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Crazy schedules....

Sorry that I haven't posted for a couple of days. Sunday was devoted to "taking care of Mother" and trying to get my laundry done and everything packed and organized to go south for the work week.

I think Monday's are just going to be lost days for journaling unless something profound has happened or disturbed me. Why? Because I usually don't sleep well on Sunday nights, I have to be awake at 3:15am to get showered, throw the last minute stuff in the suitcase, feed the cats, make coffee for the road, and have a short visit with Mom on my way out the door at 5am. I arrive at the office at 7:30 and work until 5pm and then lately, it's been trying to find my way to the new place I'm staying for the week, finding groceries, and then falling into bed exhausted around 8pm. So not much time or energy for journaling.

Though I have managed to find a place for the entire month of September. It's a very nice house in a quiet neighborhood out in the countryside. It has other regular "boarders" coming from out of State to work for the week. And it's affordable. I think that after a couple of weeks, if I'm getting along well with the other boarders, I might approach the owners about a monthly rental, just to secure the room.

I've also managed to make a friend during all of this crisis. I rented from her a couple of weeks ago and we hit it off so well, we went to dinner during that week and made a plan to get together tonight, and will probably continue to do so a couple of times a month. So I guess you could say that I'm beginning to build a life, outside of work and outside of the family...which I suppose is a healthy thing??

I'm feeling better physically too. I think that's a combination of getting OFF the alcohol and getting back ON my blood pressure medication. It's been 2weeks, 1day, and 11hours since my last drink - WHOO-HOO!! Celebrating small victories!! And I don't think I really "miss it," at least not this morning. I may feel differently about that as it gets closer to time to go home and back to the family but I'll tackle that when the day comes - one day at a time, as they say.

I find that I'm beginning to crave a bit of exercise, don't know if that's the BP meds kicking in or the anti-depressants. I just know that it's probably a good thing since the Haunted Half Marathon is just over a month away!! LOL!! I wonder if I can really be ready in 9-1/2 weeks?? But I've got to give it a go, I've paid my fees so I'm locked and loaded!! TTYL!!

First step of the real journey...

Okay...so after the meltdown a couple of weeks ago....I shared the full extent of what prompted the meltdown and that I wasn't really feeling any lifting of the dark mood or feelings. They kept on my about getting professional help and eventually, I promised that I would. In the meantime...

With everything going on with Mom, I've not had the opportunity to establish myself with a general practitioner, and I ran out of my blood pressure meds about a month ago. About the time of the meltdown, along with the fact that I actually quit drinking (1week, 5days, 15hours ago WHOO-HOO!!), I started having headaches, dizzy spells, and bouts of vertigo...which are the symptoms that presented back in the early 1990's when I first developed high blood pressure. I couldn't get a refill on my meds because my prescription had expired and so I planned on going to Urgent Care today so that I could get back on my BP meds. And so I promised my friends that I would also ask for psychological help while I was there...

Interesting visit to Urgent Care this morning...

I was actually very lucky, I ended up seeing a doctor who is undergoing therapy herself so she was sympathetic to my situation. During our discussion, I had an emotional breakdown - including ugly, snotty, gross-sobbing - which was actually a good thing. It meant that I couldn't/wasn't bullshitting my way through the visit with how well I was coping. Long story short, the Doc didn't feel that I was in eminent danger of hurting myself, but if I were to continue the way I was going, it wouldn't be long before I became a danger to myself. She also didn't feel that I needed full-on psycho-therapy and recommended several good counselors in the area. She DID think that I needed something for the depression and dark feelings so I came out with a prescription for anti-depressants that we'll monitor going forward.

Though I know that I still have a lot of work ahead of me, right this moment I feel as though a weight has been lifted off my chest. It could be the BP meds going to work, LOL, or it could be because it was good to tell a completely neutral and disinterested party the truth, and have them tell me that they didn't think I was insane or that I should "just get a grip!"

I get it...

We're not five minutes in the car and Mom begins to fill the silence with irrelevant chatter. I get it, that I know that I want everything to be on MY terms, and that Mom wants everything to be on HER terms. I also get it, that at her age and with her deteriorating health, it is highly unlikely that she is/will/would be able to change. So it falls to me to learn how to compromise and accept things on her terms. I get that.

And I'm really looking forward to working with someone, a professional, to learn how to do that. It's not going to be easy and I'm likely to be very frustrated on a regular basis, but I've got to try, not necessarily for her, but for me.
  Today was an interesting day.  Taking Mama Bat to the doctors, we left the house in time for a 10:30am appointment with the bacteriologist, left there at 1:15pm....arrived in time for a 2pm appointment with the "pacemaker guy," left there at 4:55pm.  All I can say at the very least is that the PICC line is out and except for the pacemaker guy being upset that no one gave us an order to get her INR checked for taking her cumadin, she has been released from everything here in WVa.

On the flip side...it was an extremely trying day for both of us.  We'd had a terrible fight the day before, with threats on boths sides of me leaving or her staying behind, and lots of raised voices and muttered curses.  We finally came to an armistice so that we could get through the next few days.  I think the biggest problem for me today was her need to fill every waking moment with sound.  For an introvert such as myself, her constant nattering about nothing at all is so very wearing and draining of my energy. Then I get cranky and short-tempered because I just want a few minutes of peace and quiet.  She muttered under breath what an anti-social bitch I was and then continued to talk, telling me stories that she's told at least a KABILLION times before.  And the repetitive nature of the stories made the draining of my energies even more complete.  We're going back to my home tomorrow and I've already set out Saturday as a "Me Day" and I expect no interaction with anyone unless it's is initiated by me!!

Later on in the evening, when she could very easily have dressed for bed and spent time in a comfortable chair in her bedroom with her feet up and where she could fall asleep and not be disturbed...she insisted on coming out to the living room where I was working on an HTML project on the computer and she nattered on about MORE nothing and asked me questions about what was I doing, who was I "talking to," did any of my friends ask how she was doing...yes, everything comes back to whether or not anyone is interested in HER.

At one point she came to sit on a barstool that was set next to the table where I was working.  As it so happened, I was working on typing out THIS journal entry so I minimized the screen and started checking out other browser tabs I had open.  She asked what I was doing and I responded "just surfing the web, Mom".

She said, "No, what were you doing when I first sat down?" 

"I was blogging."

"What were you blogging about?"

"It's just my journal, my counselor recommended it."

"So what where you writing in your journal?"

"Mom, it's my diary, it's private."

"God, you can be such a bitch!"

And that my friends, is the story of my life these days.  We seem to constantly be at odds with each other and what's really scary is that I find myself acting and reacting exactly like her, more and more often.  What I don't know is if it's "learned behavior" having grown up with these behaviors coming from her all my life, and so I react to her behavior in a mirror-like fashion.  Or am I really a narcissist with a martyr complex and I'm just as bad as she is??  These are some of the things that I'm hoping a counselor or psychiatrist can help me get sorted out and then help me develop the tools to either modify my own behavior (if I truly am the source of the problem) or learn to cope with Mom's behavior since at this late stage of her life, it's very doubtful that she can change.

Wish me luck folks!!
Actually - how do I deal with myself when everything about how I'm feeling right this very minute points to the fact that I suffer from the same complexes and mental illness that I want to label my mother with?

We've just had an argument and subsequent discussion and now I want to wail and go off the deep end with leaving her behind and never doing anything for her ever again.  I want to punish her and I want to harm myself to drive the message home with her even deeper...and now that that flash-split-second of anger and frustration have passed, I have to say that I don't literally want to kill myself but I would love for her to feel bad if something did happen to me.  Who even thinks that way?  Does that mean I am truly mentally ill?  And why now?  At age 55?  Though I did have these same tendencies when I was in my 20s and 30s, I cannot deny it.

Thank goodness I'm going to see a doctor on Saturday, maybe I can get in quickly with a counselor or psychiatrist and begin figuring out why my emotions are so twisted up right now.  Although I think I've just had another "aha moment".  My mother and I talked about how it's always been like this between, the way we communicate and that our relationship has always been very adversarial.  I have what I perceive to be several very valid reasons that I will be discussing with the counselor/psyciatrist but in the meantime....

In the past, when she's been hospitalized or needed help after some medical procedure, SHE's been the one that wants up and around and back on her feet, living independently as soon as possible.  So there's always been a goal or some sort of a game plan with a somewhat specific date attached.  This time, she's given up.  She specifically refuses to exercise or stretch or do anything physical that "might" increase her strength or endurance.  And she states emphatically that she's 76 years old and doesn't need to exercise or make a recovery plan.  She's just going to "let it happen".  In my mind, that sounds a lot like she plans to sit in her recliner at my house for the rest of her life.  She's told me that she thinks she'll live to be 90 years old.  I'm 55 now....I'm have visions (more like nightmares) of everything being exactly like this, of me feeling exactly this way, for the next 15 years!!!

All I know is that I need to get my own head straight so that I can either figure out a way to deal with this "new Mom," or to fortify myself that kicking her to the curb (i.e. helping her get into assisted living or a nursing home) is the right thing to do.

Getting ready for the big trip....

Just in case anyone is actually reading this mess....

Today is the day that we drive Mama Bat back to her hometown so that she can hopefully get checked out and released by the specialists who took care of her in the hospital back in July.  It's an 8-9 hour drive so it will take most of the day and since I don't think Mama Bat will be ready to hit the road much before noon, it will be very late before we get there and I likely won't be able to do any journaling tonight.  Hence today's early morning note.

I've just been downstairs and it's already going to be a bad day.  If you'd like to know about the "internal loop of hell" that I am in, here is an example.  I helped her up and to go to the bathroom.  I made her a fresh cup of coffee.  In the middle of all of this we chatted about how much packing we both had to do and when did we want to get on the road.  She said, she still needed to pack but it wouldn't take long and that she wanted to get on the road as soon as possible.  So I brought her cup of coffee into her room, and I had mine in my hand, and I turned to leave the room.  She said to me, " There's a chair right there, it's not very comfortable but..."  I turned and said, "We just discussed getting packed and on the road soon, and I still need a shower before we go."  Her response?  "I know, Wendy, I know, you don't have time for your mother, just get out!"

Now I know, I could have just sat down for a few minutes to chat with her but what you have to understand is that it's never "just a few minutes," it's always hours that she wants.  She uses "chatting" to avoid doing the things she doesn't want to face or do...like getting herself out of her chair to pack up her clothes. My sitting there would have led to either two things, her yammering on for a couple of hours about what was going on on Fox News, or she would have asked for a string of "little favors"....i.e. could you reach those sweatpants for me and put them into the basket?  Where's my underwear, I need about half a dozen pair? etc....until "I" had done all of her packing for her.  And at any moment that I stood up to leave the room??  Her reaction about my not having or taking the time to spend with her would have been the same.

And how do I know this?  Because it's been this way for about the last eight years only her reaction has been getting nastier and nastier over the years.  And it's been particularly bad towards me with this last bout of illness.  I don't know what's changed in her brain but she's VERY unfocused (most of the time we can make light of this issue) and VERY forgetful (to the point of moment to moment forgetfulness) and she's gotten PARTICULARLY nasty in her attitude and comments.  I wish that I could believe that it might get better but I spent five years working in nursing homes when I first got out of high school and I watched many a negative patient get progressively worse with age and deterioration and I expect that is where my Mom is headed.

What I need to do right now is figure out how to equip myself with the right tools for me to cope with it all so that I don't bottle everything up until I want to stop living in order to make it go away.  This journal is a part of that and I appreciate having the ability to come to this place and pour out my thoughts and emotions.  And I appreciate anyone who is reading and has come along on this journey with me.  Taking Mama Bat to her hometown may end up taking up a lot of the time that I might come online to journal so please don't become worried if I miss a day or two along the way.  Right now the plan is to return home on Friday so you should hear from me late Friday night or early Saturday morning at the very latest, though I do hope to find time in the middle of all of this.  THANKS!!
  I had to drive down to work today because we were having a peer exchange that I was taking part in.  I was actually stressed out and woke up about 1:30 in the morning and couldn't go back to sleep.  I ended up mislaying my wallet and searching for it caused me to leave for work late and I ended up arriving a half hour later than planned.  That had no effect on the peer exchange but caused me to have to stay later at the end of the day and I ran into traffic on the way home.  Ending up in slowdowns gave my brain time to think and I realized that I was dreading coming home.  That I was dreading the trip with my mother tomorrow and I started to feel like I was drowning again.  I wanted to sooooooo badly to swing by the liquor store and pick up a bottle.

I know that alcohol only exacerbates the depression but getting mind-numbingly drunk also numbs the morass of negative thoughts and feelings....or at least that's the way it feels when those first couple of drinks start singing along in my blood.

But I've promised to seek professional help and I know that staying off the alcohol is going to be a key component to any success that I might have with licking this problem.  So I drove straight home, did not pass go, did not collect $100...OR....a bottle of gin!!!  I've made it 8 entire days and I don't want to have to reset this baby again:

Doing better today

Things are going better overall today, even Mama Bat is more coorperative than she has been the past few weeks.  It could also be because I sat in the room with her, with the lights out, while she nattered away about nothing substantial for millionth time that I head those stories.  But hey, what's 3 hours and 20 minutes of my time this morning, no big deal right?? But I will go absolutely insane if I have to do that EVERY FREAKING DAY!!

She's been sleeping these last few hours so I've been able to get things done around the house but when do I get time for me??  The things I'm doing are washing her dishes, doing her laundry, fixing her something to eat.  When am I supposed to get my laundry done so that I can have clean clothes to go to work in tomorrow.  I'm not even hungry anymore, I spend so much time making sure she's fed.  I could really care less at the moment.  No, wait, I said it was a better day today, right??  It actually is because Mama Bat is happy and that's what really matters.  When she's happy, she's not deriding me, complaining that she wishes I hadn't given up on keeping my weight off, telling me how to feel and what to think.  So I guess it is a better day, I'm not having to hear all of those "negatives" about me anyway!!  Oops, there she's calling to me.  Let's see how many hours I have to sit in that hard beach-wood dining room chair this afternoon.

What the everloving FUCK?!?!

Okay - started getting into it with my mother, the entire catalyst for my dark feelings and self-loathing, and when I tried to explain what was going on with me, she had the audacity to tell me, "Your problem is that you care too much."  WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK?!?  What does that even mean...to care too much for your mother??  She said maybe she should just stay in West Virginia when I take her back next week for her post-hospitalization appointments.  I'm fine with that, except she can't even get herself up from a chair by herself.  The only way she could stay in West Virginia is if she arranged for a home-nurse to come stay with her.  But maybe I shouldn't care so much and just let her be on her own and make her own arrangements for in-home care.  Maybe I should "care less" and just catch the train home on Fri/Sat and leave her to fend for herself....she is after all, a 75 year old woman, perfectly capable of making her own decisions and taking care of herself...even if she can't wipe her own backside!!  Yes, I'm angry....and soon I will be sad....and soon I will be suicidal because I feel guilty....but hey, what the hell...

Okay, so I left this post sitting on my desktop and now I'm back...no, I promise not to harm myself but I'm still depressed and angry that she should care so little about my feelings....that she belittle me so and tell me that I'm not worthy of her attention.   It really is no wonder that with 55 years of this sort of motherly "care and nurturing" that I have the mental stresses and suicidal tendencies that I do!!!  UGH!!

I promise anyone who might be reading this journal today, I will not harm myself tonight!!!  I WILL live to blog another day!!  If only to spite my mother!!

Day 4:

I always put my thoughts down in a word document before posting them to the blog, just so I can edit and rethink things. And as such, I was able to post Day 3 early this morning since my personal laptop decided to bite the dust last night. My mother bought herself a new HP not long ago and she really hates it and has offered it to me several times, looks I’ll need to take her up on that offer. And that segues very nicely into today’s post.

I recently changed offices in the agency I work for so that I could try and move back into a house I invested in over 12 years ago and have never been able to sell during the years when I chose to work in other parts of the country. The financial burden has been getting to be such that it seemed to make sense to move back into the house. I accepted the new job knowing full well that it was approx. 150 miles away from the house, I thought if I could just commit to commuting for one year, the money saved on not renting a place down there would net me some very tangible gains. Alas, the commute was too much time with wear and tear on my body and frame of mind, as well as too much cost in gasoline and wear and tear on my car. I discovered I could rent rooms though Airbnb at a rate that would much less than renting an apartment outright so I thought to work four days in the office with teleworking on the fifth day from home.

I was in the middle of my first week of doing this when my Mother fell ill to an infection from an outpatient procedure she had done on her pacemaker that developed into septicemia and a bacterial infection in her blood stream. She went into the hospital on June 28th and was released to a physical therapy rehab center on July 9th. During that time, I was off work and had my own life on hold in order to be there by her side.

During her two weeks in the rehab center, they keep the patients down in the “gymnasium” for 3-4 hours in the morning and another 3-4 hours in the afternoon and family is not allowed down there to distract them. They are usually exhausted by dinner time and in bed very early. So Mom and I made the decision that I would go back down to the city where I work and would come back on Fridays to spend the weekend with her. So I drove 450 miles to the house on Sunday to pack a bag for the following week. I got up at 3:30am to shower and leave the house by 5am to drive 150 miles to work. I worked 9-10 hour days for four days, leaving work at 4:30pm on Thursday to drive 380 miles to Mom. Then turned around and did it all again the following week.

I sprang her from the rehab facility on July 22nd and brought her home to the house. She was still very weak and needed assistance for a lot of things. There were daily IV anti-biotic treatments that required a trip to a nearby hospital (we’re still doing those by the way, the last one is tomorrow). The Baby Bro and I managed to work out a schedule so that I could return to the office to work four days a week but I take over for him as soon as I get home on Thursday evenings, and then I’m at it with Mom through the entirety of the weekend until 3:30 on Monday morning when the alarm goes off again.

I explain all this just so that you can understand the physical and mental stress that I’ve been under since the end of June. Then there’s the emotional stress – actually it’s the emotional blackmail component of living with my Mother full time. She absolutely refuses to do any of her exercises or to try and build her strength back up. Because of her lack of activity, the lymphedema in her lower legs has them swelled to the size of stovepipes. She’s not able to keep her personal hygiene up due to chronic diarrhea from the IV antibiotics, but rather than allow the Baby Bro to assist her to keep clean, she “does the best she can until my daughter gets home.”   It was that way in the hospital too, she’d put off getting up to the commode or the toilet until I got there because she didn’t want anyone else to have to clean her bottom. That also meant that she often waited so long that she had an accident while trying to make the transfer to the commode or the walk to the toilet….which I would have to clean up because she wouldn’t let the nurses or aides touch her. I know with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY, the first words I will hear the moment I walk through the door tonight will be, “Wendy? Could you come here for a minute?” That’s the code for, “I’ve had an accident and I need you to help me get cleaned up.”

It’s not that I begrudge helping my mother, it’s just that she could be stronger and of more help to herself except she FLAT OUT refuses. I guess I could have more sympathy for her if I could see that she was trying and was physically unable to do things for herself. But it’s funny you see, aside from her “keeping clean,” she does everything else for herself when the Baby Bro is on his own. She gets up and makes herself tea and toast for breakfast, she manages (with small breaks) to get her laundry to back room to wash and dry and fold her clothes, all kinds of things that she feels, “Your brother shouldn’t have to do that.” But when I get home, it’s “I can’t, I can’t breathe, I’m not strong enough, I can’t stand up.”

And when she senses that I’m frustrated and exasperated, she starts crying and says things like, “Just put me in a nursing home, I’ll be dead in a few months!” And yet, if I get to the end of my rope and start crying myself because I don’t know what else to do to make her happy, she yells, “GET A GRIP!!!”

I could go on and on because I’ve not even touched on how she feels about my friends and what activities that I find satisfying and enjoyable. She thinks I should be her mini-me and doesn’t understand that we are total polar opposites and that I don’t enjoy spending hours upon hours, sitting in a dark room watching Fox News and laughing at Trump’s racist, misogynistic jokes and comments. But I will save some of that for another post.

I will admit that I feel overwhelmed by it all. I’m supposed to love and WANT to take care of my mother but she makes it so difficult, and so I feel soooooooo guilty. And then I bottle up all my feelings so that I can say and do the right things so that she doesn’t go off the deep end herself, so that I can keep her entertained and happy. But it all makes me so very UNhappy, I feel as though I’m actually drowning, unable to take a breath. Right now, if THIS is what “living” feels like, I’d rather not live anymore.

No one need worry, just getting all of these feelings out of my system really does help immensely so I am not in any imminent danger of doing myself in. Though I’m not looking forward to returning to my house tonight to take over the “Mom Duties” and the Baby Bro and I have nicknamed them, it is my turn and I will do my duty. Let’s hope that things get better with Mom coming off the antibiotics. Wish me luck folks!!