A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘vunerablility’ Category

Fill your lamp

star light

Mother Teresa said, “To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” As women, we often tend to do everything for everyone else. And then we get depleted and expect others to rally. The only one who can fill your lamp is you. What does this mean? And why should we think about this?

This holiday time of the year puts extra pressure on all of us. Whether you have kids or not, or celebrate Christmas, it is the end of the year and there are a lot of demands. In my household, we celebrate Christmas, honor Yule and our wedding anniversary all in the same week. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. But it is also a lot of work to prepare for.

I also have the demands of preparing and delivering and then tracking of all the required annual mandatory training for all the agencies I oversee. I was late this year rolling it out because I put it on a new system. It really stressed me out as it was a ton of work all on my shoulders. I also have a new training program that has to go to the State for approval for another division of the company. This was on top of two huge initiatives and four very big facilitated training for all of the supervisors and managers, all 55 of them, which happened in a span of two weeks.

My oil was spent.

And I sit here a type this, I am sick as a dog. The bug that was going around came to spend time with me on the day before my first vacation day since August. I was so run down, I was a perfect host. And so with all the good stuff of the holidays coming, I sit here with a box of Kleenex, a hacking cough and a pounding head.

Yes, I feel successful that I accomplished all that I did in the ridiculous amount of time that I did it in. But it was not about me. All that matters was someone accomplished the work. Work for me only deposits a small amount of oil in comparison to the amount it takes out. I think if I were younger and trying to climb “The Ladder” it would be different. But I am high as I want to go in the hierarchy of the company and my career is short lived by three or four more years.

I have been making promises to myself that I will never spend five months again like I did this fall. I hope that I can live up to that promise. The stress was ridiculous and in hind sight, I am not sure there was much I could have done to avoid it all. The only thing I could have done was more for me. That did not happen enough.

I do not like New Year’s resolutions. They are a predicate to failure. But I need to change my focus on the energy allotted I have, which is restricted because of my energy zapping Psoriatic Arthritis. But there are things I do like to do that recharge the batteries and so I am going to be more mindful of them.

People will not remember that my house was not perfectly decorated for the holidays not even two years from now. But they will remember me if I am cheerful and loving. I can only be that way if I am recharged and feeling good. Things I can do to help are to take my vacation days I have coming, spend time outdoors, go for road trips with my hubby who loves them and the change in scenery is good for me, write and read more. My oil list will continue.

I wish everyone who reads my blog a Merry Christmas, a Blessed Yule and a wonderful holiday season whatever is your preference to celebrate. Also wish for you the mindset that you matter and should take the time to fill your lamp.

 

 

Being controlled

Kitty

Ever have a dream just before you get up in the morning and know that it is going to stick with you for the rest of the day? I had a doozie this morning. The dream demonstrated my issue of not having control in my life and the reality that we never really do have control. And the best thing any of us can do is to stop fighting that very thing and trust that things will come out ok.

And for the most part of my life, this has been true. But, it does not always seem like it when I am in the clutches of something that has me wrapped so tight that I snap at things and I am not a very peasant person. I do not think there is a being in the world that does well being captured and under the control of something that seems beyond their ability to change.

And that brings me to a situation that I have along with many other people and that is being under the control of having to have a medication in order to survive. It goes hand in hand with having a disease that is inherited or brought on by no fault of the being. There is a lot of that out there. And until you have something like this or know and love someone who is in that situation, it is hard to understand what it does to the person.

I am writing about this because of something that happened recently. I have friend who has MS. She is well controlled most of the time. But she has flares and when she is in the clutches of a flare, she has a tendency to be a bit sharp. Normally, she is bubbly and personable. The last year has been terrible for her and I have seen the decline in her over the last couple of years.  She is on very expensive drugs to help her maintain. She just recently lost her job and it was due to her inability to get the work done and in her inability at times to get along with her team. No one on her team seemed to be able to look past her anger and forgive her for being nasty. She was letting the disease control her and she really needed some help with that anger.

I also do not think people understand the warrior she is. Every day she got up and came to work, even when the pain was so great she would have tears. No understood her humiliation when she had an accident at work because she could not get to the bathroom in time. It became a joke around the “watercooler”. And yet, she would come back to being her funny self when the pain was less and make jokes about her situation. Now, she has no insurance and no income and I pray she will find help.

I realize now why old people sometimes are just very nasty. As the body deteriorates and pain becomes your constant companion, it is very hard to pleasant all the time. Alcohol is a method for many in pain which then leads to alcohol issues. Sometimes, anything will do as long as it takes the pain away.

And this brings me to the point of being controlled because you rely on a drug to survive. We live in an amazing time that there are so many drugs and procedures to keep people going who in past times have died painful deaths. I am grateful for the medicine I have available that twenty years ago did not exist.

But at what cost?  Along with thousands of people, I am in the control of these drugs. I will need them for life. One keeps my blood from clotting. The cost is I can easily bleed to death. The others are for my Psoriatic Arthritis and the side effect possibilities also include a higher probability of death due to cancer. The most recent drug I am on is causing me to gain weight, which is the last thing I need. But it is a side effect and out of my control. The drug I was one before, allowed me to lose weight and the one before that put weight on. This new drug is not doing anything for my psoriasis, and so I am beginning to break out again and it also doing little for the pain in my joints. But it is working on my gut issues. I have to stick with it for at least six months before we try something else. Unless like the last one, I have an emergent issue like an inflated blood pressure or some other reaction. Again, all out of my control.

There are so many debilitating diseases out there and more everyday being diagnosed. It is an amazing world we are in if you can get the medicine you need in order to survive. This brings up the huge topic of insurance which is the king of control. I will never understand how an insurance company can refuse their insured drugs prescribed by a doctor. Who the hell are they to make that decision?  I have often had to wait months for a decision on a drug that my rheumatologist wants me on and all the time there is deterioration going on in my joints. This last time while waiting for my approval, my two toes started to curl up so bad that shoes were becoming a problem.

I am writing about this in hopes that someone will read this and be kinder to someone who is in pain. I am hoping this will help people to see past the nastiness and be patient and understanding. When someone is pain, it is easy to react in hurtful ways without even being aware. But it is not about you. It is like being a captured animal and the cage is pain.

very close kitty

Live not in fear

hawk 15

“Ne vivent pas dans la peur” Live not in fear. Terrorist are not powerful because of their acts, but because of the fear they instill. More people are affected by a terrorist event because of fear the act will be repeated somewhere and they will be the next victim. This is the goal of terrorism and the world will come to its knees if allowed. And not because of just the fear, but the retaliation this could cause.

We watched a movie last night called the “Kingsman.” The movie itself was entertaining and had a lot of special effects. The theme of the movie was that the villain put microchips in the necks of powerful people and then gave away free cell phones. At his command he could create mass chaos and uncontrollable anger by sending a signal to the chips and phones. People would turn on anyone near them and fight them to death. In one scene, a whole church congregation turned on each other and everyone slaughters each other except the hero, who walks away.

This is the same effect that terrorism is based. By causing fear in the minds of the population, they can create anger and then the mob mentality will escalate until we have a war. And to me, that is not the answer.

And as much as I hate violence, I am not sure not doing something is the right answer either.

Terrorism touches people in so many ways. 911 had a huge impact on my life. It altered it completely. No one in my family died. But it was the catalyst to the end my marriage. My ex-husband wanted to be recruited to serve and was turned down on every front. He had to face his age and his lack of abilities to be a hero and it changed him completely. His anger, and the anger of the group of people he hung out, with was palatable.  Their hatred and desire for massive retaliation was ugly.

I hear my husband talking to his right winged family members and I hear their hatred for all Syrians. How silly is that to hate a whole population because of a few assholes. But that is how the mob mentality is created. After 911, anyone who looked Middle Eastern was suspect.

I would hate to think we could head back into a state of war after so many years. The government has been very careful to name disputes anything but war, such as a “police state” or even a peace mission. You do not hear much about the fighting in Afghanistan and how many of our folks are being maimed. Why are we still there?

I do not propose a solution. Half of me says: “do whatever it takes to get rid of this scourge.” But I know it will involve the death of innocent people. But their action already took the lives of many innocents. I cannot imagine the horror.

My thinking is that life on this world will not end because of global warming. We will end our existence on this phenomenal planet by self-annihilation. And no one wins.  I just hope that fear will not be the dominate factor for solution.  We need to remain calm, carry on in our lives, stay informed and support a significant solution that will not end up with just more death.  Je suis tellement désolé, France.

Rough water

rought sea The River

Have you ever looked at someone who gets out of a handicapped parking space and watch them walk completely normal and even sometimes smoking a cigarette and wonder; “Are they really handicapped?” Or seen a large person struggle to get out and then lumber into the store and think, they should park farther away and walk for the exercise? There are so many people out there who have chronic illness that do not manifest in bloody sores or stumps for legs. But they still are impaired. I often wish that people who know me would walk in my shoes for a day and see how they would manage. I do not have outward signs of what I deal with daily, other than being a large person. But that says it all for most people. I am fat. And what always follows fat is lazy. However I am not lazy in any manner. But this is not about being fat. It is about chronic illness.

I have a friend who husband has been sick for a while. He stopped working, making his poor wife support the family of three. He stays home and often would not even get out of bed. I used to get really upset with my friend who always had an excuse for him. On top of that he smokes a lot of pot. They both smoke(d) cigarettes. He was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s but the medication was too prohibited, I guess, for him to get it. I am not close to her anymore but see her on Facebook. He was just in the hospital for surgery and I am sure it was his Crohn’s. To look at her husband, you would never know how sick he was. I was just as guilty of judgment like so many others.

I face many issues daily, including Crohn’s like symptoms. They have only diagnosed it as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, but Google that and see what you get. No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to hear how you suffer. It’s funny, women will go on and on about childbirth extolling all the gory details until in a hushed tone they will add, I pooped myself.  Even my rheumatologist did not want to hear about it. His reply was to go see the doctor I saw for my colonoscopy and stat. He prescribed Imodium.

I discovered that this is not an unusual progression for Psoriatic Arthritis. Not through scientific resources but from other people who are diagnosed with PsA. It is truly a crappy little secret, pun intended. There are a few drugs they prescribe for both issues. Who knew? I did not know that these changes in my physiology were part of the disease progression. Since I was diagnosed years ago, no one ever said I was going to have this issue and here is what to do. They still aren’t telling me what to do. Matter of fact there is little evidence based information on the topic of the link between PsA and Crohn’s.

After reading and talking to my Rheumatologist, we decided to go with a new drug called Cimzia. I have to take two shots every two weeks in my gut. They are self-administered syringes and not injectable pens. Thank goodness I do not mind shots as they are huge syringes. It could take up to three months to actually see any change in my PsA but already my gut is better. Not great, but not feeling like I have to go to the bathroom every five minutes or having a surprise when I have no place to go is a big help.

But in exchange for the things this drug can do, there is always a side effect. For me, it is charlie horses. I had this issue before when I was on Enbrel and it became constant and horrible. I tried to tell both doctors about it and neither one had a way for me to deal with it. I am not dehydrated. I am not lacking in vitamins. Once I stopped the Enbrel, they stopped. I went on Simponi last year and then in August had very dangerous reaction of it spiking my blood pressure and had to come off of it. Now, after only one series of Cimzia shots, the night leg cramps are back. I only slept last night in two hour blocks before my feet or legs would go off and wake me up. They happen in the day where my toes go up the wrong way. The circulation is fine and my ankles are skinny. (They are the thinnest thing on my body) I cannot find much about Cimzia either, not even on my user site. BTW, when you want to find out how a drug works, go to their chat boards. This is where you will really hear about issues from the people who use the drugs. This is much more realistic than the manufacturers statements. For example, I would not have known about the issue with Simponi raising blood pressure. On the manufactures sight they say it is only  a 3% chance. But, because I was aware, I was able to deal with it.  I knew it was a reaction I had from what I read on the user boards and sought medical attention. One person was hospitalized for his reaction which spiked him so high he was a candidate for a stroke.

My point is; we never know what a person is suffering from by the outward appearance. Things like depression and chronic illness and even grief are often not visible from the demeanor and appearance of someone. Often, when you live with these factors, you learn to just deal with and put on a pain free veneer.

I wrote last week about the fact that people are uncomfortable with the suffering of others. I quoted from another blog; He said. “instead of trying to cope and bury your issues, live with them. We are a society where other people’s suffering makes us uncomfortable.” He said that is why people want to help. “It is not really about the sufferer, it is about the dis-ease that suffering generates.” The author, Tim Lawrence, is speaking not about just illness, but grief and loss in general. You can find the rest of his blog at this site; http://www.timjlawrence.com/blog/2015/10/19/everything-doesnt-happen-for-a-reason

So yes, I am whining this morning. But I am trying to offer awareness. People deal with things in their own manner. My husband, who has arthritis in one knee, thinks he is a cripple (until he wants to play golf.) My other friends all have issues and they all deal with them in their own way. My way is to pull inward and shut off from people so I do not have to explain myself. I am not angry, I am in pain. I do not want anyone to dismiss my pain and tell me to get over it. It exhausts me and not sleeping is not going to help. It is very real. But it also very lonely and isolating.

 

 

Say Good- Knight….

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My fellow blogger, the Doc Victo, talked about how she longs for a Scottish night. I admit, I too have often thought I wanted a strong and commanding male in my life. I wanted to be the Princess, the damsel in distress, to be saved by a powerful male knight. I want someone to protect me and keep me safe. But in thinking about this, I realize how totally opposite this is to my real personality.

Yes, I do want someone who makes me feel safe. But that really does not mean I want them to slay dragons for me. What I honestly want is for them not to cause me distress. I want to be able to rely on them to do what they should, when they should and be able to give back to me when and what I need for support in my life. It should be a two way street. When they are in need, I should be there for them.

This is not how it is in my reality. I live with a very needed person, who at times sucks the life out of me. I have been doing some thinking on this and came to the conclusion, I chose this path. I am the type of person who puts themselves in a place of being needed.

For example, I was not happy with my career until I began teaching. I taught in some capacity since 1981. Having my own classroom as a high school teacher was a dream. But it was exhausting. Being a teacher, you are totally in a position of giving to people what they need in some fashion. It is a constant flood of answering questions, directed and guiding and then the comforting and soothing to make students feel good. I can remember coming home and telling my husband to leave me alone for a bit so I could get out of feeling depleted and stabilize.

It sounded so terrible when I though how selfish this was, but it is not. People who are in positions such as teachers, doctors, nurses, all care-giving clinicians are all susceptible to this feeling. But being who they are, they feel guilty for it. To be in these positions, you must have a nurturing persona to begin with. It is who you are.

But there is a time when you have to step back and say I need some self-compassion. I need someone to take the load for a while. People with successful marriages have worked this out. There is a lot of research and new programs being implemented to help clinicians to learn to step back and take care of themselves. I have a program we offer in our orientation series based on the work of Dr. Kristen Neff to give our staff tools to work with when they are having burn out or are overwhelmed. http://self-compassion.org/

I thought about the idea of having someone who was my knight, my protectorate and shield, and I know I would not really like that. I am too independent and too strong to let someone over shadow me. I also do not like forceful men because of my past history with that type of being. I chose to put myself where I am. When I am disappointed with my current relationship, it is because I am measuring this person to my expectations. He too has learned to be passive and submissive and let me do for him, because I will. And the game goes on.

I also have put myself in a position at work which is completely exhausting. My day is filled with putting out fires. There is always someone in need or an issue I must deal with. Sometimes there is a line out my door of people with a questions of some sort. I come home drained and have again instituted the leave me alone for five minutes rule. I spent yesterday not doing any work related activities and stayed away from the computer. It did recharge me. I will need a longer respite soon.

I think if I lived in the days of yore, when knights in kilts were everywhere, I would still be who I am. I would be the woman in the village who had the docile husband, own either my own shop or farm, and would still be independent, be in a position of fixing either people or issues and yet, overwhelmed. It is who I am.

PTSD and trust

black Heron

I got caught again. People with PTSD have a major issue with trust. But deep inside there is this flame that longs for two things from this world: A place to belong and the ability to trust. I have neither. Simply put, I do not belong because I do not trust. And I do not trust because I am an outsider. I do not trust because I have learned not to, which makes it difficult because I am always keeping a distance to protect myself, which makes me an even bigger outsider.

I came to this conclusion most recently when I was doing some deep thinking about my current state of life. I am too old to be naive, and yet I am. I fall for the most ridiculous things. I still hope after all these years that people will be good. But I am finding that not to be so and it seems more prevalent now than even before. Being kind used to be revered and now it is a sign of weakness. The more tough and nasty you are, the better you will survive. And thinking about my childhood, I should be as hard as a rock. But I am not at all. Just the opposite.

And so at this late stage of my life, I do not trust anyone…including myself. Which is a very precarious place to be. I open myself up because of my expectations only to be dashed because they are not anyone else’s expectation.

What I have worked so hard to heal will truly never heal as people continually rip the wound open.

I am trying hard right now to figure out why this is. What am I supposed to learn from all this? Am I here to feel this pain for a reason? I believe in reincarnation and I wonder if this go-around is in part to work through a previous life where I deceived people? What am I supposed to grapple from this struggle?

As we approach the fall season, I will turn even more inward. In future years, when I won’t be working fulltime, this will be my isolation time. For now, I have to continue in the world I am in. My heart is not in it. I have no patience and my tolerance for bullshit is non-existent. I want to sleep all the time and instead suffer long periods of wide-wake reality checks in the middle of the night. I am physically sick and my hypervigilance is in full gear. I am being cold to people but inside as vulnerable as ice in the dessert. I can’t blame it on hormones or any other female issues. I will say it is very cyclical with me, which makes me hopeful that this too shall pass.

 

 

“Relaxing don’t come easy……..”

cu charlene We are currently at the River. My house and furbabies are safely being watched by a loving friend. There is should be nothing for me to worry about. But even here, the most beautiful place in the world, I did not find the calm I so needed. But I did get some fabulous photos which I will share in time.

If you know me, my favorite bird is the Blue Heron. Every year since I can remember, there has been a heron who comes at night across the little lagoon from our room. She comes and fishes and stays for a while. I have gotten close shots of her only a few times. This year, she spent a couple of nights on our side of the cove, and I went out to photograph her. ( I could not type shoot her.) This year, it was like she posed for me.  At one point, she actually walked towards me. I was delighted.

Why can I not relax? Although I have been going to bed exhausted, the sun and water really takes it out of you, I have had nothing but troubling dreams. Dreams of my past marriage and the pain inflicted by my ex’s cheating. Why does this haunt me only in my dreams? It has been 13 years since I spoke to him, and have no desire to contact him at all. One night I woke up to chest pain and flutters. It was a very weird sensation and not pleasant at all. So then I perseverated on the possibility of a heart attack and sleep again alluded me. One night, I was being chased by something and I have no recollection of what other than I woke up with a startle. Maybe it is because it is not my own bed.

Before we left, my father-in-law was in the hospital and near death. My Mother-in-law fell and broke her pelvis. My FIL is now in rehab, having survived a miracle. He is however, very depressed. My MIL is in a nasty nursing facility. 62 years of marriage and this is how they will end up. I too would be depressed. I am not sure that living so long that you end up just hanging on day by day is the way I want to end up. What is life if there is no quality to it? I dread the idea of just sucking up the maintenance care of being in a nursing home, knowing there is no way out. As I sat out at night, pondering the meaning of life, my last thoughts of the day are to make the next one count.

One thing I know for sure; people who are affected with PTSD never really get over it. I continue with my research and reading on the topic. Although there are many methods of down playing the hypersensitivity, it NEVER really goes away. For me, new places with strangers puts me on high alert. Even though I know the Islands so very well, when it is crowded up here, it stresses me. We went out on a packed boat tour that lasted three hours. The idiot next to me had to have his wife sit with him and so three of us were crushed in a seat for two. I could not move, and I do not like strangers touching me. It was also 90 degrees. Usually the water turns me to mush, but not that trip. I was so sore when we got back from being all tightly wrapped and on hyper alert, I actually had a muscle spasm in my back.

rock charlene  There was also a situation at work that happened just before I left. It really had me tweaked as it had to do with one of my employees lying. I hate lying in any form. But this was about me. I could not let it go. I perseverated on it for  days when something came to light that sort of put me at ease. I spent every morning connecting with work because there was so much going on when I left. I will be coming back to a very large project which includes the whole agency, all divisions and departments. I am co-project manager. It will entail the loss of jobs and that is very hard to know about. It will be a complete restructure. But before I left, I was promoted to Director and given a new division. I had a new employee start the week before we left and that needed me to  keep in contact with her as well. She will be great and I am excited about the future for this program. We also lost our Corporate Compliance Director on Friday and she left me completely in the lurch for some training she was supposed to write months ago, and did not. So that has me pretty well tweaked as well.

take off charlene I do know that this year was hard for us with all the things going on back home. My husband’s daughter moved back and is living on her own for the first time. She is extremely needy and it has put a strain on us, well me actually. I resent her in truth, even though I know I should not. But she is manipulative and very, very immature. She has never worked in her life, not even babysitting because she hates children, and does not drive. But it has brought my husband great joy to have her back and I think he loves her neediness. But for  me, it is one more thing to have to deal with. The issue is if she has stayed with us, instead of living with her mother who let her do NOTHING, she would have completed college and been driving and having a life. BTW, she turns 26 in September. We are dealing with a 16 year old instead. An example of what we are dealing with is what happened this morning. Because she was the sole heir to the money her mother had, it has created an issue with her uncle, who is a moron. He expected her to give him a huge some of money to save his over mortgaged house. She did not give it to him, which was the right thing to do. As far as we know, there was no agreement that she would from her mother, which is what he is charging her with. His family took her in after her mother passed away and helped her to move up here. She did pay rent and paid him to move her. He is furious and is now spreading crap about her on Facebook. She called this morning all in tears. Honestly, Facebook? We are talking a 50 year old and a 25 year old.

This time of year for me is the end of my year and October is my New Year. There are so many changes happening this next year. My husband turns 65. I turn 62 and will collect my teacher pension. It is not great, but it is something else. We are talking about retirement and what will that look like. Spending 8 days together doing not much showed me I am not ready to retire for awhile. While he is content with playing golf, which he is doing right now, or sitting on the computer playing a game, I am not able to just relax. Even forced relaxation does not happen for me.

Hurdles

mist

I think the hardest thing a human has to face is not diving into the drama of emotional turmoil. I believe that we are set on this earth to learn to overcome this. That enlightenment is learning to not cave or participate in the negativity that we are all born with and are force fed through our lives. The challenge is to believe in the higher force that is there to pull us out of the mire, however you achieve this relationship. We are given the tools, but like the treasure this knowledge is, we have to search for it.

Along the way in the journey of life, there are obstacles of huge and small proportions. How we deal with them is called Grace. The Higher-self is the Captain of the ship we call life and we are the sailor. The trouble is that we cannot always hear this voice, or we think the voice comes from without, and not within. It has to be a unique set of directions for each human is unique in design and creation. The internal navigation equipment in time can get obliterated with the noise and clutter we subject our over-stimulated lives with. The chatter in our heads is like the static of a radio fueled with the nonsense of television and other media. Ever notice how TV has transformed from simple comedies and joyful family life to intense drama and the emotional targeting of watching others suffer? People watch this stuff because it fuels the ego’s need for superiority. “I would never do that”, said in arrogance. “Look at that poor fat slob trying to lose weight,” uttered while shoveling potato chips in their mouth in the safety of their overstuff chair.

Many spend years trying to find their way using other people’s road maps, only to find the wrong destination for them. It is also easier to have someone else guide us; to have someone else create a chart for us. There are thousands of books out there to read on the “way to enlightenment”. There are multiple people willing to take your money to feed your junkie need to be told how to find peace in your life. We all want it, whether we admit it or not. We think we want to be safe, and that is part of it. The more difficult part is trust. I am not just talking about trusting others, because that’s a disastrous route. We need to trust in ourselves that whatever happens, it will be ok. And that is the tricky part.

In my situation and many others like me, grow up to learn that people cannot be trusted. What does that really mean? Trust in what; that they will do something for you? Protect you? Keep you safe? Somehow I must have been able to keep safe enough to survive and that is all that matters. The bottom line is trusting in others has to have some limitations. Drama occurs when you put your self-worth in someone else. Inevitably, they will disappoint you. The degree of infliction will vary, but your reaction to it is what will harm you for the rest of your life. Children expect and deserve protection and love. But I truly doubt that anyone gets through life unscathed in parental disillusionment. Friends disappoint and so do spouses and your own children. The only solution to this is the act of forgiveness and the realization that the infliction is harmless if you believe in yourself and are able to move beyond it.

We are programmed for daily doses of emotional targeting. Being human means being emotional. Media feeds into this by playing on your emotions in order to sell you things. Pay attention to the input that makes you feel emotional and decide whether that emotion is something you really want in your life. I truly feel that the news and other forms of media are helping to bring this world to its knees. We are bombarded with how imperfect we are, how horrible people treat each other and how we are poisoning the world. It is very difficult to more past this constant feed of negativity. Hence we become helpless, angry and emotionally crippled.

Do I have the answer? Yes and no. I have the where-for-all to find it for myself. And what I discover is meant only for me. How I achieve that is also my solitary path. I have been given the tools of discovery but I need to sift through the garbage floating in my head. I must be mindful that the destination is obscure and will never ultimately be reached. Life is discovery and that is the miracle. How we treat people along the way is our legacy. We all have the same opportunities yet each accomplishment of life is as individual as the person participating. For me, overcoming my own negativity, accepted people for who and what they are and learning to be non-judgmental are my biggest hurdles.

I originally wrote roadblock, but that implies the inability to get over something. A hurdle is something to get over. What are some of your hurdles?

 

Getting old is not for sissies.

Azalea 2

The statement of getting old is not for sissies was never more apparent to my in-laws as it was this week. Also true as demonstrated by this past week is that no matter the age, children prefer to remain in that role no matter how old the parent becomes.

Two weeks ago, my father in law (FIL) became quite sick and was hospitalized. His wife, my MIL, has dementia. None of this is a new situation. He has a bad heart and kidneys and is 95 and she has been progressively getting worse.

My MIL should have been put into a facility to help care for her years ago. If nothing else, daycare would have benefitted everyone. What I mean by this is that she would have received the medical help and personal maintenance that my FIL could no longer support her with. She did not have a shower in almost three weeks. She smelled, the apartment smelled and her clothes were stinky as she did not want to change her outfit either. For my MIL, it was a sense of control in a world where nothing else made much sense. My FIL was too overwhelmed and too guilty to do anything. A few years back, my BIL had set up something and my SIL squashed it as it was too much money.

They were extremely active up until the last decade. My FIL still wanted to be, but having to take my MIL anywhere was a nightmare. They sat and watched TV. Their inactivity was the worst thing for either of them, and my FIL had a pressure ulcer from sitting. The lack of stimulation and movement exacerbated my MIL’s condition.

On Friday, my MIL was admitted to a memory care unit. My BIL and SIL had a very difficult time of leaving her there, but I think for two different reasons. My BIL was heartbroken that his parents were going to end up separated and that she was in a “home.” My SIL was upset about the money which is substantial. My husband was relieved and thrilled because he understood the ramifications and possibilities.

She is in a program called Eden Alternative http://www.edenalt.org/. The facility is a circle of houses or cottages. Each one supports about ten residents and they all become a family of sorts. In the center of the facility is a large open outdoor area where residents can garden, play outdoor games, eat and just chat. There are other recreational facilities also. The residents are free to do whatever they want and are also guided to activities that are appropriate. There is also a beauty salon on site. They are free to go and do, except out of the facility, which is good as my MIL wandered every night. As I write this, it sounds like jail. But where they lived before was actually hell.

Dr. Al Power, who is one of the founding members of this program, once spoke at my work. He is amazing. He brought a gentleman with him who if you did not know him personally, you would not think anything about him. But he has dementia. One of the guiding principles of Eden Alternative is that all people change. The gentleman spoke about how he had this young man visit him every Sunday and brought a photo book with him. He showed him pictures of people and would nod and say yes about the stories he was told of each person in the photos. The visitor was his son and they were photos of his family. When asked if he really know who they were he said no. But, he said, it made the young man visiting him so happy he went along with it.

My MIL had changed so drastically and no one in the family got it. I did, and met her where she was. She was always happy to see me and “talk.” I have little history with her. Her kids could not accept that the mother they knew was not here anymore and everyone would get frustrated. She would talk about her children and how they were never there or lived somewhere else and they would be sitting right there. She never asked about her husband when he went into the hospital. She is in a different world and they wanted her back.

Yesterday my husband got a text and photo from the lady who is in charge at Cottage Grove. It was his mother. She looks ten years younger. Her hair had been washed and styled. When she was younger, she went to the hair dresser every week. She was in a colorful top she has not worn in a long time. He face was bright and she was smiling from ear to ear. The note said she was doing extremely well, sleeping through the night and participating in activities.

Once my FIL is up and better, he will be moving in with my BIL in their house. It was the original plan many years ago except that MIL was going to be in a facility five minutes from him and they could be together as much as possible. That is no longer feasible and we have my cheap ass SIL to thank for that. On top of her incredibly hording of the money left in her charge as Power of Attorney, she refused to stay with her mother in the last weeks. That responsibility was left to the boys, who could not help with personal things. She stated she could not stand to be around her. I find that so unacceptable but the boys put up with it. I am sure she saw a mirror every time she saw her mother. I think she also resented that her care was going to eat up her future hopes of a retirement plan in the way of an inheritance. Because of her delaying the process years ago, the cost of care for MIL is much more costly and the ability for my FIL to spend his last months with his wife is going to be difficult. Hopefully, my BIL will wrangle the advanced directives out of her hands.

I am thrilled for my MIL who has a future different than others had wanted for her, but has the possibilities of a good outcome. My FIL will be taken care of in his last year of his life surrounded by my BIL’s family, his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He is only an hour away from us and we will come up as invited. MY BIL owns his own business, is semi-retired and his wife adores him. He will be well taken care of.

 

 

 

Death of a parent

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Nothing prepares children for the loss of the parents. But it is the way of life to succeed your parents. Somewhere I read that having children was the whole thing about being alive; the sole purpose of your existence. That’s upsetting for someone who is childless. But I do not agree with that statement anyways. There are many reasons for existence which are as individual as the being.

My FIL (father –in-law) is in the beginning stages of dying. I have learned a lot about hospice and there are stages of the dying process. He is near 95 and has had a good and honorable life. He has declined any intervention that would prolong the process. My in-laws are in denial of the situation. I think my husband is the only one who has accepted the inevitable. Hence, there is terrible friction and drama going on with the family.

The issue that makes it worse is my poor MIL (mother-in-law) has Alzheimer’s and it has also progressed. I have been saying we needed to place her in a good memory care unit for years. But I am only an in-law and have been ignored. Now, in crisis, they are scrambling. Someone has to stay with her 24 hours a day. It is a sentence of hell. She can be abusive. She smells and the apartment is hot and also smells. My in-laws have been on their own for too long and the care my MIL has needed has not been provided.

All this tension has brought family issues right up to the surface. My husband is feeling all the neglect he felt as a child. He is being ostracized by his siblings in the process of decision making because he has not been very involved by his choice in the past. This too is hurtful. My BIL is a know-it-all and can be very demanding to the point I have to walk away. My SIL is a princess who has not come to terms with reality. She also has refused to stay overnight with her own mother which is leaving this responsibility on her brothers and their wives. I have stayed twice but I now refuse because she will not stay. They also have no respect for my husband or me.

They found a place for my MIL and they are now in panic mode to get her placed. No one has insisted that my MIL see a doctor in the past couple of years and of course she has put up such a fuss and refused to go. MY FIL gave up fighting her. Now someone has to take her for a physical on Monday. It is not going to be easy but I am so glad because I think they will see there are other issues present. She was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago and had a double mastectomy. Her progressive weight loss and decline I think indicates more is going on. But if they had worked with her and got her the medical help and interventions earlier, she may have had a better quality of life in the last year.

My FIL is in kidney failure. I found out yesterday that he had an MI (mild heart attack) a short while ago and it went undiagnosed. Now he has congestive heart failure. He is unable to process the fluid retention he is having. They will make him comfortable but no one has said what needs to be said and that is Hospice Care. They think that is a death sentence and not what it really is, which is the best care he could have right now.

They explained they will discharge him off the floor and are sending him to a “rehab” unit. This is the same place my MIL went to when she broke her hip. The unit is actually a transitional unit and he will probably be admitted to palliative care. MY SIL thinks they are going to get him up and walking around. She said she is going to look for a smaller apartment for him when he comes out in two weeks so he won’t have to worry. She is not dealing with the inevitable and unfortunately she has the power of attorney and health proxy. My BIL was appalled that FIL signed a DNR. I hope they adhere to his wishes which are basically, “take care of your mother and let me go. I am tired.”

I went through absolute hell with my own parents. My Mom died when I was 23 and I was responsible for my father for the next 13 years. My siblings abdicated any responsibility for either except my oldest brother who did all the funeral arrangements and was supportive. It splintered the family and firmed up my resolve to not have anything to do with most of them. A couple of times that they have interjected themselves in my recent life caused only more hardship for my oldest brother and me.

Death is not pleasant for those who remain. That is who the entire funeral and other hoopla is for. The transition of dying is not necessarily horrid. It actually can be beautiful and loving. We all will face it in some factor or another. My husband and I have completed our advanced directives and wills. There is some peace in knowing that it is in place and we have a non-family (lawyer) who will oversee the process and guide my nephew and/or his daughter to do as we wished. I wish comfort for my in laws and I hope someone will supersede my BIL’s and SIL’s lack of reality and ignorance and get them the care they both need.