Monday, August 30, 2010

This post should have a different title.

"The day of death" comes to mind, but that's a little dramatic, I guess.....it just has been a sad day for me and I'm struggling.

I got home from work at 9am and slept until 1pm, then got up to go to church at the nursing home with my mom.  On my way there, I saw something on the side of the road.  Having just a few days ago "saved" a snapping turtle from certain death on the highway by nudging ti with my shoe (and accidentally flipping it over in the process), I recognized the "something" as an upside down snapping turtle.  I couldn't tell for sure if it was alive or dead, so I hopped out of my car and walked over to it.  At first I thought it was dead, but I did the shoe-nudge thing again and flipped it over--sure enough, a small puddle of blood and a cracked shell....but the turtle moved its legs weakly.  I didn't know what else I could do, I was sure the turtle would probably die, and I couldn't help it in any way short of running it over with my own car (to put it out of its misery) and I couldn't bring myself to do that, so I had to leave it there on the side of the road with a little prayer.  (In case you've never met a snapping turtle, when they're scared, they're fast with the bite, which is very powerful and dangerous) I do not know how to pick up a snapper without getting bitten.  I'm still sad about that.

So I went to church with my mom.  That went fine....then I went home, intending to take care of the animals and take a nap.  First thing I found was Mrs. Bun, dead in her cage.  She's been sick for a long time, but yesterday she looked fine to me, although I noted when I petted her that she was getting very thin.  I felt very bad at the possibility that she may have suffered while she died.  There will be no more rabbits at our house.  I don't feel good about the quality of life they have, and the constant worry about predators is wearing.  I was surprised and saddened that Mrs. Bun had finally gone.  I feel guilty, like I should've done something.  Beating myself up.

Then....as if those two things weren't bad enough, I went into DD's bedroom to check on my mom's cat, and today he cried out in pain when I petted him.  He hasn't been getting up to greet me for several days now, although he's still using the litter box and eating and drinking, I know it's time.  He'll be going in later today for his last appointment.  I didn't think I could do it, but I did tell my mom that I "think he's sick and I don't have a good feeling about it."  I think my mom was more upset that I was sad than that her cat may be dying....I hope that's the case anyhow....every time I think about this my heart starts pounding and I get weepy.  I found my mom's cat back in 1995 when I stopped at a convenience store on a busy street on my way to work.  I could hear a cat meowing, and I saw him outside the door.  "Oh, someone's cat is waiting for them," I thought.  Nope...as it turned out, I was the only customer in the store.  I was worried that he might get hit by a car at the busy intersection, so after checking with the clerk to see if she knew where the kitty belonged, I grabbed him and dropped him off at my moms.  I asked her if she could keep him overnight since I was on my way to work and didn't have time to deal with him.  She said sure, and the next day, after I put up a bunch of flyers around the vicinity of the store where he found me, my mom said "You know, if you don't find his owner, I don't think I'd mind if he stayed here...." and that was that....He's been an amazing companion to my mom, both before Alzheimers was apparent and as she's gone through this.  I can't help but wonder if being separated from my mom is speeding his demise....I'm very sad, though, no matter what....

And then.....Sarah, aka WooWoo dog, the one with diabetes insipidus....?  I've been noticing that she's eating and drinking less, and spending even less time on her feet.  DH said he'd noticed it too, but he was hoping it was just a "phase".  I'm afraid that there are even more trips to the vet in the near future.  I feel guilty about her, too, because I get so frustrated with all the "accidents", and I get frustrated with how "stupid" she is....she is afraid of walking on the linoleum floor, but she will walk backwards on it.....and she shows affection to the other dogs by snapping at them (you can guess how that goes over, and her feelings are always hurt when the other dogs don't understand)....I haven't appreciated her like I should, I'm afraid.  I know that a few weeks ago, she apparently forgot how to come back into the house after going outside, and I got so worried, I didn't know how upset I could be when I envisioned not having her....and I know the time is coming....she's at least 15....she's blind, mostly deaf, incontinent for the most part, and I think she has doggy Alzheimers.  But as happy as I will be (when the time comes) to not have to clean up after her all the time, I'm going to miss her a lot more than I ever thought.

Oh.  And just in case you wanted to know....it's that time of month, and every emotion I have is basically magnified a hundredfold.  So I'm pretty sad.  Really, I look at all this death and potential death, and I think "what's the use, why am I wasting my time like this when I know my heart will end up broken?"

Tune in tomorrow.  I'll be feeling better, I hope.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I took the job.

In case you were wondering, I decided to take the job.  My brother (whose opinion I would like to respect) was strongly against me taking it, but....If I'd done everything HIS way, I would live in a condo in the City, with no animals and an amazing TV.  (Instead, I live on a run-down farm 90 miles away from The City, house and yard is full of animals, and don't even have TV at all.  So.....taking my brother's opinion with a grain of salt, I opted to go to work for the county gov't in the City.  I start Sept. 13.

I'll drive an hour, then catch a bus for the remaining hour.  That does make me a LITTLE nervous, because if something happened to my mom, it'd be tough to get back to my car....but hopefully that won't happen....I also can stay at my friend Anita's if I don't want to drive home.

It's reasonably good money, just a smidge less than I was making before, and very good benefits.  I don't know anything about what I would have gone to school for anyhow....and some of the words of wisdom that my commenters shared with me were very thought-provoking.

Really.  All I want is a job to pay the bills, one that won't go overseas, one that will pay for DH's medications.  I honestly don't think I care too much about what kind of job that is.....

My brother is concerned about it being so far from home (even though it's actually 15 miles closer than the last job).  And he's concerned about the "diverse" clientele.  (What I heard, although he didn't use words to say it, was "You'll be working with all those [African American] people."  I'm not concerned about that.  I know there will be angry people of all backgrounds.  So what.  I work with angry mentally ill people all the time....I'm still ok....

Another driving factor was that if I can get the training for this position, maybe work there a few years (?) then when a similar position opens up in my county, I would (hopefully) be able to transfer and....viola--I'd have a good job close to home, even though it took a while.  If I went to school, depending on what I went for, I may not have that option....although, to be fair, if I went for computers, I probably could find something......

But in the meantime, there's the part about "live on unemployment for two years".  Not sure that's feasible, especially if DH becomes unstable again.....I'd rather have a job now that would pay the bills in that situation than MAYBE be able to make it through school and MAYBE have a job after a couple of years in that situation.....

I'm still not sure I'm doing the right thing.  But after listening to all the "economy's getting worse again" stuff on the radio, it feels pretty good to be thinking about "going to work" as opposed to "getting a pink slip".

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thinking too much--but it's a good thing!

So here's my "dilemma of the day"--I GOT A JOB OFFER!!!

I'm really excited, because it's with a county government, which will mean that the benefits will be good, and the job will be relatively secure.   I really couldn't do better as far as finding a job with the current resources that I have.

Here's the dilemma part:  Is this really the right move for me???  It will be another 2 hour (one way) commute, five days a week.  I'll have to pay for parking, too, or find a "park-n-ride" where I can take a bus into the city.  Either way, that'll be a cut into the budget, along with the gas.  Not to mention the time....I do have a friend I could stay with sometimes, so I wouldn't have to drive every day if I didn't want to....It does pay better than most of the things I've seen lately, and then there's the benefits.....DH needs to have his medications.....but here's another thing--like I told you all, I just found out that I could potentially go back to school on the government's dollar.  I could come out of school with something like a paralegal certificate, or a computer degree....if I take this job and don't like it, I'm probably throwing away that opportunity.

And then, of course, there's the big "if" of DH.  He's working right now.  But what if I decide to go back to school and he becomes unstable again and can no longer work?  Barring a lottery win, there's no way I could support us on unemployment for years.....? So if I took this job that's being offered, I'd have a good chance of avoiding that scenario.  Hmmm.

I hate decisions.....it's just like buying the car--what if I make the wrong decision....?  I know eventually I have to do SOMETHING, but what is the smart thing to do????  Hint:  unless someone who reads this blog has a compelling reason why I should forget this job and go to school, I'm thinking I'll take the job.  But I do acknowledge that there is a chance I could be making a mistake.

Where can I find one of those crystal balls, anyhow?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My day sucked. (warning--not for squeamish)

Actually it wasn't too bad up until about 7pm.

First, a little background:
I met yesterday with the Nurse Practitioner who prescribes medications at the nursing home where my mom is.  Everyone seems to agree that my mom has been sleeping a lot more than she was when she first arrived there, and nobody is sure whether it is a "natural progression" or a medication thing.  The NP and I agreed that my mom's Seroquel dose would be reduced--the NP felt that the dose was high enough to be dangerous anyhow--and they were going to add a new laxative, too, since my mom seems to have lost the ability to recognize when she has to have a bm, and how to push (sorry if that's TMI).  I thought this sounded reasonable.

Also yesterday, DD called me and said she "had a question".  I suspected that she wanted something unreasonable and didn't return her call (bad mom).

Cut to today: DD called again, "with a question".  She wanted to know if she could apply for an all day pass so that she could spend the day with her bio mom!(?)  I told her that it had nothing to do with her, but I was going to be pressed for time that day and there really wouldn't be time for that.  Then I asked her if she had asked the therapist/staff where she is staying if an all day pass to be with bio mom would be allowed (I suspected it wouldn't, because the therapist won't even allow unsupervised phone contact with bio mom right now).  Sure enough....it hadn't been discussed.  So I, assuming that she was "getting better", said "I don't think that they would go for that right now.  Even if there was time to do that, I'm thinking that they would probably say that's not a good idea."

DD: But Mom.....she said she was going to take me to get my hair done!!!!

Me (to myself): I wonder how that's going to happen, since DD is an hour away from her, and bio mom doesn't have a car or a license...???  It certainly hadn't been discussed with us....

Me (to DD): You know, DD, your mom has very little control over things like that right now.  She has even less control now than she did when you were at our house, and that wasn't much.  I'm not sure it's realistic to think that she can just decide to do that, and it's probably not a good idea to get your hopes up for stuff like that.....


Me: DD, I don't want to argue with you.  I will talk with you about this some other time.  I love you.  Goodbye. 

And I hung up.  I just didn't have the patience for the crap.  But that decision (to hang up on her) left me feeling like a "bad mom".

Then I went to visit my mom.  Unfortunately, she'd had a lot of extra confusion today.  She was wandering in the hallways (not normal), and thinking that I was going to take her back to her apartment to stay....she said something was wrong, but she didn't know what.  She was already wearing a nightgown when I arrived at 6:45pm--that's only a little unusual--some aides like to get them dressed for bed early--I happened to look down under her wheelchair, and saw a little brown on the floor.  Sure enough, diarrhea--a lot of it--and my mom hadn't realized at all.  Apparently it had overflowed her Depends and, well....you know....

So I called an aide and she started to get my mom cleaned up.  I am very willing to acknowledge that that is the part of the job (nursing assistant/aide) that I could not do.  I walked down the hall while the aide did her thing(s).  When I went back into the room, the smell was so bad--it smelled like a combination of vomit and diarrhea, and was so awful I thought I was going to be sick.  My mom seemed a little more comfortable, but still confused.  I had to leave for work and hated to do that, but at a group home, it's next to impossible to call in at the last minute--and if I just up and say "I'm not coming in tonite", then the person who worked before me has to stay until SOMEONE shows up to relieve them.  So I went in.

So it's looking like both of the med changes were probably bad ideas.  I wanted to call the NP up right then and there and say "Ok, lets go back to how things were..." but of course she wasn't working at that time of night....and I know that 12 hours isn't really enough time to honestly evaluate a med change anyhow....I should've just requested that things stay the same med-wise.  At least then, when my mom was awake, she was more tuned in.....

I felt like a total failure.  As a mom and as a daughter.  Intellectually I know that's not the case, but emotionally I'm a basket case tonite.  I've been on the brink of tears all night.  Five years ago, when I felt like this, I would've called my mom to talk.  Nobody to call now.  My heart is breaking.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Employment does not get rid of bipolar.

I think I mentioned this before.  DH has been working now for FOUR MONTHS!!!!  And it's going well enough (most of the time) for me to start to consider the possibility that he might stay employed for a while--after all, he's been employed for a longer period of time in our relationship than he's been unemployed....

The problem is, I start thinking that because that one problem (employment or lack thereof) is "solved" for the time being, that lots of other things should get "back to normal" too.  Unfortunately, that's not the case.  DH gets $50 worth of "fun money" per WEEK.  To me, that's a HUGE amount of money.  I suggested that amount because I wanted DH to a) be able to directly see the fruits of his labor, since I am now handling all the bills and b) give him a chance to relearn how to handle money.  I'm not sure either of my hopes have happened.  His $50 is gone within 2 days of me giving it to him--fast food, I'm guessing.  And then things happen like tonite--DH apparently snacked on all the cheese that was in the fridge.  So now it's gone.  And he wants more, because he "can't eat a sandwich without cheese".  Well, unfortunately, too bad.  The cheese was purchased for sandwiches, not for an expensive snack.  Have a peanut butter sandwich.  Or bologna with NO CHEESE.  For Pete's sake!!!! (/rant off)

And I guess I thought that the working thing (I know it was stupid to think so but...) would give him more energy to help around the house.  But I'm still mowing the lawn, taking down the garbage, laundry, etc.....

Frankly, I'm disappointed.  But I know that's not realistic.  I don't really get too angry with DH, although I do spend a lot of time trying to explain to him that if he budgeted right, he could have fast food every day of the week and have change left over....or....maybe even be able to buy something that he wants, like a CD or something....I get angry with bipolar.  As some of you've said before, sometimes it's like I have another kid and not a life partner.  But sometimes I do have a husband--just not one that can handle money any more.  Sigh.  More on this in the next post.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Here's something you probably weren't expecting....

I found out this past week that my cousin, age 35, who, up until this year, has never been much interested in girls, is moving in with his first serious girlfriend.  He's brought her to several family functions, and I have to say, I really really like her.  She fits right in and doesn't have a speck of that condescension that DH's brother's ex-wife had.  She's smart, self-reliant, and kind-hearted.  And I'm really excited for my uncle and aunt, who had pretty much written off the possibility of grandchildren at all, ever--to me, this whole thing seems very hopeful and terrific!

So what's the big secret?  I almost can't write this.  I'm blushing, actually. 

I'm jealous.

I don't want to marry my cousin or anything like that.  I'm jealous that he was willing/able to wait until he found "the" one.  I'm jealous that he's found someone that he truly has a lot in common with, someone that....ok, ok....nobody knows the future, and nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors.  But I wonder, if maybe I had been choosier about who I got involved with, maybe I'd be happier?

But as I'm writing this, I realize:  I thought I did it right at the time, too.  DH was employed in a management position at a trucking firm.  He was putting away money to help send his brother to art school.  He had his own apartment.  He balanced his checkbook every day.  If he did have a balance on a credit card, he worked overtime to pay it off as fast as he could.

I'm left here thinking "What happened???"

In hindsight, there were some warning signs that I didn't understand at the time--once in a while "That Guy" would pop out, and I would say to myself "Oh, he must be having a really bad day!"  But why would I do anything else????  Sometimes I wonder, though, and I will probably never know for sure, if the mental illness just suddenly manifested itself or if it was really there the entire time and I just wasn't able to or chose not to notice it.....?  Or maybe DH was better able to hide the problems....I imagine, especially when you're dating and not living together, it's easier to "put on your best face" than it is when you are married to someone, for sure....but I still try to analyze it, try to figure out what I "should" have noticed.

So.....yes.....there's a very long post coming in the next few weeks--"Why I stay".  But every time I start writing it, I go off on tangents.  It's coming, though....

Anyhow.  I'm jealous.  Of the hopes and dreams.  Of the possibility of working as a team member, instead of the "coach".  Of the shared interests.  Potential financial security.  And of course, the big elephant in my living room, the babies.....

Nobody has a crystal ball, for sure.  My cousin and his girlfriend might end up being totally incompatible (I really hope not, though, because they seem perfect for each other).  And maybe there really wasn't much way for me to foresee how my life/marriage would turn out.  I guess tonite I'm just wishing my life was the fairy tale I thought it was going to be.

How's that for a pity party?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Well, like I thought....

My mom's cat has cancer and the tumor is causing his abdomen to fill with fluid.  They don't recommend draining it, because they say it would just come back in a day or two....

Once again, I'm not quite sure how to handle it.  My brother is not helping.  I'm faced with a lot of "options" and none of them are ideal.

1) Do I tell my mom her cat is dying?  I believe it's good to be honest, but I'm also afraid that she may become more depressed on hearing this news.  I don't want her to decide that "life's not worth living" any more.  But I'd rather tell her.

2) Do I bring the cat for a visit?  A few days ago I did bring him to the nursing home, and except for the fact that he really didn't do a lot of walking around, he acted "normal".  She enjoyed the visit and didn't want the cat (or me) to leave.  But the next day, I reminded her to tell my brother, when we called him on the phone, that she'd seen her cat, she didn't really sound too excited about it.....then today, the first thing she said to me, even before "Hi" was "How's Thor doing?"  I'd like my mom to be able to spend a few more moments with him before he goes.  But......I also don't want her to be expecting him to come every so often and then he just suddenly stops coming.

A caveat to this is that when my mom moved into the assisted living apartment, she had to give up her elderly dog (he came to live with us, too).  About 3 weeks later (and this was when DH was having his HUGE mental health issues), DH figured the dog had been at our house long enough to where he should be able to be "off-leash" (not chained up, but loose--remember, we live in the country and that is "normal" for most dogs).  Anyhow, he let my mom's dog off the leash, not realizing that the dog had some sort of dementia, too, and the little poodle mix took off down the road.  DH couldn't find him at all.  I spent about 6 hours looking for him, and finally found him running up the road.  From what I could tell, he had been running for a very long time.  But other than that, he seemed ok, and I was so relieved that I found him....brought him home, made sure he had food and water.....and the next day he was dead.  Since he didn't even get to visit my mom before he died, and my mom was a lot more "with it" back then, I kept lying about how he was "doing fine" etc....and when she came over, I'd talk about how he'd heard some gunshots and was hiding under the bed....I (of course) never brought up visits after that, and just let my mom think that I never really thought of it.....it HUGELY stressed me out to lie like that, but I didn't want her to think that I/we didn't take good care of her beloved dog.....eventually I did tell her that the dog had died, but I never told her the truth about what happened.....Now....I'm in a similar situation.  My mom has only been "officially" in the nursing home for about a month.  And here I go again, one of her pets, that is in my care, is going to be dead soon again.  Lots of thoughts and feelings related to that.

3) Today I think that the worst thing about loving a person with Alzheimer's is that you are responsible for every single decision in their life, and making the wrong decision could have dire consequences.  At the very least, every decision has the potential to be fraught with guilt.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I've been busy and busier....

I really wish there was some way I could transpose my thoughts (not all of them of course) directly to this blog without actually typing--I've been thinking about so many things I need to share with you all and I just haven't seemed to have time to actually follow through :-(

I'm not sure that any of this will be in any semblance of order, so if something seems chronologically out of whack, it's probably because I'm just spewing thoughts....

Anyhow.....I got a "new to me" car--to replace my little red Corolla that didn't make it through the deer encounter....I'm not sure if I told you or not, that the insurance company only gave me about $4000 for my car--it was a 2004, but it had 275,000 miles on it (from that darned long commute to the job that no longer exists), so they took about $3000 off for that high mileage.

So DH and I went car shopping.  Several times.  And I learned that it's really really hard to find used Toyotas.  And it's even harder to find used Toyotas that cost less than $5000.  Apparently, people tend to drive them until they drop, or until they hit deer.  So I went online and found a total of about three Corollas within a hundred miles that were in the right price range AND 2003 or newer.  It became obvious that I was going to have to "settle".  DH and I went to a nearby "big town" and went to pretty much every car lot there.  We test drove a couple of older Toyotas and a 2005 Kia Rio.  I liked it (the Kia), but I hadn't done any research on how reliable it is/was, so decided to stick to the Toyota plan until further notice.  It sounds like I made the right call there, based on what I could find online.

The next day, after finding a used car dealer that advertised several used (but older--sigh) Toyotas online, we drove to that place, about 120 miles away from home.  And drove about 10 Toyotas, from a 1991 to a 2002.  A lot of them were really junky.  Especially the "really old" ones.  But we wound up buying a baby blue 1997 Toyota Camry XLE, which is the top-of-the-line Camry.  Fully loaded, leather seats, power sunroof, etc.  Everything works except the dash light for the tachometer.  Rides like a limo.  The mechanic (who we didn't know but figured was better than nothing) we brought it to (on short notice) said he didn't see any obvious reasons why we shouldn't buy it.  So we/I did.  It's a lot bigger than my Corolla, which means that it'll get a lot worse gas mileage (and the 6 cylinder engine isn't going to help either) but I really want/need the reliability (hopefully) of a Toyota, because I'd rather spend a little extra consistently on gas than have huge unexpected repair bills every time I turn around.....anyhow, if you picture this car in baby blue, that's exactly what it looks like (I'd have taken a picture of the actual car, but it's dark out and I don't want to wait!)

I'm still really scared that it's gonna break down any minute.  The inside is so clean, I can't believe anyone ever drove it....and it's by far the most luxurious car I've ever owned.  I actually test drove it three times to make sure I wasn't being swayed by the luxury.  But compared to the other Toyotas I drove, even the 2002, it seemed a lot less worn (I hope!).  I'm glad that's over with.

One of the main reasons I haven't posted this past week is that we've been working on clearing out my mom's assisted living apartment.  It's been a lot more emotional than I anticipated.  Every time I've been over there I've ended up sobbing--even DH, who's "a man who's not supposed to cry" (according to him) broke down when he saw that they had taken her name off of the door.  I know it's been really hard on him, too.  But he's trying to be strong for me.  He's really been a help, although he's been somewhat stubborn about his ideas--one night he wanted to start moving furniture at 9:30pm, and when I said that we should wait until morning, he argued with me and sulked for the rest of the night...but he got up in the morning and moved furniture and it all worked out....anyhow....I'm not sure if we were supposed to have everything out today (7/31) or if it matters, but there are still a few boxes in the apartment and I still need to vacuum the floor and clean the oven...so I'm hoping nobody will care if I finish up on Sunday....it'll feel good to be done with that, too--then I can concentrate on just visiting with my mom.

And my mom's cat.  He's at our house right now, in DD's bedroom, because he's about 16 years old and I was worried that he might not adjust well to a house full of animals....he's been doing ok, I guess, eating and drinking....but.....today I decided to bring him to visit my mom in the nursing home, and I noticed that his meow had changed.  In my experience that is never a good thing.  I observed (and I may have mentioned this before) that his belly is very very large, but you can feel his bones.  It doesn't appear that he's jaundiced (which would explain the large belly [ascites

DD is still having a tough time at her residential treatment facility.  She's had to be physically restrained twice this past week, and she had a big tantrum in the therapist's office when the therapist informed her that due to her behavior, she would not be allowed to go off grounds with DH and I to shop or go out to eat.  And then there are her bio relatives, who, in the 9 years that DD has lived with us, despite our continued urging, have never called her to go out for ice cream, never called her to say hi, never called us to ask how she's doing....now that they've learned that DD is in this new setting, are demanding to visit her there, and accusing us of "keeping her from them".  Argh.  I need to keep biting my tongue.  The therapist says DD is too unstable at the moment to have visits from bio family members.  So I've been telling them to call the therapist.  But it's still stressful!

So that's pretty much what I remember about what's been going on this past week or two--oh--and I have a job interview on Aug. 9.  Oh--and did I tell you (probably not) that I found out that because my job went overseas I could go to school for whatever I want (as long as it's in demand) including a Masters degree if I wanted to and they would continue to pay me unemployment for the entire time I was in school????  I'm kind of leaning towards getting some sort of computer certification that would result in a better job (hopefully).  If DH keeps working (and I know that's a big "if"), it would be doable.  So if I were to take something that required one year of schooling at a local Vo-Tech, and if DH could hold out for a year or so, then when I got done with school, even if DH couldn't keep working, I could go back to making similar money to what I was making at my corporate job before I got laid off.  Some things to think about, for sure!