Circumstances–An Avalanche of Too Much
Sometimes circumstances seem to conspire against us and are just too much. They come crashing down like an avalanche of problems, creating piles of rubble we must navigate. No one thing is overwhelming, it’s the cumulation. None of the recent events are life or death, just stressful.
This month the avalanche began.. These are the circumstances:
My dad fell between a table and his recliner chair, his body wedged tight. I seriously didn’t know how we would get him out. Thankfully, my husband took on his Naval officer persona and issued orders, enabling Dad to help himself get out with a push from behind. We got him on his knees and up. He has a huge purple bruise but no serious injuries. It’s the fourth time he’s fallen this month.
My mom asked to go to the dentist to get her teeth cleaned. She last saw the dentist two years ago. They wouldn’t work on her–her blood pressure was too high. When I reminded her, she said, “The Hospice nurse told me I have the vital signs of a teenager.” It’s true, she did tell her that, but Mom was sitting in her own house, in her own chair. I think the nurse was trying to encourage her. The minute you take her to a medical/dental office her blood pressure skyrockets. Not to mention, she can’t even stand. How could I ever get her into the dental chair?
When I asked her why she wanted to go, she said she wanted that “slick” feeling teeth have right after they’ve been cleaned. I said I just didn’t see any way we could do it, (I don’t think the dentist wants the liability for a 92-year-old woman on Hospice), she put her head in her hands and refused to speak again. In fact, she was in a foul mood for the rest of the night. Isn’t it an accomplishment to have all her teeth at age 92? Can’t we cheer the little things?
Friends came over to stay with mom and dad so hubby and I could go out to dinner. We were gone less than two hours. Mom’s so hard to move, I didn’t want our elderly friends left in a bind. Mom asked where we had been. When I told her, “out to dinner”, the interrogation began.
My mom’s favorite thing to do in the world was go out to dinner. I enjoy it but I can’t imagine being horribly upset if I couldn’t go. Maybe, that’s because I still can–though at this stage in my life the opportunities are rare. A stroll in the mall or dinner, wouldn’t have mattered to me. It mattered–a lot–to my mom.
It’s obvious she grieves the loss of restaurant eating. I spent the night being punished because I did something she wants to do, but can’t. She can’t even enjoy it vicariously. If she can’t go, I shouldn’t go either. To be fair, I’m not sure she knows how transparent she is. She would deny she resents it, but my husband, our caregiver and I notice it. It must be hard to lose so many things.
Our caregiver had a death in her immediate family. My heart breaks for her. She returned to work but I well know, as much as she wants “normal”, there’ll be no “normal” for a very long time. There will eventually be a new normal. The old normal is gone. I see how tired she looks and sad. She writes notes to herself, so she won’t forget things. I know that feeling of not being able to remember things. It’s an awful feeling. I don’t know how to help.
We got a letter from our doctor saying she is leaving. This is the fourth time in eight years I’ve had to find a new doctor for Mom, Dad and myself. We’re evidently really hard on doctors. They quit or retire after a year or two of us.
They sent a list of doctor’s names from which to pick a new one. All are young, family practice doctors, in an office thirty minutes farther than the hour we are already driving. All have practices with OB and young children. I know my parents don’t do well in a waiting room with sick kids. They are afraid they’ll be knocked down, the noise bothers them, and of course the coughing and sneezing of inevitably sick kids doesn’t help. It’s sad–but it is what it is. They do better in a geriatric practice, but that isn’t one of the options. It doesn’t sound major, but any change upsets them. I hate the responsibility and pressure of choosing, then convincing them it was a good choice, even if I’m not sure it is.
Our new Sunday caregiver (who I loved) is no longer coming. I am never privy to the whys and wherefores of staff changes. Her replacement is trying hard but it’s been a struggle. This morning mom slipped in the shower and ended up on the floor–unhurt–but the caregiver was upset and Mom was upset. I was upset only because everyone else was. Falls happen quickly–see #1–and I’ve had for forty-five years of practice. Then the washer broke down and the caregiver was sure she’d broken it. She hadn’t, the washer waterline got plugged up.
My husband’s last three work weeks have been stressful. Lots of problems he’s expected to solve in twelve hours that he struggled to get done in twenty-four hours only months ago. The work’s the same, the hours are fewer.
Mom and Dad got a notice their mortgage is going up–a lot. I’ve registered for RN re-certification to return to work. I’m not sure where else to look to bridge the short-fall. I’m trying to get Dad signed up for his Veteran’s benefits. That’s a whole other blog topic.
Mom and Dad don’t understand, partly, because we don’t talk to them about it. It would only distress them. I’d like to hang on to the house at least until they can no longer live here. To move them now, would be overwhelming. Once they are gone, it’s more house than we need or want. I know the timing is in God’s hands. I’m trying to leave it there and not give God a timetable for how I think things should go.
Not surprisingly, my Lupus flared this week making walking painful and chores hard. It’s not crippling, just annoying. I know it will pass, it’s just one more thing.
Do you have weeks when it feels like you’ve been hit by an avalanche of circumstances?
Here is a somewhat alarming article about the toll caregiving takes on caregivers. I didn’t write it–I’m just sharing it. It occurs to me that I sound like I complain a lot. Please know, I’m not unhappy, I’m just trying to keep it real. The reality is–it’s hard.
Have a good caregiving month, light on the stress,