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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…

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…).

The parent trap

5 Dec

10:12 pm

No, not the movie. MY parents–or, rather, parent…though, both have their issues.

I haven’t really felt like writing lately, considering work and life. We did have a nice Thanksgiving–with old friends and new, a small group; so far, so good re: Covid–and I took a SWEET day off to go hiking with a friend. It was THE best thing I’ve done in a while, to get out of my ‘hood, my house, my head for the entire day, to spend it talking and walking and swimming with a new friend. Today, we went by the shelter to check on our new boy–YES, we’ve finally decided that we’re ready to welcome a new dog! We get to take him home on Monday. (Actually, it was my boo’s pick, so I guess I should say, HE is ready to have a son again. I had my eye on another dog at the shelter, but when I walked her today, I just didn’t feel like we had a connection; I feel bad for her, since she’s been there a year, but…I don’t know if I am ready yet. My old dog, who we put down almost four months ago, was such a smart, ridiculous friend–she was part chow, part shepherd, and I don’t know if I’ll ever meet a girl like her again, so maybe I should lower my expectations? It might be that I’m just not ready for another pup yet…)

Other stuff hasn’t been so good or easy, but I’ll get through this, too. The older I get, the more I realize that I will get through anything; and, a positive, selfless (as in, it’s not about ME, ever; I don’t ever have to choose to take anything personally) attitude goes a long way toward keeping self, others, and events in perspective. However, this thing with my dad has really thrown me for a loop!

Past couple months, shit has truly hit the fan with my dad. To summarize, he has always had what I would call a personality disorder (the closest I can come to describing him is narcissistic–like, according to Wikipedia, he has all three of these: exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive craving for admiration, and struggles with empathy; in fact, I would say his lack of empathy has always almost bordered on sociopathy, mainly because he has often had very little regard for others’ well being and he lies a lot). BUT, he’s also had lifelong UNTREATED bipolar disorder (yeah, it took me until 40 years old to unravel my issues from growing up with that shit!), which seems to have morphed into a full-blown dementia somewhere between five years ago and now–which seemed to be kicked into high gear by going under general anesthesia during a recent hip surgery (in fact, he has had serious mood/personality changes from past surgeries, too, it seems).

Anyway, it’s been a trip trying to deal with him because he’s not incompetent, but…he can’t do what he used to do (work-wise) OR take care of himself anymore. It’s very bad; I don’t really have the energy to go into details, but he is 100% unable to take care of himself (as in, he does not shower, he has not been eating, he didn’t think it was a big deal that he has no heat–it’s freezing cold where he lives now), and he seems 100% incapable of making rational decisions, of executive level thinking. Yet, he is also 100% in denial about this and does not believe anything is wrong.

Tomorrow, a social worker is coming to the house; I guess she will interview him and make the decision on whether to send him to a care facility. It will be interesting to see if and how he takes that; he has been extra-belligerent with my step-mom, and there is NO forcing him to do anything. I don’t know. It’s interesting to wonder about all the mental health stuff–I had no idea that people could pass for so long, as in, hide their dementia; I had no idea that dementia can include all sorts of mental changes, like delusional thinking that can be so very subtle that you don’t distinguish it from “normal” personality-disordered thinking; I had no idea that untreated mental health disorders can actually cause issues like this or wreak havoc later (he’s only 73; pretty young to be this bad, right?).

I have spent hours on the phone with him, my brothers (yep, plural; first time I have talked to the one brother who wrote me off in 3.5 years–eh, I am so over it that I felt next to nothing), my step-mom, trying to get him to understand that he needs care, that he can’t go home–he has no bridges left to burn, and at this point, I am not sure what the future holds for him.

I have thought once or twice about how this would feel if I had wine to rely on for escape; probably just more muddled and overwhelming. No, thanks–I like the extreme clarity re: other people’s “crazy” that being sober affords me these days! It has caused me some anxiety, though…

Anyway…just a short post. Even though I haven’t blogged much lately, I am always reading and following your posts, so keep ’em coming!

Sunday afternoon ramblings

4 Oct

2:53 pm

As I wrote about recently, over the past few weeks (going on a month now, actually), I’ve had terrible leg pain. I thought I had some terrible disease (of course, I did), so I went to the doctor–a first in that, this doc took me seriously and ran every blood test possible for a complaint like, “my legs hurt”–and, well…nothing is wrong. No Covid, no infectious disease, no autoimmune disease, blood panel good, muscles fine. I also got a blood test done for both my estrogen and progesterone levels, and for where I am at in the process of both menopause and taking estradiol via the patch, those came back normal, too.

SO, I have to conclude that it’s something to do with the estradiol patch (which, btw, is only one method of transdermal application; there are also creams, gels, sprays, probably others). And, that kind of really sucks since, I don’t know if another via-the-skin application will work for me. I am going to keep riding it out and see what happens.

So, that’s one reason I’ve been quiet on my blog, I’m just trying to take care of myself–mentally, it’s really hard for me to accept pain and not being able to work out because of pain. I usually just push through pain, but my muscles seem to take days to recover from even the slightest workout, so I have been obeying my body’s commands. It’s not easy not knowing either; and, I’ll never know unless I take the time to go off everything, let my body readjust, and then, go back on things one at a time. The patch is working for my night heat and insomnia, though, which is glorious!? Still, if I can’t live WITH the medication, then…it’d have to be a dealbreaker.

I am well, and my doctors took me very seriously–so, a huge win. Plus, it appears that I never got Covid, which is a relief as well.

I’ve been working full-time and will start working a new remote contract gig this week, putting me at full-time-plus for the next few months, so…that’s been great! It’s a relief to have work, sure, but even more of a relief to not have to job and gig search for a while.

Another thing that’s been going on is that my dad has gotten himself into some physical trouble (think: crashing cars and breaking bones) due to well, untreated bipolar disorder (in my opinion). Long story short, he’s doing fine but he’s still up to his tricks, so to speak. Lesson learned on my part: he will never change until and unless he takes medication; he will never admit anything is wrong; and, importantly, there is nothing I can do for him. I have thought of telling him, I refuse to talk to you until you get meds, but, I don’t quite get how an “intervention” or “ultimatum” would truly work or be beneficial for a mental health disorder like his. He doesn’t believe–refuses to believe–that there is anything wrong. How can you force him to consider an ultimatum that doesn’t really mesh with his version of reality? I don’t know.

On that note, I am going to exhale–my mantra these days–and go for a walk. I can do that at least; it’s funny how much of an “athlete” I am: I have already acclimated to this new level of pain and have found ways around it. I will never stop working out! (maybe that’s what got me here to begin with? lol)

Thank you, one and all, for still being part of my life. This blog-o-sphere is truly one of my favorite places to be on a Sunday afternoon…

Our girl is gone…

14 Aug

6:21 pm

…and, it feels like the end of an era. It kind of is, the end of an era. She was with us for almost a decade (8.5 years from the time I met her until the day she died, which was on Wednesday)–during that time, she lived her entire life…and we, too, lived a decade of our own lifetime. I think that’s what’s most jarring right now, is that we aged a decade, too; we saw a decade of our life disappear, too. A lifetime, in an instant–that’s how all those years of fun, growth, and love seem to me. Lifetimes are instants; the mind cannot comprehend, truly, the passage of time.

What did it all mean, I can’t help but wonder? Sure, she was my higher power; she was literally my entire (albeit small, I see that now) world, after I moved here and got sober, but before I got the courage to re-enter the “real” world (of work and friends and all that comes with stepping out). She, along with our other dog and my boo and my neighborhood–they were my world, for years; and there was nothing more I wanted, truly.

I feel a bit guilty that I “outgrew” only needing this dog, this world! As she aged, started to hurt, became more subdued in her older years, um, so did I! I mean, I grew up, so to speak, alongside her. When I looked through pictures of myself from back in her younger day, I, too, looked so much younger then, it seems: brighter, happier, more smiling. I was beaming, probably out of love for her, my new life, my newfound sobriety, maybe just the giddy youth that you don’t realize you still very much have in your 30s. My 40s have forced me to grow up and stop shitting (as many) unicorns, as it were; I still loved her with all my heart up until her very last day. I know she knows that, and I know it was her time, yet, I still feel a tad guilty.

But I also feel relieved. Her final night was really hard, and I woke up convinced that neither she nor I ever wanted to see her in so much pain ever again. So, we called the vet out to the house, and, surrounded by our loving arms, looking out at the water in her favorite spot (dating back almost a decade)–our girl passed, very peacefully.

It’s been quiet around here, that’s for sure. I am relieved that after about 1.5 years of tending to her needs 24/7, I don’t have to worry about what she’s doing and if she needs me. The final few weeks were really painful to watch, wondering with every passing second if she was in pain, if she was now deaf, if she was overmedicated or experiencing some kind of dementia or just in distress. Now that I have all my time and energy back, it’s like, what do I do with myself?

I was thinking that, it’d be a shame to not get another dog. You hear people who have gone through this say, Oh, I can’t do that again. Same thing with humans who lose a spouse–there will be no one who can replace him/her. Yet…we are made to love. And, to spend the rest of your life not doing what you were meant to do–I can’t see it.

I mean, what do we have to show for our lifetime together? It’s like, we’re back in the same house, the same place, and I feel like nothing happened; yet, it all did, right here. It all went down here, years and years of love. Is that all there is, really, is the love, the act of loving–and there is nothing tangible (unless you have babies or create art) to show for that, and there shouldn’t be. That’s the nature of love; that’s the nature of life. We come, we love, we go.

So, why do anything then? Are all our pursuits outside of loving each other and our animals simply neuroses, compulsions that propel us to work, strive, achieve, accomplish? Who knows?

Anyway, I’m glad she’s no longer struggling, and, I’m joyful, truly, that she got to live out her fierce, fun-loving life until the very end.

Whose mental health are we talking about?

4 Aug

1:58 pm

Lately, I’ve been sort of offline; I just haven’t had the time or ability to wrestle with my thoughts too much these past few days…

A quick life update is that, no, I didn’t get the job I applied for–after a long series of interviews (gah!)–but, that’s OK since there are other jobs out there. I’ve been on the hunt in one way or another since mid-June, and um, I am at the point where I feel like it’s OK (slash, necessary for my mental health) to sit back and let it be for a while. Let it percolate. Enjoy the fact that I was fortunate enough to collect a bit of unemployment, remember that this is just a phase and the economy will rebound, and put some faith in my network. I have worked with a lot of great people over the years, many of whom are still looking out for me, I have no doubt.

Anyway, I’ve got some time to re-focus on this blog and my “e-book project,” which is simply, to compile my posts and self-publish a version of this blog. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and it’s a way for me to sort of close one chapter, as it were. A lot of what I post these days–and will continue to post–isn’t really related to getting sober, and I want to re-read some of my past posts in order to get more of a grip on who I was then and who I am now. It’s a process–and there are probably a LOT more “important” things I could be doing right now and/or thinking about–so I will keep you posted!

What else has been going on? Well, as I think you all remember, I have posted about my parents’ mental health a few times. And, I remain committed to not writing that much about it and them on this blog since it’s not my mental health I’m talking about. However, not writing about it does not mean I don’t think about it a lot–especially as I watch my father devolve, as it were, into what seems to be a worsening mental health “situation.” I mean, if I knew nothing about his past and his personality, and was confronted with only his behavior today–I’d probably avoid him, and then I’d forget about it.

I know from my own experience with alcoholism that MOST people don’t want to know (or admit that they know) about your mental health disorder, or they oversimplify it because they can’t (and don’t want to) delve deep. I like to wonder, I like to ask questions, I like to look for patterns; MANY folks do not.

That being said, I just don’t know what to do about or for my dad–and, if I should do anything? He’s a grown man–in his 70s–yet…from what I can tell, he’s just getting worse. I have to assume that untreated mental health disorders only get worse as you get older. I fear that it’ll all come crashing down, sooner rather than later. Yet, you can’t convince him that there is anything about his behavior he should change–and, a lot does need to change. Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t anything I can do at this point; he won’t hear reason, he won’t hear truth, and even if he acknowledges that things need to change, he won’t choose to change. Yet…there is this feeling of, If something happens to him, well, it’s my fault, I should have done more.

It’s probably the feeling one has trying to get an addict into recovery before they’re ready to get sober–and then, who dies from an overdose or suicide. It’s my fault for not forcing them into recovery. I should have done more.

All I can do is let it go, let him go, let his mental health be HIS mental health. What more can one do? I probably think more about his mental health–and how he’s hurt me and others–than he ever will, which is sad, but probably true.

On that note, it’s time to get outside and enjoy some of this sun!

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