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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!!