It’s been too long

20 Jun

11:04 pm

And things have happened since the last time I posted!

For one, my father passed away on March 20. I guess I just didn’t have the words–let alone the heart or mind–to write about it then. I mean, it’s been three months now and I still feel a bit, well, confused by the new reality of, he’s not here. His long, horrifying struggle with dementia ended pretty quickly for him–unceremoniously, as it were, but I suppose that’s how it ends for everyone with dementia. One day, you’re up and about, talking, even if no one can understand what you’re saying, and the next day, you’re slurring your words and your bladder and swallowing functions start to deteriorate to the point of no return.

It really was as if–and “as if” is the key phrase, because dementia was slowly but very surely taking my dad down over the past 18 months–Dad was talking “normally” on a Friday and slurring his words and talking nonsense on Saturday. I’d say it took about two months for him to go from being somewhat coherent and able to at least engage in a relatively one-sided conversation, to getting a UTI, having his bladder function turn on him, and then, watching his ability to swallow both hard and soft foods, then finally liquids, disappear. TWO months, and he was gone.

My twin brother and I were able to fly to his bedside on the Wednesday before the Sunday he died; we spent three days with him, sitting vigil. By the time we got there, he wasn’t conversant; even still, we were able to be with him, watch him, and begin to process his death, which, um, wasn’t pretty… By Saturday afternoon, Dad was breathing very hard, trying futilely to cough up this green-colored Phlegm From Hell, which was filling his lungs beyond our control to fix or stop or clear from his airway. My brother lost it, and I barely held on. We decided to not come back that evening, and he passed the next morning. I don’t even remember now if our step-mom stayed all night or went home in the wee hours. In any case, I think it was meant to be–he didn’t want us around when he passed, I am pretty sure of it.

Even now, I think back to those few nights, checking under the sheet to see if his legs had started to show mottling, and remember being more shocked at how frail and thin his legs had become than the fact that the splotches meant imminent death. This was my DAD, big and strong and frankly, really quite overweight toward the final years of his life. How could it happen?

After the service, we had him buried at a local cemetery, next to his grandfather, whom he really loved and probably considered more of a father figure than any other man in his life. Gramps, as we called him, was a good 20 years older than Dad when he died. My dad was only 75; I can’t help but zone out once in a while these days, wondering, how did he get this dementia? Why did it take him down so fast? What could he, we, anyone have done to prevent or stop it? It’s just really hard to believe that at 48–just turned a few days ago; I feel tired, not old–my dad is already gone…?

I wish I had more to say about my dad’s passing, but I’m sure it will come. It was and is a lot to process; the whole thing was so draining over the past almost 2 years, and the whole downturn from bad to worse happened even faster, over 2 months, that it’s just hard to accept. One shocking surprise to seeing him the way we saw him on his death bed was, the forgiveness came hard and fast. I mean, 48 years of anger was just whiffed away, like the breath knocked out of me; it went easily, quietly, with no resistance. I had no idea that it would happen that way, and my brother felt it, too; for that, I am so grateful. The other good thing is, while friends who have had parents die talk about the profound shock and grief–I can say that, with dementia, there isn’t that. What I felt was profound relief when Dad finally passed; we had already lost him, as it were, 2 years ago, and we had that entire time to grieve (and writhe, and be angry) as he entered a new fresh level of dementia Hell every few months, as he descended deeper into realms that NO ONE deserves to know. We already lost him, and his death was a letting go, a release; FINALLY, he is at peace. Or, if he isn’t actually at peace, wherever he is now has GOT to be better than where he was, living inside dementia’s walls.

Fast forward three months, and we just got back from a 10-day vacation, where we hit Seattle for a few days and then went on a week-long Alaskan cruise! Wowie, SO gorgeous, quiet, and profoundly pristine up there! Of course, I had a plethora of SHIT go on, everything from a sciatica flare to severe insomnia (more severe than normal; I only got 2 hours sleep every night for 4 nights in a row! Might as well have drunk, if I’m going to feel hungover, right? Haha…not), seasickness, a stye (taking a second glaucoma–yeah, did I mention I have glaucoma?–eye drop, this one with BAK, and predictably, it gave me a stye), and, whoops, COVID! Must have gotten it maybe Tuesday (about a week ago now), but I guess it’s a “light” version because my main symptoms–nasal congestion, bodyache, and dizziness/fog brain–well, I was able to trek around Alaska while having them. Anyway, all that stuff is over and we have a lot of great memories and great pics from this adventure.

As these past few years seem to be going, things just keep piling on: We got home yesterday and this morning, we received a text from our landlord that they want to list our place, so…we have to move again!? ARGH. We’ve only been in this rental for a year! I mean, we are ready to buy, but there isn’t much of anything on the market down here (slash, anywhere). A real estate friend in Vegas told me that the market is about to crash, which would be great news if it hurried up and did so before we are forced to spend money on a place that we only half want! Anyway, I know it will work out for the best, I’m just feeling COVID-wiped and still getting my land legs back, so it all feels a bit overwhelming.

OH, and I almost forgot–as I’m sure you did, too, since I don’t write that much anymore–it was my TEN-YEAR blog anniversary on June 14! Wow; well, all I can say is, this blog has meant the world to me, more than any other writing project I’ve ever done or taken on; AND, I just want it to go on! So, thanks, everyone, for reading these past DECADE of years, for helping me get and stay sober, and for sticking with me even when I only post a few times a year! I really do promise to post more this coming year…

Onto the next, it seems

13 Feb

6:31 pm

2022 is just tearing by; it’s been sort of a blur. And, admittedly, I am hesitant to post most of the time. Not sure why; among many reasons, I guess I just feel like, sharing with strangers is a bit, well, 2012. Yep, this year will mark TEN YEARS writing this blog; can you believe that? It feels GOOD to keep writing here, but I guess it’s probably time to move on? Eh, save that decision for another year! Haha.

Hmm…I could go through my checklist of what’s new, but, 2022 has been sort of a continuation of 2021 for me: work, work, work, rinse, repeat. I am a bit (haha) burnt out, but I have learned a lot, gotten a ton done, and made a lot of money! I rarely leave the house, and if I do make it out into the world, it’s for a quick hour to go jogging or pick up something at the store. (However, that only affects me negatively if I think about the fact that in two years, I haven’t made many new friends. Then again, who has done or made anything new during Covid?) I know, I know, this working 80 hours a week is definitely not sustainable, but it was never meant to be; I’ve been grinding it out for one sole reason–to save money to buy a house (or, houses, if I had my way). Thing is, this bleeping pandemic has devastated the housing market, so, until inventory comes back online, all I am doing is working to save money, with no end in sight, it seems. Still, I will keep on keepin’ on because the money is good and I am able to do it.

My dad is still, you know, declining with dementia. We have him in a home (in my home state, they are called CBRFs), which is a necessity; I cannot imagine trying to care for him or someone like him on my own, in my own home. These days, he is sort of present but then also, sort of pulling from a much reduced memory bank. It’s as if he recalls memories of reactions and feelings he had from last year, to similar situations that he is in this year. It’s bizarre.

The other day, he went to the ER because he hadn’t fully emptied his bladder in a while…which made me wonder, is this part of it, too? Could be, could also be his meds, which they keep adding one on top of another, every time we turn around. Past few days, he was slurring his words a LOT, talking nonsense. They dose him with Ativan regularly, which I sort of disagree with (my experience with those meds is that, they are not necessarily anti-anxiety as much as they are anti-panic attack level of anxiety; in fact, when I took them to preempt a panic attack, they actually made my nerves worse); and the neurologist just put him on a drug for the tremors caused by another drug his is taking. Gotta love (not) Big Pharma.

Bottom line: NO ONE deserves his fate. NO ONE deserves to go out with dementia. The cruelest irony is, he was a hugely intelligent man.

On a different note, I had my boo bring home some rum the other day so I could make tiramisu brownies! They turned out pretty good, but next time, I’m going to make real tiramisu and not an altered version. I have to admit, I was sipping a few ounces of white wine every few nights about a month ago when the heat/anger/insomnia got to be overload; it actually really helped, seems it’s quite medicinal for peri/menopausal symptoms. HOWEVER, there are many other, healthier options that women can take, right? I dunno; a part of me now believes (after experimenting for the past few years on HRT) that a few sips of white wine is much healthier than putting exogenous hormones into your body before it’s done producing its own. Long story short, I was enjoying the relief so much that I dumped the bottle.

The sounds of the night are coming out, the dogs need to be walked, and I have a lot of personal stuff to do before I call it a day and start gearing up for another crazy week, so… Hope all are well!

Happy 2022

3 Jan

12:49 pm

Just a quick check-in to say, happy new year, everyone!

Not a ton of deep thoughts for the new year; I miss writing this blog, but I really haven’t had much time for anything aside from work and family stuff this past year (that’s an understatement!). I hope the new year will bring change, in those realms and in others. I miss “me,” and I miss pondering my sobriety and life with y’all.

Happy 2022. Hope to post again soon. Stay well…

Course correction

15 Aug

3:47

Course correction? Um, that would mean, me not worrying anymore about whether I post (regularly) to this blog. I thought quite a bit about this over the past few months, and I’ve concluded: this blog is more for me than for my readers, so I don’t have to “please” anyone per se (with the quantity or quality of my posts).

That being said, at this point in my life–and this blog’s life–it’s still nice to reconnect, to stop by the old ‘hood once in a while and say hi to friends and strangers. Hi, friends. Hi, strangers. How’s life?

My life has been a lot of work. Ongoing work. I feel fortunate that I work in one of those professions that was enhanced/improved by the pandemic–in fact, in my professional world, the rest of my coworkers have finally caught up to my reality of working from home (for the past near-decade)! But, yeah, I have a job and I just took another one; I don’t mind, as I know it’s not forever and it’s a means to a financial end. It’s a grind, though, and I’ve suffered from pretty bad RSI in my right wrist these past few weeks to a month, so it’s been hard to do any writing outside of weekday work.

On a different note, after almost a full year since all the craziness with my dad began–it was last August that my brothers and I started to notice just how off-the-wall my dad’s behavior had become; one night, at about dusk, he called me from a field…where, um, he ended up wandering around until 4 the next morning because he essentially got lost–we got him placed into a community-based residential facility, and he moves in tomorrow. It’s like a dorm for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We shall see how he handles it.

I don’t expect his trying to leave 24/7 to stop, but I hope it dies down a little bit. He’s actually successfully managed to almost “escape” (as he calls it) the nursing home a few times, getting as far as the highway and trying to hitchhike home. The other weekend, a couple of his farmer friends (who are clueless as to what dementia entails) took him out to some sort of event, and that ended up riling him up for days afterward, which culminated in my dad trying to leave the nursing home by stealing an ambulance! All I know is that, the cops were called and my dad didn’t even remember the incident days later.

Of course, nothing is wrong with him and he plans to get a car and commute back and forth to our/his farm. This past Friday night, after my brother had spent the entire day making his dorm room a home, we talked to Dad, and he was like, yeah, when your step-mom comes to pick me up on Monday to take me to the new place, I’m not going, I’ll have her drop me off at home instead–yup, OK, sure.

This has all been quite the trip. I’m just glad it’s over, to the extent that, we did what we needed to do to get him somewhere permanent, safe, and that can actually help his state of mind. Looking at the pictures that my brother sent of his new “home,” I couldn’t help but feel dread more than sadness: so, THIS is where a man of his intellect (he went to one of the military academies) ends up, a small room with a twin bed and a few pictures of the highlights of his life (which he can’t remember anyway), hanging on the walls. GREAT.

It’s hard not to take his deterioration to heart. It’s really brought home the question, what is the point? Literally. Like, if you can’t remember any of it anyway, WHY live a life in which you don’t like your job, you don’t like your moments? It’s been rattling around in my head as I work all these jobs that leave me going, wow, I really did not have ANY fun today except that one hour walking the dogs, or those two hours of jogging along the beach. Sure, I know I am fortunate and have privilege; at the same time, this question bounces along like a tumbleweed being blown down the center line.

Anyway, I hope all are well. We’ve got a tropical storm passing over our island today, which means a lot of rain (nothing more serious; it’s just a storm, not a hurricane). I’m taking advantage of a rare day of downtime–to write, to take stock, to zone out…

Nine years sober, nine years Drunky Drunk Girl!

23 Jun

8:37 pm

It’s been nine years since I started this blog–nine years, too, since I got sober! And, in step with how this year has been going (a tornado that is tearing seamlessly over the train wreckage of 2020), I am over a week late in writing a commemorative blog post. Haha. Oh, well.

I guess I have to admit that, while I’m still truly grateful and happy for my nine years, I’m not sure how I feel about this blog anymore. DDG used to be my happy place, my safe space, a spot where I could gather with 150 of my closest sober blogging friends and divulge all the ugly deets of our collective journey. Most of those bloggers are gone. I’m still here, but am I, really? I mean, I’m still trying to redefine myself, which I seem to have lost this past year.

Per this blog: I used to be–to feel–on fire, in the sense that, I had SO much fervor toward getting sober and subsequently, so much to say. Now, I just feel sort of indifferent to it. Maybe I’m just burnt out and tired (still working all day, every day; still dealing with the Dad dementia stuff; still managing my menopause crap). Sure, I have no doubt that it’s all good to evolve and move forward–and, YES, sobriety is still my foundation–but the pieces of sobriety that are relevant to me now often include a LOT more life stuff, which is stuff that has nothing to do with sobriety, intrisincally, or, um, an audience of relative strangers.

I may be a different girl on fire now, but I’m probably not DDG anymore. Which is and has to be OK. But, I miss her and I miss doing what I loved to do. Why not just keep doing what you used to do, then? It’s just not that easy, is what I’m saying (and trying to understand, myself!).

Anyway, I want to shout, watch this space, but…I’ll just leave it at a whisper of, take solace in this space, a (almost) blank page for you to ponder (and one for me, too, to place new words and new thoughts).

Mid-year check-in!

20 May

11:02 am

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of May!? This year, man; I thought 2020 was hard…

I literally only have a few minutes to post, but I wanted to check in and say hi to everyone. I think I’ve got company when I say, life has just been going way too fast and feeling way too busy this year to stop and post about the roses, as it were, on my blog!

In short, I’ve been working a ton of long days, taking care of the dad situation (he has dementia, which seems to be progressing fairly quickly), and um, looking for a new place to live. I am still doing a couple of jobs and have just lined up a possible third–it’s not easy or cheap to live where we live as well as to save quickly to get out of renters’ hell, which we’re actually in right now, to be honest.

My two brothers and I are all vaccinated, so we’re planning to make a trip home next month to see our dad in the nursing home (where he’s been for, wow, six months now) and start the transition into a new facility. We were worried about this process since he’s been so “oppositional” to the entire affair, but these days, his attitude resembles more of a person with depression, so he’ll be more easily swayed to do, well, whatever he’s told. I don’t know if it’s his meds (he’s on two right now) or the dementia, but, he’s just very…out of it. He used to get riled up, call us every day to “get him out of jail,” but these days, it’s like he’s a combination of resigned to his fate and, well, out of it. Like, in a daze. Like, unable to get out of his head. Or, as my brother put it, like his brain is shutting down. One thing I have also noticed is an increasing lack of affection. It’s like, he’s not necessarily forgetting who we are yet, but he seems to be forgetting the emotional connection, as in, he’s not remembering WHY we are who we are to him. So strange. Frankly, having lived through SO many drunken blackouts myself–and spent time wondering about the nature of the blackout–it’s a bit easier for me (than the average “normie,” I guess) to grasp what my dad’s brain is doing now. Like, some of his behavior resembles drunken blackout mode. Anyway, it’s getting easier as we come to accept his state of mind, and, well, as he comes to accept his state of mind (whether that’s because he’s medicated, I don’t know).

Finding a new rental has NOT BEEN EASY, mainly because we’ve been investigating all kinds of options (buying here or elsewhere, buying land and building here, buying a condo versus buying a house). Our landlord wants her house back (slash, drove us out with her ridiculous behavior, but that’s for another post; le sigh)–so, we’ve been busy trying to make our plan, which at this point necessarily includes renting for a while longer. There are so few rentals where we live anymore–post-hurricane and post-pandemic realities that no one is going to get around unless the community chooses ethics over money–and even fewer that take pets (which is why our “pound” is constantly overflowing with stray dogs and cats), so…yeah, it’s been a trip!

All that being said, we’re making our way through it, having a bit of fun in the sun, and well, staying sane. And, I’m happy with that! Haha.

Again, my minutes are up and I now have to run out (literally) and then come home and read journal articles so I can write about them! Hope all are well, and we’ll see you very soon in a longer post…

Oh, and YES, I have wanted to pick up the white wine (there’s a bottle for cooking in our fridge) quite a few times these past few months, but…yeah, no, not gonna happen. I know it’s only a short-term fix, but I also know from experience slipping that, the booze is not going to make my brain or body feel good (it’s going to make my brain feel like radio on static and it’s going to make my peri/menopausal night heat worse).

Life, in a few words

13 Apr

5:19 pm

It’s mid-working day on a Tuesday, and all I have to say is, I am tired. Like, I know I work from home, but…I feel kind of burnt out. To be sure, I am grateful, which is why and how I keep going, day in and day out; but I’m tired, too. It’s made keeping up with this blog difficult, actually, even though all I need to do is take 20 minutes and jot a post. So, I am finally doing that now…

In a nutshell, my dad was officially diagnosed with mild-to-moderate dementia/Alzheimer’s disease–and um, yeah, if you’re sort of going, well, what does that mean, I am rolling my eyes and thinking the same thing. Life! Why can’t you be who I want you to be! Haha.

The truth is, that’s about as close as we’re going to get, in terms of closure to our questions about the why and how of his recent descent into bizarre thinking and behaving. (And, it’s about the same with getting any definite answers when it comes to menopause: well, your serum levels say this, but…you might feel this, or that; this drug may, or may not, take away some, or all, of your symptoms to some, uh, variable degree…) Insert head-crashing-on-table emoji!

Through a lot of sweat and tears (and PTSD-like anticipatory dread of his phone calls to us and our ever-repetitive answers back to him), we’ve somehow managed (all remotely, with the help of our soon-to-be ex-step-mom and the nursing staff) to get him to stay at the nursing home since December; and get him back and forth for an MRI and then, to see a neurologist, who did an EEG and came back with an official diagnosis (they found evidence of dementia on the scan, which puts *us* at ease, mostly; I think my dad has already forgotten about the entire appointment).

What else? Well, we’ve gotten him through a messy divorce involving cleaning up his dumpster fire of a financial life and applying for Medicaid. One day soon, we’ll have to go back to our home town to “transfer” him (kicking and screaming, I’m sure) to a new facility that takes Medicaid as well as clean out his (our) farm house in order to list it for sale sometime in the late summer or early fall. He’s lived there since 1979, and it’s where I grew up; needless to say, it’s the end of an era, *his* era, but he won’t be around to see what happens to the place that he loved so fiercely that he never left. (My mom bolted us out of there in 1988 after she divorced him; and we only went back to the farm to visit him, once in a while, over the years.)

What have I taken away from this experience? Hmm. Well, I can say for sure that neither my brothers nor myself is in any way interested in buying the farm (he cannot gift it to us on Medicaid) for any kind of old time’s or sentimental sake. Going through this process has made me glad I don’t have kids of my own and clued me in further as to why I never did. And, I am seriously thinking of hitting up a lawyer and having some sort of living will written that explicitly instructs my partner on what to do if I develop dementia.

I’m not sure if I care enough about my dad to look on the bright side; he wasn’t a good father, he didn’t care about his kids when we got older (he cared about himself), and I’ve literally spent my entire adult life trying to build my own wealth because he one, never cared to do so for us when he was younger and two, spent (like, beyond spent) any and all retirement savings he had doing stupid shit. We aren’t jones’ing to visit him in the nursing home; the only time I’ve seen him is on a video doctor’s appointment a few months ago, and he treated me like I was a “little woman.”

I feel bad for him, I do; I feel guilty about not caring that much, even guiltier about letting it go and living my life. But, I have to; my brothers and I have to let go and live our lives. We get to be happy…even though what he’s going through really sucks. No one can live it for him, unfortunately.

That’s mainly what’s been happening here. I am still cranking out 1.5 jobs, wrangling two new mutts (the one needs some serious training–we seem to have finally housetrained her; now we’re working on getting her to not go cray-cray pulling and barking when she sees another dog or human on the walk–and they both need to be treated for heartworm, which the one is getting and the other will get in a few weeks), and managing my post-menopausal stuff (things have gotten better, but it’s up and down; I think that being athletic and sober has really helped my symptoms not be all that bad, relatively speaking). I am still really happy and grateful…and looking forward to life post-vaccine (gulp: we got the Janssen jab a week ago, so…haha, I am just waiting for that two-week mark to come and go without um, a blood clot!?).

On that note, I am being eaten alive and sweating to death; seems the weather has turned to zero breeze and 90% humidity overnight, and the mossies are out in full force, nibbling at my ankles and feet. Hope all are well and I write more soon!

Stay strong, and stay sober. You got this.

In with a bang?

21 Feb

12:20 pm

Is that an expression? I think it’s actually, out with a bang, but considering how much of a whirlwind the first seven weeks of 2021 have been, I don’t think it really matters…

I’ll dive right in, how’s that? I have to say, while this year has had a lot of good stuff, which I’ll get to later, it’s been sort of a shit show on one end. I feel less in control of life than I have ever felt–mainly due to my dad having dementia, believing he is being “held hostage” by us, his three kids, in the skilled nursing facility (aka, nursing home) where he is at right now. I think I have a newfound understanding of anxiety! I mean, I have always reacted to certain things or thoughts with anxious behavior, but I have never felt what I guess some people describe as “anxiety,” which is, I wake up every morning with this feeling of uncertainty, like an elevator is dropping in my belly, like there is no solution to how to stop the rock that is going to be careening downhill at me that day.

I have missed writing, and I’m sorry that I have not this year; I just feel like all I’ve been doing, all year long so far, is triaging the dad situation on the weeknights and weekends with my brothers: getting him to a nursing home, getting him to stay there, getting him on much-overdue meds; delving into his crumbling life, which is, managing his assets to get him through his divorce in order to apply for Medicaid in order to find him a “home” for after he is (soon to be) discharged from the nursing home. (He’s there for hip rehab from a hip reconstruction surgery that he had to have because he drove at night without breaks, crashing his car into a tree and crushing his hip; he refused to stay at the first rehab back in September, and ultimately, he was in and out of ERs until early December–it was a mess!)

Um, I have felt mostly guilt and anxiety over this, but, past few weeks, as we talk more with him and the staff–well, I am starting to feel less guilty. It really is what it is, and there is nothing we can do to change or fix it for him. His short-term memory issue does not seem to be getting better, in that, he does not remember from one minute or block of time to the next; practically, that means he doesn’t remember the conversation that we had with him yesterday, let alone yelling at us for telling him that we are moving ahead with the divorce in spite of his objections. Where his mind is at is, I was served papers and OK, I am in agreement with getting divorced. In reality, our step-mom filed in May 2020; he was unable and/or unwilling, mentally, to respond by the deadline last July; so, we have managed the work of organizing his assets, hiring an attorney to represent “him,” negotiating the settlement proposal with all parties excluding him, and finally, beginning to list his assets for sale as part of the fulfillment of his end of the deal. It’s just one example of the loops we’ve found ourselves to be stuck in when trying to reason with him.

In fact, there is no “reasoning” with him anymore, even though he is quite lucid. Which means, when the time comes to “put him somewhere,” he is going to go kicking and screaming, literally. And, just getting to the point where we are all somehow OK with that–that’s caused and causing me anxiety. However, the facts don’t lie: he has dementia-thinking (which, goes FAR BEYOND memory loss and goes way back, before his accident). Like everything, it’s a process, and, well, many others have been down this road. This, too, shall pass.

Anyhoo… Other than that, life is pretty OK! Working a ton–my new job continues to kick my butt; but, at least I am down to only one gig–and spending a lot of time training our two new foster dogs. The second one, a girl, is a handful, but she is getting better and better at being someone’s dog. We had to sort of housetrain her when she got here; we’re working on getting her to not bark at our landlady; soon, I hope she can just chill inside, not in her crate, when I leave the house.

This weekend, I started on new glaucoma drops (yeah, man, wtf? I am 46 years old, and the doc said that I have mild in one eye, mild to moderate in the other!), and they suck. They give me anxiety! It is strange and I thought I was imagining it, but no, turns out, thanks to good old Google, that timolol is notorious for its systemic side effects. I am sensitive, sure, but these drops make me feel really out of sorts. We’ll see; I mean, there are other options, so, of course, I am gonna have to advocate for myself.

And, I have to say, the menopause stuff (yeah, man, am I just a fast ager? Haha) is finally seeming to iron itself out. My hormone therapy still does need some tweaking, but, after, um, almost a full year, at least I am beginning to see what might be ME and not a side effect (or vice versa); and, importantly, what works for ME and not what every article on the Internet says “should” be the right dose or effect! All this said, my night heat is much better (not gone, but better), my insomnia has much improved (knock wood!?), and the “other stuff” is super-slowly getting better. Thank GAWDess. The worst thing about this has been, ya don’t know what to expect so everything feels permanent and catastrophic. I would tell my early 40s self, and anyone out there who would listen, this is NOT true; it will change, and it will get better.

Whew.

In any case, I remain ever-grateful, still, for my sobriety, for the lessons learned. No matter how many ups and downs the days take me on, I still have that overwhelmingly sense of, I am one of the lucky ones, I got out. No matter how “bad” things seem, I am still sober–and that is everything good. That is literally everything. That is glitter and unicorns and an endless Mardi Gras parade.

And…2021? What?

2 Jan

11:59 am

I remember when it was Y2K! Haha. Remember that? Y2K. Remember when that was a thing–I mean, almost as “big” of a thing as Covid? Ahh, to think that we were worried about that, when THIS was what was in store for us, 21 years later.

Jesus, 21 years?

Um, 21 years is sounding like a LONG time to me, at this very moment. Of course, lately, since my dad has been having dementia-related memory problems–and as we (meaning, my brothers and myself) learn how to talk to him in a way that is helpful and constructive–it’s got me thinking a lot about time, aging, and the reliability and (d)evolution of our memories as we get older. Sometimes I wonder if I have some form of early-onset dementia–organizing and cataloguing my thoughts just makes me feel irritated, and I definitely have had moments lately where I’m like, wait, why don’t I remember every gory detail anymore of what happened when?

It’s been saddening, shocking, and angering–yup; this feels like grief, as in, all of the sudden, you’re angry at the thing before you melt into tears (on the inside)–to watch my dad’s mind stop working. And, as a life scientist, I do wonder what is happening up there, with all those neurons. His thought patterns remind me a lot of someone in a blackout; he does not remember minute to minute, sometimes second to second, yet, he is present, conversing, and remembering other things. I noticed that his sense of sequential time is all mixed up, too; sometimes, he’ll recycle the same words or conversations that we have had more than once, months ago, as if he is still there, in that moment. Maybe he is? The other night–he was tired, and I’ve read that people with dementia “sun down” and get looser and more confused at nighttime–he kept saying the same thing, in response to anything I asked him; and, it was totally unrelated to anything. He has been fixated on a couple of things–getting out, and getting to the cordless phone at the nursing station so that he can call strangers to get him out–since Thanksgiving, when he was in the first ER/hospital. He was uber-combative then. Now, he seems to just have accepted what is, or, he has more awareness and/memory around why he is inside to begin with (I guess?).

It’s all really, really hard to understand, what’s going on in his brain. We are doing our best, trying to get him from point a to b to c–some days, I feel really deflated, like someone stunned me (the same feeling I had after the hurricanes ripped through our area and tore many a house down). Some days, like tonight, I rally, do what I am supposed to, and stay on track (tonight, I had to start looking at community-based residential facilities, which is just SO, so sad; with my dad, it’s definitely going to be like putting a rare creature who is used to running on the African savannah into a cage in a zoo). Fortunately, I have my brothers to lean on…

Otherwise, yeah, 2021 feels…a bit quiet so far. It was a busy holiday season, actually, since we did almost everything we usually do as well as I had this whole Dad situation to think about. We had a nice dinner at a friend’s place, went sailing on a catamaran (well, the captain motored us around!), and managed to get to three beaches (it’s been like, hurricane-windy here for the past week, which does not make for great beach days). Many days last week, I vowed to give up writing; most nights, I remembered how grateful I am to have a (writing) job to go back to come Monday (my contract was extended). I watched a movie and started watching “Long Strange Trip”–I can’t believe how young Jerry Garcia was when he died!

I managed to patch up a rough spot with a friend of mine, love more on our neighbor dog–we have a special connection since she was my Best Girl’s “angel”–and just lounge around with our new pup on my lap (he is quite the needy boy!). I’ve been running, too, but the hills are not easy on the knees and uh, I have some residual joint pain from the estrogen patch (sure of this; I have no clue why estrogen replacement therapy would cause your body to react as if its joints were arthritic, and I have honestly stopped wondering–see, is this dementia? I am just too tired to care anymore; I am not dying, so all is well, right?).

We actually masked up and went out for sushi on New Year’s Eve; it was quiet around town, and we were home and in our jammies by 10:30. LOL. I really Could Not Even with this year’s New Year’s Eve; I mean, everything was messed up, tossed around, twisted into a new shape during 2020, so, “celebrating” NYE took on a different meaning for me this year, as in, who really cares? Haha.

I haven’t felt much like dwelling on the literal lately, as I said–and so, it’s been hard to come up with some sort of “yearly word.” At first, I was like, God, I’m too tired to care. However, the more I journaled today, the more I felt something brewing…

This year might just be about finally letting go of my expectations, my past projects and goals and dreams–and setting new ones that I want to do, that fit, that feel right. And, if they stop feeling right, move on. It’s like, I don’t have the energy to hang onto my old self and old dreams anymore, you know? Maybe because my heart feels crushed by watching my dad lose his mind?

One of my fondest memories of my dad keeps coming back to this (and, it makes me want to cry every night, because I look up at the sky every night): because he was a trained merchant marine (a sailor), he knew the night sky very well. He knew a lot of things very well, and he could entertain people endlessly with his facts and figures. Anyway, whenever we’d be outside on a summer night on the farm, looking up at the stars–so many, so bright–he’d point and say, Look, that’s Sirius. There, that’s Benetnash and Mizar; there’s Alioth, Megrez, Phad, Merak, Dubhe–all the stars in the Big Dipper. It was ridiculous because, well, most people never even heard of these stars let alone could point them out in the night sky.

Maybe that’s why I go out now, and look up; I want to remember him.

And, I want him to remember, too. I want him to look up, to see the night sky, to remember pointing up, There, that’s Benetnash and Mizar; there’s Alioth, Megrez, Phad

Happy holidaze

27 Dec

12:58 am

I do sort of feel like I’ve been in a daze this season, mainly because of everything that’s been going on. The other day, I posted something and then deleted it, worried that it was too revealing about my father. And, I’m glad I did; this isn’t a blog about him.

I haven’t felt much like blogging recently; not sure why, it just feels like overexposure. I’ve also been working a ton and going-going-going with my brothers, getting my dad situated in a nursing facility–simply put, we think he has dementia, and it is *probably* not going to get better. I mean, we can hope it’s related to a transient, post-operative effect (he recently had surgery; the reason he had surgery, though, was because of his “dementia” thinking, which I see so clearly now)–but, he’s been in decline for like, at least three years, it just wasn’t presenting itself as memory loss, per se. Anyway, it’s been draining; there is no rule book, which is bizarre since so many people go through this!

In light of everything that’s come to a head this year–started menopause, put my dog to sleep, watched my dad literally go from, ‘Oh, Dad’s just being Dad’ in August, to, ‘Holy shit, there is something really very wrong here’ in November–I do feel grateful. I mean, I’m still here, for one. I’m still sane, still working (uber-grateful for this), still breathing, still loving, still content with most everything that comes my way.

Everything that has happened this year that could have definitely been given a strictly negative spin has actually led to something better. I lost my job–but I needed to leave anyway, and ended up finding something better, for the most part. I had to put my dog down–but she needed to Rest, and we were just holding onto a creature who was in unbearable pain. I went into menopause–but I feel SO much better, overall, than I did in perimenopause, and, I’m no longer on the birth control pill, which, I would say is much worse than hormone therapy (today’s bioidentical versions). What else? Oh, so yeah, my dad sort of “went into” dementia–but, considering that these past three years have been a long, crazy lead-up to what we’ve all just realized is actually cognitive decline, at least my dad is safe now. Even Covid has had many silver linings–one could say that Covid allowed nature to come back, people to take stock and be more mindful, mRNA vaccines to have their day probably faster than they would have had.

Anyway, it’s been a long few months. I had a GREAT Christmas, though; yes, we got together, and no, I don’t feel guilty about it (though, there are some people in places where Covid is still raging who would blame me and my friends for spreading the virus)–we are not a hot spot, and the people I hang out with are like me in that, no one really socializes! I am not worried that anyone in the group last night had Covid or has been exposed recently; there were three younger people (someone’s kids in their 20s) who had flown in, but, only two were recent arrivals and everyone has to take a Covid test before being allowed to enter the airport.

Tomorrow, we’re going on a boat trip–a big, twin-hulled catamaran, which should be awesome! I have never stepped foot on a boat like that, so I am looking forward to the experience. Speaking of which, I’ve had some down time to actually remember and cherish some old trips and friends lately–to mind come volunteer trips to Haiti, to Ecuador; a self-styled yoga retreat to Nosara, Costa Rica; years ago, a solo trip to Turkey; years before that, one to Greece; a year abroad in Paris; many exploratory trips all over the mainland through recent years. Ahh, the memories; I am proud of the trips I’ve taken of late, and really, truly can’t wait to be able to travel again…

I hope my dad can entertain himself with his own memories; it’s painful, wondering what he is thinking about right now, you know? I know he has some great memories, so…that’s a small consolation.

Oh, and we got another doggay! He is the most ridiculous dog ever–his cuddle factor is so high, he’s almost TOO cuddly! I do miss my girl so very much–and our boy–but…life goes on. It’s nice to have a little buddy to care about, to walk, to have sleep all over you (we are not letting him on the bed; he will never, ever leave if we do…).

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