Saturday, September 9, 2017

Deep in the Truth

On my birthday in April, my mom received the news that she had a 5 cm brain tumor. It was round and located between her brain and skull, making it a meningioma the size of a ping pong ball. We live in a small coastal town with one neurologist who was already overbooked, so her surgery and treatment would take place 3 hours away, close to our state capitol. Because the tumor was not immediately life threatening, she booked her surgery for the week after I was done teaching so I could take care of her.

Hubby and E had already committed to going to the family vacation his parents paid for every year, which was fine, but that left me going to the hospital alone with my parents. I thought it would be fine. I thought I could handle it. My dad has had some memory issues since his stroke, but it wasn't until I spent 5 days trying to manage my mother's care and my dad that I realized it wasn't just some memory issues, it was the start of dementia. Wait, I need to change that. It was the start of Dementia. It needs its own accent.

My mom's actual surgery went well. She came through it with flying colors. My dad, however, was struggling to survive in the hospital waiting room situation. He would become agitated with people and call them names. He couldn't walk very far, so a lot of time I would push him in a wheelchair which caused him stress because it embarrassed him. We would go to the different hospital cafeterias and I would have to choose his meal for him because the situation was just too overwhelming for him to make a choice.

The worst part happened while my mom was in ICU recovering. My dad and I had gone to see her as soon as the doctor allowed us, but the day had stressed my dad out, so I wanted to get him back to the hotel where we were staying. The hotel had a shuttle bus and it was scheduled to pick us up at a later time. We went to eat dinner in one of the hospital cafeterias and I took him down to where the shuttle bus was supposed to meet us. We still had 20 minutes so I told him to stay there and I would make one more pop-in on my mom to make sure she was okay.

She was not okay. She was still under a lot of anesthetic, but she was almost screaming in pain about how her leg hurt. I walked into her room to discover that her ICU nurse had taken an EKG and a blood test for cardiac enzymes because her heart was throwing "rawls", or some sort of abnormal rhythm akin to a cardiac episode. She suggested I spend the night with my mom. This immediately sent me into panic mode because I knew my mom was being taken care of in the hospital and I knew my dad would not be able to find his way back to our hotel room and might very well wander around the hotel for hours alone. But I had to make the call. I went with my dad back to the hotel, got him safely to the room and then rushed back to the ICU to be with my mom.

By this time her screaming and complaining had gotten worse and the nurse said she was maxed out on meds. This had been going on for almost 3 hours, so I asked the nurse to remove the compression stocking to see if she had thrown a blood clot in her leg. When they removed the sock, her leg looked like a dog's neck that had out grown its collar. 3 months later and she still has a severe welt in her leg where the sock had turned into a tourniquet and had probably been constricting blood flow since early in the surgery. If I hadn't gone back, my mom would definitely have lost her leg and maybe her life.

Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night. My dad was scheduled to take the shuttle bus back to the hospital at 8am and I had to meet him down at the entrance. At 8:30 he still hadn't shown up when he called me. He told me he thought they had dropped him off at the wrong building (there were 5 buildings in the complex). I asked him what the name on the building was so I could come to him. He told me the name and I almost screamed. He was at a hospital in another city about 9 miles away. Yes, the shuttle had made a mistake, but my dad's Dementia had prevented him from knowing he was being taken the wrong way to the wrong town even though he had been to the brain surgery hospital 4 times before for my mom's tests.

I got him back and things just plummeted from there. I realized I had made a grave mistake in thinking I could handle this situation alone. The nursing staff realized my dad was not understanding them when they were trying to talk about my mom's treatment and they listed me as the point of contact and essentially gave me the power of attorney even though legally I did not have that right.

My mom was released from the hospital 2 days early because the doctor could see just how difficult everything was for me and knew my mom was coming home to stay with me for the next 2 weeks. My mom came home and my dad would go back and forth from his house to mine. He said he wanted to help and not make me take care of my mom myself, but when he was there, I had to cater to him. She needed rest and care, but he needed to be entertained and kept occupied. He would become angry and abusive if I gave her more attention than him. I was also washing his clothes, cooking him meals, making him coffee. He could and couldn't help it. My mom told me he was taking advantage of the situation, but after what I had experienced at the hospital, I couldn't be sure. I was in tears at the end of every day.

My mom healed quickly but for about 3 days after the surgery, she would not stop talking. Her tumor was in the language section of her brain and I think the surgery triggered something. Everyone who visited her commented on it as they were leaving, asking me if she was all right. I assumed she was, but by this time I was so shell-shocked I was just trying to get by.

One night, during the talkative phase, my mom decided to dump on me about her anger at my dad. She told me about all the affairs he had. She said he had been arrested a few years ago for possession of pot and spent the night in jail. About 15 years before he had spent so much money and had so many secret credit cards that were over their limit, they almost had to file for bankruptcy. She told me how abusive he was and how he would talk about her in front of his friends and tell them how stupid she was. I didn't even know what to do with all that information. I certainly didn't think it was fair that she told me.

The day my mom went home, I left with my daughter on a 3,000 mile road trip that we had planned many months before my mom's diagnosis. It probably saved my sanity. She's this insanely bright spirit and you can't be unhappy around her. After two long weeks I could finally breathe again.

But the truth of the matter is, I am now on call to my parents 24 hours a day. Neither one is able to take care of themselves. Together they manage, but I get called in from time to time. And if one passes away, well, we'll deal with that when the time comes.

Anywho, I'm writing this now because of Schroeder. I saw your comment. I don't know what to say.

If you were just checking in to make sure I'm still alive, or to let me know you are, then I offer you Light and Love and hope your life is everything you hoped it would be and we'll keep it at that.

If you were testing the waters to see if there was an opening to our friendship, I can't do what you asked. The trauma you experienced at the theater was your trauma and not mine. I have enough on my plate. It hurt me greatly that you just disappeared from my life with no explanation and when you did return, it appeared to be it was because you needed me to do something for you. I want to believe that's not true. I want to believe you wanted our friendship back first and the need fulfilled second. But it didn't come across that way.

I am at at time in my life were I am hurting and that pain is not going away. I do not have the energy to give to people who do not value me. I value you. I always will. But I have to be selfish. I can count my close friends, who know what I am going through (since I don't tell anyone) on one hand and right now they are holding me up. I know your life has had its own troubles so I am not judging you, but I am being honest. You may not have the energy for me.

I'll just leave it at that. The door is open.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Release the Kraken

I'm in one of those times in my life where I don't want to be nice, or kind, or even remotely civil.

We're having drama at the church, drama I have inadvertently gotten caught up in. In any other part of my life I would just set this person straight who is causing me grief and move on. BUT I CAN'T. I can't because I am the pastor's wife. I have to be kind and quiet and not make waves and let my husband do his best to deal with it through "proper church channels."

Screw the church channels. I want to be like Gemma Teller from Son's of Anarchy and just say fuck it and work from a primal, emotional state. This turning the other cheek crap is bullshit.

Do you know I never say fuck. Never. I'm a teacher and a pastor's wife. The world would stop turning if anyone heard me swear.

FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK.

I know this is all vague posting, but I just needed to put it into words and send it out to the Universe. I'm not sure a perimenopausal middle age white woman should hold in such rage.

But, on another note, I got to meet Daveed Diggs. It was an awesome moment in my life.