Friday, July 21, 2017

Just shoot me...

I just read another caregiver's blog entry that was written a few years ago. In it, the author is discussing that she has heard several caregivers express that if they are ever diagnosed with Alzheimer's that they will tell their children to "just shoot me".  The author was upset by this sentiment because she* felt that it lessened the value of her mother's life -that Alzheimer's patients, somehow, don't have a purpose. I understand what she's saying, I just think that there is another side to it.

I have never said those words, but I understand the feeling behind the words. I have told my girls that it's okay to put me in a home and just walk away if they choose. It's not that my life won't be of value or have purpose, all lives have purpose. I don't have to be with them to have value. I want them to be able to live their lives without the evilness of this disease taking away so much that they've already given once. It means that they have the freedom to make choices that are good for their lives, with no guilt. If they choose to stick with me through it all, that's fine too. I just want them to know that I recognize the sacrifices they have made and the compassion and selflessness they've already freely given. They've paid their dues. It's their choice.

Whether we say "just shoot me" or "send me away", I think we're actually saying, "I love you and you deserve to live your life. I don't expect you to make me your burden."

*I am assuming the caregiver is a woman simply because 2/3 of all Alzheimer's caregivers are female.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

I Will...

It's been almost a year since I've been here (kind of) and almost 18 months since Mom found peace. I didn't think that I would need this blog anymore. I thought that the healing was going to be simple. I thought it would have progressed to the point of becoming just a scar that I notice now and then, not a gaping wound that doesn't seem to heal. I am here because I feel it's important to tell more of my journey through (and after) Alzheimer's.

I said "kind of" about not writing for almost a year.  I found a post that I wrote in November that I didn't publish. I just reread it and it broke my heart. I haven't progressed from that dark time. In fact, I have digressed. The wound has gotten deeper and angrier. 

 I have moved into such a dark place. I was placed on disability for 6 weeks because I am so severely depressed and anxious that I called out to work for 14 days straight due to panic attacks. No amount of bills that need to be paid (and there are a lot of those), the shame of failure, or the disappointment in myself could make me go.

I was released to return to work 4 days ago and only made it through the first day. I called in the next two. I HAVE to return to work tomorrow and am distraught and nauseated at the thought. 

I am receiving professional help in the way of therapy, medications, and classes to relieve stress and rebuild my self-esteem. I'm learning how to talk to myself without calling myself horrible names (a habit a learned while being isolated with Mom). I am researching and finding that many caregivers have a difficult time adjusting and moving on from the stress and trauma.

I know I will get through this. I KNOW I WILL GET THROUGH THIS!

I published the post from November if you choose to read it. "It is so dark..."

It is so dark...

(Written November 12, 2016)

The bright screen in the middle of the dark night calls me once again.

I am consumed with dark thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. I want to blame Alzheimer's but this time I'm afraid the evil thief is only partially to blame. The rest falls to me.

I haven't told many people, but I found a job several months back. After almost a year of searching, applying and hearing nothing, any job is a blessing. I hate my job. I hate the hours. I hate what I do. I hate it. The first 3 months were Hell. I became physically ill each time I thought of clocking in for the day. I called in sick too much. For the first time in my life, I was a bad employee. When I was at work I tried and gave it my all. But, I hated going to work. And my body helped me find reasons not to go.

And six months into it, I still hate going to this job. Even as I work through it I am going further and further into debt. I am so very ashamed and so very unhappy. Today I thought about death. My death specifically. I am having some painful, but not life threatening, medical problems, but my mind goes to the fact that I could better financially provide for my family by dying then by showing up to a job that makes me so very unhappy.

I am not suicidal. I haven't considered ways to "do it". But, I am afraid that I could find my way there. I love my daughters more than anything in this world. I want to help them and be there for them but I can't do it if I can't pull myself up and out of this darkness.

I have no one to talk to who isn't involved and invested in my condition. No money to pay someone to listen to me. I sit here in the dark, alone, weeping silently while the rest of the house sleeps. I have become the burden I so very much don't want to be. And I can't stop it from happening.

I want my life back. I want my confidence. I want my laughter. I want my health- mental and physical- and I want to be able to pay my own bills and my own way. 57 years old and my daughter is supporting me. I want to be the example that my girls can be proud of. I am ashamed.

I miss me so much.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

There but for the Grace of God go I...

Sometimes, as with this blog, I don't choose to write, writing chooses me. This is one of those times.

Lately, I've seen a lot of things go by on Facebook talking about welfare and food stamp recipients.
The comments usually paint the recipients of those programs with a biased brush and a lot of stereotypes. -They are lazy. -They are moochers who choose not to work -They are baby making machines. -They are all unproductive members of society who walk out of the store with steaks, lobster, and champagne just to get into the latest model of a luxury SUV.

I read comments like:  "I've worked all of my life and pay into a system that feeds people who have never worked a day in their lives" "They should make them work for the handouts even if it is shoveling poop." "They're all deadbeats milking the system."

So many judgments, and in my opinion, so little tolerance of lives that they, hopefully, will never experience. While I know that there are welfare recipients who have made careers from milking the system, that is not usually the case. What about the disabled? Or our military families who are near or below poverty level? Our veterans? The elderly? Do none of these groups deserve compassion?

Let me put just one face on this issue.

If you've been a regular reader of this blog, you know that taking care of Mom didn't just cause emotional trauma to my family. It also destroyed my financial security. I used all of my savings trying to support my mother and my family. When that ran out, I stopped paying non-essential bills. My great credit was torn to pieces. All financial support to a caregiver stops cold when the patient passes. I am now an unemployed 57 year old woman who wants to work but can't find a job.

I haven't had any income in 6 months. I am saved from being one of  "deadbeats" by my 21 year old daughter who supports this family. She works 50+ hours a week to keep us afloat. Make no mistake, if my daughter wasn't the person that she is, I would be standing in line with my hand out, judgment from society be damned.

Reading these things hits a nerve. They hurt me knowing that I am not the only person whose circumstances have caused a situation that is not of their doing. But, reading the harsh intolerance of those making comments makes me thankful that they have a life that hasn't fallen apart through no fault of their own.

People say, "Put them to work!"  I say, "Yes, please, hand me a shovel."


Sunday, February 28, 2016

On this day...

It's been a long while since I've visited this page. Well, at least, in the role of writer.

Each day on Facebook I have been reading the "On This Day" feature that, you guessed it, shares what I was doing on this day in the past 4 years that I've been writing this blog. More often than not it shares a link to this page. I read each post almost as if I am a new reader to the blog. I often don't remember the specific episode that spurred the entry, sometimes the memory is crystal clear.

The interesting part of it all is that while I feel the pain, stress, frustrations, and sometimes the humor of the situation, I no longer feel the anger. And I was so very, very angry. It is liberating to know that the anger is no longer consuming me. In fact, if someone were to ask me today to describe what we endured, words would fail me.

I remember being very young and asking my mom why women have more than one child when childbirth is so painful. Her answer was twofold. She said that the joy of a child for a lifetime far outweighs the pain of what is really just a brief moment of time. She then said that the Good Lord lessens the memory of pain until it seams less important. In other words, we heal.

I have a long way to go to be healed. Scratch that. I will never be completely healed. I believe there will always be scars that I worry at and pain that will, hopefully, diminish with time. But, for now I'm calling this a step in the right direction.

Oh, and if I continue with the childbirth analogy? Once is enough for me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

May they rest in peace...

After my last blog entry, a dear friend asked what was the weirdest thing that I found while cleaning/purging/screaming. I had some items that could be considered, but nothing that was the weirdest.

I now have another entry into the contest. I finally found a baggy of lids that I have been wondering about for years. They are the ones that Mom took off of every jar in the kitchen one year. I knew she hadn't thrown them away- that was apparently against her beliefs.

While it probably isn't the weirdest, it does bring me closure- and that's something those jars went to their graves without.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On a roll...

In the past 10 days we have taken 18 big black bags of trash out of this house and surrounding areas To be fair that includes every pillow and blanket that my mother ever owned in her entire life, at least it seems that way (and, yes, we donated what we could). Those take up a lot of trash bags. We have dragged 2 recliners, 1 couch, 1 love seat, 2 mattresses and 1 box spring to the curb to be hauled away. I have had 2 yard sales and taken the remains to Goodwill (another 8 bags of stuff). The scrubbing, the yanking, the lifting, the LAUNDRY!  Oh the laundry I've done. I washed everything that was going into the yard sale and everything that went to Goodwill, plus our own everyday laundry. And with all of that do you know what hurts the most?  My hands.  They are dry, cracked and just ache. I need to buy stock in Jergens.

PLEASE for the sake of your children, don't have umpteen collections of piggy banks, thimbles, boxes (Oh my, the boxes... wooden, plastic, card board, pottery, broken, missing parts, big, little, pretty, ugly, etc.), toys (including bags and bags of Happy Meal toys), copper, coffee mugs, books, etc.  And for the love of sanity do NOT keep things that you "might need some day"!

We're on a roll now, I tell ya!  On a ROLL!!