Hospice — Prayers for Peace and Comfort

Prayers for Peace & Freedom from Pain
My father is in hospice now. Prayers welcome.

When I was a little girl, at bedtime I sent my prayers to the dead. One at a time, I sent them my love, hugs, and kisses. Eventually, I tired, sent a big hug to everyone else, and fell asleep. Some people count sheep. I prayed to and for everyone who had ever lived.

Now, I pray for peace. I pray for freedom from pain. I pray for my father.

Tuesday night I brought my father to the emergency room due to shortness of breath. When I helped him out of my car, I touched his leg and was shocked at how swollen it was.

He’d been battling cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection. I had no idea how bad his infection had become and was furious that the medical treatment he had received hadn’t killed the bacteria.

Turns out his infection and labored breathing were signs of something far more sinister.

The hospital scanned his leg and his chest. Although my father quit smoking over thirty years ago, decades of smoking since he was thirteen led to lung cancer.

My sister flew down the next day to help. I spent Tuesday night with him in his hospital room. She spent the next night. Neither of us, nor our father, got any sleep.

Due to dementia, my father didn’t understand what was going on and removed the IV that delivered antibiotics and pain medication. The hospital staff removed his IV and gave him medication orally.

My sister and I repeatedly argued with hospital staff over pain medication. Nurses hesitated to give him prescribed doses of opiates on a regular schedule. My sister and I even yelled at a doctor who wanted him off opiates and on high dose acetaminophen. Our concern was our father’s comfort, not the hospital’s liability.

Our father is stoic and macho. He told female nurses that he was fine. He had no such reservations when a male patient technician helped him onto his commode or when his male nurse asked him if he was in pain.

You want to know how much pain a patient is in? Ask those who do the dirty work, those who lift and move the patient. Ask the patient technician, the caregivers, especially when the patient has dementia or doesn’t show his vulnerability to women aside from his wife and daughters. We knew that he was in pain.

Now he is back living with our mother in memory care, receiving hospice services. Pain management and his comfort are paramount.

Please pray for peace, comfort, and freedom from pain. Thank you.

Hypomania aka Fried Brain

My Brain on Overdrive. Totally Fried.

Those who know me well would hardly be surprised to hear (or read) that my mind is fried. Focused? Who me, focused? Nope. Instead, one project or comment gets me going in one direction, another in another direction. I end up juggling multiple projects, with my mind racing and jumping all over the place.

So here’s what’s going on. I’ve intended for a few years now to publish a collection of my blog posts as a book. Not able to import my posts into Scrivener, I labored to cut and paste them back in 2014 and later in 2017.

Recently, I hired Sarah Fader as a book coach, and with her help realized that I have a memoir in me. I’m starting to see them as two separate projects — a memoir and a collection of blog posts or short essays — and am itching to get the posts I had copied and pasted published. I want them off my back, out of my mind. They want to be collected and published. What can I say? The writing demands it!

At the end of May, I’m attending a writers summit where I will workshop my memoir (or post/essay collection, or both). In the meantime, I’m going off in multiple directions, as is like me when overstimulated. Overstimulation, social and intellectual, triggers mood cycling and hypomania in me.

Here’s an example of how reactive I am: In real life and on Facebook, I’m a member of OC Writers. Last Wednesday, writer and group admin Greta Boris posted this question:

It’s Wisdom Wednesday. Keyword: mailing list. Do you have one? If yes, how are you growing your subscriber base? Do you send a monthly newsletter? Inquiring minds want to know.

My first reaction was: “Nope. I’m really bad about it because I find mailing lists obnoxious.” But, then I went ahead and created a MailChimp email list (click on link to a my fancy sign up page on MailChimp), which now has a total of five members. Creating this list involved a crap load of work.

To protect my personal privacy and for basic professionalism, I didn’t want to use my personal email or my personal address. To create an email account using my URL, kittomalley.com, I signed up for G Suite as the owner of my URL. Sounds simple, but I jumped through hoops to verify that I owned every iteration of my URL (kittomalley.com, http://www.kittomalley.com, kittomalley.wordpress.com, etc.).

For a mailing address, I rented a local mailbox. Luckily, the owner knows me and I was able to handle the transaction over the phone and by email, because I was sick when I was doing all this work online. The new mailing address has the added benefit of protecting my privacy online, for I’m licensed with the state of California as a Marriage and Family Therapist. (Recently completed CEUs to renew license.)

Once I had completed all that, as the graphic nerd that I am, I went through several design iterations for the mailing list pop-up, ending up with the least obnoxious: a simple white footer with no graphic design elements that allows readers to scroll my content without clicking to close the form. I’m just asking for email addresses. Don’t want to ask for too much information.

Honestly, I’m not sure what exactly I’ll use the list for. Not to send notifications of blog posts. People can sign up for those through WordPress.com. Rather, to let people know perhaps on a monthly basis the status of my book(s). Perhaps to write a monthly newsletter. Who knows? Just don’t want to inundate anyone with email. Hate email spam, thus my initial reaction.

Oh, I almost forgot. Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, my parents’ fifty-sixth anniversary. My husband and I visited them at their memory care community. Yes, they both have dementia. My father due to alcoholism. My mother secondary to a stroke. Visiting them is always emotional for me. My father asks the same questions over and over. My mother cannot speak and at best understands 40% of receptive speech. She doesn’t understand symbolic language either — the part of her brain responsible for language has been destroyed. Her frontal lobe, too, was damaged leaving her with behavioral complications on top of underlying undiagnosed mental illness predating her stroke. As I’m her daughter and not her psychiatrist, I can’t really diagnose what was going on with her, I can only say that she could be emotionally abusive. Those stories I’ll save for my memoir.

Upon returning from our visit, I decided to take on finishing our income taxes. I had completed most of the return on TurboTax. Just had to go through a pile in my inbox that dated back to my mother’s stroke. Seems that’s what I had put on hold. Going through the papers triggered painful memories. As I look at the dates on documents, I recalled what we were going through at those times.

My mother had her stroke one month after my son started at a new private high school due to his health problems and frequent absences. My son still struggles. Honestly, as the parent of a son struggling with multiple complex intertwined health issues, I feel like a failure. I do not have a magic wand. I cannot take away his suffering. I cannot make him get up out of bed. I take him to doctors. I try to get him to eat, or at least to drink.

Sounds like a lot? It is. I rely on my husband. We order take-out. I write, I blog, for I can. It’s something I can do. Something I can control in the midst of so much I cannot control.

Thank you.

2017 Year-End Wrap-Up

In 2017, this blog was viewed almost 17,000 times by over 10,000 visitors. Since I started writing this blog in September 2013, I’ve enjoyed almost 80,000 views from over 40,000 visitors. 2015 had the most blog activity with over 28,000 views from over 13,000 visitors.

When my mother had a stroke November of 2015, I took on increased responsibilities and wrote less about living with bipolar disorder. Starting September this year, I started organizing my posts into a book. As the holidays approached, I temporarily set aside that task, for this time of year exhausts me. Even though my parents are both still alive and happy, I miss them, as both have dementia.

Most readers (over 5,000 views) landed on my home page or searched my archives (Posts by Categories, My Blogging Journey, or using the Search box).

Top Five by the Numbers

  1. 35 Symptoms of Perimenopause — 671 views (Perennial favorite list shared from Healthline.com in 2015. I’m fully menopausal now. What a relief.)
  2. Freud and the Church — 550 views (I’m a psychodynamically-trained former psychotherapist and have attended Fuller Theological Seminary.)
  3. Mystic or Mentally Ill? — 489 views (Is it possible to be both mentally ill and a mystic? Perhaps. Perhaps, not.)
  4. Am I Still a Mental Health Blogger? — 443 views
  5. About Me & This Blog — 310 views

Favorites, Numbers Be Damned

  1. Barely Fiction: Kate.1
  2. Barely Fiction: Kate.2
  3. So Easily Broken
  4. I do not whisper. I ROAR.
  5. Bad Mom

Thank you, Readers! Hope you all have a Happy New Year! With love, Kitt.

Happy Holidays!

Peace & Love KittOMalley.com

I have not been up to writing recently. Just been binge watching TV and doing jigsaw puzzles on my iPad. This season is emotionally fraught for me, starting with my mother’s birthday in October, Thanksgiving, my father’s birthday in December, then my husband’s birthday, then Christmas, finally New Year’s (which we sleep through).

Never much liked the holidays, for they usually involved my parents getting drunk. Arguments often ensued. But they were better behaved at our homes, as we created new rituals with our own families. My parents didn’t want to risk not seeing their grandchildren. Thanks to my sister for putting her foot down and clearly defining that boundary.

Years ago, I would host Thanksgiving. Believe I quit about the time I was hospitalized for bipolar disorder. My sister has taken on the role of hostess, which I appreciate. Her sons are the closest thing my son has to siblings.

Now that my parents are both in memory care and not able to join us, I miss them. Sounds odd, but even alcoholic families can be loving. Our illnesses do not define us. I miss communicating with my mother who since her stroke has severe aphasia. She doesn’t understand language, cannot speak, read, or write. Carrying on a conversation with my father, who cannot remember what was said two minutes ago, takes patience. My parents live in a lovely community. They seem happy together. But I miss them both. They are simply not the same. Dementia, both alcohol-related and vascular, and aphasia have taken so much of them away.