We are all losers here

With a disease like dementia, there are no winners. Except maybe the people who make the drugs that cost a small fortune and don’t even work, but which people buy because it’s better than having no hope at all.

In my mother-in-law’s case, those drugs seem to be making matters worse. After a rough few days at the end of last week, my husband moved her in with us. It’s no longer safe for her to remain in her own home, even with a part-time caregiver.

There is a lot that I need to write about, just to get my mind around all this, but which I don’t want to publish here. This disease is cruel and embarrassing. The limits of my patience and capacity for mercy are definitely being tested. I am caught in the middle right now–stuck between what she wants and what she needs, and that’s hard when you’re talking about an adult.

So I guess that while I will continue to process this experience through writing, it’s going to have to stay unpublished. That’s OK too.

But I can say that I don’t know how to handle some things in the most kind way possible. For instance, making her coffee. Hubs gives her the cup of hot water, the jar of instant, the packets of blue sweetener. Then he has to remind her how much to measure in, and that she has to open the sweetener packets, not just throw them in the cup, paper and all. I just make her the cup of coffee and deliver it. It’s not like we can ask her which she’d prefer.

It’s a lose-lose situation.
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Guilty.

Because no one can give a guilt trip like a mom.

Yesterday I was on the phone with my mom, and the topic turned to the grandchildren she rarely sees. Maybe she was venting and not just laying on the guilt, but I am guilty of not getting there as often as she (or I) would like.

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Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike…

Big Brother hasn’t seen my parents since Easter. I brought the other kids up to see them sometime in June. And we probably won’t be getting together before school starts again. Big Brother returns to campus Sunday night, so he definitely won’t be traveling the 100 miles (each way) to see Nannie and Grandpa.

My mom has been understanding and supportive about the reasons we’re not getting there. She knows what weekend traffic on the NJ Turnpike is like. She knows that TheDad has been beyond swamped at work. And she knows that we rarely get a weekend “off” from taking care of my mother-in-law. (Since Easter, we’ve had 2 free weekends. Yes, I’m counting. Mea culpa…)

There are a lot of things I wish I could do differently. Seeing my family more is definitely one of them. Time and distance and circumstance make it difficult–but I have to find a way to do this better.

I want to be able to enjoy my parents while they are still enjoying their good health.

But right now, I just don’t know how I can fix this.

But I Switched to Decaf (well, Half-Caff, anyway)

I was having a really good (and quite productive) morning. By 10:30 AM I’d started laundry, hung one load on the line, had some “prayer and coffee” time, made my to-do list for the day, set up the kids’ chore schedule for the week, and gone to Mass, the bakery and the supermarket.8046b-michelesplanners

Then I got home and started working the phones and the planner.

I needed to call the soccer camp where we’d just registered Little Brother to clear up a few questions (such as why I’d never received an email confirming his registration, for starters).

I called the pediatrician to schedule Little Brother’s physical.

I called my gynecologist to make an appointment for my mother-in-law, who has dementia and needs to see a gynecologist (but can’t remember who her GYN is or when she last saw that doctor).

I scheduled 4 college visits in the next 3 weeks for Middle Sister.

And then I couldn’t settle down. I was so agitated that I couldn’t sit here and write. I’m having a hard time writing this, actually. I can’t get calm.

I decided to run over to the GYN’s office and pick up the new-patient packet that needs to be filled out before the appointment. Then I went to the Carter’s store to get a baby gift for my cousin’s little girl who’s being christened this weekend.

Driving home, I was still agitated and really wondering what the problem is. I’d had 2 cups of coffee today, but one was half-caff and the other decaf. Yet I feel like I’ve had a whole pot of high-test.

Then I thought about how I spent my morning. Phone calls, scheduling of appointments and college visits and other things that are going to be unsettling at the very least–no wonder I’m agitated. Anxiety is in high gear right now.

And there will be no more coffee for this mama today.