It May Not Be Senility After All

I find I have difficulty sometimes pulling together my thoughts about a subject I want to write about – I now realize there is a reason for what is happening.  It turns out there are things doctors didn’t tell me when I was diagnosed in 1970 – whether they knew them or not.  They didn’t  say I would have brain fog, having trouble remembering things I heard 2 seconds ago.  I thought I was slowly losing my ability to remember and would go downhill as I continued to get older.  Maybe that is why my husband thinks there something wrong with me because I don’t her what he just said.  Though he tends to say in another room with the water running or the tv is on.   Probably a bit of both.  Sometimes it is hard to concentrate on things, upsetting when someone tells me their name and I promptly forget it.  So how much is the illness and how much are due to meds?  Meds are a subject by themselves – I’ll save that for another post.

There is the classic one of going into another room and forgetting why I went there, sometimes going back to where I thought of it helps.   As I am older, people tend to say it’s a Senior moment”.  I choose tot see it differently as a result of comment someone made a few years back.  I was talking to her and suddenly couldn’t remember what I was going to say – she said it was a “giraffe moment”.  I thought, okay – by why a giraffe?  She explained that she people think a giraffe has the brain  the size of a gold fish.  When you throw something on the ground for the giraffe to eat, she goes down for it.  But halfway down, she forgets and lifts her head – therefore, not getting anything to eat.

Now I know giraffe are smart and that long neck can be lethal, so in some ways it’s an insult to giraffe.  But I would rather have a giraffe moment than a senior moment – yes, I know it is 6 of one and half a dozen of another.  A senior moment sounds as if I am getting old and  feeble – no way is that true.  I decided to make a button for myself to wear on my coat:

I asked a friend to create a giraffe for me.  I had seen one for a movie, but it had such a crazy expression – I asked her to put a sweet expression on the face and make the tail a question mark.  The button is round and it I put “RELAX, it’s a giraffe moment”.  I also put my name and number on the back and my website on the front – a bit of fun and some shameless self promotion.

After reading some articles on themighty.com, I realized the things I had been thinking and experiencing were not weird, merely par for the course.  The articles have also helped me to understand some of things as a result of the Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosis that no one tells you.  One is grief – for the loss of the life I thought I would have had; the continuing physical limitations,  not being able to do things with my husband.  The guilt for having a chronic illness and feeling I am a burden to him.  All the places I could have gone with him and could’t, the constant pain, not being able to tell him something specific he can do to make progress and difference.  For not knowing what to do for myself – how can I feel what he can do when I don’t know what I need?

I feel guilt for all the worry he has about me, wondering if I have fallen and hurt myself while he wasn’t here.  Unfortunately that has happened more than once.  Feeling so awkward and clumsy rather than feeling graceful and moving with ease.  I know I have been cranky and bitchy at times, not feeling as if I am not a nice person to be around.  This man I married has been with me since the beginning – diagnosed a year and half we were married.  He did not leave me but has been so supportive and loving to me.  Some spouses leave because they didn’t sign up for it – none of us with the chronic illness remembers signing up either.

Depression is a whole other subject.  I realize it is a symptom of RA, snow I wonder what the difference is between symptom depression and “depression depression”.  I may not be able to describe it very well, but how different is symptom depression from the depression as a result of dealing with all this?   Many times I have felt as if I can’t deal with any more, I want my life without pain back.

It took by surprise, I was having shoulder pain shortly after we came back to the States from Australia.  Suddenly the doctor told me I had RA.  I had no idea what it was and it took a while to sink in.  I wonder if it was more a decade or so before I “got it”.  Or did I?  I don’t really know.  I know I have seen my body as an adversary for a long time – only recently have I begun to see her as my partner.  I realize how much I have been able to experience because of my physical body.  This is new because I tended to think of her as a hindrance and obstacle to doing things I wanted to do.  I have begun to shift my thought patterns to more positive ones – still it doesn’t mean I don’t get  angry or upset about the whole situation.  I am still working on understanding how Acceptance really feels – that “I know that I know” knowing deep inside.

Most people read all they can about what their illness is and all about it.  I have read some but I wasn’t really ready to do that.  I didn’t want to know what “could” happen and scare myself.  I decided to take it as it came and deal with one thing at a time.  I also didn’t know I had a choice to deal with or not deal with it.  I knew I had to do something, so I sought treatment.  Not the easiest path but not doing anything is even worse.

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How Do I See Each Day?

When I wake up in the morning, my first thought is how my body is feeling.  I could have had a really good yesterday, but sometimes I wake up around 3 or so and felt like s**t, then when I get up around 7, I doing fine.  Sometimes I have had a really painful day and feel 90 years old; then the following day it is either fine or a lot better.  Do I see it as a lousy day, or just another day with challenges and gifts if I have a positive outlook?

Then I look outside and check what the weather is.  I don’t particularly believe the weather forecast, I see what it is actually doing at that moment.  One thing about living in the Pacific Northwest is the sun doesn’t always stay shiny all day.  Many times it comes and goes, so I have learned to enjoy it when it comes.   A rainy, cloudy or cool day is not a “lousy day”, it has it’s own way of being interesting.  Snow is a definite “stay at home” day – I have been stuck in the middle of the hill in snow as well as the top of the hill – do not want to repeat that again.

I am ot a fan of extremes of hot or cold; heat, humidity and haze; or  very uncomfortable (to me) weather Nature decides will be part of the day.  Since it can be unpredictable ( as RA is) I have decided to take it as it comes and not get bent out of shape because it isn’t ideal.  Whatever the weather is, it also have gifts for me if I am smart enough to focus on them rather whether I am uncomfortable.

I woke up early in the morning , about 3 a.m. this morning and had sudden pain in my side along with hunger pangs.  I did get up to have something to eat, then went back to bed and did something I haven’t done before – I decided to embrace that sharp pain.  Most often I want to get rid of it as fast as I can, plus see if I can figure out what caused it.  Was it something I was thinking and/or feeling?  It was sudden, so I wondered how my thoughts may have triggered it.  I was then able to go back to sleep and it wasn’t there when I got up this morning.

I have noticed I have changed the way I look at things – in the morning and again at night I thank Spirit for all the gifts and blessing of the day.  They aren”t all wonderful and a joy – they can be painful and uncomfortable.  Now I have began asking “what can I learn from this?”  What is the gift?  Gifts don’t show up right away, sometimes it takes a while and time to simmer on the back burner before I have a hint of it.  It’s a good thing I have learned patience from all these years of RA.  I am not patient all the time – I do have my moments – but what I have found is things go more smoothly with patience.    Things don’t go any faster if I am angry, demanding and real bitch on wheels.  People are nicer if I’m patient, they often thank me for being patient when there are spanners in the works.  Sometimes I get an unexpected reward for my patience.  I remember one flight I took – there were delays and I watched how well the gate agents handled all the upset and impatient people.  When there was no passengers around, I went up to the desk and told the agents I noticed how well they handled everything.  They were surprised but very appreciative of my comments.  Besides, I don’t want all that negativity roaring around my body – a waste of energy and effort.

So it isn’t a pretty sunshine day, around 75 or so and clear – it is a gift and delight for me to enjoy if I choose to se it in a positive way.  I use “Enjoy the day” as my close in letters and emails.  Then again, I like to be different which can sometimes get me in trouble or blow back in my face.  I have a talent for not only putting my foot in my mouth, it is often “Move over foot, here comes the other”.  That’s because I tend to say what I am thinking – I forget to put brain into gear before engaging my mouth.  At this point, I don’t worry about it and beat myself up any more.  I usually say “That didn’t come out the way I meant”.

So for a cloudy day like today, I am enjoying it, I put a sweater on if I am a bit cold and this particular day is a day at home.  Plus my other half is getting ready to grill a steak for us, fresh corn – how can I lose when he is cooking.

Wants, Needs, Desires – What is the Difference?

There are certain places I go that give me a bad case of the “I want . . .”.   I also find myself admiring something and want to have it – then I realize I have to decide where it would go in the house and how much dusting it requires.  At this point in my life I am paring down, not accumulating.

Usually the “want” has to do with a situation that requires concentration and effort.  I “want” someone to take care of it all for me because I don’t understand it.  Then I realize I “need” to know the details and what has to be done – if I have someone do it all for me, I feel a bit helpless because I don’t understand it.  Yes, I want things to be easy and flow well, but I also know I need to know how to do something, what my contribution has been and where am I part of the solution.  It’s more important for me to know and understand the circumstance and what it takes to solve it than to have it all easy.  No one learns as well when it all goes smoothly – the rough patches are the real teacher.

We have seen this particular chart below: Maslow’s levels of need.

This chart is a way of looking at practical, real life things.

This is down to earth living rather than some esoteric or philosophical theory.  As it’s been said very well, it’s “where the rubber meets the road”.  The needs are the basics, things to keep us alive and sheltered.  The wants are what we decide we want and strive to achieve them.  What seems to be missing the last few years is savoring the anticipation of achieving that goal – it means so much more when we have to work for it.  Now it seems the world revolves on having right now without work or anticipation.  Have you noticed when someone buys a new car, they wash it and take special care of it for a short time.  Then it is parked in the street rather than garaged and the paint work starts to fade from always being in the weather.  What happened to all that pride and enthusiasm when the car was brand new?  It will still be around while the payments are made each month.

Let’s put a definition to each term and see where it  affects us as humans

Definition of Needs

By the term needs, we mean those requirements which are extremely necessary for a human being to live a healthy life. They are personal, psychological, cultural, social, etc that are important for an organism to survive.

In ancient times the three basic needs of the man are food, clothing and shelter but with the passage of time, education and healthcare also became integral, as they improve the quality of life. They are a person’s first priority as they are the things, that they keep us healthy and safe. Therefore, if needs are not satisfied in time, it may result in illness, inability in functioning properly or even death.

Definition of Wants

In economics, wants are defined as something that a person would like to possess, either immediately or at a later time. Simply put, wants are the desires that cause business activities to produce such products and services that are demanded by the economy. They are optional, i.e. an individual is going to survive, even if not satisfied. Further, wants may vary from person to person and time to time.

We all know that human wants are unlimited while the means to satisfy those wants are limited. Hence, all the wants of an individual cannot be met and they must seek for alternatives.

Definition of Desires

Desire, craving, longing, yearning suggest feelings that impel one to the attainment or possession of something. Desire is a strong feeling, worthy or unworthy, that impels to the attainment or possession of something that is (in reality or imagination) within reach: a desire for success. Craving implies a deep and imperative wish for something, based on a sense of need and hunger: a craving for food, companionship. A longing is an intense wish, generally repeated or enduring, for something that is at the moment beyond reach but may be attainable at some future time: a longing to visit Europe. Yearning suggests persistent, uneasy, and sometimes wistful or tender longing: a yearning for one’s native land.
Now there are definitions of each terms, does that help define the difference?  Maybe the story of Adam and Eve might make it more clear.  God created Adam and proved for his needs to sustain life and keep him strong and healthy.  Except he was lonely, so God created Eve as his companion.  They had all they needed in the Garden of Eden, but they weren’t satisfied – the rule about not eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree was always on their minds.  The Tree of Life had everything they needed to sustain them, but they had to know about the forbidden fruit – if they knew about good and evil, they would be on God’s level.  Desire overcame their common sense and we all know what happened.

Let’s face it, we can find reasons that what we want  is really a need – do we know we kidding ourselves with that balderdash?Another way of looking at things, situations, etc. in terms of want and need.

What questions will help you to see the difference between want and need?  Might be a good idea to form some questions that apply to you.  We are definitely the product of Madison Ave and the Consume  messages we are bombarded with every minute of the day.  Messages that tell us we will be prettier, smarter, slimmer, less wrinkles, etc. using their products.    This is where it is so very important to know yourself through and through.  So much of ads is about the surface, but it is the inside that is the most important because it is everlasting.  You don’t have to keep buying more to keep up the facade, the true you is amazing.

Trust Your Instincts

I’ve been having trouble with my iMac – poor thing is 6 years old – in computer years it is about 20 years old.  It’s doing odd things and I spend more time watching the color wheel spin than I do working on things.  I have thought about whether to get a laptop or a desk top – they both have advantages and disadvantages.  I can carry the lap top around with me, but the only time I do that is when I go to Apple for help or repair.  When I was doing One to One – no longer available – I would take the desktop with my luggage cart – I’m a paid up member of the lunge cart brigade.  When I worked on Eddie’s newsletter, I took his laptop because it was his project.

Eddie and several others kept urging me to buy a laptop – you can do anything on that you can on a desk top, they kept saying.  I like the lap top, but I have to use the track pad all the time and my right shoulder hurts after a bit.  I find it awkward to type and it doesn’t have the long numeric keyboard my desktop has.  The sound isn’t all that great, much better on the desktop and I feel more comfortable.  I keep leaning toward the desktop and it seems everyone else leans toward the laptop.

Thursday we went over to check them out and I was blessed to have a day near my own age who knew exactly what my computer is doing – he had a 2012 as well and just bought a new desktop.

This has made me think  about so many times in my life when I allowed someone to talk me into something even though I knew the way I wanted to go was right for me.  It scares me that I am so easily swayed by people – obviously I haven’t trusted myself or my instincts.  I remember finding a new guy at the hair salon, the fellow I like as gone and they wouldn’t tell me where he had gone.  I was getting a razor cut that really worked well for me – the new guy didn’t do them and convinced me a scissor cut would do the same thing.  I was skeptical but went ahead and had a scissor cut.  No, it does NOT give the same result, no way at all.  I kicked myself for not standing up for what I wanted.

Another time was when I was doing an Ike Pono exercise – once again I didn’t listen to my gut and I was out of the boat in the sea. I was angry at Roger for a while until I was willing to admit I was furious with myself for not listening to what I knew was true.  I realized that was how I was showing up in life and I wasn’t happy with me.  I remember one time I asked the guy at the gas station to switch my wipers because the right one was doing a better job than the left.  he thought I was crazy but he finally switched them and By George, they worked exactly the way I knew they would.  Listen to that inner knowing even though everyone thinks you are nuts.

Now there is the part when I am in the middle of something and wonder what was I thinking?  My insecurity shows and I am suddenly unsure I am doing the right thing.  It usually turns out fine – sometimes not so fine.

I decided to go with my instincts and bought the desk top – I felt very comfortable with it.  The lap top was okay but I felt uncomfortable choosing that – I would have been sorry I chose it and wished I had gone with my instinct no matter what others were telling me.  I had to listen to my inner voice, even when it was counter to what other people said.

So trust your instincts and for Heaven’s sake, not wait until you are down to you last few decades.

Am I Hiding?

Have I been hiding behind RA all there years?  I have to admit, it has given me a place to hide so I have not been expected to work, to do things fully and make sure people don’t expect much from me.  Then of course, I surprise them by exceeding expectations.

I have always gotten positive feedback from people  – how brave I am, how I do so much while  dealing with RA.  I have even had people tell me I am an inspiration and heroine to them.  It’s very good to hear until my ego voice keeps chiming in with all the negatives so I am not able to fully appreciate their lovely words.

Hiding behind RA is not having to compete, even more it is pain, little flexibility, meds, fatigue medical costs, effect on my body, low self esteem, feeling powerless, dependent and helpless at times.  Is it worth it to have RA and receive this positive feedback?  It is very uncomfortable a lot of the time – but familiar.  Plus, can I be of help to others if I don’t have it any more?  Is it a requirement, without RA do I have an credibility?

I have been hiding from making a decision about what to do in life because I have been constantly told the world is a scary place.  I won’t mention where that cam from or who, only that I believed it.

After I was married, I didn’t want to have to work and RA was a great reason.  I wanted to be taken care of rather than stand on my own two feet.  One thing I have asked myself many times but so far haven’t gotten a definitive answer.  “Why Do I have RA?”  There are a variety of answers –

  • It’s Karma, payback for a former life.  If so, I hope I had one hell of a good time!
  • It’s a Life Lesson I need to learn; along with quite a few other lessons.
  • It’s been my identify for a long time.  It’s what brings me compliments, they wonder at all I do, a positive attitude – all this things that boost my self esteem.
  • Bryon Katie wrote a book called “Who Would I Be Without  My Story?” – that could be me in a nutshell.
  • It’s my way of being in control but in a very subtle way.
  • It is preparation for something coming, either in this lifetime or in a future one.
  • It could be my Life Purpose and I am doing it without knowing.
  • There is the question – why RA instead of something else?  I think about people with anorexia.  Because they feel overwhelmed and powerless in their life, the only thing they can control is their food intake.  Maybe like them, I thought the only power or control I had was my own body.  But at what cost to me and my body as well as the people around me?

The Who Would I Be question is easier to answer now.   I would be energetic, able, light, pain free, more focused on what I want to do, have more enthusiasm much more with my husband.  So then the question is “Why Do I Hold On To RA?”.  I know the answer is fear, though not sure the fact fear.  I realize having RA is familiar- though very uncomfortable and expensive – so not having it and stepping out into the world and taking a risk is very scary.  I know I tell myself and others I have a limited amount of energy, physical limitations, and don’t do things the way other people without RA can do them.  It’s a good excuse not to do things that are scary or I am unsure about; plus it means if I don’t do them, I won’t be wrong. The more I think about it, the more I realize I am afraid that if I am RA free with energy, enthusiasm and vitality, I will get in over my head and not fulfill what I promised and let people down.

It also means I have to step out and try new things, learn new skills – the fear is not being able to “get it”.  I don’t want to be back in 6th grade math class with story , not understanding  and feeling lost, scared and clueless.

Essentially I am afraid to choose and find I made a wrong decision or choice -more of that fear of being wrong.  I think that comes from high school and being told to choose a career so I could prepare for college.  The unsaid message was whatever I choose would be for the rest of my life.  I was afraid of choosing the wrong career and then being stuck with it for a life time.  No one told me people changes careers several times, that the choice isn’t set in stone, you can change your mind and choose something else.

This has not been easy to write because it is hard to admit and acknowledge how much of what is going on is my choice.  Unfortunately I never found anything that interested me – in the 60’s girls could be a secretary, teacher, nurse, stewardess – not a lot of choice.I realize I have been hiding behind RA for a long time because I am afraid of the world.  That message that the world is a scary place, so be safe and secure before venturing out.  I have not felt safe and secure, so hiding doesn’t make it any better.

Unfortunately, I sometimes feel a fraud  – I have early childhood training about speaking the truth no matter what.  Now I am grateful for the gift of integrity my parents gave all three of us daughter.  It seems to have taken several decades to finally understand and realize what a gift it is.  Sometimes I would like to cut corners, it make things easier but the training kicks in and I can’t cut corners no matter how much I want to do it.

As I look back I see how many times I knew something but allowed someone to talk me in a different direction.  It came from not trusting myself – then when it was finished, I realized I know what I was talking about after all.  So why is it I don’t trust my own instincts?  Why haven’t I stood up for my knowing?Did  I think I didn’t have enough education, experience and knowledge?  Then I felt stupid for not listening to my inner knowing and then resent the other person.

Right now I am deciding about something – I want to do one thing but several people say I should go the other way.  So why am I seesawing back and forth?  I see the advantages of both choices – I’m just leaning the other way.  When it is accomplished, I let you know the outcome.  This is not a time to be wishy washy!!!!!

 

Judgement

Judgement seems to be  rampant – judging ourselves, each other, events or experiences.  It has been there all my life, a good portion of it has been from me about me.  No likes being or feeling judged – right or wrong; good or bad.   I found a quote that said – “Everything is a non-issue until someone decides otherwise.”

We had an exercise in Ike Pono where we all sat on our chairs, closed our eyes and listened to each staff member repeat the same thing over and over.  This went on for quite a while, I found I had a lot of energy tingling up and down my arms and wondering what we would do with that energy.  It seemed as though we were there a long time doing that – it may have been 20 minutes.  When we were told to open our eyes, we noticed some were sitting on the floor, others in chairs.

Naturally we wondered what went on while our eyes were closed, so it was strange to see we weren’t all in the same place as we started.  So then we were asked what this experience was about – people though it had to do with learning a principle or lesson.  I just said I wondered what I would do with the energy I felt.  So then we all wanted to know what it was all about – the simple answer was sitting  and hearing the same words over and over.  However, when people put meaning or emotion on something, it is no longer a non-issue:  now they have put a judgement on it.

Another example is from Eckert Tolle:

Eckert Tolle says that just by observing what is happening, ego begins to lose her power.   There is a part where he writes about a woman who came to him and was so depressed and despondent, she poured out all her woes to him and he listened, free of judgement.  Then he told her something that has stuck in my mind and I have used it many times.

When the woman had come to the end of her story, he said: “At this moment, this is how you feel. There is nothing you can do about the fact that at this moment this is how you feel.  Now, instead of wanting this moment to be different from the way it is, which adds more pain to the pain that is already there, is it possible for you to completely accept this is what you feel right now?”  The woman said she wouldn’t accept it.  He then told her: “I am not asking you to do anything.  All I am asking is that you find out whether it is possible for for you to allow those feelings to be there.  In other words, if you don’t mind being unhappy, what happens to the unhappiness?  After a few minutes she realized that although she was still unhappy, there was a space around it.  It seemed to matter less.

There is no right or wrong, good or bad – that is judgment and no judgment allowed.  It doesn’t make you less of a person because this happened, sometimes it is not the WHY it happened, but the HOW you deal with it.  Falling apart in the beginning helps to release and relieve all the powerful emotions that have been triggered.  Right now you can’t fix it, the other person won’t change and beating yourself up with guilt does you no good.  Allow yourself the time to fall apart and let out whatever needs to be released.    There is plenty of time later for reflection.

It’s not easy to let myself just feel the feelings without putting a label on them: right or wrong, good or bad.  That is what we’ve been taught from the time we could understand.  It comes from parents, siblings, other family, school and just regular living in the world.  I don’t remember anyone talking about this judgement since we all do it – often without realizing it.  Ike Pono helped to to understand it and though I often forget to think in terms of not judging.  When I finally realize they are just feelings and I am willing to feel them and allow them to dissipate, I am in a better frame of mind.

I also know I have no control over anyone else and their thoughts and judgements.  I need to be in full alignment with what I know and believe no matter what anyone else may think.  As long as I am true to myself, my values and what is right for my highest good, other people’s judgement isn’t an issue.  Bold words for someone who is still a work in progress.  However, it all makes sense, just a little more simmering on the back burner for a while.  Also practicing what I now understand – sometimes that is the hardest part.

I think about the words of Christ when the people were ready to stone the prostitute – “Let he, who is without sin cast the first stone.”  I also like the one – “Don’t judge me until you have walked a mile in my moccasins.”  Whether we are judging and beating ourselves up or judging some one else, no one knows what the judged person’s life is or what he/she has to deal with every day.  It is a waste of energy that can be used in a much more positive way.

I am so tired of the cold weather and the static electricity it brings – I look as if I had put my finger in a socket some days.  So I have judged it a nuisance and an annoyance instead of allowing it to be what it is.

 

Mom, Me and dementia

This is a personal view of dementia, not medical.  I did not expect to find gifts in the experience, or maybe they weren’t what I thought I would find.  If you see the way I spell dementia, it is with a small d.  A capital d gives it too much importance.  It has been an interesting and challenging journey with no road map.

In the beginning I didn’t know what was going on, it seemed being with Mom was more frustrating than usual.  I was feeling 5 years old again since my husband and I moved to live in the house where I grew up.  We didn’t plan to live with Mom, just a temporary stop until we found somewhere for us to live.  We stayed because she was glad to have us here after being alone – my Dad had died 2 years earlier.

The doctor diagnosed her with dementia, but I didn’t really know what it was.  Twice she  messed up her checkbook and asked Eddie to straighten it out for her.  Then there was an overdue notice for the property tax and a penalty.  So we checked and found she had tucked mail into the top drawer of the buffet.  Then when it was beginning to be obvious what was happening, we found out she had stopped paying her long term care insurance.  As time went on, I began to see how it was a problem.  Moving her to an adult family home required money and after her bank account was down to $2000, she was eligible for Medicaid.  Long term care insurance would have helped so much with expenses.

As I look back, I remember how overwhelmed I was, no clue what to do.  I began to see the childhood programs had been ruling my life without knowing it.  If I had continued with those programs, Mom would not have had the good care she did have.  Oh those childhood programs!  What a gift from dementia to recognize them, they were no longer hidden, running in the background.  Now in my face.

Don’t ask for help Program

Don’t ask for help, don’t bother or burden people.  That revelation made me realize I had been dealing with RA that way.  If someone asked to help me do something, I would thank them and tell them I need to do as much for myself as I can.  I didn’t want to be impolite and I definitely needed to feel and be as independent as I could.

I talked to my older sister about that program.  Oh, she knew exactly what I was saying.  Her response was “I have 3 words for you, “Ditch it girl!”.  I had to reach out to the Alzheimer Association or I would have gone crazy.  They were so helpful and by then, I knew I was way over my head and needed help.

I found a caregiver’s support group that helped so much – I didn’t have to explain myself because they knew what I was saying.  The first few months I was in tears a lot of the time.  I had to stay with my Mom because she couldn’t be left alone.  Yes, I resented it, but couldn’t do anything about it.  As I was getting to this point, I mentioned it at my networking breakfast club and learned how many had gone through it or was going through it at that moment.  Some people knew, but one in particular said he hadn’t known it is was as bad as it was.

I also saw all the negativity from her, whether it was more as she progressed or not, I don’t know.  I decided I wasn’t going to buy into it any more.  I found a woman who is a wonderful caregiver and that meant I had 4 hours to myself.

Then, as I was getting all the tax materials together, I tripped over my Mom – she would follow me all around.  I broke my cardinal rule  “Always watch where you are stepping”.  Big mistake.

I broke my hip and landed in the hospital and then 8 weeks of rehab.  I know I was thinking I needed a break, but this wasn’t what I had in mind – it was more on the lines of a nice cruise or 2 weeks at a spa.  However, it was a break after all – for 8 weeks in rehab it was all about me.  Yes, it was very uncomfortable at times and in the beginning I needed help with every thing.  My husband was getting a taste of what it was like with Mom, he could shut himself away in the office.

I also found myself with assignments, I had Durable Power of Attorney, so I had to call and start cashing in her assets so we could use the money for her care.  One thing many people told me was “If you go back to doing what you were doing, you’ll be back here permanently.”   I was also making important decisions about someone’s life – I often wonder if it would have been easier if I had kids.   More and more I was asking for help in so many areas and I didn’t have to figure it all by myself.

My husband was a real support, he took care of Mom’s finances to make sure her bills were paid.  He was always there for me, though there came a point when it was too hard for him to visit Mom. It has amazed me how much has to be done to take care of someone.  The support group was also a big help.  I found at times, I could help others while I was being helped.

I enrolled her with Providence Eldercare in West Seattle.  I was hesitant at first because I would have to  cancel her medical insurance from Boeing – she inherited it when my Dad died.  I’m glad I did, because all her doctors, the day care and everything she needed was right there.  They provided everything for the monthly cost.

I had a hard time finding an adult family home for her, it was getting to the point it wasn’t safe for her to be here.  I felt as if I was abandoning her.  There was a lot of guilt and even when I found a great place, it was so difficult to say Yes and sign the papers.  I would visit her twice a week – it became difficult towards the end but I kept going to see her.  There came a point when she didn’t know me, but I often think I was a familiar presence.  I would visit until the time she finally let go and  was ready to leave.  The last time I saw her, she was asleep but I told her I loved her and my sisters, Eddie and I would take care of each other.