Archive for the ‘ Living With Mother ’ Category

Scary Thing About Growing Old

I wonder what goes through her mind, as she sits and stares out the window?

Lately Mom (92 years old already) has been staring out the front window, with a sort of vacant look on her face, but not in her eyes. There, you see something, as if she is off somewhere, looking for something, and you wonder, what could she be looking for. Is she maybe trying to see beyond this world, into the next?

Is she maybe looking for Dad, to see if he’s waiting for her on the other side?

I wonder, how it feels, how it must be, to know that death is so close at hand, simply because of your age. I sit and stare too, wondering how I’ll manage, or even if I will. There are times I wish I’d go first, because really, I don’t know how I would manage, with her gone. I love her so much, and yet there is David to consider, and I don’t know anymore.

Watching a person deteriote, isn’t easy. Coping with the little things that become major stress points, or become irritants, suddenly seem inconsequential, when you take her blood pressure, find it dangerously high, and that is after taking double the dose pills for high blood pressure.

You feel the tears well up, and try to hide it, not just from her, but from your partner, your wife too. You look to him for support, but then you shy away from letting him see how you are not handling it, because you are afraid he will dissapoint you, or not give you the comfort you need, the way you want. It is struggle, to be 54 and feel the tears rolling down your face, when all you have is a keyboard and a voice that echoes silently into the void of the Internet.

Questions pop into your head, as you type, as you wipe the tears away, when you think of it, every noise you hear coming from her room, makes you sit up, makes you hold your breath.

The day is past, and you wonder, how many more will pass, before you are put to that test, and then, will you pass or fail it? Sure, you hope its more than just days, weeks, or months, and as unrealisitc as it may be, you are hoping for years to go first, knowing it is unlikely. Yet you hope, and maybe that is the wrong thing to do, because then when it does happen, how can you be prepared for it? Then those dark thoughts come, the one’s where you try to imagine how you will act, and you try to push them away, but they lurk, always lurk, to sneak up and grab you, and twist your guts around.

This is really what it means, to be looking after someone, who is 92. It makes the arrogances of people like Bush, Clinton, Harper, Mulroney, all the more disgusting. It is that feeling of helplessness, of frustration, that makes you see how wrong they are, how mean they are, when it comes to real people. They live in glass houses, but those houses are way up on a hill, that ordinary people can’t reach, where their voices are often filtered out.

It is that lack of humanity that drive me nuts, that gets my temper flaring. To them, when they hear unemployment went up, they look for ways to make it seem not so bad, or that it is really better than it might be. Yet they don’t see the pain it causes, the grief it creates, because they are too busy justifying their callousness, their inhumanity, by counting the money they got in paper bags, or for speeches they give to the uber rich Sultans.

They forget, that their decisions impact ordinary people, who don’t have a line of credit with rows of zero after the first digit. They forget that it is people who have to choose between food, housing, or medications, when the cost of gas rises a few pennies per liter at the pump, and makes everything cost more. Not for them, because they have banked the millions, or have the contacts who can write them a cheque for a few hundred grand, without batting an eye. To them, a rise of .4% in the unemployment rate, means nothing.

To the man or woman who makes up that added number, it means the difference between eating or living under a bridge. To one watching his 92 year old mother struggle with another day of living, it just makes me angry & sad too.

Reality of being Ninety One

Is that you are waiting to die.

I don’t know how Mom manages, each and every day. She gets a look, that you know is about her thinking of Dad, of what it will be like, once she passes from this world. You can see the questioning in her face, about whether there is a heaven or not, or even if God exists. Natural I guess, at 91 years of age, when all of your family is gone, and you are the sole survivor.

Still, it leaves me chilled, wondering too, because I am no spring chicken, but I also wonder, will I cope with that inevitable day, when I get up in the morning, and she doesn’t wake up? Will I flip, or will I become a catatonic wreck, lost to everyone?

I think too, that life is not easy, and that death maybe is a solution, because we know not what lies beyond, no matter how much faith we have. I wonder, if this is just a cruel joke, and that as the saying goes, dust to dust, ashes to ashes. It is scary to wonder at these things, but I find it consuming the mind, the waking thoughts & the sleeping one’s.

I love her, and yet I find myself angry and upset over stupid things, and I wonder if it is a defense mechanism, trying to prepare the mind for what will come?

So many questions that can’t be answered, so much to think about, to wonder about, without anyone to really share it with.

Then too, there is the whole issue of dealing with the Medical Profession, as they call themselves. I mean, yes we have a family doctor, and many don’t, but we might as well not. I mean he shows up, takes her blood pressure, listens to her heart, then is out the door. The pills get renewed, but that is all, and I wonder, do they simply loose interest when a person gets older? How will they feel when it is their turn to be under the care of one of their comrades?

Doctors should be trying to ease the burden of the elderly, not ignore them. I mean sure, things don’t work as they used to when we are twenty or fifty even, and certainly do work less efficiently when a person gets to be ninety one, but is that any excuse to not care? To not try to make it easier for them?

Maybe that is what has me so angry, so on edge? Could it be that I want to do more, but simply don’t know how? Isn’t that what a family doctor is for, to not just administer the pills, but to prepare one on how to cope, how to deal with an elderly parent or spouse? Surely there is more one can do, that just sit and wait for death? Surely there is more that someone can do, to help ease the fear of being sick, or of having pain?

So I wonder, what kind of world do we truly have, when all the things we hold dear, no longer seem to count? I am rambling, because I am scared, because I don’t want her to die, not now, not ever, but I know too, that is unrealistic, and yet…  I don’t know, maybe it is me, maybe I am failing somehow, or maybe I am just not pushing myself enough, to find the right people, to get the right answers?

This is life, and frankly I don’t know if I like it anymore. I wonder about GOD too. There are moments when I wonder if HE exists, or if he does, does he care about us, and yet deep in my soul, I know he does exist, that he does care, but that this reality we call Life is a torment for us. Oh sure there are good times, but as we get older, what do we have to look forward to? Does heaven exist, and why hasn’t he let us know, let us be shown a glimpse of it? Why is it shrouded in such secretiveness?

I can’t stop thinking about what I am doing wrong, about why I can’t find the right answers, on how to make her life easier, to make these last days or weeks, or hopefully, please God, years easier for her. I am greedy, I don’t want her to leave, to die. I need her, even now at fifty three, I need her as much as when I was twelve or six.

I don’t want her to die, and I know it is unrealistic, but I don’t. I can’t help it, nor can I ignore what will be. I just wish that somehow, there was a way to know, to really know that when she does leave, she’ll be at peace, that her pain will be gone, and that she’ll be in loving arms. I know too, that I’ll never know that, as long as I draw a breathe, but one day, maybe I will know.

It isn’t easy to watch, to be a part of, and yet I wouldn’t trade it for anything else, not all the money in the world, because that really doesn’t bring happiness. Maybe not having it, has given me a chance, to realize what matters, what doesn’t. Maybe it helps, I don’t know. All I know is, I love her, and I wish I could do more for her, to make these last part of her life, easier, more comfortable.

Being a Care Giver

I can honestly understand why most people do not want the responsibility for looking after their parents when they get older. Your life does change a lot, and it does intrude into your own relationships, and yes, in work as well. I know it has for me, and I also know, it is not going to better in the near future.

Mom is 91 years old, and since Monday I have had to re-adjust my entire work schedule, which I already adjusted to be able to look after her. I mean I work from home, because someone has to be here, even though she was pretty self reliant. I mean she could dress herself, get her own breakfast, and all that, but there were the odd mishaps, the odd little fall. Then too, there is the house keeping, and well, years ago I made the choice, to stay with her, to provide the necessary support for her and Dad.

When Dad passed away, things changed a bit, but not much. David & I still had our own lives, and the time needed to be a care giver wasn’t all that much. I mean when she wasn’t feeling good, sure it meant a bit more time but those weren’t lengthy times. Still, it made it easier for her, to make sure the pills were ordered, to make sure she had her blood tests done, and all that stuff.

Yet now, things are changing. She is having trouble just getting out of a chair, though she can still manage to dress herself. Breakfast is now once more my obligation, to make sure she eats. Lunch and dinner are also up to me, and yes it does intrude into the work schedule. I mean it isn’t easy to just drop what you are doing because you need to go fix lunch, but then, who else is going to do it?

It isn’t like we can afford to hire someone for it, though the Government is gracious enough to give tax credits if we do, but you know, you have to earn the money first, and have earned enough to where a tax cut or credit, can be useful. And that rather ticks me off, because I am paying taxes on what I earn, but can’t take any deductions for working from home. See if I am a care giver, for a stranger, I can claim some things, but if it is for a relative, well tough luck. Now that seems wrong to me, but those are the rules today, so nothing I can do about that.

I am not going to stop looking after Mom, because it is economically hard, or even mentally hard, which it is. I mean that is perhaps the greatest problem one has to cope with, when being a care giver for a parent. The stress is unreal, tough at the time you don’t really notice it, until the day is winding down. It makes it hard to get up in the morning, and makes you not want to go to sleep too. It is a vicious circle, but then, for me it would be worse if I passed it off, or put her in a home. Again that would be if I could afford one.

What sucks is knowing that no matter what you do, the end result will still be coming. Oh you might put if off, delay it, but let’s be honest, death is going to come. I am not looking forward to that, even though in a sort of dispassionate part of my mind, it says it is inevitable, and perhaps would be best. I don’t know, as I do believe in God and in Heaven, but still, maybe it is just that I am selfish, and don’t want to see her go. Maybe it is being naive, but when she has trouble getting up off the couch, to go to the bathroom, it is like you get a feeling of anger, wanting her to fight more, to fight harder, when really, you know she is, but her body is failing.

Ninety one years old, the body isn’t what it used to be, still we expect it to be. I know I do, and maybe that anger is really just fear showing. I don’t like to think about death, about not having her around, because we are close, we do love each other. It isn’t words, but you feel it. I know when I see her take nearly a half hour to walk from the couch to her bedroom, it hurts inside, it brings tears to the eyes, because it really isn’t that far. Yet you can see her fighting, for each step, refusing to give in, yet her body resists. I don’t know, not even sure why I am writing this, but I wonder what it is like, to die?

What is it like to be her age, knowing you may not have many more left, or even wondering if there is a heaven, or thinking about what is left to do? So many questions, and so little time, you wonder what goes through the mind, at that age? Then too I wonder, is she okay, does she feel I have done enough, not enough? I wonder if there is something else I should be doing, for her, or not? Am I making her last moments pleasent, or am I making them more painful? What else can be done, if anything?

This is a daily if not hourly, though process, that makes me wonder how can I get up in the morning, or how can I go to sleep tonight. What will tomorrow bring, what crisis will happen? Who is there to discuss it with, or talk it over with? Can one even begin to fathom the emotional upheaval that is going on 24 hours a day, or is it really ordinary? Am I maybe thinking too much, not enough?

This is what a care giver thinks, what I go through every day, and still the stories I write get written, even if it takes me longer. This is the stress that lurks, constantly a companion, until who knows when, and yet if I had my choice, if it was up to me, I’d want this to go on for eternity. I don’t want to lose mom, not now, not tomorrow, not next month,  next year, or hell, next decade even. Naive, wishful thinking, but it is the truth. As hard as this is, and believe me it is, I know I don’t want it to end, to change. I know too, it won’t get easier, it will only increase, and you know, I don’t care. So what if I have to get up at 8am and stay upstairs, work on my laptop instead of desktop, so what if it means I have to be inconveniened?

After all, she is my mother. Surely that alone makes it worth it.  Does for me.

Being Old Has to Suck

Our old doctor kept saying, as you get older, things don’t work as well, which was really annoying. I mean yes, Mom is 91 years old, but still, complaints can’t just be tossed off as, ‘well as we get older’ which was his standard answer. The new Doctor on the other hand, seems a bit more pragmatic, and at least, listens. Though time will tell how good he is.

Yet I wonder, at what goes on in the mind of someone who is Mom’s age?

Like this afternoon, we got her to soak her feet in one of those foot bath thingees. David picked one up on sale, which he was using, and it has the jets and all, so she soaked her feet. Thing is, not for very long as the water had cooled off.

Yet, she didn’t seem to want to have it changed, or hot water added, and it wasn’t easy to lift her feet up over the few inches of just that little unit. It makes me wonder, if her muscles are growing too weak, or is it more of a mental thing? Is her mind not getting the signals right?

I told her to lift her foot up, so she started to sit up, to get up off the couch, which makes me wonder if she’s even understanding things. I mean yes, she’s 91, but these odd little oddities are rather perplexing, and worrisome too. I mean I know, the day is coming, but I am selfish, I don’t want it to be anytime soon. I’d rather like to have her around to celebrate her One Hundredth birthday.

All difficult to cope with, and I think too, it is why many kids of elder parents simply put them into a home, or hire someone to look after them. I just can’t see that for Mom, nor do I think she’d be too thrilled about it. Despite the fact that she worries she’s a burden, still doing something like that would be just wrong. Least in my mind, and hers too. I doubt she’d survive for long in that kind of situation.

It is tough too, on just me, but David as well.

I can’t get out as much, because she worries too much, is unsteady on her feet, which makes me worry too. So in a sense I have become housebound with her. Yet, there are ways to help it along, such as by having a laptop computer. With that, I can actually spend more time upstairs, and still do my work, and yep, even natter here on this site. Which is why I didn’t hesitate in grabbing a rather nice one from London Drugs the other day.

Also got a nice little portable table for it, a mouse and so I am set. Now all I need to do is figure out Windows Vista and hey, I am all set.

Sometimes it seems like a real chore, but then I think about how she sacrificed a lot, to make a home for me when I was a kid. How she was there every time I came home from school, when she could have been doing other things. No Bridge Club or Mahjong, or any of that stuff, because she felt it necessary to be there, when I cam home. So why shouldn’t I be there for her now? I mean she had to feel tied down too, and she was a lot younger then.

I don’t know if her being there, made a huge difference in who I am now, that is for others to decide I guess. What I do know, is that I owe her, and if I have done okay, it is because she was there. She was there to help with the homework, to be a part of my life, even when things sucked big time. There was no isolation, none of that, ‘later son‘ stuff that is so common today, so I wonder, have we forgotten that?

I know, it isn’t easy to survive today, what with the Economy, the cost of everything, but which is more important? Having a big house, fancy cars, or spending time with your kids, being involved in their life?

The Search Continues

No, not for a running mate for Obama, but for a Doctor for Mother, and I suppose for myself and David as well. It is strange, to have to fill out an ‘application form’ from someone you are buying service from. And let me say, the forms are a lot more intense than if you are applying for a job, and I simply don’t understand it.

It makes me wonder at what has happened to traditional family values. Seriously, there is so much talk by the politicians about ‘family values’, about ‘traditional values’ that I have to wonder, just what values do they refer to? Is it the value of who can make them the most bucks, who can give them the better leg up on the competition, or is it about compassion, charity, respect?

I used to believe that Doctors and Nurses were about healing, about caring. I feel that is no longer a consideration among many of these so called professionals. I mean I got more sympathy or understanding perhaps, from the secretary of our local MLA[1. Member of Legislature] than I did from our own family doctor’s nurses, and that just seems wrong to me.

I mean we were a ‘customer’ for 13 years, and it seems that even that doesn’t count. And you know, why should we even be looked at as a customer? I know, they call us ‘patients’ but somehow it just seems all too commercial. For example, no one told me that if we don’t get our medical records from our old doctor, that they put them into some medical storage firm, and it costs about $200 per patient to get them out.  Now, I mean come on, like that is really nice of them, to keep that little tid bit hidden.

They don’t say how long they keep our records, just to call them and get them ready if we find a new Doctor, not if we have 10 days, 30 days, or whatever. Then to not even tell us that if we don’t get them out by a certain date, they go to storage and there is a fee to get them out. Now I am not objecting to there being a fee for storing them, just that NO ONE TOLD US THAT.

So it looks like more ‘paperwork’ and I wonder, isn’t this all costing someone something? Maybe we are so afraid of what might be, we try to cover our asses so much, we forget our purpose. I mean, okay things can get out of hand with lawsuits, but one of the principles of Universal Health Care, is protecting the Doctors and Nurses from unreasonable legal exposure. Yet it seems, that in doing so, we are adding to the financial cost, and forgetting, that irrespective of age, people are entitled to care, to respect, and when you look at the world around, at Burma and how inept the Government is, you wonder if our own political leaders aren’t wishing they too could just ignore the sick and the elderly.