Sunday, June 26, 2016

Some People Need To Be Loved From A Distance

This past Monday I ran into a former co-worker while I was out and about. She's a nurse who has done the same case on the graveyard shift for 18 years. The case was the result of a Dad who shook his baby badly enough to cause serious brain damage. This nurse has dedicated herself to this child, now an adult child, to the point where she really wasn't there for her family. She allowed her need to care for a baby to come ahead of the need her teen children had to have a connected Mom in their lives.

She was there for the drama, but in between the bad stuff she didn't share with them the things they were interested in. She was too tired to attend school functions since she needed to sleep to go to work. When she did attend, her conversations were all about the condition of the abused baby. You never heard a single thing about the triumphs of her own children, just the bad things. Like when her daughter got into drugs and they affected her mental status. Then there was the attempted suicide of her son. Her husband getting caught cheating on her, his heart attack, etc.

All the times we talked I would tell her she needed to take care of herself and her family first. The only time I ever earned a trip to the bosses office for a session was because I told her that company policy was family comes first. It wasn't anything other than an offhand statement to her apology for letting the client's family down when her daughter was in the emergency room, but she lodged a formal complaint against me for saying it. I chalked it up to her own guilty conscience and didn't make a fuss because the conversation didn't go on my record. Now I can say what I want and she can't do anything about it. I told her she needed to learn to take care of herself.

I was shocked when I saw her condition. She moves like a woman 20 years older than she is. Her litany of health issues include fibromyalgia, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, arthritis of the knees and a possible detached retina. She drove to work last Sunday night unable to see out of one eye. Reaping what she sowed is an issue with her. She is unhappy with...well...everything.

Her oldest child will help her out but the other 2 can't find the time. I'm standing there looking at a woman who is 8 years younger than I am whose skin is gray, she's obviously exhausted, she can't stand up straight so she's leaning her full weight on a shopping cart. She told me that she was going out on disability at the end of the month unless the doctor took her out after the appointment she had for 2 pm that day. I hope he did, but I don't know because I've gotten a grip on myself and am taking care of me.

I very badly wanted to give her my number and tell her to call if she needed anything. I didn't do it because I could see the big black hole of need that I would be sucked into and that black hole is toxic. Her decision to accept her disability and give up her patient showed her how little loyalty that patient's family had to her. She now has to face the reality of what she did by prioritizing that patient over the needs of her family and it's not pretty nor does she like it. She oozes negativity and I fail to believe that situation will change.

I am hoping that she finds peace in life. She'll feel better when she does. I know I feel less pain when I'm content with myself and my choices. Even when they are somewhat selfish. Sometimes it's necessary to be selfish and put ourselves first. In life people come and people go, the only constant then is me. I'm learning to be here for myself because nobody else can be here all the time except me.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

My Heart Was Not Enough

This week I learned a harsh and painful lesson. I learned that after 25 years my husband's children are not my family. They are his family, not mine. The lesson was taught to me when my uncle died. They did not see fit to offer condolences to me even though my husband told his sons that I was grieving. I posted the obituary on my wall in Facebook and those who are online almost all the time didn't see it. They did not show up to pay respects at the funeral home to me, and made no effort to see if I needed anything. I had all the tissues I needed, could have used a hug though.

One of them told me she didn't know because she wasn't online as much as she used to be and missed my posts. She was the only one that said how sorry she was and apologized. She saw my short post about the wonderful people who came all the way from Binghamton to pay pay respects. You know, those OLD people who were his friends? They made a 3 hour round trip to send off a kind gentle man to his reward and to hug those of us that needed it. I needed it. I still need but there is no one there to offer it except my husband. Good enough I say, however, inside me where I hide, the pain is unbearable. It's going to take time. I may be standing mostly alone, but I have the strength to do so.

Yesterday I spent time breathing deeply and resisting the urge to start a fight. I did make a Facebook post stating how I felt and it was ignored. Floundering through my day questioning why this was happened, reminding myself I didn't do anything, and using box after box of tissues didn't provide any relief. It was a short post from my husband's youngest daughter-in-law that did.

They had picked up pizza and wings for supper and on the way home the sauce from the chicken wings spilled onto the back seat of "her" vehicle. Her baby as she called it. After years of her claims that this place makes the best pizza suddenly she won't be buying from them ever again because the grease spilled onto the back seat of her Kia Soul. The restaurant didn't tie the bag closed. The restaurant offered her $10 off their next order and this isn't good enough. She isn't saying what she wanted from them for their carelessness. Mind you, she saw the bag not tied closed, she could have done that herself before the restaurant ruined "her baby".

In my petty mood I saw this as karma and it made me laugh until the light pierced through my dark cloud of grief. I do not need, nor want, people in my life for whom the things they own have more value than the people who love them.

I let my uncle down by believing "my family" needed me. I was unable to spend as much time with my uncle as I should have because of that belief. I can't fix that because he's dead. I can make better choices with my surviving uncle and his wife. I won't ever allow myself to believe my husband's children need me if it would keep me from spending time with the family that was there for me when I hurt.

I love them, I just don't need them anymore. I wish them well.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

And Quietly He Slipped Away

He lived most of his life on his own terms. I know he didn't foresee the tragedies he would have to face, bankruptcy, the death of both of his wives and of his only son. I'm sure he was devastated by those losses, yet he never complained. He just stood tall and moved forward.

Two years ago he moved back home to the city he was born in but left almost 70 years ago. There no longer was anyone there that was family and when we near the end of life, having the life we're used to without the people that love us in it, isn't much of a life at all. He didn't say much about how he was liking the change, like everything he had to deal with he just made the best of things and kept moving forward.

Then his body began to betray him. First a stroke and a hospital stay, then a rehab facility. Then another hospital stay for a bleeding ulcer only this time he refused to go to rehab. This time he went home. To the home he lived in from Thanksgiving weekend of 2014 until sometime last night when he went to sleep to wake up no more.

I knew Tuesday that he'd given up. I knew it was a matter of time but still was shocked to my core when I called there this morning to tell him I was still contagious and would see him Monday and his sister-in-law answered the phone. She and my other Uncle had gone to pick him up to go grocery shopping. His body was there, he wasn't. Odd how things occur, isn't it?

He didn't like being sick, he didn't like being dependent on anyone. It took away his confidence in himself. It also took his will to live with it. He was no longer able to live life on his terms and that made life something he no longer wanted. It doesn't matter whether or not another stroke took him or whether or not his heart gave out. He'd made the most of his 93 years. It was time to say goodbye.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Taking A Deep Breath, Doing What I Can Do. Letting The Rest Go.

Attempting to process the situation in my family is leaving me with an urge to slap someone upside the head. I keep breathing deeply and telling myself to let it go. I can't change part of it and allowing it to eat at me won't help the situation and might actually hurt me.

My 93 year old uncle wound up back in the hospital over Memorial weekend with seizures and bloody vomit. The uncle that is executor of the will seemed to be handling things so I kind of stayed out of it. I was told he was going to be getting meals on wheels and home care so I chose not to stick my nose where it isn't wanted. I stopped in for a visit with him on Saturday and found out the whole story isn't exactly the way I was lead to believe.

He can't enter an assisted living facility. He makes too much money to be Medicaid eligible and not enough to pay for the rent there on his own. So, they then applied to the Office for the Aging to receive meals on wheels and a home health aide to assist with showers and cleaning his apartment. He's on a waiting list for both. Waiting list for these things when I retired was 18 months to 2 years.

I told them a month ago it was like this, but I didn't know what I was talking about. So, when everything I told my executor uncle turned out to be the truth, did they call and ask me if I could help? Of course not. They just left my 93 year old uncle without. As I got told on Sunday afternoon, he belongs in a nursing home. Except he's not in a nursing home and there are things he can't do for himself. His mind is sharp, it's the container it's in that is the problem. His body is letting him down. He will not go into a nursing home and no doctor will order it because his mind is too sharp.

For 15 years I did home care for a living. I know what to do and I know what he needs to be safe in his home. Are they listening to me? OH HELL NO. They keep telling me I cant do that because the visiting nurse and the physical therapist don't want that.

He is a fall precaution. However, instead of the walker without wheels they assigned him one with 2 wheels. It takes a forceful push to move it over the grout lines in the ceramic tile floors. I suggested a 4 wheel with a basket and a seat. First I was told it was too heavy and he wouldn't be able to fold it and place it in the vehicle when he went anywhere. His doctor has told him no driving. So, someone can't help him do that when they take him anywhere? Then the story is he can't have it because he's a fall precaution and it might roll away from him causing him to fall. However, a walker that he can't use while trying to fix himself something to eat or drink and carry it to the table in the dining area won't make him fall because he can't use it at all while carrying his food or hot coffee.

With a 4 wheeled walker that has a seat, he can place his food and beverage on the seat and roll it to his dining area. We can't have that because the PT and the visiting nurse say no. The visiting nurse doesn't do anything except set up his meds from a tray of prescription bottles she stores on the ceramic cooktop of his stove. It's on the back, which doesn't wash with me because no stove has only 2 burners. There are also 2 more burners in the back of the stove. However, those people who know more than I do because they went to college, don't feel this is a fire hazard. Metal tray, ceramic top and controls on the front of the stove where they can be easily turned on by brushing against them. I was told he doesn't use the stove except it's greasy and has food particles on it. How long have they been there?

So, what we have here is an Aunt and Uncle, 2 cousins with spouses and grown children who couldn't pick up a spray bottle and wipe the damn stove clean? And what we also have here is me, who knows how to help him stay as independent as he can, being told to go clean his home and mind my own business.

It's going to be cooler here later this week. I think I'll bake a pie. He was always partial to pie. I'm also sure a few meals he can pop into the microwave won't come amiss either. Might find his appetite since he used to like my cooking. Might stop some of the weight loss since he'd actually have food in the house to eat. Who knows?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I Wonder If The Road To Success Starts In A Parking Lot?

This morning I drove a neighbor and his dog to the vet's office for shots. I chose to wait in the car in the parking lot instead of going in because the day was gorgeous and I wanted to enjoy it. This particular animal hospital is at an intersection of a major state highway and a country road. There is a stop light there and a lot of traffic.

I was just admiring the work of the state employees on their zero turn lawn mowers racing up and down the median strip when an unmarked tractor trailer entered the intersection. There was no visible identifying freight company markings on it, but on the side of the trailer in huge letters it said; "Nobody said the road to success was a smooth and easy drive. You just have to watch out for the bumps." As I finished reading that I realized the stop light on my side of the intersection was green which meant that the light that controls the direction he was traveling in was red. He had slowed for the light but somehow didn't stop. Fortunately there was no traffic at the crossroad or his road to success might have included not only a few bumps but a few traffic tickets as well.

That intersection has seen it's share of death. After the wife of a friend of my family and her 3 children were killed there back in the 80s, the state reconfigured the intersection to try to make it safer. It, of course, didn't change much. It isn't a flaw in the intersection that is the problem, it's a flaw in the drivers. Yes, I am a driver and including myself in that statement. While I don't speed or make unsafe turns, there are times when the boredom of the drive lets my mind wander. All drivers are constantly distracted by life which is why I get so frustrated with those who feel they can drive safely while doing other things.

When we stop to think about the fact that we're already thinking about things that have nothing to do with the road and the other cars, pedestrians, animals, farm equipment or what have you, we're already multitasking. Most of us do not have a brain designed to do that successfully so why would anyone add fixing makeup, eating or posting status updates on Facebook?

Today the sky was beautifully blue, the grass was green, the flowers were blooming and I saw all this while sitting in a parking lot waiting for my neighbor to come out. Made me a bit nostalgic for those Sunday drives we used to take in the summer. Now we're in too much of a hurry all the time to go nowhere and we haven't the sense God gave a horse to realize how much we're missing. In case you're not familiar with horses, God didn't give them much sense at all. They're smart animals, they just don't have any sense. Kind of like people these days.