Life in progress


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My mother, my basement, and my eye – Is 2019 over yet?

So let’s start with my mum. I haven’t written an update on her for a while.

She’s still in the hospital, even though her pneumonia is cleared up. For a while there she was so lethargic and unwilling to move that the doctor told me it was likely her dementia’s progression, and that she’d never get better. So last week, on her 89th birthday in fact, we had a meeting with the hospital’s discharge planner, the head nurse from her retirement home, and myself. My mother refused to get up and walk, so it was decided that I needed to start looking for nursing homes. She wouldn’t even lift her hand to feed herself.

I explained it all to her when the meeting was over, and it was as though a switch flipped. The next day she was up walking.

It took a few days, but I convinced them to go back and reassess. Yay! I thought. She’d be able to go back and live somewhat independently! But no, now her ankle is swollen and she can’t put any weight on it. The x-ray turned up nothing, so gout, maybe? The good news is she’s more alert and less confused than I’ve seen her in a long time, probably due to not smoking for a month.

And even better, she seems to have forgotten that cigarettes exist. She hasn’t asked for one in three weeks.

Fast forward to yesterday morning, I was sitting in the living room with Alex (who was supposed to go to his dad’s this weekend but didn’t–it’ll be at least 2 months again before I have a break), when my eldest son came upstairs and said he thought a pipe had burst. There was water under his desk in his room.

When I got down there, half the basement was flooded. All the cardboard boxes on the floor and everything in them, I figured, was ruined. Turned out it wasn’t the whole basement once we got stuff moved, but the leak had been ongoing for some time. The stuff that was ruined was really bad. The good news is I think we’ve managed to plug up the hole, which is half-way down the wall in the concrete behind an electrical outlet. The bad news is mold.

Fast forward again to this morning. The windy weather made Alex decide he wouldn’t get dressed to go to school. So we did our usual dance when he’s misbehaving, him screaming at me and punching me and me ignoring him the best I can until he complies. Which he always does, eventually, and usually with minimal damage until this morning when he decided to hit me in the side of the head with his sock. It wouldn’t have hurt except he got me in the eye. My only good eye. The other one is legally blind.

So I’m off to the eye doctor today, just to make sure there’s no serious injury. The sock in question was one he’d worn before, and I think he had it on downstairs yesterday. Nothing like an infection to ruin your entire life …

Happy, happy, joy, joy.

The bright side? Alex actually went to school today on the bus, even though there’s snow. Keeping my fingers crossed we’ll finally have a full week of school, the first one this year.

 


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Balance – #JusJoJan 2019 Jot #25

It’s a hard thing to find, balance. I spend far too much time sitting on my butt, writing, editing, and canoodling on social media. Even the balance between time spent writing and promoting is a difficult one. But what I need more than anything is exercise.

So it’s nice when there are natural consequences that lead me to doing what I should be doing. Like today, for instance, I walked to the hospital to visit my mother. (I was able to go because Alex finally went to school! Yay!) It was a choice between a fifteen minute walk and fifteen minutes of shoveling my car out of the driveway. Yeah, the shoveling might have been better exercise, but I still had to walk fifteen minutes to get home as well. AND I saved $4.50 for parking.

My mother is doing a bit better, by the way. She looked better, though her breathing is still laboured. The doctor asked me if she’d ever been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), to which I replied no. But it’s not at all far-fetched that she has it, since she’s been smoking since she was 14 years old. Her 89th birthday is in three weeks. So once I get her home, it’s going to be a matter of explaining to her that if she doesn’t quit, she’s going to die. She won’t understand, and if she does understand, she won’t remember the conversation 45 seconds after we have it.

With dementia, it seems, there is no balance.

On a personal level, I put a lot of faith in balance. I’m a Taoist at heart. The yin yang symbol is all about balance. An equal amount of black and white/feminine and masculine.

Each is contained within the other.

I miss Tai Chi. Which is something that would help my mother. If I had time to get her out of the retirement home.

Most of my lack-of-balance issues come from being the one responsible for everyone else. Being a single mother and an only child in the sandwich generation ain’t easy.

Then there’s the balance between sobriety and drunkenness.

I think I need more wine tonight.


“Balance” is the prompt word for today, brought to us by JP. Thanks, JP! Click here to find her JusJoJan post for today. And say hi while you’re there!

 

It’s never too late to participate in Just Jot it January! Click the following link to find out how, and see all the other participants’ links in the comment section. It’s fun! https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/25/jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-25th/


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#JusJoJan 2018, the 12th – Aggravate

Things are going from bad to worse with my mother, and smoking is once again the culprit. For those of you who missed it, I wrote a post in November (click here for that post) about my mother’s tendency to fall and break bones when she went outside for a cigarette at the retirement residence where she lives. Before I discovered that she was falling because she was sitting on the seat of her walker and taking the brakes off before she stood up, the nurses took her smokes away from her, which necessitated that she ask for one so someone would know she was going out. She got a walker without a seat, and she got her cigarettes back. It was all fine and dandy until last week.

They caught her smoking in her room. They took her cigarettes away, and this time they’re not giving them back. She can still smoke any time she wants, she just has to get one on her way out the door. Not a big deal, right? Not if you don’t know my mother.

When she was caught, she apparently didn’t know she was doing anything wrong. The nurse that called me said she walked into my mum’s room and asked politely for her cigarettes. My mother handed them over willingly. Her senile dementia is, of course, the reason it is now a problem.

Now, she:

  1. Has forgotten that she smoked in her room.
  2. Says they’re accusing her of smoking in her room because they can smell smoke on her jacket.
  3. Says they shouldn’t have gone into her room when she wasn’t there and taken her cigarettes.
  4. Says the nurse who said she was smoking in her room is a liar.
  5. Phones me 10 times a day to ask me if I have something to do with the fact that her cigarettes are with the nurses.
  6. Phones me 10 times a day to ask me where her cigarettes are.
  7. Complains to the nurses 20 times a day that she should be able to have her cigarettes back because she doesn’t smoke in her room.
  8. Complains to the management that the nurses are lying and she wants her cigarettes back.

All this finally came to a head two days ago when the management called me, clearly aggravated, to say that when someone with dementia gets to the point that their forgetfulness causes them anxiety, it’s necessary to start considering a nursing home.

Perhaps there’s someone out there who can verify that this is a fact, perhaps they’re just getting tired of answering the same questions 20 times a day. All I know is if my mother goes into a nursing home, there will be no more smoking, and she’s only going to go downhill that much faster.

I don’t know what to do. Explaining things to her–even if she understands, which she usually doesn’t–has no lasting effect. I feel like putting her into a home is tantamount to condemning her.

Aren’t I cheerful today?

The above paragraphs of moroseness are brought to you by Just Jot it January, and in particular, prompted by the word “aggravate,” provided by Fandango! Thank you so much, Fandango! You can find Fandango’s JusJoJan post by clicking right here. Please go and say hi! To participate in the prompt, please visit this post, where you’ll find the rules and you can leave your link in the comments.


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Elder Abuse

Abuse of the elderly–seems like the definition of that would be easy. Don’t abuse them physically or verbally, don’t take advantage of them, and have patience for their failing memories. Simple, right? Apparently not.

Going back a few months, you might remember my mention of my mother not being well. She lives in a retirement home just up the street from where I live, apart from the six weeks she spent in the hospital from last June until August. She fell and broke her neck. I’m not exaggerating–she actually fractured the vertebrae at the top of her spine. It didn’t for a minute stop her from walking, but I was cautioned that if she turned her head a certain way, she might finish herself off. Since she couldn’t be trusted to keep her neck brace on, she was confined to a hospital bed.

Since then, she’s been told that when she goes out for a cigarette (because she can’t smoke inside, naturally), she has to take good care to keep her walker with her and watch where she’s going. Fast forward to last week.

She fell, yet again, this time breaking her ribs. Will she stop smoking and stay inside? Of course not. She’s been smoking since she was fourteen years old. Seventy-four years ago.

I started off by giving her cigarettes to the nursing staff, in hopes that she’d have someone to go out with. This, of course, was far beyond my better judgement to take them away altogether because of the risk of pneumonia with broken ribs. That worked for a while, until she started to complain to both myself and the staff that we were treating her like a twelve-year-old.

So, she got them back. And guess what? She’s fallen two more times, hitting her head both times.

So I’m stuck. She can’t remember from one minute to the next that going outside is a life-or-death situation. When I explain it to her, she says all right, she’ll wait for a nurse to go out with her. Less than two minutes later she’s asking why there are no cigarettes in her room. What do I do? What is the worse abuse? Denying her what is arguably the one pleasure she has in life to save her life, or letting her kill herself because she doesn’t remember?

Abuse of the elderly. It feels inevitable.


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One-Liner Wednesday – She’s at it again

Phone rings.

Me: Hello?

My mother: Hi, Linda? I can’t find your phone number.

Seriously, if I don’t laugh about it, I’ll be crying all the time.

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If you would like to participate in this prompt, feel free to use the “One-Liner Wednesday” title in your post, and if you do, you can ping back here to help your blog get more exposure. To execute a pingback, just copy the URL in the address bar on this post, and paste it somewhere in the body of your post. Your link will show up in the comments below. Please ensure that the One-Liner Wednesday you’re pinging back to is this week’s! Otherwise, no one will likely see it but me.

NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, like Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

As with Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS), if you see a pingback from someone else in my comment section, click and have a read. It’s bound to be short and sweet.

Unlike SoCS, this is not a prompt so there’s no need to stick to the same “theme.”

The rules that I’ve made for myself (but don’t always follow) for “One-Liner Wednesday” are:

1. Make it one sentence.

2. Try to make it either funny or inspirational.

3. Use our unique tag #1linerWeds.

4. Add our very cool badge to your post for extra exposure!

5. Have fun!

#1linerWeds badge by Dan Antion


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One-Liner Wednesday – Trouble

Yesterday’s conversation between my mother (who has a sense of humour and dementia) and myself:

Mum: Did you know your dad died in 1948?

Me: No, Mum, it was 1978. I was born in ’64, so if he died in ’48, he wasn’t my dad.

Mum: Oh. I’d better shut up then, before I get myself in trouble.

And we laughed, and laughed …

___________________________________________________________________________

If you would like to participate in this prompt, feel free to use the “One-Liner Wednesday” title in your post, and if you do, you can ping back here to help your blog get more exposure. To execute a pingback, just copy the URL in the address bar on this post, and paste it somewhere in the body of your post. Your link will show up in the comments below. Please ensure that the One-Liner Wednesday you’re pinging back to is this week’s! Otherwise, no one will likely see it but me.

NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, like Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

As with Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS), if you see a pingback from someone else in my comment section, click and have a read. It’s bound to be short and sweet.

Unlike SoCS, this is not a prompt so there’s no need to stick to the same “theme.”

The rules that I’ve made for myself (but don’t always follow) for “One-Liner Wednesday” are:

1. Make it one sentence.

2. Try to make it either funny or inspirational.

3. Use our unique tag #1linerWeds.

4. Add our very cool badge to your post for extra exposure!

5. Have fun!

#1linerWeds badge by Dan Antion

 

 


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41. Scenes from the Second Seat on the Right

Wednesday, October 11th, 4:00pm
Michael (and Agatha)

 

Michael sits at the window, reading. Agatha takes the seat beside him.

Agatha: Hello.

Michael glances away from his iPad and smiles.

Agatha: I’m going to my granddaughter’s house for dinner. (gestures to a dish on her lap) I’m bringing the bread pudding.

Michael: (mumbles without looking up) That’s nice.

Agatha: My great-granddaughter Kitty will be there. Such a precious thing she is, though the clothes she wears! I don’t know what children are thinking these days. What’s that thing you’re holding?

Michael: This? It’s an iPad.

Agatha: (sighs) All these newfangled gadgets. Why, in my day we used to read things like newspapers and books. We wore things that covered us up and we baked our own bread pudding!

Michael shrugs and stares at his iPad.

Agatha: (after a few minutes) I’m going to my granddaughter’s house for dinner.

Michael: (rolls eyes) And I bet you’re taking bread pudding.

Agatha: How did you know?

Michael: Lucky guess.

 

Next stop: Thursday, October 12th, 2:00pm

Click here to learn all about this series, how it works, and where to find your favourite characters.