Friday, March 23, 2012

Side Effects

Well, things were going comparatively well.  For a time.  DH was remembering to go to his appointments, taking his pills, cleaning the house--in fact, the house was cleaner than it's probably been in a year.    I was thinking that it might have been an ok tradeoff, if DH not working was the cause of all the new positives.  But no matter what, apparently, the phrase to remember is....."Be careful what you wish for."

I'm not complaining about the "new and improved" DH.  And I'm not saying that he's so improved that I can't stand it (we were actually at that point for a brief period, while he was manic and undiagnosed, but we aren't there now).  What I'm talking about is the fact that our budget has been cut to the bone.  I thought it was tight before, now it's unbelievable.  And DH still says he wants to find a job.  Who am I to object?  Any amount of income he could possibly bring in would help us big time, right?

So, DH has been meeting with the people from the organization that finds jobs for people with mental illness.  I'm very impressed with the fact that he hasn't missed an appointment with them.  Unfortunately, between DH's memory problems, there aren't a lot of things that they can be sure that he could handle.  But that's not the worst of it.....the lead job counselor there called DH's pdoc and told him that "DH is NEVER going to find any job anywhere, as long as his hands shake like they do.  Any employer sees that, and that'll be it." 

So now, DH's pdoc, who does not think that DH should work anyhow, but of course doesn't want to stand in his way if he needs to work or wants to work.....has been cutting back on DH's Lithium, as it is believed that the tremors are a side effect of that drug.  I've been surprised that DH is not having the mood swings yet and he hasn't had a lot of racing thoughts either.  I think DH is surprised too.  He's down to half the amount of Lithium he was on when this experiment began.

However, with every decrease in the Lithium, and I don't even know for sure that it's more than a coincidence, DH has been slipping into more lethargy again.  He sits in his chair and does nothing all day.  Nothing.  Some days he only even eats one meal--and for a guy his size, that's not a normal thing.  He just sits there.  When I ask him questions, he responds appropriately, but then an hour or two later he can't remember what we talked about at all.  It's like having an extra piece of furniture around.  And it seems to coincide with the decrease in Lithium.

DH's pdoc has also started DH on Inderol, which is a blood pressure medication that is supposed to help with the tremors.  So far, the tremors seem to have decreased, but are still very noticeable.  I'm starting to be concerned that the tremors might be a permanent thing.  That's kind of scary.  I know I'd much rather take the hand tremors any day, as opposed to how crazy things were before DH started on the Lithium.....but still....DH can't carry a bowl of soup from the microwave to the table without spilling it.  When he eats with silverware, the tremors often cause his food to fall off the fork or spoon.  And writing is nearly impossible.  I need to find out more information on what to expect.  I'm concerned.  Probably I should've been concerned a long time ago, as the tremors have been going on for a long time, but nobody else was concerned (meaning the pdoc), and I was just so happy that the Lithium was helping so much......

And now that his Lithium has been lowered so much, I'm worried about the lethargy, but also worried that "That Guy" might come back when I least expect him.  And that would really suck.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Donna Mae

I haven't written much about my mom lately, and I guess that's a good thing.  For the most part, she is stable.  In fact, the hospice people are questioning whether they can keep her in the hospice program, because physically, well, she's not really deteriorating much.  She hasn't lost weight, is eating small amounts again, and is accepting her medications again.  I hope that she can stay in the hospice program (although that's kind of bittersweet) because I think that all the attention and pampering from them is helping her.  But I should be happy that things are stable and not WANT her to be in hospice....sometimes this stuff is really confusing.

I still stop by every night after work to see her.  I know that she has a hard time recognizing people, so I usually say "Hi Mom, it's Carol."  and she usually says "Oh, hi Carol."  But I never really knew, for the longest time, if she knew who "Carol" is, in relation to her.

One night we were chatting, though, and she told me she was a hundred and fifty years old.  I decided to take the plunge and I asked her "Do you have any children?" and she said yes.  I then asked her "Do you have boys or girls?" and she said "I have one son."  And I said "No daughters?" And she said "No, I always kind of wanted a daughter, but I never got one." (That was sad for me.)

So then I got really curious as to who she thought I was.  "You're Donna Mae, right?"  me: "no, I think that must be someone else, my name is Carol."  mom: "NO IT ISN'T.  YOU'RE DONNA MAE."  me: "You know, I think you might be right!"

Now I have no idea who Donna Mae is or was.  My mom has never mentioned anyone by that name.  But it appears that I am Donna Mae now.  If I ask my mom if she remembers who I am, she always perks up and says "Donna Mae!"  (and of course I tell her she's right).  It does get more confusing with the staff of the nursing home, because they know me as "Carol, Esther's daughter."  So they ask my mom if "Carol" is coming tonite, and she responds as if I have never existed.  They ask her if her daughter is coming, she says "I don't have a daughter."  (yikes)

One night, I stopped by and a worker was reading some stories to the residents.  There wasn't enough room for me to sit next to my mom without disrupting everyone, so I sat on the other side of the room and listened.  When the worker finished reading, she pointed to me and said "Esther, you've got a visitor, do you know who that is?" and of course, my mom said, really loud "Yes, that's Donna Mae."  And the worker started to correct her, but I shushed her and explained in private what was happening.

Occasionally she asks me (Donna Mae) how my mother is doing.  I believe that she sees Donna Mae as a dear friend.  I always tell her "oh, she's looking forward to Spring." or "Oh, she said to tell you hi."  My mom always likes it when Donna Mae's mother passes a message on to her through me.  But it's sad, just the same.

The best thing(s) about being Donna Mae, however, are that she "knows" me again and likes/loves me.  She tells me "You're such a good friend, I feel like we've known each other forever!"  And when I tell her I love her, she says "I love you" back to me (for a time she would not tell me she loved me, because, as she explained, she could not say that to someone she did not know), so it's kind of a trade off.

I get to be Donna Mae, who she loves.  But Carol appears to be gone forever.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


This past week we got, for the first time this winter, over a foot of new snow.  I called in to work on Wednesday--there was no way I was going to be able to drive 50 miles in that, then hope that the bus I catch is on time, too, or if it was even going to make it to the bus stop at all.  All morning, DH would get up, have a "snack" and "take a nap".  Finally, I asked him if he was going to plow our driveway so that I could get to work the next day.

He tried to procrastinate, after all, it was only 1pm.  I told him I needed it done ASAP.  I didn't really, but I suspected by this time that he wasn't exactly motivated to do it, so it could take a while.

I watched from the window as he went into his shed to air up one of the tires on the 4-wheeler.  About a half hour later, he came out and from what I could see, was just sitting on the back of the 4-wheeler.  Not moving at all.

After another half hour, he came inside and said the battery was dead.  I suggested he bring the battery in the house to warm up--no, the battery is too hard to get out.  I asked about his battery charger--no, the clamps are too big to charge that battery.  He had this "the world is ending and there's absolutely no getting out of it" air.  I told him that I was going to call someone to come and plow us out (and at the same time thinking "how much money could I get if I sold that 4-wheeler?).  When I really started looking in the phone book, he went back outside with that "I am the saddest, most abused person in the universe because my wife expects me to plow this driveway and it's just not possible" attitude.  He came in five minutes later and reported that he got it started.  He went back out to plow.

I watched from the window.  Once again, for about a half hour, I observed no movement, just DH sitting there on the 4-wheeler.  He was just sitting there.  Then he came in and, with that same "the world is ending" air, he told me that the 4-wheeler was stuck.  (and from his tone of voice, it was stuck with Super Glue and would never ever be unstuck again.)

Again I went through some possible solutions.  Did you rock it? (yes) (I didn't see any of that though).  Do you have any friends who could pull it out with their trucks? (no) (I had canceled the insurance on DH's truck to save money, and right now it has no brakes) Can I help push? (no, stuck too bad).  Can we put something under the wheels? (I don't have anything.)  I was pretty frustrated by this time.  I told him we needed to find a solution fast, because I could not call in to work two days in a row for a snow storm that had already been plowed away everywhere but our driveway.  I asked him "If you were living in your hometown, way up North, and this happened, what would you do?"  And right away he said "I'd get a shovel and dig it out and put the chains on."

What I want to know is why this solution was only possible to him if he pictured himself in a different place and time?  Mental illness is strange, for sure.  The driveway got plowed.

When he came back in, I was setting up his meds for the week.  I thanked him for doing the plowing.  He asked me if I'd seen "That Guy" around lately, as his PDOC had made some adjustments to his meds.  I said no, actually, what I had seen, for the most part was very good compared to when DH was working.  But then I added, "I do notice that it seems like when you're confronted with a problem, it's um....very difficult for you to see solutions, it's.......and DH piped in: "It's like a minor problem becomes insurmountable."

Yes, that's it.  And DH, although he couldn't apparently do much about it, had the insight to recognize that.