LIFE AS I KNOW IT…
Just like everyone else, I am adjusting to the ‘new normal’ in this COVID-19 world. It’s interesting. And heartbreaking. And scary. And exhausting.
There are millions of people providing their insight and fears and ideas during this time. So, I’m not going there. Honestly – I’m sick and tired of the whole darned thing. I don’t even watch television much these days because that is all we see and hear. It’s constant, never-ending. It is starting to feel like the movie “Groundhog Day”.
During this COVID issue – I’ve noticed that people, including myself, are fumbling to recall what day it is or ‘did I do that?’ as everything seems to have run together. Our minds don’t seem to be as sharp and clear as normal. I’m assuming it is due to the sudden shift in going from busy, hectic lifestyles to a near dead-stop in everything we do. It has messed us up.
On top of the weirdness of this – I am dealing with an aging parent who is starting to show signs of…dementia possibly? I say that questioningly because we do not have a definitive answer yet. We take him to a specialist in late June so they can run tests and see what’s up.
What I can say is that this – on top of the world crisis – has finally taken its toll on me. I am physically, mentally and emotional drained. I feel myself shutting down. I know my body well enough to recognize it and have determined that I must make some changes very soon in order to survive.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts – you know I deal with Fibro-fog. I pretty much had my Fibromyalgia and Fibro-fog under control. Until just recently…so that certainly isn’t helping matters! I know it has come back with a vengeance due to stress – so it’s back to the drawing board.
As I’m writing this, I do not have access to my previous posts – so forgive me if I’ve posted this part before. About 2 years ago – my dad (who is 82 years old now) was starting to shows signs that he needed to make some changes. His country home was just too much for him to handle. He was hoarding. He wasn’t keeping things up, etc. So, through much discussion, we convinced him to move in with me as I was purchasing a new home in town. The very day I signed on the house – he changes his mind and doesn’t want to move into town.
So, we agreed that he would at least move into my smaller home that I have out in the country. Within 3-4 months, of his moving – he started showing signs of having a stroke. I took him to the ER. Long story short – they determined that he did not have a stroke and probably had issues with his prostate – which in turn caused his bladder to not drain properly and was causing infection, etc.
This led to months of back and forth trips to the hospital and doctors, etc. He came near dying. Ultimately, he was instructed by doctors that he could no longer live by himself. So, we moved him in with me. Through time, we got him back on his feet and he has been able to continue mowing lawns (his way of staying busy and active) for a few people. He still goes out to his old house and putters around.
It has been a long and often times trying ordeal. Learning to take charge and be the parent to my parent. THAT is hard! People often have plenty of advice and comments on how they would handle my situation but I don’t believe they understand. Maybe only people who have gone through this can understand. Or maybe it is my upbringing – what I do know is that this is extremely tiring and frustrating and lonely.
I was raised to do as you are told and not to question or talk back. Don’t get me wrong – it was not an overly strict household – but I definitely knew that we were always to show respect and honor to others, especially elders. So to now have to treat my dad like he is a little kid – is the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m doing it. Out of necessity. But it’s hard.
So, fast forward to this current period of time. For 3 or 4 months now, my dad will be fine some times and other times you wonder what is going on with him. Some days he is full of energy, funny and busy puttering around with his mowers, etc. Other days he is stumbling in and barely able to get from point A to point B. If you didn’t know better, you would think he was drunk (but he doesn’t drink). On multiple occasions he has mentioned ‘waking up’ out in the vehicle in a store parking lot or something similar.
About two weeks ago, he came in and was attempting to carry on a conversation with us – but was only spitting out random syllables – no complete words. Again – I’m thinking stroke. About the time I am getting up to call an ambulance – he shifts and starts speaking clear as ever. So I called his doctor and get him in the following day. They run tests. Don’t really find anything other than low in B vitamin. So they determine that he should probably go and be seen by a specialist to determine if we have early symptoms of dementia. That appointment is scheduled for late June.
In the meantime, a week ago, dad comes home and stands in the doorway of the kitchen just visiting with me as I prepare supper for the family. We eventually migrate to the living room. Everything was going good.
Then the doorbell rings. I get up, go to the door and have 2 police officers stating they are looking for the driver of that vehicle out front. I explain it is my dad’s and they ask to speak with him. I invite them in and lead them to my dad. They explain that they had a report that he drove into a work zone of a road crew smashing several of their orange cones, breaking a rake and nearly hitting two guys. They said that had he hit one of them they would be arresting him for aggravated assault – but since that didn’t happen, they were there to give him a strong warning to be more careful. He said he was sure that he went around the cones and sure didn’t know how that could be, etc.
They left and Dad sits there and goes over and over how he couldn’t believe how that happened. I told him that confirms what we’ve been trying to tell him for some time – and that is that we do not believe he should be driving anymore. Or at least until we find out what the issue is – since he keeps “blacking out” and not remembering periods of time. Then, the doorbell rings again.
This time, it is one of the guys from the road crew. Thankfully, he is kind and said he just wanted to check on my dad and to let me know that in reality he actually did hit two of workers. He said they were able to jump out of his way so that they were just sideswiped. They just didn’t want the officers to arrest him as he had an elderly parent and knows how tough it is. After apologies and thanking God they were okay – he left.
Again, I sat down to talk to my Dad. We had finally come to the conclusion together that he needed to stop driving – at least until we find out what’s wrong. We discussed hiring someone to take him various places during the day so he doesn’t get bored. He has a strong belief that when you stop being active, you die. So he has never stopped going and doing.
About that time, my “husfriend” walked through the door after a long day at work. And it was if someone had flipped the light switch. My dad did not recall anything we had just discussed. He did not remember the visit from the road crew worker. He did not remember the police officers. And he did not see any road work being done in the neighborhood – so nothing happened…..according to him.
For the next 4 hours – we spent it listening to him recite every stop he made that day, which roads he took and why and how that simply could not have happened. Over and over again. Over and over.
Early the following day, Dad took off while I was in the restroom. He comes back home sometime in mid-afternoon. He starts in again about how he there was no road work being done. I explain that there has been work in the neighborhood for weeks. He counters with he did not see anything. I counter with how come he told the officers he made sure to ‘go around the cones carefully’ if there were no work zones. He hesitates. Then says he doesn’t remember any police coming to talk to him. You get the picture. Over and over – the same denial. Over and over I try to remind him of what took place and to explain that it makes no sense that out of everyone in the neighborhood – they would pick him out to report to police for no good reason. Ultimately, I pulled out our security system videos to show him the visitors coming to the house.
Now, many people from the outside looking in would say ‘Why don’t you take his keys away from him?” – and this is where I’m at:
1) When he couldn’t read the numbers at the DMV during his license renewal, I just knew they were not going to give him a license. That is one thing about my dad – he will follow the law, so if he had no license he would not drive. However, after multiple failed attempts, the lady says that there are 16 numbers in the list and she needs him to get at least 4 of them correct. So he finally does by stating random numbers. She passes him.
2) In order to have a judge revoke his license – he must have had ‘multiple offenses’ – which he does not have at this time.
3) He sleeps with his clothes on and his keys are in his jeans pocket. No way to get them unless I get physical with him and I have not gotten to that point yet.
I feel like I’m losing my marbles! He is a hoarder – and so I have to keep an eye on what he ‘sneaks’ into the house. Many times it is food that he then forgets and allows to rot and mold in his room. He is often like a little kid trying to get away with things. He will fib to you about the silliest things. And let me tell you – that is something that was never tolerated in my family growing up.
Lying was simply unacceptable. Honesty and integrity have always been what we value most. So, as you can imagine, this has become quite the lesson for me in patience and understanding!
My daughter tells me that I need a break and that I should take a vacation. That sounds SO good about now! But, to be honest, I believe the stress of worrying about my dad and worrying about the condition of my home if I left him there – I wouldn’t actually get any stress-relief.
Last year, we did take a vacation. I kept getting notifications on my phone from my home security system that the garage door was open. It was during a severe storm too. I did some checking and found that my neighbor came over and told my dad that they closed the overhead door for him because it had been open all night. When I called him about it – he denied that any of that happened. What do you do with that!?
Maybe I’m wrong, but I usually choose not to fight with him. And most of the time, I choose not to show him my proof that he is either lying or not remembering what is taking place. I don’t want to humiliate him. Except lately – I’ve been showing him as it is the only way to get him to stop going on and on about the same darned thing.
Well, I’ve vented and whined all that I allow myself for one day. Time to pull up my big-girl panties and carry on.
Hopefully, my next post will be on a more positive note. Ya’ll take care…and stay safe in this chaotic world!