Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Wow, time flies. Even when you’re not having any fun. Yeah, more good/bad news since the last post. We got pops into a much better nursing home (good), but he’s in the hospital again (bad). *sigh* I’m tired of this already. Poor guy. Yesterday, the nursing home sent him to the hospital because he was running a 102 fever, had a sore throat and had a blood sugar count of 240 - in the morning. By noon, he’d become very listless and had a blood sugar level of 500+ (which is somewhat common with diabetics, seems their sugar level rises with infections). So, the hospital admitted him overnight, maybe longer. I have to call later on to find out. I got a feeling pops may not be around a lot longer. I mean, he’s 83, and every time I visit I can see him declining more and more. It’s just his time. To be honest, I’ll be surprised if he makes a comeback of any kind.

I don’t think it’s coincidental that he’s taken a nose dive since we put him in a home. He was fine health-wise before we put him in a home. I think he’s extremely depressed, and I think that’s what’s killing him. It’s sapping him of the will to live.

I’m ok, though. This is different than losing mom - nowhere near the same thing for me. I don’t have a close and intimate relationship with the stepfather and actually, it’s quite the opposite. We’ve rarely gotten along and I’ve never liked him as a person, even when I was young. He’s rarely supported my family through the years, and he’s been a source of contention for everyone in my family at one time or another and sometimes simultaneously. Still, I hate to see anyone decline and suffer in the way he has. I do feel sympathy for him, and though he’s severely mistreated me in the past I don’t wish him ill. He doesn’t really comprehend what’s happening to him. All he knows is that he wants to go home, and he can’t do that now. Not with his dementia making him uncontrollable.

So, that’s what’s going on. I’m finding it harder and harder to find any cheer in my life right now. It seems that as soon as I do, it’s whisked away before I can build on it. I’ve been making ATC cards like crazy as an escape. Making them takes my mind off of things. They offer me a temporary distance and give me a chance to feel a little better. Creating something beautiful always does that for me. I guess in some small way I’m pushing things aside, but it’s better than turning to drugs or alcohol. Sadly, my poetry has fallen by the wayside for the time being. I just can’t seem to concentrate right now. I miss it. A lot. And I miss the guys at PFFA. A lot. But writing poetry is extremely demanding for me mentally, and right now my head just isn’t there and doesn’t wish to go there. So, I’m having a setback poetically. The ATCs are easy, and really don’t require any brain power. Creating art has always been easy for me.

My photography has fallen by the wayside, too, because of the weather; but mainly because of all the work I have to do in the house and with mom’s estate. I just finished cleaning out her room, and now I have to sort through the basement stuff. My brother cleaned out all the stuff that had water damage from last October’s deluge of rain. Now I have to weed out about half of a basement full of holiday decorations, extra kitchen stuff and small appliances, materials I had saved from my days of floral and wood painting craft vendoring at craft shows, books, old clothes, etc. Lots of stuff to sort through. Should take me a few weekends. Then I still have to finish my apartment upstairs. And then there’s mom’s estate. I have to make an accounting of all her worldly goods to the court before they’ll start probate. I have gotten my letters of testamentary, so now I have to start visiting the banks and calling the insurance and stock companies. I have to have the house appraised and get an estimate. I have to open a new bank account to deposit all her monies into. I have to file her income taxes, keep the house going (pay its bills) and account for that. I have to account for any disbursements I’ve already made from her estate to anyone for services or whatever. *sigh* It’s a lot of paper to go through. And all this to do before beach weather hits, and that’s only 3 months away. I absolutely refuse to give up beach time because of all the stuff I have to clean out. This year, more than any that I can remember, I’m really going to need to go there to restore my peace of mind and put myself back together again.

These last three months have been the worst ever in so many ways. There’s been so much upheaval and emotional upset going on for weeks on end. And it’s taking it’s toll on me. If I’m lucky I manage 4-6 hours of solid sleep a night, my asthma and allergies are active again, S.A.D. is kicking my ass (as it usually does), my mind wanders far too much and I’ve become very forgetful. And then there’s the grief, which comes and goes and beats me up pretty bad damn good when it does. Thank God it doesn’t last too long, like it did in the beginning. Oh yeah, and then there’s (ahem) my menses, which just makes all these things double whammies. Add all these together and, well, let’s just say I’m nowhere near my usual, vibrant, che sera sera self. I go through my days at work smiling and being my usual self, while inside I’m withering up. Then I go home and loose myself in fits of cleaning or making ATCs. *sigh*

Ah well, I guess I’m in a feeling sorry for myself frame of mind today, and that’s unlike me, too. I don’t usually buy into that whining and moaning kind of crap because I think of it as being a weakness. And I hate it when other people do it. No one I know has ever told me I’m like that so I guess I’m not, but I can’t help feel a bit guilty when I do feel this way. *sigh* What can I say? I’m complex. I want my old, boring life back. God, how I miss that life.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Well, just when you think it's as bad as it can get it always gets worse. The pops ended up in the hospital Friday - seems the freakin nursing home screwed up on his diabetes meds and let him get severely dehydrated - enough so that his sugar level dropped to 23 grams which sent him into diabetic shock. *SIGH* I tell you, it just never ends. But I'm ok, surprisingly. And he's ok as far as I know. Now, that is. He almost died. If he'd of gone into a diabetic coma, that probably would've been it for him and my brother and I would be financing a second funeral right now. It was touch and go for awhile and they had to insert a catheter (ick) and his urine was first brown then red (double ick) but it's normal now and he's back to hallucinating and yelling about the people on the wall watching him, so things are getting back to normal. heh. He's giving the nurses a good old time, screaming for hours on end, speaking gibberish and being generally a pain in the ass. I guess he's feeling better.

Anywho, he's not going back to that place. We don't know when he'll be released, but when he is he's going to a new nursing home that's only about 15 minutes from home. This way we can keep a closer eye on him. Shit, he was fine last Sunday when I went to visit him and five days later he's in the hospital. I got the call around 1pm Friday from the social director, and she tells me he's having "stroke like" symptoms, that he's weak and disoriented and not responding to pain. So I ask her if they've checked his sugar level lately and she says to me, "Oh, that's a good idea. I'll have to tell them that."

Can you imagine that?! What idiots! aarrrrghghgh! I want to kill someone over there! Well, I got a call later on from the big manager wanting to talk to me but screw her. She can talk to my lawyer. And then she can talk to the folks over at JHACO and then she can talk to the Dept of Mental Health. Tomorrow I'll be on the phone all day calling the senior citizen advocate and whoever else I have to to get an investigation started. No way are they going to get away with this. Someone has to make these people get their act together. Not just for my stepfather's sake, but also for the sake of all those other people that they supposedly care for. Yeah, I'm angry all right.

Oh yeah. And my brother had to call medicaid the other day to find something out and he tells me the stepfather's case STILL hasn't been approved and that it's still pending. SO, after all this shit, we still don't know who's going to have to pay for what. Idiots all. I swear, when I find an elder lawyer, they're all going to get it good. Idiots! Bahhhhhh!

Well, that's it. I'm done ranting...for now. And remember to go and talk to your mom, damn it. Grrrrrrrrghhhh!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I've been haunted since last Sunday's visit to the stepfather, and this poem has burbled up out of me. I guess it's my way of trying to come to some kind of terms with my current situation. Whether it has promise as a poem remains to be seen. Any and all feedback will be greatly appreciated.

On A Cold and Cloudy Sunday Afternoon (working title)

Swift hands have progressed around times dial
this day, yet I hedge and fritter the hours away
at inconsequential chores that could wait
for another moment. My feet feel like pails
of wet cement as I trudge on my overcoat,
lock the door, head the car west.

Too soon the forty-five minute ride deposits me
at the door of a new experience. As I enter
his ward’s great room I notice its dinge of dust,
layered through the years, has yellowed the walls
and windows; tinted the balloon valance curtains
from blinding white on a sunny day
to today’s tea stain brown.

He sits with his new friends, forty-two in all,
head slumped down towards the table
with eyes closed like some post-modern statue,
invisible to me as I scan the room; the attendant
must point him out before my mind blushes recognition.

My touch on his arm springs his jack-in-the-box
awareness, his in and out consciousness
that is alternately sensible and senseless.
As his tongue stirs into overdrive he remembers
and says my name, then blurts that he was once
embalmed and buried alive. I am startled
by the metaphor he makes, which makes me smile
for a fraction of a moment before I inwardly weep.

He rambles away as I monitor the room. Some of them
offer me an oddly surreal rendition of the movie Awakenings:
the hunched over, white headed lady who shuffles
from chair to chair non-stop muttering nananananana
and grabbing wrists; the dark-haired woman who ambles about
pulling the diaper out of her pants; the black man
who stands facing a corner while preaching a sermon
to a stain on the wall that looks like a face.

No one visits them.

The hour passes by like sap that seeps from a maple tree
until I am saturated with it and my pathetic quota
of miserly misery. The urge to run gains the advantage
in my internal game of tug-of-war and my conscience
tumbles into the mud as I stand, pull on my overcoat
and tell him goodbye.

He rises to go with me, dull eyes suddenly sparked
with cognizance. He thinks he is going home
but I must tell him no, he cannot come.

I leave quickly so I will not see him
sag back into his chair, close his eyes
and hunch over the table
as though I was never there.

copyright by Cookala 02-06-2006

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Well, thought I'd drop by for an update. A lot's been happening. The biggest thing is that I've managed to get medicaid to approve my stepfather's application and he is now firmly ensconced in a nursing home. We had to admit him to a psych hospital first for a few days because we started to lose control of him, and he began to wander outside the house. And he really started to have hallucinations and delusions big time - he swore we were trying to poison him (he just about stopped eating for 2 weeks and lost about 20 pounds) and he started refusing to get into the car because he swore we were going to kill him and throw him into the ocean. We even had to call the police a few times because he was out of control - the first was when he pulled a 10" knife on us, the second was when he walked down to the local speed zone and was intending to walk into traffic and we had to physically block him from going further until the cops came. He locked us out of the house for awhile, too, the day we tried to take him to an interview at another nursing home. *sigh*

So, it came down to admitting him into a psych hospital because he needed to be watched around the clock and we couldn't do it. But this ironically was the best thing we could do, because the hospital case worker used her contacts to help us place him in a nursing home. Took all of 4 days - something that would've taken me, as a private citizen, months and months to accomplish. As the saying goes, it's not what you know but who you know.

So, I went to visit him for the first time today and wow, what a head trip. His "ward" is a lock down, because he would definitely wander off the grounds, and he has the company of about 30 other oldsters with varying degrees of dementia. It's so sad to watch them all.

There was one woman who walked constantly saying nanananana, nanananana, nanananana. She'd walk up to someone and rub their arm or put her hand around their wrist for a moment, utter a loud nananananana, and then walk away again. She kept doing this over and over.

There was another old lady who kept pushing a sleeping man in a wheeled recliner out of the day room. Probably because he smelled like he'd shit himself. And there was an old black man who was holding a bible and preaching to the corner. One old woman walked up to me, smiled and held out her hand. So, I shook it and she smiled again and walked away. The rest of them pretty much just dosed in their chairs from the meds.

This is my first visit to a nursing home, and what a shocker. The whole time I was there all stepfather did was talk about getting a job as an autobody repairman, and when did his father die? and he was going to give me all his money, and how was my mom doing, and where was she? and about how shiny the floor was, and how smooth the table was. *sigh* I stayed for almost an hour and then left as the attendants were starting to feed everyone a snack as there was suddenly a lot of activity. I thought it was a good time to slip out. Even so, he got up with me thinking I was taking him home. He got a bit upset when I told him he had to stay, but that I'd be back again. The attendant had to calm him down so I could leave. *sigh*

One observation - I didn't see anyone else come to visit in the time I was there. And the attendant said it was nice of me to come. Makes me think these people have been forgotten by their families. How sad. How very sad.

Now, I have a bad past with this man but damn it to hell, I still felt my heart break a little for him. And I cried in the car on the 45 minute drive home. This is so hard. I mean, it's such a huge relief to know he's got someone watching him on the one hand, but on the other it's such a sad thing to see him come to this. It still hasn't hit him that this is his new home. He thinks it's temporary, but there's no way to get him to understand it isn't.

*sigh* So, I'm very sad now, very down, very bothered. Tomorrow I have to touch base with the admin at another, much closer home. Hopefully, this home will be cheerier and more like a home than a hospital, and will have an opening very soon so we can transfer him over. I have to make an appointment to go see this place before we transfer him, though, just to make sure it isn't worse than the place he's in now. That would be truly awful. So I'm asking you all to say a prayer for me, and damn it, send me some funny stuff to cheer me up. I need it. Fast. Oh, and go call your mom, will ya already? Bye for now.