I’m still the child

Today I am forcing myself to write. I’ve been so overly consumed by my fathers condition that my inspiration and motivation for anything else are lost. The following are the consuming thoughts, the worry and the stress I can’t get rid of.

Now that he is going to begin home dialysis his level of care is going to increase significantly. They are still in the learning process of home dialysis so currently they have to go once a week to a training for the next month. The plan, according to my father and his girlfriend, is once the machine is set up in their room he will be hooked up at night and basically receive the treatment while he sleeps. Sounds easy right? Except this equipment and his body must be kept sterile during this process. This requires numerous steps that includes ensuring all fans and air conditioning is off. If these steps are not adhered to properly he is at risk of infection which could lead to death. Upon hearing this warning my father said to me, “Eh, I could see us being really good for a little while, but like when you tell the dentist you are going to floss everyday, eventually you begin to slack.” Alarmed I said, “This isn’t something you have the luxury of slacking on. Loosing your teeth isn’t going to cause you to die, this could! Why would you opt to do this at home if you know you won’t maintain it properly.” At this point he got irritated at me and snapped, “We will.” Oooook, it would seem I took his little threat about slacking off more seriously than he wanted.

While still in the hospital recovering from having the port implanted (please read about that here) he decides to share that his girlfriend plans to leave for a couple of weeks next month. It’s her mother’s 100th birthday. On a good day he is able to sponge bathe himself and maneuver around his home with the assistance of the stair lift, a walker and strategically placed furniture. This is a man who falls, even when he thinks he is stronger, and ends up in emergency. They live in a two-story home and he refuses to get Life Alert because he can carry his phone. I asked him if he’s going to have an in home nurse come out and stay with him during that time. “I don’t know” he responds. “What do you mean you don’t know? You have good days and bad days, who is going to bathe and feed you when she is gone?” “I don’t feel comfortable with some stranger.” “Dad, do you expect me or (my boyfriend) to come bathe and feed you while she is gone??” At this point I’m freaked. I’m a mental health worker not a medical worker and even if I was, this is my father. Perhaps for some this will seem extremely selfish and wrong, but I cannot bathe my father knowing full well he can afford proper professional care. There are aspects of the father, daughter relationship that I don’t want to lose with him, and if he tries to put me in the roll of care provider e.g. nurse, I cannot do it.

At this point he said he will ask his sister to help him. They talk on the phone often and he feels close enough to her to ask. She has not seen him in years. I’m hoping she comes out and sees what I see. That she recognizes a man in denial about the severity of his condition and tells him he needs to get a higher level of care. And perhaps sell the big ass house and move to a one story. If she feels comfortable playing nurse then good for her, but in my mind that is not a fair request of him either. She is not a medical professional and even if she were she is family.

I know that some people believe that it is the family’s “job” to take care of each other in these types of situations. I’ve had many clients give up careers to care for ailing family members and I’ve seen the hell their lives became as a result. The depression, guilt, the loss of the relationship, e.g. child to parent, the resentment, and anger that develops is heart breaking. I will not let this happen with my father. With my depression, I know that no matter how much I love him, I would resent and hate my life more than I already do. So I will continue to remind him of one of the first things he told me when he found out he had Polymyositis, “I will never have false pride and become a burden to you. I will ensure I have proper care when things get worse.” Things are worse dad…

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A weekend at the hospital

Last week my father underwent a procedure to implant a port into his abdomen. This port will allow him to begin dialysis treatment at home. I took time off work to be at the hospital because even though he claimed it wasn’t a big deal, with his already wreaked condition every procedure is a big deal.

According to the surgeon everything was a success, he even finished early. When my dad’s girlfriend and I went back to see him the discharge nurse was praising how well he was doing and as soon as some paperwork was finished we could take him home.

We had a visit from the nurse that will be assisting us with the dialysis training. He gave care instructions and follow up times. We were good to go. Then the discharge nurse lifted my dad’s sheet to begin removing the monitors. We noticed there was blood and so he began making calls. First another nurse came, and then a Physician’s Assistant, we were told to wait in the hall. Then we saw the anesthesiologist and the surgeon go into his room.

I tried to gage what was happening by their expressions and tone. These people were very well trained as I got nothing. The surgeon eventually came out and said that there was some “leakage” but they were getting it under control. We were sent back out to the lobby to wait. An hour later we were escorted back and were told that they had packed him with about 3 inches of thick gauze and a pressure garment that would hold off the bleeding. The nurse said that if any blood is seen to get him to the ER, but not to worry as that was highly unlikely.

Later that evening my dad called and said he needed to get to the ER. My dad now requires a wheelchair as he cannot walk on the incline of their drive way, but his girlfriend cannot maneuver the wheelchair over the threshold to get him to the car. They rely on us or a service agency they have to call at least 48 hours in advance. My dad refused to call 911 because he “felt ok.”  I was already ready for bed but my boyfriend was still dressed so he went to my dad’s and helped him get to the ER. I got dressed and followed soon after.

At the ER we were told they may have to “go back in” as the on call doctor thought the bleeding was from a muscle that was not clotting. They were going to try different methods first to stop the bleeding but we were worried he would end up back under the knife. Eventually, we were told they would not do surgery but he needed to be admitted.

He ended up staying 3 nights and required a blood transfusion. Needless to say, we did not have a relaxing weekend. I’m mentally and physically very tired but I have this pesky life I have to live and that requires income and responsibilities.  When there are genuine stressors happening, it is difficult to practice good self-care. Its even worse when under relax circumstances good self-care is minimal at best. I’m referring to a healthy exercise regime, eating well and regular sleep patterns. I’m the queen of sucking at good self-care (if there ever was such a title.) So this week I’m hanging on by a thread and hoping to survive the work week. Fingers crossed we get no more emergency calls.

Time for…Thanksgiving?

Today I finally get to have Thanksgiving with my father. Thanks to his poor health and one serious fall he has been practically bedridden since early November. Now he is on the mend. He has been going to physical and occupational therapy, with my boyfriend helping him in and out of the car. According to my BF he seems to be gaining more strength and is still his feisty stubborn self.

Since my parents divorce I’ve been in charge of making the Thanksgiving turkey for my get togethers with my dad if we are not going to my aunt’s house. There have only been a handful of years not spent with my aunt and this year is one of them. Sure it’s only 5 days till Christmas, but my dad isn’t going to miss out on his favorite holiday meal. And NO, this cannot be combined with Christmas because that comes with its own meal and get together.

As I’ve written about in A Lesson in Cupcakes, I don’t cook. fortunately, my mother taught me one of the easiest ways to cook a turkey. You basically slather it with oil and spices, wrap it up tight, and cook it at a low heat all night and morning…or basically take it out whenever you are leaving for the get together. I don’t even defrost it! I’ve made it the same way every time and it turns out perfect. Does that stop me from stressing about? hahahahahaha of course not! 😀 Thanksgiving has always been a huge treat for my dad. And now that his diet is much more strict, this is one of the rare treats he will not deny himself.

So this morning I noticed I wasn’t overwhelmed with the amazing aromas of turkey like I normally am. I could smell a hint of it and I attributed that to having probably smelled it all night and was just used to it. I go to the kitchen to make my coffee and see the oven is off!! HOLY SHIT!!! I quickly turned it back on and the oven was still warm so I’m hoping it only turned off a short time ago. We leave for my dads at 2:30, so I will check on it at 1. I will also be watching the oven like a friggin hawk! So much for easy 😦

Trying not to freak out, trying to be accepting of whatever may come. The chances are good that the turkey will be fine…AAARRRGGG!!! OK I’m wroking hard to chill the hell out. Any positive cooking vibes would be very much appreciated. 🙂

Age, We All Have It

Of all the things the human race has to worry about, age shouldn’t be one of them. Sure, we should think about our overall health, but that should be from day one and continue until we die. I don’t know about other countries but in the US the “prime” ages seem to be between 21 and 25. Within these ages exists a place where telling your real age comes with pride. You are no longer an awkward teen, you are given a bit more respect as an adult, and you’re nowhere near the proverbial “hill” we all go over.  I remember at age 25 hoping time would simply stop. I was perfectly fine with that number and no more were needed, thank you very much.

My mother has always been a great role model of how to handle the age thing. She never lies about her age and she openly discusses it if the topic comes up. Since she had me later in life she was typically older than the other mothers and she didn’t seem to mind one bit. My mother was also gifted with a youthful appearance. She has aged beautifully and I don’t blame her one bit for taking pride in that.

It is because of this upbringing that I can’t understand where my own insecurities come from. Perhaps it is because I’m now 10 years older than she was when she had me and I’m still without a child. For as much as age should not be a factor when it comes to attractiveness or ability, the sad fact of the matter is age does effect one’s ability to get pregnant. Perhaps it is because of this fact that ageism is still so prominent for women. But I won’t get into that now.

One thing I do have in common with my mother is that I haven’t physically aged too badly. I still get carded at the age of 40. Maybe they’re just being nice, but I’ve had some pretty interesting reactions when they see my date of birth. Typically I get, “Oh wow you look great” or “I never would have guess you were that old.” What the hell is a 40 year old supposed to look like exactly? I watch TV, I’ve seen movies, I know people my age and older. None of us are walking around with gray hair and canes. In fact, thanks to improved medical care we even live to our 50s!

I had a rather intrusive encounter with a waitress when we went out to eat one evening. I ordered a beer and she carded me. Once she saw my date of birth the look of shock was obvious. Then it got weird. She informed me she was the same age as I am, only a month older to be precise. She said she wouldn’t have believed it if she hadn’t seen it and said I looked so much younger. I was a bit uncomfortable, but thanked her. Then she said, “How do you look like that, but I look like this (she points to her whole self) if we are the same age?” How do you appropriately respond to that type of question? Do you lie and say they look great too? Do you fake plastic surgery? Clean livin? Good genes? Time traveler? It was so uncomfortable and I can’t even remember what I said. I’m sure it was tactful as she was handling my food.

There comes a point where saying someone looks good “for their age” isn’t really a compliment. How about they just look good?  Oh you run 5 miles a day, that’s amazing for someone your age, is NOT a compliment. There are thousands upon thousands of people that are of all ages doing amazing things, accomplishing goals, look fabulous, and living their friggin lives. Come on people, have we not advanced enough as a society to stop stigmatizing people based on age? Hahahahah, I know wishful thinking.

My Dad

I feel like I should start this out by saying I truly love my father. I know what he is going through is horrible and I will do most anything in my power to help him through this. That being said, he is driving me crazy!

As my dad’s physical health continues to decline he has been relying more and more on my boyfriend to help him get to medical appointments. This requires a lot of time and lifting as he doesn’t have enough muscle strength to get out of bed or even a chair. This weakness was worsened due to two falls he had in one week, injuring his back. Since my BF is currently not working he has been available anytime day or night to assist him.

Now, having lost his job last month, the plan was BF would go back to school. He’s already applied to a local junior college and will be taking the assessment tests to determine which math and English classes he needs to hopefully begin the winter semester.

My dad called me last night with an update on how he’s doing and to let me know the doctor approved him for physical therapy as he may be able to regain some mobility. After the small take and updates he said there was something he had to tell me before we hung up. He began by saying my BF is a “GEM”! He doesn’t know what he would do without him. He is so kind and willing to do everything and anything to help him. He is amazingly “Strong, with a capital S!” (His exact words). “I never fear he is going to drop me”, which my father has never been dropped but he didn’t feel safe once when being lifted by paramedics. He has eased so much of the burden off of his own significant other “A” and she no longer worries or stresses as much knowing she can count of my BF for help. “Just knowing I can count on him gives me hope!”

The outpour of compliments, dependency, neediness and praise was intense. I’ve no idea where that came from and it was a bit scary. I had told my dad only a week ago of our plans of BF going back to school. So I tried to be as tactful as possible by saying I was really glad he appreciated the assistance, but he does know this 24hr availability isn’t going to last forever…right? I emphasized that I have been encourage him to find a home care provider that could do exactly what my BF is doing for months now.

After all those words of praise, going on and on, all it took was for my little snippet of reality for him to say, “I know.” I asked if he was angry and he said, “No.” He was so quiet I finally asked if he was going to interview care providers and he said he would. I back peddled a bit stating that of course BF wouldn’t be in school 24-7 so he could probably help out when not in class or needing to do homework. He stated he knew that and had already discussed it with him. Clearly the conversation was over. Oooook.

I’ve no idea what type of response he wanted from me. I don’t know if he wanted me to offer BF up full time or what. I asked my BF about this and he said my dad had joked about him living with them full time to help out, but it was a joke. I’m thinking maybe not. Right now I’m trying very hard not to read more into it. I can’t feel guilty for us trying to move forward with life. Then why do I feel so…wrong?

What am I doing?

When I was growing up I kept a diary or journal of some sort, very inconsistently, at different intervals of my life. At first they were the empowering words of a child learning to express herself. Expressions of frustrations (my parents don’t get me), “true love”, and daily life (I learned a new trick on the monkey bars!). Later, they were an outlet for a severely depressed young woman, struggling to find solace in a perceived dismal existence. I thought that one day I could look back on them and laugh or my family would have a better understanding of what made me tick after I died. Now in the age of blogging, I thought what the hell; I’ve still got shit to say. If someone relates or can feel better about their life, why not allow access to the fraction of a life that is me. And if no one reads it, maybe I can look back on it and laugh…

I’ve had at least 3 really severe bouts of depression in life starting in the 5th grade. Nearing my 40th birthday my 4th downward spiral began. All I could think about was the lies I believed as a child. I thought adults knew everything and feared little. I couldn’t wait to be in charge of my own life, free of childhood fears and eating whatever I wanted for dinner. What a load of shit!!! Now fears are not from what is beneath the bed but in everyday living. The self-loathing, negative self-talk and all around mental beatings flowed in my thoughts constantly. I’d accomplished nothing in my 39 years of existing. I’m divorced, never went to graduate school, I’ve had no children, overweight, and no close friends to speak of.

The no children piece cut the deepest. In my 30’s I determined I couldn’t get pregnant. I didn’t base this on any tests or medical knowledge. Since I never had been pregnant I just figured it wasn’t meant to be and came to terms with that. Then March of 2013 I discovered I was pregnant. This scared the bageebers outta me, but I suddenly felt like I had a purpose in life. 12 weeks into the pregnancy I went to my first OB appointment. During the vaginal sonogram the doctor uttered the phrase, “Uh Oh”.  He informed me, very matter of fact, there was no baby. What?? Was this a false pregnancy where I subconsciously wanted it bad enough I forced my body into believe it was? No. Everything was there, but the baby just simply didn’t continue developing. So common, he told me, it happens ALL the time. Typically, women just think they’ve started their period late. Well guess what doctor; it doesn’t happen to ME all the time. He provided options of how to go about terminating the pregnancy since it wasn’t viable but my body just had not realized it yet. Shocked and dumbfounded I chose the home version. This consisted of medication that would complete the miscarriage process all from the ‘comfort’ of my own home. It was AWFUL.

Determined to find at least some positive aspects I acknowledged I have a loving boyfriend, parents that I can count on for love and support, two adorable dogs, an affectionate cat, and a steady job. The problem with clinical depression, however, is even the positive becomes tainted in misery.

I’ve been on three types of anti-depressants of which I had horrible side effects from weight gain (Yea! let’s just add to the depression) to crazy anger outbursts. I have a filled perscription for a new medication, but I’m afraid.

So this is how I’m starting this, let’s see what happens.