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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Out of options...

Last Easter I wrote about listening to my great-grandchildren over the phone and how that renewed my strength even though I missed them terribly.

This year, I’m doing exactly what I need to do. I’ve been told over and over again that I need a break away from Riley. I need to regain my perspective and get some rest. The nurse has all but ordered me to get away for at least 24 hours. I doing as I’m told.
On Saturday I’ll be driving to the grandson’s house. I’ll make some stops along the way for groceries and new outfits for my great-grandkids. I’ll be taking myself out to lunch in one of the quaint little restaurants near the marina. I’ll arrive at the house in time to cook a good meal for the kids so they will come home from work to the aroma of their favorite foods. There will be eggs to dye and baskets to create.
Sunday will find me taking my daughter, Alea, out to breakfast before she heads into work. After that, I’ll take a walk on the beach near her house. By that time the kids will return from the other relative’s houses. There will be books to color in, hide and seek to be played and, of course, there will be eggs to hunt.
After dinner I will get back in my car and head back to the country. I will have pictures to post on Facebook and details to share with my brother. Most importantly, I’ll be rested and ready to deal with any Riley-ness that occurred while I was gone. A volunteer will check on him – but for the most part he will be alone.
Riley was supposed to have an echo-cardiogram on Tuesday. Unfortunately the tech had a death in the family and was unable to come in so it has been rescheduled for Friday. This is supposed to give us an idea of his heart’s weakness/strength. The test results were the determining factor of getting him into detox and then long term care. But, I’m not sure it really matters very much anymore.
Over the past week, Riley has gone from slightly yellow around the eyes to fluorescent yellow/green over his back and stomach/chest. There is no longer any white to his eyes. The nurse was surprised when she walked in and saw him in his rocking chair. She told Riley that his liver is shutting down completely and his other organs will quickly follow the liver’s lead. His blood pressure was high and his heart was erratic. Of course, Riley’s response was the same as it always is – he’ll live until he’s 104 and be shot by a jealous husband. Good luck with that was the nurse’s reply.
The nurse turned to me and told me that it really doesn’t matter if VA comes through or not because anything an aide could do for him now would not be enough. The only advantage of an aide at this point is to relieve me of some of the burden. It would not help Riley, but it might make things easier for me. And since it appears that I won’t need the aide for very long – I might be able to manage to pay for it myself. That is – unless the doctor will assign hospice care. Right now we only have nursing care and that will be over at the end of the month. Then again – who knows – that might be extended again.
Riley will not be detoxing and will not be going into long term care. At least, as far as I know at the moment. I’ve been here before -- many times. But, I think the Riley cat is about at the end of his nine lives.
When I told the nurse I was going to visit the kids over the weekend, she was extremely happy. Her concern was who was going to stay with Riley. I told her no one except for a one-time check in by a friend. She said that since Riley is insisting he can live by himself, let him be alone over the weekend. Whatever happens will happen. He knows how to call the rescue squad in an emergency and he knows how to reach me.
Am I nervous about leaving him alone? You betcha! I don’t want to come home to a burned down shell of a house or to find that he’s been on the floor the whole time because he broke his hip in a fall. I don’t want him to be in pain. If I’m here I can probably keep the house from burning down, but I can’t stop him from falling. He refuses to use the walker or take any other advice. He wants what he wants when he wants it. So I’m going to let him have what he wants – at least over the weekend. He wants to be left alone and I will leave him alone.
It was never my intention to force Riley into sobriety. That option was really never on the table. But, when it became obvious that I could not take care of him for very much longer, the option of long term care seemed to be a possibility. In the care of a facility he would not have the option to drink thereby extending his life. It was a side benefit and not the main goal.
If I had been able to get him a personal aide, the chance for an infection would be minimalized. He would get daily showers instead of weekly ones. His bed would always have clean sheets and his room would be tidy. His medication would be monitored. He would have had someone to argue with rather than just me. It isn’t that I can’t do those things myself. The problem is he is so resistant to my assistance that he makes it impossible for me to help him. He will allow a stranger to tend to him, but not someone he’s known for 45 years. I guess it’s a part of the insanity of alcoholism.
The long and short of it is this – Riley is out of time and options. Riley made his choice to drink after being sober for four years. He made an announcement to the family that he was going to go back to drunkenness because that is what he prefers. Most alcoholics never get a chance to make that choice because once the grip of alcoholism takes hold they are hard pressed to loosen the grasp. Riley had that grip loosened and was sober for a sizable amount of time, yet with a clear and sober mind, he made a decision to drink. And that’s happened not just once, but several times. Unlike many alcoholics – Riley chooses to die an alcoholic death. He is committing suicide by alcohol.
In the process of not knowing what to do or how to handle all of the digression of his condition, I lost track of my detachment. So for this weekend, I will detach from Riley and the chaos of his creation. I will make this trip and I will enjoy every single precious minute.

I got a phone call from my great-granddaughter because she was all excited about losing a second tooth. Oh my goodness! She is growing up and I don’t want to miss any more seconds of her journey!


Karen E. said...

GO..ENJOY.. Make wonderful memories with the children! YOU deserve it. This post made me SMILE!

Syd said...

I hope that you have a great weekend with your grandchildren and children. It's great that you are taking care of yourself and getting a break.

I hope that Riley will be okay as well. We use home health care services when the caregivers go on vacation and they are good. That might ease your mind.

Anonymous said...

It's about time that you do something for you! Enjoy your trip and drive safe!

Anonymous said...

So glad you're getting away, even if only for a few days. It will refresh you. Prayers that Riley stays safe while you're gone and for safe travels for you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Linda,

So happy you are going to see your family on Easter!!!! Enjoy every moment with the kids, grandkids, great grandkids - you mean the world to them. They love you and must miss your terribly. You deserve to feel the joy that your presence brings to them. Bless you and Happy Easter.

Beth said...

So happy that you are taking some time for yourself Linda! Wishing you a safe and enjoyable trip, and not too much time spent on worrying about Riley. Also wishing for things to go well for him so you don't come back to a mess. Take care of you and enjoy the daylights out of the great grandkids!

jo said...

totally enjoy this!

you made a sentence that really hit home. "he wants what he wants when he wants it"

so true. i dont get it, but yes. mine is the same.

have fun and we hope the house doesnt burn down. i always worry on that cause i have put out so many fires mine starts.

NorthernTeacher said...

You have a lot of friends cheering you on, Linda. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Enjoy your time away, because from what you have posted about Riley's recent condition, he is on his way out for sure. My father died rom the effects of alcoholism and died a horrible death. He first went the "greenish-yellow" you have described. Then he started to shake uncontrolably and could not stop. He could not stand on his own or even hold a cup to take a drink of water. This all happened over the course of 72 hours. I had him hospitalized immeadiately. My father had a D.N.R. order in place so there was nothing they medical profession could do but make him as comfortable as possible. He declined rapidly after that. But still it took several weeks for all his organs to completely shut down. He must have lost 50-60 pounds in the last 5 weeks of his life. He lost his swallowing reflex and because of this and not wanting any medical intervention, he became skelital, skin hanging everywhere. He honestly looked like a victim of Hitler's regime. It was so heartbreaking, knowing that his choice to drink alcohol all his life had turned him into nothing more than a mass of skin in a hospital bed. I thought I was prepared for my fathers' death, but there is no way in this world a person can be prepared for this horror. Good luck Linda with what is coming. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to witness

Michele said...

So glad you are getting to spend time with your grandkids. Saying prayers for you, your family, and Riley. Hope you have a wonderful Easter!

Gabriele Goldstone said...

Don't you dare feel guilty! Whatever happens, happens. Congrats on detaching! Happy Weekend to you.

jo said...

i wonder how humans are or can learn how to handle this? it is such the opposite of what we are taught to do.

yall be easier on yourselves. this is a task so foreign to being human...

Barbara said...

My A died three months ago after drinking non stop for a year and a half...I was his only caretaker. He chose to isolate himself and I was the only one for him to change and dispose of his vomit bags, to make the calls to 911 when he siezed and so on and so on. When he died it was a strange relief but I am still suffering from anxiety of the year and a half of all of this. Reading these posts helps me in some strange way and I know I will be ok.