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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, April 28, 2013

My magic wand...

It is always interesting to me how life plays itself out in the real world. There are joyful times and sorrowful times. There are fleeting moments of peace and quiet and then monumental crises. Each interval of life requires a decision by someone. Sometimes the decision is by the person directly involved and other times it’s made by a second or third party. No matter how you look at it, a decision is made.

A lot of people in my life have to make decisions about life-changing circumstances in rapid succession. A friend is struggling with changes in her relationship with her son as well as her work environment. My granddaughter is juggling work, school and motherhood. Another friend fights alcoholic demons every single minute of every single day. And, my beloved Carrot is facing a surgical procedure that may cause her life to end.  Even with the procedure, Carrot’s life expectancy is grim. There is nothing I can do to help any of them except to let them know that I understand the difficulty of their circumstances. Of course, having a magic wand might be of some advantage.
I often feel that it is unreasonably unfair that some people’s lives are cut short for no reason of their own and without a decision needing to be made. Many people that I love have left this earth before I felt their time should have been up. Two of my brothers died before they could claim to be senior citizens. Carrot’s husband died only a year after they were married. I see on the news about young children whose lives are snatched before they ever really begin. There was no decision to die but there was a decision to live which didn’t come to fruition. I guess it would be best if I just remembered that things happen and sometimes I won’t be happy about it.
The thing being thrown in my face recently is about a decision to try to keep Riley alive. The newest argument in our house is that everything is my fault because I decided to call 911 when Riley was having his heart attack. It seems to Riley that it is my fault that he is alive and if he wasn’t alive, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today. That is the position of being his caretaker because he cannot live alone as well as many other incidental situations.
It is Riley’s opinion that if I had not called the EMTs that he would be dead and I would have my life back as it was before I took him back into my home. To some degree that is true. But then I would have to look at myself in the mirror and know that I had not thrown a drowning man a life saver that hung within my reach. Riley recalls asking me to call 911. He doesn’t remember telling me to “PLEASE, please” call for an ambulance. He doesn’t remember sobbing in pain. He says I should have closed my bedroom door and gone back to sleep.
I made a decision that night. I decided that it was against my moral convictions to let a man die in the bedroom across from mine without making an attempt to get him help. So, I guess Riley is right. It is my fault that he is still alive. However, I am not the only one to blame.
The decision made in the emergency room to air-flight him to the nearest heart specialized facility was the fault of the attending physician of that particular emergency room. When he arrived at the Heart Institute in Greenville, he was immediately taken for tests and treatment. Those doctors and nurses must also be blamed for their extremely competent and professional treatment. When Riley was placed into palliative care at the hospital and was no longer treated to prevent his death, was the hospital staff to blame? After Riley was admitted to hospice care at the nursing home and he survived, was it the fault of the nursing home staff and doctors? In Riley World, everyone who had a part in keeping him alive is at fault.
If I had not called 911, Riley would not have lived. I would not have to worry about who is going to look after him if I should have to be gone for an extended period of time. I would not have to be concerned about him falling and hitting his head on the Travertine Tile. I would not have to be concerned that he might say something hurtful to the great-grandchildren. I would not have to worry about where the money will come from for his legal fees and medical extras. I would not have to make sure he gets to his appointments or that he gets the most out of each one. I would not have to be concerned about when he will start drinking again. I would be Riley free.
I have to be careful because when Riley blames me for him being alive, I get angry. I feel that he is ungrateful for having an opportunity to breathe the air when so many others didn’t have the chances he has had. For Riley, the life he has now is not an acceptable life at all. If he cannot drink and has no means of being able to obtain alcohol then he has NO life worth living. He states that he is a prisoner in this house and I am his warden. He is not happy and won’t be happy until he is able to find some alcohol and get drunk.
This is when a magic wand would serve me well. I could use it to give my friend and her son insight into how they much they will appreciate each other when all the growing pains cease and they can move on to having an adult relationship. Maybe I could help her see a happy future after the chaos stops. The wand could be waved over my granddaughter so she could see what an awesome Mom she is and maybe even some money might appear to help with her tuition. The same wand could build a barrier between my alcoholic friend and the sneaky little demons that haunt her so she can have the happy productive sober life that she so desperately wants.
Most importantly I could use that magic wand to give Carrot the balance of Riley’s life and Riley the balance of Carrot’s. That is a decision I would happily make.

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