Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Tell me how you really feel...
I’m excited an honored to find out that I’ve been recognized for excellence due to the contribution of excellent editorial work in the world of alcoholic addition. You can view the details here:
The site lists the “Top 20 Truly Exceptional Alcohol Addiction Resources”. Each of the 20 blogs have been reviewed on this site. It seems my site is a bit “old fashioned without many images”. Maybe it's time for a re-vamp.
Now for today’s post:Riley will be released from the nursing home on Friday. The nursing home has said they will help me get him into the van. I’m picking him up late in the afternoon so my grandson will be home by the time I return. He can help me get him up the flight of stairs that leads to the front door. His bed will be ready and waiting for him.
That will be a turning point in my life. Until I find a personal aide that I can afford, I will be at Riley’s beck and call 24 hours a day. I will begin my caretaker role in a whole new direction. While I’m not looking forward to it – I accept the inevitability of it. It is what it is and fighting it only makes me cranky. Crankiness is not something I want to display to my great-grandchildren who (in my mind) will be the one thing that makes giving up this country house worthwhile.
Riley is a handful. Even his nursing home nurses tell me that he is difficult because he refuses to cooperate and doesn’t understand his own limitations. His brain function doesn’t allow him to remember that he can’t walk to the bathroom. He has always been passive aggressive, so now it manifests itself in ways that cause his nurses to come running when he thinks he hasn’t had enough attention. He now lacks the ability to form reasonable logical conclusions or conversation. He truly doesn’t understand why he can’t go home to his very own place and continue living his life on his own.
I’m asked how I feel about that. How do I feel that he is a child in an adult’s body and I must tend to him? My answer is … well… how do you think I feel? Riley has so destroyed his own mind and body that he can no longer function even though he is sober. He has done this to himself. I want to feel some kind of empathy for him, but I do not. I want to be able to say – oh! He can’t help how he is. But, the truth is he COULD have prevented this and his choice was to stay on the insanity path and destroy everyone in the vicinity. So I feel angry with him for making those choices. I feel sadness that such an intelligent man was so stupid to not accept the opportunities that have been presented to him so many times. I’m hurt that he didn’t care about the outcome for the rest of the family. That’s how I feel.
But, how I feel really doesn’t matter. I never thought things would go this direction when I first took him back in. I wasn’t seeing the situation clearly when I made that decision. I would have still prevented my daughter from taking him into her home – but I might have searched for an option other than the one I choose. And there you have it – I CHOOSE to take him it. It was MY decision and now I must come to terms with the fact that I may have made the wrong choice. It’s just the same as Riley making a wrong choice. I’m really no different. The choice was made and now I must deal with it. Since Riley cannot be an adult, I must handle both of our choices in an adult manner for both of us.
The hospice care doctor says Riley LOOKS physically better, so he is better and is no longer dying. The doc says he sees “no decline” in his condition. I don’t agree. I see decline every time I go see him. No lab tests have been taken and as long as he is in the nursing home, none will be done. However, the doc was quick to tell me that I must be the “gatekeeper to the liquor cabinet.” He tells me Riley has very little liver function and ANY alcohol at all could be a fatal drink. I explain that it isn’t just the liquor cabinet that Riley is interested in because he will drink anything he can get his hands on. The doctor says I must watch him 24/7 because his fate is in my hands. Isn’t that just peachy? It seems that now my entire role in life is to keep Riley alive by not allowing him what he wants as he proceeds to death’s door.
My uncle had emphysema. He had this portable oxygen tank that he pulled around with him. He smoked constantly even with the oxygen tank close by. I went to visit him as he was dying in his bed at home. His days were extremely short and I remember feeling so sad for the loss I was about to endure. He was always happy to see me. When I walked into the room he gave me a wide grin and said “Hey… honey… tell me like it is.” He was talking about what was going on in my life and not about his illness. As we talked, he asked me to hand him his cigarettes. I said no – he knew he wasn’t supposed to be smoking. His response was he was dying anyway, so what did it matter? I knew he was past the point of being saved and he was 93 years old. But I didn’t give him that cigarette. He died a few days later while smoking his last cigarette. In hindsight, I think I should not have denied his last bit of pleasure when he was so near the end of his life. Heck, I should have gotten him a top notch cigar.
When I was asked if I would give Riley alcohol when he returned home, I thought of my 93 year old uncle and his desire for that cigarette. At this point, before I’m actually faced with the decision, I’d have to say I will not serve Riley alcohol just like I didn’t get that cigarette. But, and this is a big BUT, if Riley expresses his anger in ways that makes him impossible for me to handle, I might just give him that drink. Of course, it won’t be enough for him and my fear is if I give an inch he will pressure me to make it a mile. So, I guess my answer is – I don’t know.
I’ve been a caretaker before so I know how difficult it will be. Every time in the past, I had a lot of support and relief. I was not in it alone. This time, it’s just me. Unless I can find a personal care aid who will work for homemade peanut butter cookies – it’s all on my shoulders. It’s OK. My shoulders may not be wide, but they are strong. Psychologically I’m stronger than Riley. I can do this and I will do it to the best of my ability. After all, I’ve always been an over-achiever.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I think – it’s too bad that the functional alcoholics who read my blog can’t come and sit with Riley for 48 hours. Let each of them take care of him for just a weekend. This would show them what their lives might be like if they continue to drink themselves into oblivion. Maybe instead of picking up trash alongside the road, the legal system could use caretaking Riley as a form of community service. If they saw what the future could hold -- maybe – just maybe – their choice would switch from insanity to sobriety. Maybe they would choose not to be a child in the body of a 70 year old.
at 8:10 AM