Saturday, October 10, 2015
Leopards don't change their spots
I’m finally getting back to my quirky self. I’m feeling like I have found my sense of humor and my fortitude again. It’s been a long month but it has been worth the time off. I’m over the pneumonia and my blood tests indicate I’m getting back to normal. Well – normal for me is always just a tad bit off – so I guess I’m normal for me.
Riley was in respite at a nursing home for eleven days. He also had pneumonia and a urinary tract infection. He recovered from those illnesses much faster than I did. I suppose if you have someone waiting on you hand and foot and are receiving daily visits from nurses and doctors, anyone would recover faster.
The reports from the hospice staff indicated that Riley was bright, chipper, and able to get himself in and out of bed and into his wheelchair. He was eating well and communicating during the times he was lucid, which wasn’t all that often. Everyone was pleased with how well his respite stay played out.
While Riley was in respite I had one, and only one, responsibility. I was to rest. I slept most of the time he was gone. There was no jumping out of bed fourteen times in a night nor was there screams of “HELP!” from Riley’s bedroom. No dirty underwear to change. No laundry to do. I did exactly as I was told. By the time Riley returned home, I was rested and better able to fight my own pneumonia.
He arrived home (via medical transport) late on Saturday afternoon. He was smiling and seemed happy to be back home. I made a bit of a fuss over him for a few hours. I cooked a favorite dinner of his followed by his favorite ice cream. When I wasn’t in the room with him, he would call me over and over until I appeared at his bedside. OK, I thought. He’s just wants to be sure I’m here. I understand.
Sunday was a day from hell. Riley had called me throughout the night and even though I did not run to his bedside each time, his calling left me sleep deprived. It was like that all day on Sunday and into Monday until his nurse arrived to check on him. What she said and did surprised me.
She scolded him like a little child. Then she asked why he had not gotten out of bed since he had been home. He said I would not let him. She turned to me and asked if that was true. I replied I cannot lift him and he can’t get out of bed without the physical support of another person. She told me he had been getting in and out without anyone’s support while he was in the nursing home. He had enough strength to hold himself up and get into the wheelchair. All he needed was someone in the room to assist him, if he should start to fall. She then demanded he get out of bed and show me that he could do it. I was surprised when he did just fine without me (or anyone) helping him.
The next day, while the morning aide was here, I told Riley it was time to get out of bed. He moved himself back and forth and grunted and grabbed for the bed rails. He could not sit up by himself. I tried to assist him but he pushed against me causing him to fall back into bed. Once he was upright, we moved the wheelchair over so he could reach it. But he refused to put his feet flat on the floor or move closer to the edge of the bed. I put my arm under his armpit and tried to help him stand. He put all of his 180 pounds on my body, but refused to help himself in any way. I gave up. Got him back into bed and walked out of his room.
When the aide arrived, she once again told him to get out of bed and he did exactly as she said. WTF! Why can he get out of bed with her but makes such and ordeal with me??
I had a bit of time while he was experiencing some clarity. I took advantage of that time and asked him why he was presenting himself to be so helpless with me, but not while he was in the nursing home or when the aide and nurses were around. It took some time and lots of discussion but eventually I got my answer.
The problem was/is ME. He expressed that when I was around, it was my job to come whenever he snaps his fingers and do everything for him that he wants me to do. If I refuse to do what he wants, he will simply keep calling me and become more demanding. He says he doesn’t have to get to the wheelchair by himself simply because he wants me to get him there and if I can’t do it, he won’t get into the wheelchair at all. He wants the two of us to move back to the city and if I don’t want to move, he will be as big a problem as he can be to make me miserable until I agree to what he wants. He also revealed that he is treats me different because I won’t get him beer, wine or vodka. I took away his booze and he is upset with me for that.
Well… that’s the most honest he has been in years! But when the conversation shifted over to him telling me that he would get Tim (his imaginary secret service security guard) to get him some booze, I knew the clarity has passed. He went on to tell me that he was treated much better when he was at the White House last week. OK – reality gone!
So you see – the problem is ME. The problem is that I haven’t abandoned him or treated him poorly. I am the focus of his anger and hostility. From my point of view, I need to minimize my involvement in his daily caretaking. I’m in the process of figuring out how to do exactly that. If I don’t, I will be sick again from pure exhaustion of caretaking him.
I remember the days when Riley would manipulate me into doing something simply by being impossible to deal with. He would put me into situations where my only option would be to put up with whatever it was he was dishing out. He would leave me stranded when I had no viable means of transportation. He would spend all his paycheck before he got home causing me to have to go to the food back to feed the kids. All the while, he would show no remorse, no regret, and there would never be an apology.
Alcoholics don’t change even while dying.
at 9:16 AM