28 April 2015

Eldercare - Trying to Maintain Some Sanity!!

This past weekend was one part sweetness, one part sadness and way too many parts straight out of rejected scripts from "The Twilight Zone". Talk about a crazy mixed bag. 

My head is still spinning. I have one patient who can't tell me what year it is, can't hear a word spoken from six inches away and refuses to wear anything that resembles a sound amplifier, but let me close an outside door on my way to run a ten minute errand and he magically gathers the ability to plan an escape.

My other patient is basically immobile. She ventures only from the lift chair in her bedroom to the dining room table with rare jaunts to the back patio. However, every single evening following supper, she begins haranguing my dad that it's time for them to go back home (West Virginia) and goes on to explain how she would rather live ANYWHERE else but here. She vacillates between tears and steely anger. She begs, she demands and when she slowly understands that she's not getting anywhere - she retreats bitterly into her chair. It's at these moments that I can appreciate why my Dad refuses to wear any device that might improve his hearing because he becomes frustrated trying to calm her down. My Dad harbors no desire whatsoever to head to WV and when he asks my Mom where she plans to stay on these visits, my Mom draws a blank as she thinks about all the friends and relatives she was close to and how 99% of them are dead. This does nothing to improve her mood.

This past Saturday was just a really bad circus. After making a super fast trip to pick up Stephanie and Evelyn and run in "The Olive Garden" for a quick bowl of soup. Before leaving the house I'd  arranged my parents' breakfast, newspaper, fruit, coffee and meds AND told them numerous times I had to duck out for about an hour but I would be RIGHT BACK. I came home an hour later to find my Dad demanding to know where in the world I had been and where are the keys to the doors and what is my phone number and why is the side and front doors locked and on and on and on and on...and on.  My mother was much more calm, but when I asked her if she remembered where I told her I was going, she had absolutely no idea and, oh by the way, she wanted to know how Stephanie was and when is she going to have that baby? (I get asked this question several times a day and by my Mom's account, Stephanie has been pregnant for eighteen months even though Evelyn frequently visits and is obviously Justin and Stephanie's baby...obvious to everyone but my Mom. 

After arriving home from my quick errand with Stephanie and Evelyn, I prepped and placed a lovely pot roast in the oven and a short time later, with Steph holding down the fort, I took the opportunity to run to the store and pick up a few essentials and of course, I took Cleo and Sailor with me - they need time out of this nuthouse has much as I do. When I returned home, Stephanie reported that I had barely backed out of the drive way when my parents magically emerged from their room - my mom heading straight for the kitchen, rifling through cabinets and searching for God knows what while my Dad was shaking the side and front doors, frustrated to find them locked and unaware that Stephanie was in the living room. When she walked over to my Dad, he asked her why the doors were locked and where was the key? She explained that I liked to keep them locked for safety and that she didn't have a key (she does, but she wisely pretended that she didn't). He was not happy with her answers. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Mom told Stephanie that she was going to fix dinner!! (something she hasn't done in three plus years). Stephanie stepped up and told her that I had a roast in the oven and we were all going to have a really nice dinner in a short while. I don't think my Mom really believed her, so Mom just kept pilfering the cabinets. 

Thank God Stephanie was here. It was one of the rare occasions I could get through a store without the feeling of impending doom and fear of total residential destruction. The fact of the matter is that leaving my parents at home, unattended, is the equivalent of leaving two toddlers alone to fend for themselves. It's just not a good idea and it's a recipe for some sort of ghastly disaster. They are helpless. They have just enough cognition to get them into trouble i.e., "oh, a stove - it cooks things...let me turn these knobs and punch some of these buttons on the microwave!", and then mindlessly walking off. It's just not a smart move. 

It's maddening. The agitation and anxiety is becoming more pronounced in both of them and to tell you the truth, it's a little terrifying. I hate it - I hate it for them and I hate it for me.

Last night we had another epic episode of my Mom's "I want to go back to WV NOW!!!!!" show and she said so many things that broke my heart..."I hate it here. I would rather be ANYWHERE than here. I want to leave! Why do we have to stay here with that woman??".  Now, I know...I KNOW in my head that she is truly railing at her lack of ability, agility and she's living in some kind of fantasy where she can cook, clean and do all the millions of things she used to do with grace and ease, but last night, hearing her wails, after spending all day yesterday working in the backyard, I was exhausted, sunburned and just plain tired. I texted my daughter and a close friend - the contents of which I couldn't possibly repeat on this blog, but it did ease my tension and the replies I got back made me laugh, which is why I chose to grace them with my @#$%%^ texts in the first place. 

I love my parents, but wow this stage they're both in makes parenting teenagers look like a spring walk through Central Park. When my daughter called me yesterday evening, she was in the middle of putting tired and fussy twins to bed and had to think about getting dinner going, but listening to the sounds from her house reminded me that in spite of all the madness in this crazy house, life goes on and this will pass. She also wisely and graciously included me in yet another fitbit challenge and God knows I need someplace to spend the energy created by the frustration of getting through these days. 

My friend John sent me back texts that literally made me laugh out loud which is pretty awesome considering he has his own hands full with various irritations and his own set of parents to worry about. 

My dear Stephanie texted me to see how my day had gone and again, she's juggling a demanding job, motherhood and several furry animals to deal with at home. 

I guess that's the secret - we're truly all "in it" up to our eyeballs. Everyday brings a thousand fires to put out and ample opportunities to allow for many a "silent scream" and deep sense of wonder at all the beauty that spring shares with us - green grass, bright blossoms and highly chlorinated pools that begin to clear. Every single day is a combination of the craziness of Van Gogh and the sweet impressionism of Monet...and I guess you have to appreciate both...but try and focus on more on the Monet moments. It's so much more peaceful.

Today is Tuesday and it's the day Patty comes to give showers! Bless her heart and bless Lower Cape Fear Hospice. Just having these helpers in the house gives me infinite amounts of strength and many reasons for hope. 

Last night - my reserves were shot. Empty. Barren. Kaput. Today is a new day - the sun is shining, my hot tea is good and if I'm lucky, it will be at least another hour and a half until my patients get up. I'm looking to restore my peace and get in about 15,000 steps to give a good account of myself.