I Miss My Old Blogging Friends

I Miss My Old Blogging Friends

I wrote the following post last year. Still applies. Now I’m busy with caregiving. My responsibilities have grown. My focus has changed. Now I blog less about living with bipolar and more about caregiving. Still, I do not have enough time to read and comment on all the wonderful blogs out there. On top of caregiving, I’m preparing for BlogHer16. After BlogHer, I’m attending NAMI’s California conference in late August and a writers’ conference in September.


Have I Lost My Blogging Friends?

Published August 12, 2015

So I’ve been busy, much busier than usual, in my real life, interacting with people in the flesh, which overstimulates me, so I haven’t been reading and commenting on other blog posts like I usually do, like I used to do.

The posts I published Wednesday received few comments. I wonder, is it because I have let down my online community of mutually supportive readers by not reading and commenting on their posts? Or, is it because my posts were not personal or particularly original in nature — just a rehash of a conference I attended Friday and Saturday and a repost of a TIME, Inc. infographic about why we still need Women’s Equality Day ? Perhaps my last post was simply too long (and boring, I now realize in going back and reading it).

I’ve been feeling guilty for not reading and commenting as much on other blogs, but I can only do so much, and taking care of myself comes first. I respond to comments on my blog. But, there are simply too many other blogs to read them all. I’m not even reading those with whom I’ve developed close online friendships.

Writing helps me. Consuming seemingly endless numbers of mental health posts, commenting on them and sharing them, unfortunately, does not. Perhaps doing so helps others, just not me. Not when I’m too overwhelmed. Not when I’m doing my best to slow down.

By the way, did some more in person volunteering. Once again trying to figure this one out. How much in-person social interaction and volunteering I can take on without spinning like a hypomanic top.

I’m a Good Daughter, I Promise

Okay. I pulled into a parking lot to adjust the camera. I like driving with the windows open. So we’re going to get a lot of, we’re going to get a lot of noise. I guess I could close the windows, but I love the windows open. I close them when I’m with my son because he doesn’t like the windows open, so we have air conditioning. But, when Kitt drives [alone], we have the windows open.

Um. Driving back from visiting my parents. Totally intense. Um. My mom refused to eat their mechanically separated food, which is like an aphasia diet, not aphasia, dysphasia. Anyway, swallowing problem diet to prevent her from aspirating her food, which is swallowing her food and liquids going down not the esophagus, but the trachea and into the lungs. Not a good thing. Leads to aspiration pneumonia. Not good. So, stroke, you know, can cause dysphagia, this swallowing problem. So, she refused that and she wanted the lasagna. So after lunch, or as she was eating lunch. Well, when I was done. She started coughing up her food. So I brought her to her room. Told the nurse. So the nurse listened to her lungs. Said her lungs sounded good.

My mom continued for the next couple of hours to cough up liquid and food out of her lungs. Because [sigh], it’s so horrible. Stroke, you know, makes it so the brain isn’t telling the throat muscles what to do. This is like the non-scientific explanation of post-stroke swallowing difficulties. I think it’s dysphasia. I think that’s what it’s called. Anyway, food goes down trachea to lungs. Not where it belongs – food and liquid. Rather than esophagus to stomach. She coughed it all up, which is good.

And then she wanted to talk to me, and I thought, you know,… She also has aphasia. [Actually, I was told recently that she has apraxia. She may have both. I’m no speech and language pathologist.] She’s not able to communicate very clearly. So, um, she’s thinking, but not able to get those thoughts across because she’s not always able to write the words she means or say… She’s not always able to say… very few of the words she means.

And, my parents have been isolating in their room, and not participating in the activities that are designed for, you know, vascular dementia and other dementias at their memory care facility. Memory care is a little bit of a misnomer, because they care for all sorts of brain injuries that lead to dementia. And, dementia isn’t always memory loss. Or, maybe it is. I don’t know. I’ll have to look up that definition.

What Is Dementia?

While symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia: Memory; Communication and language; Ability to focus and pay attention; Reasoning and judgment; Visual perception]

But, anyway, brain, you know, they have people with temporal lobal [Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)], you know, anyway, brain injuries [Traumatic Brain Injury] from being football players, brain injuries from surgery, Alzheimer’s, alcohol-related dementia, which my dad has. I’m an heir to alcoholism. I can feel it in me. And, I have to be very careful not to drink regularly.

Um. And, my mom had the stroke. My mom had been the caregiver of my dad. And, she had a problem with blood pressure, a-fib, and, um, well, needing blood thinners. Now, she’s on a variety of medications to prevent another stroke. Her stroke was pretty severe, and she now has what’s called global aphasia.

So, OK, so we met with the social worker. She has a background [MA] in psychology, but she’s getting her MSW. Anyway, met to go over, um, to communicate with the three of us. My dad’s like Dory. He remembers for like a few minutes and then forgets, so he’s always having to be reminded. You can’t blame him. You know, you can’ t control it. He’s like Dory.

So, my mom got out the word “family” in terms of where she wanted to be. And we had to explain to her that I couldn’t take care of her because of my bipolar disorder, I would end up hospitalized. I hardly have my life together, as it is taking care of…this might be a bit too much wind. I can hardly take care of myself, my kid, and my husband, and my house. I mean, it’s a mess. Um, and my mom’s, she can be challenging. In fact, she’s challenged several different places. A lot of places have had trouble with my mom because she’s a pretty strong willed woman. Um, should have been a CEO or something. Anyway, she was the CEO of our lives. She was a mom.

Anyway…  [sigh] I’m… I’m spent. She wanted to continue to talk to me after we had met with Sheila, the liaison, social worker, but, um, I just said I had to go. That it had been, that we had done a lot, and that that was, that was enough. That was enough. I kissed her. When she said.. Oh, she said the word “family.” Did I say that already? She said the word “family.” Clearly, and I hugged her and kissed her for saying the word, and said, “I can’t.”

I know she wants to live with family. Yeah, I know. Wouldn’t be good for her. Wouldn’t be good for us. It’s hard making these decisions. I feel so… I don’t know. I’m not even going to say. Say, like, I feel like I’m betraying my mom. I feel callous. I feel selfish. I’m working so hard as is. I mean, really. Even with all of these professional resources at my behest. Using my parents’ savings, selling their house which I know they don’t want us to do, but we’re doing in order to care for them. I know it’s breaking their hearts, but it’s what’s best for us all. I visit them regularly. I’m a good girl. I’m a good daughter, I promise. See, that’s like my thing. Being a good girl.

[Sigh] Oh, God. This is so hard.

My Parents Are Still Apart

  Overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. Trying to do the best I can. The assisted living memory care where my father has been staying cannot accommodate my mother’s difficulty swallowing liquids due to her stroke. 

My mother is back in skilled nursing after a psychiatric stay for major depression and behavioral changes due to a UTI (urinary tract infection which can result in confusion or delirium-like state, agitation, hallucinations, other behavioral changes, poor motor skills or dizziness, and falling).

For now, my father remains in memory care. When I first looked at senior care options, I did not even consider looking at board and care homes for my parents, for I imagined them to be crowded and depressing. I only had in mind what the worst homes are like. There are nice homes. Of course, they cost more. 

A beautiful brand new board and care home close to my home can take them both, but it does not yet have its license. Once there, my parents will live in a two-room suite with a private Jack and Jill bathroom and sliders from both rooms to the backyard. My mother loves flowers, so I plan to plant some with her. Now the yard is simply walkway and lawn. 

Kills me that it is taking so long to get the two of them back together. 

My dad keeps saying he wants to move back to the beach, but I cannot oversee their care from our home and my son is adamant about not wanting to move again. We’ve moved our son far too many times. He attended five elementary schools. That’s four too many. We promised him we would not move again once we returned to Mission Viejo from the Mojave Desert.

My parents’ home is not senior friendly. Three stories tall, it presents fall risks. Significant deferred maintenance needs to be addressed. As kitchen appliances have failed over the years, my mother bought toaster ovens to cook. My greatest fear is that if my parents returned to their home, they would go back to drinking, which means that my father would again fall down the stairs (he does so at least once each time we visit).

Guilt Rears Its Head

Even with caregiver help, it’s been tough. Friday one of my mother’s occupational therapists told me she had asked nursing staff if my mother had been receiving any visitors. After being “on” since 11/14, I took time “off” to recuperate. My mother did not respond well. She refused to go to physical therapy and instead packed her bags. After a nurse called me, I raced over with my father to calm her down. Tough. I’m wracked with guilt.