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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.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Can you hear me now?

There is so much going on right now and I don’t mean to ignore my readers. I apologize for not being able to post more often. In just two more weeks we will be moving into our new house. I’ll be back to having a dedicated office instead of working off the kitchen table while the two toddlers and three little ladies run in and out with many requests for all sorts of things. Hectic is an understatement for the situation right now.

Riley has reached a point of physical recovery that he is now as good as he is going to get. He shuffles from room to room without his walker while using every handhold available to keep him from falling. When we leave the house, I insist that he use the walker or the wheelchair – he always chooses the walker.

His OCD is only slightly tolerable for me. He squares the corners of the DVDs to the edge of the table and straightens his blankets on his bed several times throughout the day. Any wrinkle is cause for smoothing. He has a regimen and any deviation upsets him greatly.

The diagnosis for Riley is “alcohol dementia”. Basically, it’s the same are regular dementia except it was brought on from his alcoholism. The bad news is that it will get progressively worse even though he is not consuming any alcohol.

From the outside, he would appear to be just a normal old guy who has past his prime. You can have short logical conversations with him. But, his ability to relate events of the past in an accurate manner seems to be sketchy at best. He sometimes doesn’t remember where we really live or why we are living with our grandchildren. He believes he is in charge and issues ultimatums and dictates actions. No one is listening to him. We hear him and breathe a sigh when he starts, but we don’t really pay attention. If he asked any of us if we can hear him now, we’d say “NO”.

I have noticed little lapses of memory in my own brain. I seem to be without as much patience as I had in the past and I often yell at Riley when he steps on my last nerve. This disturbs me.  I spent some time with a social worker last week and she informed me that often times the caretaker starts to display some of the same traits of craziness as the person needing the caretaking. Well… this is not good. It will take a lot of restraint and control of my own emotions to not join Riley in his crazy world.

Sometimes I think things were easier when he was drunk. But, then I think about it and realize that I do not need nor want to hurry the process of him returning to drinking. I know that eventually he will find a way to obtain alcohol. It may not be in the form of vodka or beer. It will more likely be something from our panty, like vanilla extract. Or it possibly could be something from the medicine cabinet, like mouth wash or cough syrup. Once that happens, I’ll be faced with more decisions that I don’t want to make.

The social worker asked if there was anything on my plate that I could remove with an idea of making my life a little easier right now. I ran through my mental list of projects – blog; OARS Facebook support group; OARS website; editing my book for Kindle; developing the cookbook for an OARS fundraising; turning OARS into a non-profit organization; going back to work at a real job; planning a reunion for my family; general cooking and cleaning in this house; negotiating a lease for the new house; plan and organize the move; etc; etc.

Well, I don’t really see what I would eliminate, but maybe I can prioritize a little better. Maybe if I can just designate some time for a long leisurely bath or an early morning walk, that might give the break I need to be able to keep my brain devoid of too much craziness. Personally, I think I’m just frustrated with the responsibility of taking care of someone who cannot understand that he needs to have a caretaker. I’m frustrated that I don’t feel qualified to give him what he needs and yet I manage to do it every single day.

In my opinion, once we get into the new house things will be easier because we will have more than 1200 square feet all for just Riley and me. I will have space for working on my projects. The privacy of not having to share a bedroom with Riley will be THE best thing. Cooking from my own pantry on my own time schedule will be awesome. Yes. I believe things will settle down and become more “normal” inside the craziness.

I’m very impressed at that OARS has grown to 100 members in less than a year. I reached out for help in creating OARS into a group with real meetings and becoming a non-profit organization. The future for OARS is bright indeed. We are planning an inaugural live meeting in the early Spring which will allow us to come together face-to-face. We will be planning the direction of our group, forming committees, establishing relationships with others who live close to us, and scheduling live meetings in many areas of the country. I reached out and found that they could in fact “hear me now.” Our vision may be lofty, but with all of us working together it can become reality.

To join OARS, go to Facebook and search for OARS F&F Group, request permission to join and you should be granted access in less than 6 hours. If you would like to help support our vision, you may go to our fundraising site and make a donation. Every donation is highly appreciated and, while they last, you will receive a tote bag in return. We accept donations of any amount from $1.00 to whatever you are comfortable in giving. Go to the link below to contribute:


I can hear Riley moving around in his room and I know he will soon be out here in the kitchen. He will want coffee and breakfast. He will want to “talk” and I will make an effort to “hear him now.”

10 comments:

ADDY said...

I was in your shoes three years ago and everything my alcoholic husband did, irritated me and drove me up the wall. Now he has died, I miss him like crazy and wish thing could have changed. I know things are difficult for you right now, but believe me, when he has gone, it'll be easier in some ways and worse in others.

Syd said...

I hope that the move to the new house will go well and things will settle down for all. Take care. My father-in-law is still sharp mentally when he takes his medication. He often refuses and then he goes downhill, becomes confused and doesn't get out of bed. It is what it is.

Furtheron said...

I wonder if the dementia can still hit you and get worse even if you have stopped drinking. Take myself for example, I'm beginning to be acutely aware of memory lapses etc. My wife gets snappy with me, I get defensive but I have spoken with her about it - I'm sure I'm slowly losing it. Given the amount I drank on a daily basis for 25 years until 8 years ago I think there is every reason to suspect I am suffering from this.

Anonymous said...

Back in the early 80's I was married for a short time to an alcoholic. I went to ALON and somehow I got on with my life. Over the years he has repeatedly tried to get back into my life. I found this blog when he again tried to contact me a year ago. He really is going insane from drinking and today I am just thankful that I paid the money to have caller ID and blocked his calls. I did a criminal background check and he has been in and out of jail, DUIs, treatment, petty theft, restraining orders, on and on. He really has gone insane from the booze. Classic textbook case of alcoholism. I know now that there never was any real "relationship" between him and I. It was all an illusion and just a bunch of lies. I was just a pawn in his game. I thank God I am alive. He is a con artist and I think it is finally catching up with him. In February he was indicted on felony burglary charges with a $10,000 bail bond so it must be bad. At least he lives over a thousand miles away from me and I am not in his insanity. I read about his pretrial from the court records and last week a motion was made for a competency examination. He'll probably get committed to a mental institution for "treatment" until he is competent to stand trail or they will say he is competent now and he goes to trial. All I can say is good riddance. I think I came out of "denial" a few years ago and the last few years I have been processing and mourning it all. Had to take a real good look at it all and just had to hand it all over to God to get it out of my mind. The anger and fear has gone and it just is what it is. Alcoholics exist in this world. I truly believe he is a sociopath and has no conscious. He's a dead man walking. And it is really none of my business. But I will keep paying for caller ID to block calls in case I start getting phone calls from some prison or mental institution when it all goes down for him. Have a great day. This too shall pass. Time for me to start living my life again.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is aptly named. It seems it will never end. A friend of mine said to me years ago about my alcoholic, "people like that never die." Of all the times I wished he would die, he never has; although, he dies a little each day killing himself. But he has not yet had a permanent death that has relieved me of the obligation of caring for an alcoholic. Living this life has destroyed my religious belief (how can God make me suffer through a life like this? Why do I have to go through this day after day? How much endurance can a perse on take?). It has changed the core of who I am, and it hurts every day. No one should have to suffer this. I'm sorry you do. I'm sorry I do, too.

jo said...

anon, i understand your feelings. i have grown a lot as a person thru all my stuff with my A. however, He isnt making you do anything. we choose how we feel and respond. yep, lots of counseling! we have what we have in life. we choose what to do with it. learn, be stronger, hate, whatever it may be.

since i finally have proof i am not crazy and mine indeed is decompensating and his liver is failing..it has helped me a lot. plus my own ordeal in the hosp just last week. i have really changed some of my views. will it get easier? nope. harder. mine is putting things in the freezer like jewelry, glasses, and leaving the truck running in the driveway now. i now know who to call for help if he becomes violent again. i now know why he does what he does.

i read here and see lots of misunderstandings about alcohol/ it kills the brain cells. period. it kills liver, and kidney, and heart cells. what was fun and stupid at 30 becomes sad at 60 and 70. becomes tragic, really. when brain cells die, they are GONE. mri will show the damage in alcoholic brains.

drink arsenic. it isnt much diff, really. same thing, diff version.

anon, i think we have our own stages. angry. hate. who wouldnt? its normal! its ok. i think however it will become for you and all of us, a time to choose and accept what we have chosen to do the majority of the time. it can indeed change us into this. we can let it kill us inside too which is what addiction wants. or we can say nope, i am angry and sick but inside i am me and this wont kill me too!

its so hard. i know. im there with you. esp remembering the words mine has said to me so many times. that is the alcohol brain tho.

i am taking things one day at a time, since my kidney stuff its really all i can do any way. sorry this is so long. i wanted you to know i relate...and what helped me a little . oh, it will get worse here, for sure. i expect it. i just ask God to show me what i should or can do. He does.

the most important thing is TEND TO YOU. be nice to you. do things FOR you. your worth it. your a special person. :)

msterfun said...

I just learned this week that my A father is going to have to serve the 58 days remaining from his first DUI conviction because he violated his probation with his second DUI eleven days after getting his license back. There is a lot of good news in this. Another drunk driver has been romoved from the road (this time for 2 years) and hopefully all of this stress will be more than he and his self damaged body can take. I'm just hoping they don't agressively treat his condition while he's in jail.

Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog, Jane, and have enjoyed reading your posts and the comments. My wife has all the symptoms of end stage alcoholism. Plus she has a co-occurring condition that is causing her to lose her vision. Her vision problems are causing severe depression which she self-medicates with alcohol. It's a downward spiral. After 3 detoxs, she now refuses to go to the hospital or to see her primary care physician. She doesn't eat, can't control her bowels, and can barely get out of bed. And yet she refuses all help. The medical community has no answers for her vision loss or her alcohol abuse. This is insanity and it's making me insane.

Anonymous said...

o wow-here in england at the end of my tether...i read all that i am unable to put into words-from being 'duped'into this 8 year relationship-so that he has a carer for his alcoholism...to how to survive the irrationalities of everyday behaviour...thank you-i shall read you often inbetween the extra cleaning up of human waste and excuses!my best wishes to you
lea

Anonymous said...

@anon in England. You're comment that you feel duped into being a caretaker rang a bell with me. Sometimes I feel like he's being sweet to me just to keep me around. Other times I feel like he genuinely loves me. It's such a see saw but I have finally come to accept that he can love me to the moon and back but the alcohol will always come first. I think I am seeing the beginning of Stage 4. I feel very fortunate that he has a job but lately he is sick almost all of the time. He says he has a stomach virus that is going around work but I never seem to catch it. I've started considering getting life insurance on him, something just tells me to do it. After reading this blog though I have a good idea of what I have to look forward to and it's pretty scary. Do I stay with him and pray it ends soon, do I let him stay and take a chance that he will end up unemployed and sick for months or years on end or do I end it now? He has no one but me, his family turned their backs on him years ago.