Sunday, January 12, 2014
Riley is just fine...
I just checked my e-mail for the first time in months. I was really surprised to find so much mail in there. Since I’ve stepped back from doing so much “alcohol” related stuff, I haven’t been so diligent to check things like the e-mail. I just want to say that in the next week, I’ll be answering your mail and trying to answer some of your questions.
What seems to be asked a lot is “How is Riley doing?” Well, Riley is doing just fine physically. However, he isn’t doing so well mentally. The residual results of alcohol dementia are permanent and he will never be any better than he is right now. In fact, he is getting worse. The memory loss and the loss of logical, practical, common thinking create many other problems. Those problems may not seem to be problems for him, but I am the one left to find resolutions.
We continue our early morning talks over coffee, but I try to keep them as short as possible. If I don’t, I often forget that he is hampered in his thinking and then I try to talk to him as I would any other rational individual. I must always remember to be careful of the questions I ask and not to get upset with the statements he makes. It is difficult to remember that he looks like a regular guy, but he is really just the after effects of a lifetime of abusing his brain with alcohol. He is really just a 10 year old boy in the body of a 70 year old man.
According to Riley, I am the warden in the prison in which I have forced him to be incarcerated. I am to blame for every problem, inconvenience, issue, damage and anything else because I called the paramedics instead of letting him die. I have brought this on myself, in his opinion. I should not complain or try to get him to do anything because none of this is his fault. If I would have just let him die, I would not have to put up with him anymore.
He knows that his drinking is what caused the downward domino effect of his life. He knows the alcohol is what has damaged his brain. But, it doesn’t matter because if I had just ignored his cries for help… it would all be over.
An example of Riley’s off-kilter thinking is shown in our conversation from this morning. Last night I made a casserole from my Mom’s recipe box. I love it. When it’s baking, the aroma takes me back my childhood with memories of family dinners complete with laughter and rounds of talking. This casserole is one of my comfort foods.
I usually make a whole recipe and divide it into two casserole dishes. I bake one and freeze the other. Riley had a huge helping of casserole, baked potato and green salad. He finished and then asked for seconds of the casserole. No problem. I eat far less than Riley. I had about half the amount that he had. At the end of dinner there was less than ¾ cup of casserole left over. Before going to bed, I decided to have that one last little bit of comfort casserole.
This morning Riley complimented me on the casserole and asked if there was anything left. I told him I had finished it last night and that there was only a very small amount left. “Well! If I had known you were going to eat it, I would have eaten it last night with my dinner!” I asked him if he understood what he had just said and he responded in an indignant manner that of course he understood. He informed me that he would rather eat it even if he wasn’t hungry instead of me having the last bite.
It would do no good for me to explain that he was being selfish. I simply said that I was going to my office for a while. Inside I was seething angry. Why bother to ask him to explain himself further? I needed to not give him the opportunity to say anything more that would hurt me.
So when you ask how Riley is doing imagine this. He has excellent homemade dinners including homemade bread and desserts. He does only what he wants to do as far as cleaning is concerned. The majority of his day is spent watching TV and napping. He does not socialize. He is unable to drive so I do all the driving. I handle all the finances so he doesn’t have to worry about any of that. He ignores all house rules that he doesn’t like. For having spent most of his life soaked in alcoholic poison, I think he’s doing just fine.
I, on the other hand, am not doing so well. I’m exhausted and have caretaker burn-out. Frustration seems to be the highlight of my day. There is very little time for writing, sewing, cooking, shopping and even my laundry often has to wait for an opening on the calendar. Yes. I still do all those things, but I must always wait for an opportunity. And yet… I DO understand that the inconveniences are really my own fault for managing to keep him alive.
If I could afford it, I’d put him in an assisted living facility. But, unless I can personally live on about $400 per month – the facility is only a dream.
Tonight we are having beef fajitas. It’s not one of my favorites, but if there is just a little left over I think I might put it in a small container and hide it behind the fresh vegetables in the fridge. He’ll never find it there.
at 5:21 AM