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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.

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. 


Teresa said...

I have been having a hard time lately.Some days I just want to throw my hands up and say F*** it, I don't care anymore! Which I really do care but....
I make myself sick over thinking and all the what if's. What if I quit giving him his meds, what if I quit making sure he goes to his Dr. appointments, what if I didn't buy him his beer for the night. He does make a point of telling me "Someday you won't have to do this anymore.". Some days I wish it would be sooner than later. I almost wish it would have happened when he had his esophageal varices last Dec., as now the kids and I have to sit and watch and suffer right along with him and HIS choice to continue drinking!

Some days I wonder why I try to help Garry, he doesn't care about himself,why should I? He doesn't take his meds unless I give them to him, he won't do his insulin unless I give it to him. He is very demanding, if I don't jump when he yells the whole house know about it.

I can tell when his ammonia levels are up, the mood swings almost become unbearable! Fine one minute and flying off the wall the next. We have grown adult kids who he feels it is my responsibility to still care for. I have my hands full with him, let alone worry what the kids are doing. He won't ask them himself I always have to.

His work has some idea of what is going on with his health, but he isn't totally honest with them. I try to keep them in the loop. He said yesterday he they had him sign a form as to where his last paycheck would go in the event of his passing. It didn't phase him. I'm glad he is still able to work, if he didn't I know all he would do is sit home a drink his waking hours like he does on his off days.

I know his sleep patterns are getting worse. I'm a very hard sleeper, so I don't even know for sure, but I find it strange when I go to wake him some mornings he is naked under the covers. I'm not sure if he is just not making to the bathroom in time (he is on pills for the edema & ascites) and to lazy to find clean underwear or what.

Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

The 10 Commandments of Dysfunctional Families

Anonymous said...

I would like to suggest that my program of Alanon has allowed me to put the focus on me instead of the alcoholic. I have MY life back and will choose to keep that focus going forward

In service
Canadian gal

Ps hugs for you

carol said...

In amazed any relatives bother with alcoholics. They destroy your life along with theirs if you stick around. My father, brother and sister all alcoholics, father vanished, sister age 56 died of alcoholic haemorrhage and brother age 60 in a wheelchair and care home with alcoholic peripheral neuropathy.

My father was violent and erratic, my siblings and I were in and out of care growing up as my parents couldn't parent.

My sister was a nasty horrible aggressive woman who scared me and I'm glad she died as it was impossible to free myself from her demands despite living miles away, once she started on my own kids I finally broke free of her.

My brother was dumped a year or so ago And I feel nothing but happiness and relief My husband thinks I'm hard for not keeping in contact with him Oh the joy of not having to take drunken phone calls in the middle of the night Nor being rung up in tears demanding money because he spent it all in drink, I haven't seen him in 30 years I literally moved to the other end of the country But he would phone me every single day It wasn't about love he was just incredibly needy and he had driven everybody local away from him Including his wife and children Of course I love him When we were young children But once he became an alcoholic He did many inappropriate things Including sexual abuseWhy I bother to keep in contact with him for years I will never know It was only recently That the pastor at my church Said to me I can forgive him But I do not have to keep in contact with him I have put him out of my mind I don't even want to know when he dies As it will be too upsetting. When my mother died when I was 16 I had nowhere to live and became homeless, At that time both my sister and brother had their own homes yet neither of them took me in , I left school to get a job and flat , I was 16, that grudge has always been in the back of my mind, A Small Part of my refusal to keep in contact with him and dumping him out of the blue Was revenge I admit it However now Of course I am sorry for doing that Or rather I mean I am sorry that was part of the motivation at that time However like I said I have felt nothing but release and relief ever since Am I best advice to anybody who is in Close contact with an alcoholic Is wrong in the opposite direction as fast as you can you will not regret it It will not get any better for you It will be two lives wasted rather than one

carol said...

I apologize for my last post, it was extremely inconsiderate. I stumbled upon this blog today and all my anger came flying out, triggered by my brother begging me to contact him via email. I felt panic, anger and guilt and went on a rant. So the take no notice of me, I'm a weak, confused person who doesn't know how to handle my alcoholic brother so have run away from my problems with him and through my whole life.