Monday, March 4, 2013
I am a clown. A certifiable circus freak. A bearded fat lady, wolf boy, fraud. A deceiver, a fool. I hand out wisdom and suggestions like nuggets of gold found in the Colorado streams of my mind. Two young neighbors came to my door, separately today. One was struggling with what she desperately wanted that she saw others getting, and is out of her reach. Another is struggling with newly discovered serious mental health issues. I took them into my home and warmly panhandled my advice. My sage homilies. Not two hours later a recent immigrant came to my door asking for such advice, as she had mined at this profitable stream before. Eureka!! Her pouch was filled with treasures of ideas as well. I prepared meals to take to church for distribution for the homeless. I called an ailing friend to make plans to visit, so she could enjoy looking forward to a little something. (Oh yes, this prospector is righteous as well!) And I am a complete and utter fraud. I know nothing about what to do for myself. Nothing. I find myself shrieking nonsensical things like, "what makes you think you can wear pajamas?!" And, "why are you looking for what isn't lost?" Sometimes I fear I might actually be losing my mind. My old cats continue to decline, reflecting the gradual departure I am living through. My son's girlfriend--whom I love--left him again, as he can't make the kind of commitment that is reassuring enough for her. Another body blow of loss. I can dress the part and wear the hat and talk a good game for others. But I can't deliver. Not for myself. Not for him. I know not how to alleviate this terrible pain and I can't stand the feelings of constant and complete loss.
I spent three days in hell. Thoroughly spent. Unable to cope in a healthy way with his total cognitive loss. And I mean the kind of loss that thinks wiping your butt after pooping is accomplished by polishing your knee. But somehow, with lots of reaching for good friends and a therapist, I once again reached a kind of stasis. Now, I have learned through experience that just when you relax your vigilance with this disease, bad stuff happens. Sure enough. After a fairly nice day of not feeling my own raging anger, and after the honeymoon glow of absence of anger, he erupts in huge paranoia , rage, and distrust of his own....over nothing that can be seen by a rational mind. This whipsaw effect of going from my own mind blowing rage stage, to a kind of acceptance and calm, only to be blindsided by his huge rage two days later is unsettling. This time I remained reasonably calm and we had another fairly pleasant day. As we sat on the couch, he remarked, "Oh, do you watch this show too?" I answered yes, and my first thought was that maybe he had already seen it during the day, while I was taping it. But something felt odd. I turned off the TV and asked him who I was. He pondered for a moment, then said he wasn't sure but he thought I was probably a teacher. The rest of the evening we spent with his remembering people we had known briefly and casually thirty some years ago, but his memory of our relationship never returned. He told me he thought I was a wonderful person but that was all he knew. I would like more balance in my life and I can sure do without the ups and downs of the vagaries and vulgarity of Alzheimer's. But the irony and unfairness of memory is awful. He remembers a man we met maybe five times, thirty seven years ago but can't place the woman he has lived with for forty five years. Sigh.....
Sunday, March 3, 2013
I have two old cats, both of whom are nearing their end and unwell. One has a thyroid condition; the other kidney failure. Both suffer from a seizure disorder though my kidney cat is much worse (and a few years older). My oldest cat also is deaf and has dementia. She forgets where her litter is and forgets that she has been fed. She still gets pleasure from sleeping in the sunshine all day and sleeping on my head all night. She does not appear to be suffering. Dealing with the nursing and loving duties for these old friends is increasingly hard work involving administering meds and subcutaneous fluids, but nothing I can't handle. More importantly I know what is needed, what to look for when my help just isn't enough...when it's time to give them the ultimate gift of love that we are unable to give to our human companions. But in this medical facility that used to be my home, we are also mired in the miasma of Alzheimer's. Last night he asked me if I had a husband and where I lived. He thought I was a wonderful person but didn't know more about me than that. Guessed that I was maybe a teacher. (He often thinks we are in a school.) My son suggested that maybe he was asking because he was interested and wanted to date or even marry me!) The next morning he wanted to know who all the people were in the house during the night. (There was no one.) He still didn't know who I was. For all my rage, this kind of loss taps into a very deep well of sadness. This is real loss.
My mom grew up in a house full of siblings, at least four of them big boys. She often would escape into her beloved books and would find a reclusive spot like the corner of the attic and stay out of everyone's way and commune with her own thoughts. We laugh about how we resist being like our parents, even deny similarities through our teen years. As we mature, we recognize and even sometimes appreciate those traits we find in ourselves that are uncannily like our parents'. It is so with me. Escape is what I yearn for. An attic is what I seek, with a trap door that opens only for me. I am overwhelmed with my anger at our circumstance and the degree of dumbness with which we are now dealing. I scream, but alas there is no attic, no book available. The mess, the pain, the problem is still standing right there, no matter what I say or do, how loud I yell or how compassionate I try and fail to be. There is no one else to fix it.
Like an attention deficit little squirrel, my mind races at night. My body begs for sleep, but that critter disallows any such nonsense. Miles to go. Miles to go. Why do I act this way? Why does he act this way? Oh wait, I know why he acts this way. Why do I react to his acts this way? And on and on. A major problem for me is the total unpredictable nature of this disease. I just get adjusted--sort of--to some particularly outlandish behavior and another starts up. And I mean immediately upon any kind of accommodation on my part. Very smart and insightful people have assured me that my own behavior is well within normal range. That this is extremely tough and dealing with it 24/7 can break anyone. Add to that the yogic (and the therapy) learning to love oneself, even the parts you don't like, because ALL of you--good and bad--make up your total package. All your behaviors and experiences create the person you are, and you have a model for understanding. You would think. But models don't seem to help. I actually shouted this out loud the other day, "One of us needs to die soon! It should probably be me as you are at least sweet natured. I am not." And I am not. I am absolutely, nails on blackboard, screeching livid! I remain fiercely angry with him for being sick and helpless. I yearn for the grace to release the anger and just love and care for him the best I can.