Friday, June 22, 2012

Rumors of My Demise

have been exaggerated. I am still alive and reasonably well. I've just been busy, and much has been happening. In 2011, my father, my uncle, and my beloved Dachshund, Gus, passed away within the space of  4 months. My employer went out of business, and the job offer I had fell through. My best friend in Memphis, Joe, and I grew apart to the point that we went for weeks without speaking. I spent the next eight months looking for a job and working as a temp.

On February 4 of this year, my mother became extremely short of breath. I rushed her to the hospital at about 10pm because her breathing didn't sound right. I got them to come and get her in a wheelchair so I could drive across the parking lot to the spots for ER patients. By the time I got inside (less than 5 minutes) she was on the table with 7 people standing around her. I felt like I had just walked into an episode of "Trauma: Life in the ER." She proceeded to have a massive coronary on the table. Her lungs were filled with fluid, and she had a urinary tract infection. Her kidneys were not able to work sufficiently to draw the fluid off her lungs, even with the help of strong diuretics. She had to go on dialysis for 5 weeks. Her heart rate was erratic for the first 2 weeks, so she kept going through the revolving door from the ICU to the step down unit and back again. After 3 weeks in the normal hospital, she went to the rehab hospital for 2 weeks because her heart was so weak, she couldn't walk without assistance. She still needs a cardiac bypass, but the cardiac surgeon decided that she needed more time for her body to gain strength. She has to wear an external defibrillator at all times in case her heart goes into arrythmia. It's funny how you can get up one morning, think your parent looks ill, spend you day trying to persuade her to get medical treatment, and not know that 24 hours later your life will have changed irrevocably. If we could see the future, most of us couldn't cope.

Of course, I had to catch bronchitis and get so sick that I ended up in the ER. I spent 4 days in bed with fever, wheezing, aches and pains, etc. I did manage to stay hydrated with broth and Sprite. I spent most of that time in a cough-syrup induced coma punctuated by trips to the bathroom and calls from my oldest and best friend who was a great source of support through that time. I am so thankful for my friend Gary. He has been loyal and steady since we were 6 years old.

Mom is home now and improving a little every day, but her activity is still very restricted. I am trying to work, manage a household, and keep all the daily business of housekeeping done, so it doesn't leave much time for indulging in creative efforts. Also, with all that has happened, my creativity seems to be shriveled up like a TV dinner pea.

I still miss Gus every day. After 17 years, I acutely feel the absence of the comfort I got from his presence.  I know his is still with me in spirit, but it is hard not to have him with me physically. He was a constant source of love and support for me, and he gave me more strength than I realized. He died in my arms on an April night when I got home from work. Even at the end, he was loyal. He didn't go before I could say goodbye to him. He had gotten to the point where he could no longer walk on his own. He still didn't want to abandon his house training, so I would lie him on a puppy pad. When he used it, he would whine to let us know so we could change it. I wish I could have done more for him. It happened at a time when I had no resources to use to help him. He didn't deserve that sort of life in his golden years. I still have Cash, the dog Joe gave me, and I love him dearly, but I'll never have another dog like Gus. 

I wish I could do more for my mom, too. I am scared by the prospect of my mother having heart surgery. It is a HUGE surgery, involving breaking bones in the chest, cutting into the heart and the large veins near it, and sometimes involving incisions in the arm or leg to get a vein. The patients have to remain entubated after surgery, and they can have dementia like symptoms if the heart is stopped and they are put on a heart-lung bypass machine. I am a terrible caregiver, so I am not sure I am up to the task.

I have learned now that I am officially middle-aged. I have had to accept the fact that things can happen to people (and pets) that I love, and I cannot stop them. I have had to wrestle with choosing not the best alternative, but the best alternative out of a group of shitty alternatives from which no one would want to choose. I have learned that losing a loyal pet is worse than losing a friend or a lover. We lose friends and lovers all the time. While we think the world revolves around this, it really doesn't. I miss Gus a thousand times more than I've ever missed Joe. People come and go in our lives, but our pets remain constant as long as we treat them properly. I have had to make things work when there aren't enough hours in the day, enough strength left in my body, or enough concentration left in my mind to cope. Somehow, you get through it. You can eat salad from fast food restaurants every day because most days, you don't realize what you're eating anyway. You make it to the end of the day even when you think the first thing you want to do when you get in the house is crawl in your bed and pass out even before it gets dark. You can load the dishwasher when you feel like you can't stay awake for another second. You can get up 15 times in a row at one minute intervals to get someone things they want when you could have gotten up once and completed the  list the first time. Just consider all the exercise you're getting by jumping back up as soon as your butt hits the couch. It costs a lot less than a gym membership. To me, these are things that can only be accomplished by the middle-aged. It takes time and experience and patience to cope with such things. Young people cannot cope with the lack of control. Young people want to be certain of everything. Much of life, I have learned, is not at all certain. You have to tolerate the ambiguity.

I still miss my Uncle Vernon every day, too. Out of all my mom's brothers, he was the one who was most like a dad to everyone. All us wayward kids who had an absent parent sort of gravitated toward him. His house was always a kid-friendly place. You didn't have to worry about getting dirt on anything, forgetting to put your stuff away, or falling asleep on the couch. He didn't get mad if we were painting the fence for him and we got more paint on each other than we got on the fence. As we got older, he taught us the value of a good work ethic and how to make decisions by listing the good and bad things about each choice and deciding logically based on how we felt about the criteria. He was a good, family man, and I never heard anyone say a bad word about him. I can still hardly talk about him without crying. I couldn't tell you how many times in the past year and a half that I have picked up the phone and started to dial his number for our five minute conversation (he rarely talked on the phone more than five minutes) and have had to stop because I remembered he is no longer there. I have wanted to be strong and support my cousins during this time, but I have failed at this. Every time I try to comfort them, I end up blubbering with them comforting me.

My dad--there's a subject. We were never close. I always felt like my grandpa and my uncles were more like fathers to me than he was. He wasn't a bad man, just one who put his own needs and happiness ahead of everyone else's. For a long time, I thought I hated him, but I never really did. For most of my life, I just felt indifferent about him. By the time I realized it, he already had another family, and my mom's family was MY family. So, whose fault is this lack of a relationship? Mine? His? God's? I kind of felt like he was the adult and the parent. Maybe he should have been the one who tried harder to have a relationship with me. But, for almost 30 years of that time, I was an adult, too, so was it my responsibility? Was it no one's fault? Does there have to be blame? It was what it was. We didn't hate each other, so I suppose that's a positive thing. I had hoped that we could at least be friends. However, he died of a massive coronary at the dinner table at the age of 66, so I can't get that chance back.

Work--it's a good thing. I don't have the world's best job or the best pay rate, but I LOVE pharmacy. When I get up in the morning and go to work, I know there is nothing else I'd rather do. Dealing with the people sucks sometimes, but how many people can get to middle age and say that they have spent most of their working life doing something they truly enjoy???? I am glad I was out of a job when I was because it made me available to my mom when she needed me. It also gave me time to grieve without having to worry about whether I was being nice enough to people. Sometimes people expect more than they're entitled to expect in terms of ass kissing. I am glad to be back at work, though, because it keeps my mind focused and I feel like I make a difference. It gives me a break from being a caregiver at home, and it keeps my life balanced. When I get tired there, I get to come home, and when I get tired of home, I know I'll have to go to work.

Well, that's pretty much where I am and why I started this blog and then abandoned it. I don't know that I am capable, at this point, of writing anything anyone would want to read. All of this sounds like too much drama. Who needs the Soap Opera Network when you can read the saga of Shakespeare's Cousin? Who wants either? I do appreciate your friendship and support. I do feel better for having written this, even though posting it and inflicting it on others should probably be illegal. I think Mercutio has been doing a great job with the blog. I am thankful for his friendship and for the diverse content he brings to the blog. Thanks for being my online friends. I will try to post more when I'm in a better frame of mind. Now I am going to go fall into bed and, hopefully, be comatose in the next ten minutes. My little dog is snoozing on the recliner footrest, so it's time for bed. Nite!!!


Mercutio said...

It's good to see you out and around a bit.
I enjoyed our talk, as I always do.

I'm glad you liked the bit of re-decorating that I've done here.

As for myself, I'm still trying to work through the PTSD from the psychological trauma I suffered as a result of the mobbing, and the crimes of violence under color of law that I endured; and at the same time, to be attentive to pursue the legal angle.
I'll be going to see a mental health professional early next week, though he's too far away for regular visits until later in the year.
I don't know if I will ever be whole again, but it makes me feel better to know that some manner of treatment, and some manner of legal remedy, is within reach; and not so far away.

I am thankful for our friendship. You were a valued source of strength to me through a very difficult time.

I will always be there for you, as much as I am able.

Better days ahead.

Portia said...

I appreciate that. I will do my best to be there for you,too. I think you may get some relief by seeing a professional. I did when my uncle passed away and donated his body to science. I just couldn't cope with the lack of closure, so I talked to a therapist about it. She was extremely helpful.

I value our friendship,too, and I h0ope we both have better times in the future.