of my daughter developing anorexia due to the stress of holding herself together, working so very hard for her education, and coming home to care for me. Her stress of living with a pill head mother. Her grandmother and aunt moved to take action before I did. I was too scared of what was happening. . . maybe too oblivious. I don’t think that was it. I just didn’t know what to do. I talked to her doctor but didn’t know how to take
action. And I was scared to death for her.

Of tears, an ocean’s worth, of self-pity, abysmal self-esteem and pain. Of confusion. I just didn’t know what was happening to me, to her, to my son, and my family life. Life was too painful to live. I wanted nothing more than to die. And almost did.

Sending Tasha, my dog, back to my ex’s because he wouldn’t agree to euthanize her when she was in so much pain, when I had to carry her outside to go to the bathroom. Then so upset when she spent her last two years in the garage because she couldn’t control her bowels in the house.

Not having a proper bed or room for my son when he came to visit. I could have gotten him a futon. I should have given him a home.

Understanding after the fact the guilt Alex felt for leaving my daughter with me when my son was no better off with him.

Of stripping my daughter of her summer vacation plans when my summer was spent in recovery. Being told I was an addict and my agreeing “Yep, that’s me” . And through it all, trying to get help but not being able to because the medical conditions that got me on pills where too severe for rehabs and hospitals to want to risk their reputations on.

I was in intense physical pain all the time and all over my body – inside and out. I wanted to commit suicide many times but was tethered to my kids. I wouldn’t do that to them. My ancestors were rife with all manner of abuse – I didn’t want it to continue.

I wanted so much to be there for my children but I was exhausted and there were days working as a library cataloger, teacher’s aide or caregiver. I wanted so much to be well. I even went to a meeting but felt judged by my friends. It was I judging myself. I felt like a worm and when I was outside I would pick up worms on the pavement and put them on the grass – I must have saved the same worm 100 times.

You have to understand – I was on oxygen, grossly overweight. I hated myself and knew you were embarrassed by me.

I went to my daughter’s soccer games. It had been her life since pre-school. It was her soul. But I always felt shunned by the women although Lynn took pity on me and let me sit by her. I went to my son’s as well, but
his coach belittled him and he gave up soccer for good.

Basketball had never appealed to me, so I didn’t go to the games. I knew no one there. The women sat there clipping coupons – I didn’t feel welcome.
Track I did enjoy but it hurt to stand on my feet for so long.

But I wanted her to never forget how much I loved her and was proud of her. I loved watching at games.

I loved watching her dive. Often it felt like poetry, dancing. I left after diving even though I knew she would be in races strictly because it was hard for me to breathe in so much humidity.

I knew she was ashamed of me. I tried to get help but this was one that had me in its snares. I remember stumbling in the doctor’s office, partly to show how sick I was, partly for real.

One time I was staying at mom’s while sick. She opened the door while I was taking my pills. She saw all the pills and freaked out. It was then when I got away from my doctor and went to another’s practice, which started the road to recovery.

When I was at Doctors’ offices I’d look in the cabinets for drugs. I found pills in my first doctor, ones he shouldn’t have had. I found anesthetics at one or two doctors’ and injected them in my shoulders or thighs. Stupid, insane, but I was insane and didn’t care.

But NOT ONCE did I have a drink! I knew I could – I’d already blown my sobriety, but not that. It was the only way I could save myself.
Mom tried in her way but mostly she was enabling me. I wanted to be on par with my sisters but that wasn’t going to happen.

One time I had to go to the hospital by ambulance. The EMTs needed to know what medicines I was taking. I just showed them the half-filled laundry basket full of them. They couldn’t believe it. People still are when they find how many I still have to take. I can’t. The pills hold me together and treat the symptoms of other drugs. It scares me. I wanted help, I just couldn’t get the help I need to do it. Believe that.

I was addicted so fast and tolerance level rose so rapidly. I was angry at my first doctor, at Mom, at the facilities that wouldn’t take me, at the futility of my existence, at the poor excuse I was as a mother. There was no connection with God except anger.

I am so very sorry for all my son and daughter went through. They deserved so much more. Being in CT was a bad choice in me ways but in others I needed it. I sometimes worked, had a roof over our heads, gave my daughter the school she needed. Tried very hard to get the academic support my son needed while he was with me. I don’t know how I would have made it in CA. I got on SSDI and other sources. I had people to guide me through the process.

It took a lot to get me straight again. After my daughter found me in the midst of a grand mal seizure, and sat with me at the hospital through 4 more, my doctor admitted me for a ten day withdrawal. I then went to a rehab for three weeks followed by 5 weeks of out-patient classes. Then it was back to AA.

I have been sober now for 11 years and though my life is often a hard one, I have not used. But pills are different than alcohol. For me, the draw to it comes back at times even though I choose not to follow it. It feels good to have a life again.

Without A Voice

WITHOUT A VOICE

His touch whispered against her flesh,
softly, gently, weaving a pattern
of infinite acceptance
of the safety of his arms within
which she felt,
of the sanctity of their home
which they had built together,
and the murmured sighs
of the children they created . . .

Yet within the voiceless plea
echoed through her veins,
take me to freedom,
no more despair.

They had such looks for each other
sending others questing
for the secret so obviously born
in the passion they shared.
And gazing into his eyes,
she felt she was falling
into he liquid pools of green amber,
a falling away from herself
into ways of her choosing.

Yet within the voiceless plea
echoed through her veins,
take me to freedom,
no more despair.

For within the quietness of his voice
roared a rage which scorched her,
though rarely shouted,
its timber reverberated  through her body
causing the cells to bang
against each other,
the skin to break forth in bruising.

Yet within the voiceless plea
echoed through her veins,
take me to freedom,
no more despair.

Never did his arm raise to strike
but his words bore a power,
far greater than physical force,
for once the wound heals,
the mind forgets, and beatings
feather about the edges
of blurred memory,
but words give birth
to inflictions of the soul,
and lie manifest in bruises
born on the flesh,
as silent legacy
to what her own words
cannot speak.

 

 

 

 

 

Bipolar I or Bipolar II?

THE DISEASE

My moods have been a shifting morass of muddied feelings based on circumstances beyond my control of late. People outside my body have been making profound influences on me. Or on my deductions and inferences.

Every part of my life seems under attack. Work, family, money, it never seems to end. Its affected my disease as well. I’m beginning to think I have bipolar I, not II. Food consumes me. I buy as much as I have money for. Living below the poverty line but spending $200+ one week and $150 the next for 1 person. My fridge, freezer and pantry cannot hold more. And its not like I can eat it all, so all that food is wasted. I am globally conscious of the ramifications of too much versus too little food. I just am not aware of the expense and overload while the impulsiveness lasts.

There are so many expenses I have and have coming up. A friend has suggested I get a caseworker. It makes me feel like I am backsliding. Some of the people in my apartment building have caseworkers, I did too a long while back. God, I HATE this Disease! I feel so alone with this but if nothing else, this blogging has shown me I am not alone. I belong to a Bipolar clubhouse. They are great people but some are so sick its scary.

My trouble is I’m too smart for my own good. But is it arrogance or fear that keeps me separate? And how do I resolve myself to this being a life thing? Day by day? Sometimes truisms just don’t cut it. Sometimes you just need to know how to successfully negotiate today. Good idea – just wish I could remember it when I need to.

In the end … We only want not to be forgotten

https://TheCommons.wordpress.com/writeanythingwednesdays.

Lately, whether I’ve been feeling sorrow at the huge holes in parts of my life or the fact I’ll be 60 this year, I’ve thought, off and on again, about the likelihood of my being remembered when I am gone. I’ve moved about 15 times in my life. Most I knew have forgotten me, of that I am sure, even when I have not them.

I have lived alone for the past 20 years and am a private person. Who will remember me? With a gentle spirit, one who doesn’t waves, do I have a presence? Does a pond, clear as glass, with nary a ripple to mar it’s surface, have a presence?  Unless the fishing is really great, will others choose

We all want to think we have made a difference in those we knew and hence, the world, in ever expanding ripples. My mother was a fiercesome, generous, loving, gregarious woman whose death filled our large church. My Dad,a quiet,gentle soul, had fewer people even though he had been a beloved pastor there in years back. My mother died at her desk of a massive heart attack. Believe me, she could give people heart attacks, me so on a regular basis. But she was also generous, pro-active, and a self-starter who created her own businesses, one of which still runs through my sister. My Dad drifted away into demensia for the last 12 or so years of his life, loosing his presence word by word – a sin for such a smart, wise person. But who do you think I have thought so much more of? The person I had the most issues to work through … Mother.

My children are fabulous people who have been achieving successful, happy, fulfilling lives. But it is their Father they will remember more. Not only is he nearby, but he can do the most for them. I love them with every breathe I take but in the end, it won’t matter. I am the passive pond, 3,000 miles away, with nothing to leave them when I go.

There is no real end to this piece. Only the future can answer these questions. A homeless, mentally impaired, nonviolent person will likely be forgotten before he even dies. I’ve worked with the elderly, in these later years, within Memory Care units and I can tell you, most of them are obligatory marks to be checked off the calendar on certain holidays or birthdays. And many have been warehoused there and forgotten. Nursing homes are even worse.  People can be mere chattel there.

I once knew a wonderful woman who died at 104. She lived in my mother’s residential home for the elderly. Her many progeny lived all over the valley she lived in. In the years I knew her, I knew of 2 people who visited, extremely rarely. That was over a 17 year period. She was gentle, Godly, and kind .. . and forgotten.  Another woman I knew had been placed in a mental hospital with a nervous breakdown. Her husband died, she couldn’t be released unless to family but all her family was in Sweden.  Although fully lucid, gentle, Godly, she was forgotten in a ward of 40 women – all stark raving lunatics and forgotten as well.

So in the end, are we forgotten? Most of us, yes. The detestable or the famous ones who created much good in the world, theirs are the lives which will go on with a resounding ring. We push our heads out of the earth, blossom, and provide our smell and beauty. And then die. But, like a single blossom, quickly forgotten. I guess the world and its people must always be future facing for our race and the world to continue. So cheers to the forgotten ones. May many blossoms grow where they lie. https://TheCommons.wordpress.com/writeanythingwednesdays

Program for Parents with Young Children

Somewhere in the world it’s still Wednesday . . . right?  Hoping so because I can barely remember what week it is – scratch that – I Can’t remember what week it is much less what day it is.  I judge the days by whether it’s a work day or not.  I work part-time so that is an easier judge for me.  Nevertheless, I have trouble in this area.

I’ve been feeling an overwhelming need to contribute  to the world.  To volunteer, to write something, anything with meaning to someone more than myself (Not that this is).  I’m hopefully going to start a group for parents and children at my church.  We are a poor, small, and largely elderly lot in a colossal, stone church with magnificent Tiffany windows that is also elderly and in need of repairs.  It is my hope that younger families and children will become interested in joining although that is not my primary focus.

Young, stay at home parents are frequently isolated, lonely, full of questions out of answers  and bored with the daily routine. When I was younger, there was a program in our town where parents would meet once a month for a program while their children were babysat.  The program each month would focus on a different aspect of importance to parents. A speaker might talk for 20-30 minutes, followed by a question-answer period. Topics could include: Saving for College funds, When to get a tutor for your child, First Aid, Budgeting for childhood expenses.  There are plenty of relevant topics to draw from.  (If any of you have suggestions, please let me know).

Children would be in a separate area with minders who have been background checked. Activities would be provided for participation. At the end of the parents’ time, there could be a potluck lunch.

Out of this, a couple of programs could evolve.  First, a babysitting co-op could be developed.  A parent needing a few hours off could find another parent in the co-op to babysit.  The parent would then owe the co-op a number of points which would need to be eliminated by babysitting for someone else in the group.  A small steering committee would keep track of the data and ensure quality care was being given. For instance, if a babysitter talks on the phone or works on a computer the entire time, watches inappropriate (adult, violent) shows,  or is using drugs or alcohol during babysitting sessions the person could be eliminated from the program or warned, depending on the severity of the issue.

Another program I would hope to see emerge from the program would be playgroups that met weekly or every other week at different parks or places in the area. My children were in a playgroup from the time my oldest was five months old until he entered kindergarten.  The playgroup mothers continued to celebrate births or other special occasions after the kids went to school.  We even had an annual mothers’ weekend away at the beach.

There are a couple of more ideas I have for this population but they can wait a while.  The nice thing is, once started, my contribution would be obtaining speakers while all else could be run by the parents.  I’m past those years so it would not be appropriate for me to be involved any more.  As I said, suggestions are welcome.  Puleaseeee . . .

 

 

Target . . . Me

I was reading a new blog, Awkword and what Michelle has asked us to do in choosing a target audience and I realized not only do I not have one I am aware of, but I don’t know who the target me is.  I have lived alone for 20 years. No dating, not a really active social life, and though there are some reasons why, I also find myself saying, once in a while, why not?

My writing can tend to be somewhat, or very, on the dark side.  I have a low to mid grade bipolar condition.  It keeps me more on the depressed or withdrawn section of life.  I also have a boat-load of physical issues and have for all those years and before. So I suppose I might draw people who have similar issues.  These can range from the conditions: once I was on O2 for 2 12 years and have had asthma, chronic eosinophilic pneumonia, and emphysema in greater or lesser strengths for all my adult life.  Fibromyalgia dogs me. I lost more than 3/4 of my intestines and gall bladder when I went septic and my systems shut down and was in a coma 3 weeks.  When I woke it was to complete loss of muscle memory.  This past year I had back surgery which didn’t help. I’ve had a migraine most of the last three months.  See what I mean?  There is more but that alone can make for a target audience.

I have Traumatic Brian Injury – caused during the coma, but which creates its own set of problems.  My memory is not always reliable. I suppose it is an understatement.  My sister calls it CRAFT – can’t remember a fucking thing.

Because of these factors, I am legally disabled. Work is hard. Complex assignments are too hard to process. Simple assignments bore the crap out of me.  I can’t work too much because Medicaid and my body won’t let me.  So I have been a caregiver for numerous years. I started off as a Business Management Consultant with clients all over the country.  Quite the let-down.

I am a mother of two twenty somethings 3,000 miles away from me and happy that way. They are living their lives well and that is the most any mother could ask.  But I live near my sisters and my 8 year old nieces are my delight.

Oh yes,  I am a recovering drug and alcohol addict – and food.  I have been sober from alcohol for more than 35 years with a 5 year break for a 5 year addiction to prescription pain killers which ended 11 years ago and had a horrible effect of my kids, especially my daughter. So there’s guilt and shame I can’t seem to let go of.

AND – I’ve wanted to be a writer  and missionary all my life.  I’ve been published a few times and I have an opportunity to go on a mission in 2017.  Until then I do what I can here.  I write a lot of poetry, some memoir pieces, and non-fiction articles  about women who have achieved greatness through tremendous adversity.  I write about what I know and want to know; what is inspirational to me and religion and spirituality.

So if you can find a target audience in all that, except that I probably sound very self-involved . . . playing with my navel and all that; let me know. And I still have to figure out pages, widgets, you name it.  Learning to be a good blogger is taking a long time . . . did I tell you about my TBI?

I welcome tips and comments.  I truly want to grow. So give me a hand why dontcha’.

 

 

It’s over

Ahhhhh!  It’s over. No more baking
multitudes of cookies
No more frantic hunting
for just the right gift –
that probably won’ be anyway.
No more parties I
don’t want to be at.

No more listening to Uncle Harvey’s
lame, stupid jokes he s said
every year since I can remember.
No more sloppy kisses from
Great Aunt Gertrude.
No more car, plane, train rides
that seem to last for days,
sometimes more.

Did you see that sweater
my blessed mother gave me,
knitting into the wee hours
of dark, cold night?
Well it will do for the
ugly sweater party next year.

No more watching the uncles
and Dear Old Dad, get smashed,
knocking over the Christmas tree.
Then drive them home –
George lives two hours away!

You know?
I’m actually kind of bored.

Among the Food Lines

food line in winterThe line is long – 200 deep
some people  standing here for 2 hours
shifting foot to foot
sitting on cold cement
mostly quiet although some know
each other way back chatter away

An amorous couple
display their affections
to the ire of those around them
she plies her wares among those
with a few dollars to spare

Mentally challenged
follow steps they’ve taken
0ver and over again
sad, sometimes angry,
depends on whether they
have medications to take.

Drug addled young people
laughing, jumping, in their cliques,
checked out of traditional paths
sleeping bags strapped to their backs
pandering for spare cash

An old man talking
about his campsite at the river
off the beaten path
the squirrels and birds he feeds
comfortable and safe

Unemployed
men with hard eyes and tough frowns
others sad – no jobs available
mothers keeping children close
families struggling –
without the lines – nothing

Physically challenged
approach lines in walkers, with canes,
one man has motorized wheelchair
he rides around town with.
some stumbling, limping, in casts
many lack medical coverage
to assist glaring needs

Old woman curled in her tattered blankets
bothering no one
no home to go to
hoping the shelter
will have a bed tonight

These are the ones
not too proud for hand outs
so many others go without
but won’t associate with
the poor unworthy
who go home with food