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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Brutal Harshness of My Frail Humanity

I'm not quite sure where this is going. But I do know it's going to be honest. You've been warned. If you're the type of person who can't deal with straightforwardness, I'd suggest grabbing the Sunday comic section from last weekend's paper. I've had it. And not just today. It seems to be happening on a day-to-day basis. I keep on saying to myself and my partner, "I've had it." I'm edgy, irritated, upset, and angry and the slightest, oh say, driver who doesn't signal or people who stop at the bottom of escalators in spite of the fact there are a hundred more folks coming right behind them. Even taking the dog for a walk is getting on my nerves. Those are the sorts of things that are like pouring gasoline on a small fire.

As you well know, my MIL has been in the hospital and now in a rehabilitation center for two weeks. She's a horrible patient with even worse patience. It's always like dealing with a child in an adult's clothing. Yeah, okay, so I can sort through that on my better days -- I've known her long enough. But what I can't deal with is the effect that her actions, words, and thought processes continue to have on me, us, both of us. She has officially set "Wednesday as the day I'm going home." Oh, really? No doctors have been consulted, no social workers have advised, no home care has been arranged, and she can't even walk more than around 20 feet at a time. At home she's got an aging dog with breathing difficulties, has to cook and clean for herself, and her apartment is filled with so much furniture that you wouldn't believe it -- all things that we've tried to get rid of for years in an effort to simplify but are all things that she just has to have. She lives in a senior apartment without assistance or care. By herself. I told her yesterday that her going home has a giant mental heaviness that sits on my head because we are the only two responsible for her -- that I'm concerned for her being by herself and that it's us that have to deal with her continued issues. It's like talking to a doorknob. She doesn't care. "I can do it -- I just have to get out of here," she says with that wild-eyed, throw-caution-to-the-wind sort of look in her eyes. Um, yeah....okay, we'll see how that goes. And all of this from a woman who, in a fit of rage and anger, told me several years ago to "Get the hell out of my house and don't ever darken my doorway again." Makes it really tough to even want to help out. And it's not like I don't think she doesn't appreciate our caring....it's simply that I don't think it just doesn't make any real difference many times. It's never quite good enough. (Note to self: Remember this paragraph when we get a phone call in the middle of the night......)

I'm the sole driver in our family -- neither she nor my partner drive. And her other two sons don't live here and have minimal involvement on any sort of productive, essential level in her day-to-day care. Remember, you never know exactly who is going to be wiping your ass at any given point in your life. And if you're looking for a "thank you" from those that you should be receiving a "thank you" from, good luck with that. Caregiving is a real bitch sometimes. And I've honestly really had to sort through that in my mind for years now. And at times like this, I don't do a very good job at it and realize the brutal harshness that is my frail humanity. The pressure's on and there a lot of extra things that have to be done right now. I am solely responsible for anything that requires driving -- her trips to the grocery store, to get her prescriptions, to take her to doctor's visits, to get dog food when she runs out, and and and and........ and, again, I've reached my limit. I don't have the luxury of saying, "No." Occasionally I do. But I feel badly for knowing that I've denied an elderly person their sense of well being and that I'm not being nice. But I just have to draw the lines sometimes. I just cannot do it all.

Whiner? Perhaps. I'm not above confessing and sorting through my shortcomings. Just serve me a nice Brie with the whine, would you please? And a glass of chilled pinot gris would be lovely as well. I do it rarely but I'm afraid that I'm about to be doing it more and more often. These are issues that started long ago and battles that I've waged in my own head and soul for many years. And the feelings have not been resolved. And it's these pressure cooker sort of times that bring out either the best or the worst in folks, you know. I'm an organized, straightforward, logical, common sense thinker sort of guy. I get things done. A mover-and-shaker sort of dweeb. I do not do well at playing games, living with drama and the same old tired stories that I've heard for years. And that doesn't play out well in the land of Oz -- where fantasy, dreams, wishes, and hopes rarely come true.

I wish I were more like my own Mother sometimes. She's quite the woman -- always putting herself second and others first. I consider her and my long-passed grandmother frequently. They both had that innate quality of beauty, consideration for others always, and the gift of providing for others at all costs without complaint or the bad attitudes that pervade me today. I wonder if I can buy, purchase or even steal a better attitude? Either that or somebody's going to strangle somebody.....I swear it. I'm looking for duct tape, bed sheets, and razor blades as we speak.


R Shing-Lai said...

Deep breaths Arnie! :-) Stuff like that can wear n' tear a person, even the most good spirited. But it's good to talk about it. One can't just keep it all inside. I hope she's appreciative on all the things that you and everyone else is doing for her.

Take care sweetie. All and all, I'm glad you're talking about it here. Now where is my Sunday's paper?! :-)

Jim said...

Being selfish is not a crime. How can you drive the car if its out of gas? You need to keep yourself fueled first. Set aside your yoga time as "non-negotiable". Fuel up your person, or you'll run out of gas!

bridgeout said...

How grateful I am for this blog community I have found, and you have here... what would we do if we had nowhere to vent these thins? Like the comment above... it is good to get it out... with a big exhale, and hopefully re-gain just enough wind in our lungs to take a deep breath and keep on. Sounds like you are pretty near out of air my friend. I have some duct tape if that helps... HUGS

Larry Ohio said...

As an outsider looking in, it appears to me that you are doing very well considering the circumstances. Using your blog to blow off steam is very smart. You must feel at least a little relieved after writing this post, right? Keep venting on us. That's what we're here for. *Hugs*

Breenlantern said...

Even Pollyanas have it rough some times I guess...we're all human, no matter how much we want or try to convince ourselves otherwise. You're being challenged, you're stresed and rightly so. Let it out then take a deep breath, accept that life ain't fair sometimes, even to you, and down right sucks at others and then forge ahead until this crisis has passed. Or, drink yourself into oblivion and yoga until it hurts too much to care.

Anonymous said...

Can you negotiate with your partner for him to get a driver's license or to use cabs so he can handle some of the transportation responsibilities? Best of luck to you. I feel your pain.

Michael Guy said...

Your concerns are legit and forget the feeling guilty part. You are losing the ability to cope; short and simple.

Your MIL is an adult and can make 'adult' choices. That reads harsh, I know; I get tired of bailing my mom out of situations that could be avoided if she'd cooperate in her own level of care. It's maddening to always wait for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. I completely understand where you're coming from, Lewis. And I'd advise you to take care of YOU, first, and deal/handle MIL on your terms in the days/weeks ahead.

TSM Oregon said...

Raging hormonal bitch, you say? Nay, my friend! At your limits says I! And rightfully so! Oh honey, give yourself permission to feel the way you do. It's reasonable! Understandable! Even perfect people get frustrated sometimes. No, really! It happens!

Lots of hugs!

annie said...

is there anything your loving, compassionate, caring, adorable sister can do to help?

or your mama?

annie said...

p.s. your whole eagle family is in agreement that 'at least you don't have to live with your stepfather'.

i've made the call to get the pinot stuff and brie delivered to your door.

Geoff said...

Caregiver Fatigue. Plain and simple. I know as I've been there through it all. I feel for you buddy. I'm sending you an email as there are several agency programs that give rides to seniors and can help w/your stress. The world isn't on your shoulders, it just feels like it. Big hug.

Birdie said...

Does your community have a 211 line? It is the connection to all of your community resources, and it has no requirements for income or ability. If you don't know where to turn, they'll tell you. Your MIL is eligible for community assistance, and you need to live for yourself as well as others.

As long as you continue to let yourself be overused, you are encouraging the behavior that leads to it. It is NOT selfish to draw the line. It is self-preservation. Take care of yourself too, honey.

Princessa lil mexico said...

Remember Papi.. I am here for you!

Ur-spo said...

care taking is one of the most stressful jobs I know. It brings up all sorts of issues and tensions. You are not alone; I wish you luck and support.

wcs said...

Sending you a smile. Do with it what you will. :)

Stacey said...

Tough situation to find yourself in. You really know you are doing it out of the goodness of your heart and spirit when it's not properly appreciated, and you keep on doing it anyways.

Sorry she's a crankasaurus.

annie said...

okay, it's wednesday......what's the update???

Blair said...

For some reason, this is the song going through my mind.....I am so sorry you have had to endure this with me and my family and appreciate you and everything you do for me and mom......I love you!

All my bags are packed
Im ready to go
Im standin here outside the door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin
Its early morn
The taxis waitin
Hes blowin his horn
Already Im so lonesome
I could die

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that youll wait for me
Hold me like youll never let me go
cause Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Theres so many times Ive let you down
So many times Ive played around
I tell you now, they dont mean a thing
Evry place I go, Ill think of you
Evry song I sing, Ill sing for you
When I come back, Ill bring your wedding ring

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that youll wait for me
Hold me like youll never let me go
cause Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Now the time has come to leave you
One more time
Let me kiss you
Then close your eyes
Ill be on my way
Dream about the days to come
When I wont have to leave alone
About the times, I wont have to say

Oh, kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that youll wait for me
Hold me like youll never let me go
cause Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

But, Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

RAD said...

All I can say is I LOVE YOU Mr A.L. and you have Jeff and I for anything...Maybe you need to come up so we can cheer you up? Soon we hope...I SO TOTALLY get this whole post. I KNOW what you mean and you touch som nany areas I can relate too....wow...Hang in there and know you have good freinds and support! XO

WAT said...

Caregiving is hard work. My best bud/ex has to deal with a cranky handicapped aunt that is worse than a baby, so I totally sympathize. I'm so selfish, I'd have to hire help or something.

UGH! Try and hang in there.

"Just David!" said...

Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.

It's a quote but I forget from who! Sorry things aren't going well for you. Just remember, you get back way more than you give if you do it with an open heart!