Its All My Fault

Ok, I’m a slacker. Life got busy and I abandoned my blog, two whole weeks. Bad blogger! So I am off the Walmart kick, at least for now. It seems to me that, frequently, it is all my fault. This is what comes of benmg a “sandwich generation” caregiver. I have learned to accept blame without really taking it on. I used to argue about these things but it isn’t worth it as it is crystal clear that I can’t win any argument on this score. Whenever my dad and I get into an argument of any kind his brain seems to skip to a new subject whenever we are about to arrive at a dead end or he is going to be wrong. He just gets confused and starts talking about something else. Mighty convenient I say. Our most recent example. I was going through his checkbook for the eight thousandth time trying to find the error. I notice that he was still paying union dues to a number of locals. So I ask him why. Other than his “retired status” dues from the union that pays his pension, there didn’t seem much point. My dad says he pays his union dues because he still wants to work. Now he is eighty two, he is quite slight and hasn’t worked for at least five years. He doesn’t remember that he hasn’t worked for five years. He thinks he needs more money so he should work. He doens’t need more money and he can’t work, although he is pretty healthy; his work involved serious physical labor. So, he says, he can’t work because he doesn’t have a car. After his last hospitalization he stopped driving. The reason he doesn’t have a car is because I am driving his car. In his mind I have stolen his car. Never mind that the doctor says that he cannot drive again. Because he hallucinates, can’t remain focussed or concentrate on what he is doing. He hates the doctors I took him to because he believes they are in a conspiracy with me to steal his car; to say he is crazy. He claims that he failed the neuropsych tests because he was having a bad day and he “has always been bad in math”. He believes the doctor he never met before rigged the test. He still speaks of the car as his prize possession. He believes I am keeping him here because I want his car. Now, while it is nice to have no car payment, the car just isn’t all that. I have tried to explain to him that a nine year old, stick shift station wagon with a hundred and twenty three thousand miles on it just would not be sufficient to convince me to do this. But it is all my fault that he can’t work, can’t drive, can’t fly an airplane. That’s ok, I don’t mind.

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Caregiving and the Kitchen Floor

So I have been a little busy, haven’t posted in a few days. And there is so much in the world to write about these days its hard to know where to start! But lately my self absorbed self has been focused on the kitchen floor; literally and figuratively.

So the first thing you have to understand is that my father’s nose runs all the time. It has for years. He has been to every specialist known to medicine and nobody can find a reason for it, much less a cure. Our primary doctor here, who he doesn’t trust and I like, says sometimes it just happens to the elderly and nobody really knows why and there isn’t much you can do for it. My dad has tried every over the counter symptom relief despite some dire contraindications, with no result. So this runny nose is not the usual sniffle that the phrase “runny nose” brings to mind. His nose runs long clear mucous strings.

Now when my dad’s nose runs he is clearly aware of it. Sometimes he has a kleenex, sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he has a napkin of preferably, for him, a paper towel, sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he will attempt to get one of the above choices, sometimes he won’t. It is apparent that while this condition annoys him very much, he doesn’t much care about how this condition might affect those around him.

Let’s just put aside the visual aesthetic for a moment (not that easy to do mind you). This discharge is now to be found on our cabinets, the microwave handle, the refrigerator door, etc. This is not to mention the dishes that he rinses and puts back in the cupboard, claiming they are washed clean (no soap ever touches them).

Most distressing to me is the kitchen floor. Now I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen. Not only do i cook most days, I feed cats, I put away groceries, dishes, etc. Our kitchen floor is tile and I spend a lot of barefoot time in the kitchen. Not so much anymore. I watch this drip direct from his nose to my kitchen floor. I hand him a tissue/paper towel/napkin as fast as I can but often it is not a matter of how quick I am but a matter of how little he cares. Sometimes he will take the offered paper, other times he will just get mad as if somehow asking him not to share snot is a personal affront. I can no longer bear to walk barefoot in my kitchen and the cabinets have to be wiped down daily.

In the same vein, when he fixes food, he leaves it everywhere. The counter, the cabinets, the floor. First step, all containers are left open for someone else to close. All foods are left unrefrigerated for someone else to put away. All surfaces are left dirty for someone else to clean. Now it is his caregivers’ job to follow along behind him and clean up but again… not so much. So in addition to the snot, the floor is always covered with food.

The final insult is almost funny. He has taken to “helping” to clear the table, which is great; can’t complain. But the placemats, which are covered with food, he brushes, blows or just tips up and slides the food onto the floor. The other night, the event that precipitated the need to write this blog, was the tipping of all the bread crumbs and corn kernels onto the floor. Picture picking up the placemat and turning it on end so that all the debris simply lands on the floor. So now we have snot, cooking debris and the detritus of a meal, all on the kitchen floor. Too bad we can’t just use a blowtorch.

You Want To See My What?

I just love the MSN homepage. When I open my browser I am confronted by a fabulous array of fluffy stories about celebrity, sports figures, gruesome headline-worthy crimes and what we Americans like to call “lifestyle” features. I do not have a “lifestyle”, I have a life. I think there is a major difference. Maybe it is money, or the lack thereof? Not sure but I will continue to ponder it. Maybe its a lifestyle if everyone is watching and of course, in my case, nobody is. So the other day I opened up my browser, all aflutter with excitement to see what would await me there. What do I see but an article on “Dating At Forty ~ Fabulous”. EEEEW. First of all I am significantly (more than a decade) past forty. But really. I grant you that forty was probably my peak intellectually ~ now that the hormone thing is causing some memory issues. It certainly was not my peak physically; nor was it my peak spiritually (I seem to be working on that now). I have been married for over twenty years (for the third time, so cumulatively about 30 years) so the opportunity to date at forty did not present itself legitimately. Nevertheless I can say with some certainty that the idea of undressing in front of a stranger again after many years of monogamy, even at forty, was not an appealing one. More to my point, though, is that I don’t ever see “lifestyle” articles for women over fifty, or sixty. What are we? Chopped liver? It definitively seems to me that if I had to date again at over fifty it would not be fabulous at all, it would just be hard! Or maybe it would be ridiculously easy since I am no longer all that easily deceived and I no longer care as much what others opinion of me is. Nevertheless, that whole thing about undressing… oh brother. Apparently there is still some work to do on the “self love” thing (meaning self-esteem, NOT solitary sex, although if I were single at this age, that might just be a solution). Okay, so apparently women over fifty don’t have “lifestyles”, we are just marking time until the grave. I was in the store and looking at magazines and Lucky magazine has cute clothes, etc. It has a section that shows 20, 30, 40 (as in good skirts, or good skin care, for each category). When you realize that you are in a category that is higher than they wish to go, you don’t buy the magazine any more. I am not, however, ready for polyester elastic waist pants and thick shoes. I don’t have a lifestyle but I really do have a life.

Lady Gaga… Speaking of Disasters?

Ok how do you know you are getting old? This is how. You watch Lady Gaga on television or youtube or whatever viewing poison you choose and you go WHAT THE ….????”??? I like all kinds of music. I think of myself in a minor way as a musician (amateur at best). I even like some of the things my seventeen year old likes (heaven forbid). But I don’t get Lady Gaga. The hair, the costumes, whatever. I just want to yell when are you going to start singing? Maybe she is singing and I’m so distracted I can’t hear it because my eyes are full. I note recently that quite a few acts, including the likes of the Black Eyed Peas, and a rapper whose name I can’t recall at the moment, are doing more and more of this silly overly costumed stage show and less and less actual singing. The songs are all dead boring repetitive with virtually no lyrics ~ usually about a line or two repeated over and over as if the songwriters union was on strike the week the music was written. Rap and Hip Hop have vast creativity, this crap doesn’t. The blues and jazz speak for themselves. Many artists who are hard to categorize are special and worth listening to. I like a good show but for us old rockers a good show was some guy slaving over his guitar to make as much music per minute as possible, or great multipart vocal harmonies. There wasn’t much costume to it. Country used to have a little more glitz, think Glen Campbell and rhinestones; some artists today still do but they too seem more involved in making the music. Think of the greats, Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George, Jerry, etc. Mostly a pair of jeans and an instrument; what more could you need? Certainly not a bleached wig and cheap star trek boob costumes. I am so missing the music.

Personal Earthquakes

At 6:30 a.m. my teenager is standing over my barely awake self saying “mom”, “mom”.  At the 8th or 10th repetition, it finally gets through.  I open one eye… “WHAT”, I say.  Take a wild guess .. . he needs money. Check written, personal SAT earthquake, the first of the day, averted.  The teenager leaves and the caregiver for my dad arrives.  “He’s been really bad” she says.  What she means is that he has been cranky and annoying with her because she is annoying and it is wearing on him.  Of course he is also generally cranky and annoying.  Nevertheless, she is having a personal crisis of insecurity because my father, who has alzheimer’s disease among other things, is cranky.  This is her life’s work, you would think she would be used to old folks and their ups and downs but no… she takes everything personally.  So I, coffee cup in hand, dressed in half my work clothes (top half and panties, very attractive) have to stop and soothe her feelings.  For this I am paying her a pretty penny.  For her money she will spend most of the rest of the day playing Farmville and avoiding my dad.  Second personal earthquake survived, for now.  Finally I get the rest of my uniform on manage to get out the door with my purse, briefcase, lunch and various items that will require me to stop on my way home or at lunch at an assortment of establishments.  Everything gets thrown in the back seat before I drop it in the driveway, third personal earthquake of the day averted; and the most peaceful part of the day begins… the ride to work.  I love the ride to work, public radio and I only have to answer the phone if I like the person on the other end.  Upon arrival at work there are a variety of faux crises awaiting me, they are averted but don’t really count as a person earthquake, more like a minor tremor.  The fourth personal earthquake of the day isn’t really avoided when I lose my temper with an unutterably rude co-worker.  This is an ongoing and cumulative earthquake.  I am generally able to let it slide, sometimes it just blows so one personal earthquake marginally survived.  The day progresses with an unusual level of idiocy but finally ends.  My second favorite time of day, the ride home; public radio and I only call the people I like and only if I feel like it.  I arrive home and teenager, husband and father are practically lined up (not literally) waiting to ask “what’s for dinner”.  Instead of saying “I don’t know, what is for dinner”, I manage to figure out what will be for dinner, read mail, listen to voicemail and balance my father’s checkbook all at the same time.  That counts as a personal earthquake averted for him.  My fifth comes as dinner is finally on the table at about 8:30 p.m. and I’m not sure if that counts as avoided, averted or barely survived.  At this point the teenager has eaten so much snack that he is no longer hungry, I am too tired to be hungry; but my dad and my husband eat like hungry lions.  Finally back in a shirt and panties I have to check on my dad’s computer (he has pushed the same wrong key for the 1407th time), explain when his long term care insurance check is going to come and why there are “black boxes” on his tv screen (our cable company has started putting up the phone number when sometime calls the house, he cannot fathom this).  I will consider this my sixth personal earthquake of the day survived and the infrastructure rebuilt, ready for a new day.  I fall into bed with a little mindless tv, answer e-mail, check facebook, get annoyed by the stupidity and finally, finally, fall asleep.  I am ready for tomorrow’s earthquakes.