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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, August 16, 2012

Nightmare move...

Leaving the big country house was an exercise that could have been portrayed in a Stephen King movie. It was a nightmare. All of my careful planning and organization, hiring of the handyman and housecleaner, and hiring a professional moving company turned out to be a comedy of errors. The plan was all about timing. I packed everything I could and then the movers were to pack what was left. As they emptied each room, the housecleaner, handyman and I would clean and make any repairs. I had separated certain boxes and a suitcase for the movers to take to my grandson’s house rather than go to storage. The “storage room” stuff was totally separate from the “grandson house” stuff. The boxes were clearly marked with red tape. I needed the movers to take them because my van was totally packed.

But, the timing was thrown off when the movers called to tell me they could not get to my house until 3:00 p.m. I thought – well OK – it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours for the truck to load and we’d be completely done by 7 p.m. It was not the best scenario because it meant the cleaners and handyman would have to come back the next day to finish the job. But I needed to move forward.
To make a long story short – the moved was complete at 4:45 a.m. the NEXT morning. To top it all off, my careful separation of storage and house stuff was totally lost. Everything was simply thrown haphazardly into the storage room. By this time I had been awake for more than 30 hours and was not up to arguing or fussing with the rude workers. I just wanted it to be over.
I picked up Riley at the nursing home the following day and took him to our new temporary home – my grandson’s house. Riley and I are now sharing the master bedroom. It is an uncomfortable situation, but it is only temporary. I can handle this.
I had been given specific directions from the nursing home about how to take care of Riley. He was not to be left alone for any small amount of time. He needed his meals at regular times. Bathe him daily but he was not to get into the shower. Do not allow him to try to walk – he was to either be in bed or in his wheelchair. I wasn’t sure how I was going to meet all the requirements. My grandson’s wife had been searching for a personal aide for him, but had not had much luck.
The first 24 hours were very unpleasant to say the least.  By the end of the day I decided that I would try to help him regain some ability to walk. He had had NO physical therapy at the nursing home and I thought maybe with a little exercise and practice, he might be able to become at least a little more mobile. I was right. He can now get to the bathroom and he has discovered that he can make it to the toilet in time which means I don’t have to change messy diapers. He still wears the pull-ups in case of an accident – but for the most part he takes care of that by himself. This takes a HUGE load off my shoulders.
Riley has not expressed any interest in leaving the bedroom. He watches his TV, eats and sleeps. That’s his day in a nutshell. When everyone is home, the rest of the small house gets chaotic and he cannot handle the noise and confusion.
On the way home from the nursing home, Riley told me he couldn’t wait for a sandwich and a beer. I told him I was happy to make him a sandwich, but that there would be NO beer – or any other alcohol for that matter. As long as we are living with the kids, he would be alcohol-free. And – since we are looking for a larger house to share with the kids on a permanent basis – he better get used to the idea of not being drunk. He did not argue and has not asked for anything to drink since.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had to leave him alone for short periods of time. When I returned everything was fine. I did not find him on the floor or stressed or drunk. So it seems, I am able to do things like grocery shopping or running some errands. I’m never gone for more than two hours – but it is a welcome time away from the house.
Sleep is a different story. Riley doesn’t sleep well through the entire night. I hear him gasping for a breath of air. I suspect he has some sleep apnea – which I will address with his primary care physician. I wake up each time I hear him make a noise that doesn’t sound “right”. As a result, I never get a full eight hours of sleep.
I keep a small supply of my own medication at my grandson’s in case I get stranded here and can’t get to my regular supply. I had been using my emergency supply because my suitcase containing my prescriptions ended up somewhere in the storage room. I thought that I could get my grandson to get them out and that it would not be a problem. However, when the boys went to the storage room, they had difficulty even getting into the shed to find anything. They did the best they could to move boxes around and still – there was no suitcase.
Because I couldn’t find my medication, I started making phone calls to the doctors who had prescribed them. I got nowhere. I left messages. I talked to the nurses. I was told that I had just had my meds refilled and if I wanted another prescription, I needed to make an appointment to see the doctor. I didn’t want to drive two hours to a doctor that I didn’t like when I knew those meds were in that storage room. But, basically, I was without my meds for the better part of two weeks.
I made an appointment with a primary care doctor here in the new location. I thought, I’d just start over with a new doctor. I explained my situation and the new doctor was happy to see me to get a prescription for my meds and then give me a physical later on in the month. This was good. I felt I had found a solution. I was exhausted and feeling generally yukky, but this would all be resolved.
Like any new patient, I expected the appointment to be lengthy. What I did not expect was the medical assistant coming in looking at me with concern and asking if I felt OK. She didn’t wait for an answer, but took my vitals and said she’d be right back. When she returned with the physician assistant, we talked a bit and then I was told they had called an ambulance to transport me to the hospital. I was confused and found that I was having difficulty answering the questions. Why was I going to the hospital? I just needed my prescriptions refilled. I couldn’t be gone that long from Riley.
The next thing I knew I was in the ambulance with a couple of EMT’s named Bruce and Eric. Bruce was talking softly to me and asking me questions. I didn’t feel like I could answer him. He told me not to worry they would take good care of me. I tried to tell him that people don’t “take care of me” – I take care of them. But we were now moving on down the road to the hospital.
When we were finally in the emergency room, my daughter came over. She told me that my blood pressure was extremely high and the doctor suspected that I was going to have (or having) a stroke. I remember hearing the numbers 200 and something over 100 and something. I repeated that I just wanted my prescriptions refilled. A doctor came over and asked some questions. My daughter talked to her because now I was so distraught that nothing was coming out of my mouth that made any sense.
I was given some medication and almost immediately I felt more relaxed. I was whisked off to getting a cat scan. By the time I returned to the room, I was dozing in and out. I was tired and just wanted to get to sleep.
The scan showed that there was no NEW damage. I got enough medication for two weeks and was sent home. I was told to make sure I took ALL my medication everyday as prescribed. I was instructed to get plenty of rest and make sure I avoided stress. If I do that, I should be fine.
My search for a personal aide for Riley continues.


Anonymous said...

It would just be too unfair for you to get sick, while the immortal just carries on. Hopefully now that your move is mainly over, things will get easier.

jo said...

2 weeks? LINDA. you are letting riley dictate your life, sweety. again. you must be your #1 priority. screw the rest home orders. easy for them , they work a shift and leave.

you are falling into the dry drunk trap , my dear lady. please dont.

have you decided what you will do if riley well....has a physical issue? another ambulance? more hosp? or let him go this time? i dont know what i would do until im there. yesterday i knew...since mine was getting so violent. i woulda left him in the alley. today...i dont know again.

3 days without my blood pressure meds and i will also do that. please think about slowing down,,,tending to YOU.

Syd said...

I am glad that you didn't have a stroke. If Riley is doing well right now, then take care of yourself. It is a really telling remark you made about not letting others take care of you because you take care of others. Is that really the life that you want now? It's not too late to change from the way things were to a different person today, Linda. If Riley would like a letter, let me know the address and I will write to him.

Bev said...

So glad to see you posting again but not to hear how things have been. As everyone else here says, it's time to make yourself #1. I know things are complicated because you are trying to save what you have with your benefits and all. And I know that sometimes there just isn't another way to make things better.

Thank God you were at the doctor's office when your blood pressure was so dangerously high. Maybe this doctor can help you in figuring out what to do about Riley?

Take care. Hopefully the worse is over for awhile.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Oh what a traumatic move Linda - a sure way to raise your BP. Glad to hear you were found to be okay.

Take care dear Linda.

Love and stuff

Anna :o]

Anonymous said...

I believe that Riley is immortal, as he is pronounced to be no longer dying even though he is in liver failure and gasping for breath at night.

I worry however that you, dear Linda, are not blessed with immortality. I recently went through hospice for my own alcoholic husband who was quite mortal and did die, and I understand the need to be a caretaker. I also wanted to spare my children of worry and caregiving. The hard part, I think, is to accept that such extreme caregiving requires that you are alive.

Thank you for your wonderful posts. They have been very helpful to me as I consider my own husband's struggles and death.

jo said...

i dont know about any others here, but i am so convinced mine is immortal i will have him cremated should he die before me. i wouldnt trust burial. it makes no logical sense but its how i feel. they cheat death. in many ways. it messes with our brains.

Gabriele Goldstone said...

I can't imagine the stress. It's all a nightmare - and the only hope is death. How insane. Dear God - how much longer must you endure this chaos? Take care of yourself. One day at a time. The shared bedroom sounds too intense. You are one tough woman. What doesn't break you only makes you stronger. Don't break!

Anonymous said...

VERY glad that you are okay. That must have been very scary!!!

Also wanted to suggest that you prop Riley up at night and try to get him to sleep on his side rather than his back. Give him an extra pillow or two. Might help his breathing...

yorkshire lad said...

Oh dear. So sorry to hear about your blood pressure. I'm so glad that you had the right doctor with you at the right time. Please, please look after yourself because you are so important. I know what it is like to have high BP as was suffering immense work stress last year and ended up with a gastric bleed after my bp had gone through the roof.

I am thinking about you and Riley and have only just started reading your blog. Take care and hope that things do get better for you soon. xx

msterfun said...

I would like to have my alcoholic father cremated before he dies. Oh, sorry, i guess that goes under the how we really feel post.

Seriously tho, welcome back.

Anonymous said...

hi linda. :) maybe God is telling you that you have done enough.Let Him have the steering wheel. take care of yourself. your children and grandchildren need you. all the best xoxo

Michele said...

Oh Lynda, please think about what your advice would be to someone else if they had written this in a letter to you. Take care of yourself. Riley has already done enough damage to your life; don't let him do even more.

Anonymous said...

On some level, you must really, really love Riley, or you wouldn't do these things for him?

Jordan Deeks said...

I know that there are a lot of new things to consider when moving. I think that your nightmare move is just starting and there are still a lot to come. I think that you just need to be more open-minded to know it better.

Jackie said...

Oh my goodness Linda! Missing your Rx for your BP created a serious situation for you. Hope you are feeling better now and that your meds are working.

I'm still amazed that you had decided to remain married to Riley after you started living apart and for so many years. You say you live in a community state, 1/2 his - 1/2 yours. You had a job working from your home during some of that time and you still remained married. During that time of living apart, did Riley give you money? Are you saying you couldn't make ends meet without his help from the military salary? Back in Oct 2010 you said, "After having spent 20 years in the center of the alcoholic circle, I left Riley. We lived happily apart for 15 years. Because he was retired military, there would be no divorce. I felt that I had given him good years of my life while dealing with the military and his drinking. I had earned my military benefits.". You said something similar about his military benefits in a few past posts. Wow! I would have thought you would have divorced the man somewhere in that 15 years! You also said during those years you still took care of him when needed. This seems to be ALL about the military salary and not about you finding other solutions you could have created for yourself 15 years ago. By the way, after a certain amount of married years, won't the military keep the divorced spouse under insurance coverage? I believe you have earned your benefits but it may be paid in the end with your death benefits and not Riley's. Won't that be the kicker? Yes, your dear husband may outlive you. Especially if you can't get him into a VA long term facility. If you can do that, you will still be covered with his military status. I think it's a shame you didn't find divorce and other avenues years ago when you both lived apart. You still chose to take care of this selfish man and you may be paying that price with your own life. I hope that will not be the case. Or another sencerio may be by the time he's passed and gone, you'll be too sick yourself to have any quality of life. Your life cut short for what? Wanting military salary and benefits? You never considered other govt. agencies that might help you out if needed if you were a single woman of mature age? I know many older singles who have SS (their own or half their spouses), Medicare and a few with Medicaid who have almost all medical costs covered for every type of treatment or surgeries needed. Because of these things, I'm still wondering why you'd still put up with this man and now he's back living with you and your grandson! Wow, your grandson has a heart of gold. How long is your stay going to be at their home? I can't recall. So so so sad you are in this predicament and never divorced yourself from this now current hell of a life. But after all, I think you chose it.

Anonymous said...

Having read all of this website over a relatively short period of time, I have come to the conclusion that you are not really bothered about Riley, your daughter or grandchildren, and are purely interested in his military pay-check.

What will you do if he does ever succumb to his illness, will the money finally run out then, or will you then receive 100% of his pension? I feel that this is your only real interest!

Shame on you!

Sycamore said...


What a Nightmare indeed!

I know you are trying to think your way through this maze of craziness, and it seems all avenues have negative consequences. I pray that the way becomes clear very soon, and that all obstacles fall away.


Anonymous said...

Looks like you drank the KOOL AID and laid down in the dirt to die. Hope you find whatever it is that you are looking for. Are you sure Riley is the one who is the drinker?

**grandaughter** said...

To everyone with a NEGITIVE comment....no one told you that you had to read this blog. Unless you know first hand what she is going through and how it is being delt with and live it EVERY day of your life you have no right to critisize!.....AND for the comments that are referring to her as a "gold digger" there is barely enough mopney to make ends meet so if she is such a gold digger i think she would find someone with a little more money to "dig" from!! AND to everyone with supportive comments thank yall so very very much it truly means alot to Linda!! (memaw)! She is the strongest woman i know!!

Anonymous said...

Firstly, Linda I have such huge admiration for you, as I am sure have all your family. To the mean-spirited people here, may I remind you that Linda elected to look after Riley so that she could mitigate the affect of having an alcoholic father, and her daughter would not feel an obligation to house him.

Secondly, Linda, as many people have commented, I was so upset to hear that you would have to continue looking after Riley at home. I hope you are able to keep your physical and mental health and remain strong for yourself.

Lastly, you have a wonderful grandson!

With love and best wishes from the UK

Anonymous said...

Ah...the joy of victimhood. What a great pity party.
Same old, same old. Blah, blah, blah. Maybe it's a southern thing. I heard they are different down there.

Gabriele Goldstone said...

Linda, there will always be people who will kick you when you're down and throw salt on your wound. So sorry. My mother was one of them, so I've been there. But I know what those people need most are hugs.

Take care of yourself while you care for the the unlovable Riley. Obviously, you're all that he's got - but that's a lot.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for a while now, and I truly wish you all the best. We know that you're not doing this for the paltry benefits. Please take care of yourself. You have no idea how many people you are helping. There are so many of us out here reading about your life. Please keep it coming.

Jackie said...

To granddaughter: You must realize that a lot of the negative comments coming from the readers of your grandmother's blog of the last couple of years is from her life decisions and from 'her own words' she has posted since 2010. I'm a supporter of your grandmother. I think she must be a loving and wonderful mother and grandmother. But I'm also one of those who have come to some conclusion that a lot of her decision to stay with your grandfather is due to military benefits which Linda has posted herself many times. It does appear to be a high criteria in her decision making. I do have experience and lived such a life as your grandmother's. Married to an alcoholic many years dealing with all the cr@# and the mean abuse . . Divorce was the answer. I also have a functioning alcoholic mother and haven't and won't live with her even though she has asked me several times. I'll NOT live or take care of anyone when they continue to become inebriated so much so that you're cleaning their feces and urine off the bed, floor, carpet. Once I did that and right then & there told my mother that will be my last time. I do still help in many ways but since my declaration, she's drinking less and hasn't been that inebriated since her mess. . Hmmmm. Could it be less help, she chooses to be a little more in control of her life? I LOVED my husband GREATLY and I love my mother but consider myself & children will not live with alcoholics. So I believe divorce is the best answer to living with an alcoholic. Young women should make their goal-plan-actions to make it a reality. Money and benefits will always be an issue. Get help from family, friends, church, govt., attorney, your job (or get one), women's centers and the list can still go on. Also record everything and prove the parent is a drunk and not capable to be with children, etc. It can be accomplished in time. Continued below:

Jackie said...

To granddaughter: Linda has several posts that she was worried that her daughter would take care of Riley if she didn't. Maybe that would have happened but that would probably not last more than 6 months. People don't realize how awful it can be to put up with an alcoholic & will HAVE ENOUGH soon enough & will either kick the alcoholic parent/brother/sister out of their house or they will move out themselves. It would be painful but one should survive from alcoholic life. I will address your comment that this isn't about the money. Your grandmother posted she'd lived apart from Riley for 15 years and told her readers about the need of military benefits many times in posts. Can't you see why some of them see it that way? For the readers who are currently living in the same situation as Linda, they do FEEL her blight. For some readers who have LIVED it and 'got out' are amazed when Linda had a chance to leave this kind of life years ago and chose not to. As she has posted, she is paying for that choice right now. She gambled that she would never have to live with him again and lost. Now, still married, she has ALL the responsibility that goes with it. My thoughts and prayers go to your family at this time because at this moment it is needed. Can't go back into the past and do over, can she? I agree with you that some readers are too rude in their words expressing their thoughts towards Linda. But I think most are bringing up points that are from her own statements in her posts and should be respected criticisms. Yes, no one is perfect. We all make mistakes and many readers may reason that your grandmother might have made bad decisions. What's wrong with the readers expressIng them? We love it that Linda is open and expressing her opinions and life on her blog. I feel her readers have the same freedom to do so too. Linda also has the freedom to delete any posts but would that show a real and true blog without readers feedback? Linda can learn from many people thru her blog and I feel she has done just that. Your grandmother is an adult who appears to have a good sense of self and she probably can take some criticism. That goes on with every blog created. The bad with the good and the in-between. You seem to be a wonderful granddaughter and I understand your defending your grandmother but I think you may not understand all of it yourself either. But I admire your need to protect your grandmother.

Anonymous said...

Since the mind is not a physical organ, it cannot have a disease. A disease is something you have, behavior is something you do. People who are under the domination of sinful habits of living got there through the moral choices they have repeatedly made. You always have a choice. God can make a way.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you identify yourself troll? You get off on other peoples misery, with your nasty remarks. Since no one here actually says it, because they are decent people { something you know nothing about} I will.

Fuck off.

No one wants or needs your anonymous trolling.

No one thinks youre clever. They just think you need to get some kind of life. You are an unmitigated attention seeking idiot.