carose59: health matters (an intuition of mortality)
"Oh, Great, I Have To Work. I'm Always Working When The World Ends."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

This isn't a menopause thing, it's a Cymbalta-withdrawal thing, and you have no idea how happy this makes me. I thought I was either dying or losing my mind—those are my default assumptions about anything that happens to me. An unpleasant chemical reaction to the lack of a drug in my system is like a picnic in the park compared to either of those.

I'm crying a lot lately, too. That could also be a withdrawal thing, or it could be just me going back to being me, and I can deal with it. Maybe this is also why I've been feeling sort of dizzyish lately. Cymbalta. Actually, lack of Cymbalta. Not panic attacks, not anxiety, an actual real not-dying thing happening to me.

You know what that means? It means I get to be nice to myself. It means I don't have to be stern and unforgiving when I can't do perfectly ordinary things like drive to the north side of town where I've driven many, many times before. I can stop feeling like a failure because my stupid behavior is being caused by an actual thing instead of just my mind suddenly forgetting that driving over a bridge is perfectly safe.

I cannot tell you how wonderful this is.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

In other news, I'm reading this book called, What Alice Forgot, and it's one of the things that's had me on the edge of tears. It's about a woman who gets amnesia and loses ten years of her memory—ten years in which she had three children, her best friend died, her beloved sister drifted out of her life, and she and her husband are getting a divorce. And she can't understand why her sister and husband seem to hate her because the last thing she remembers is being happily married and close to her sister. I feel so sorry for her, though it looks like things might work out.

It's a relief to actually cry about this, instead of just absorbing it and having the sadness be a part of me. Crying drains off the poisoned groundwater, of which I have oceans. Really, it's amazing I don't cry more.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I dreamed about my mother the other night. She was alive again—that is, had been dead and now wasn't. My mind is very stubborn on this subject. And I was so annoyed because she had all of these chores she wanted me to do, and then she tells me brightly, "And on Saturday you don't have to do any chores because we're going to spend the whole day cooking and baking," as though she was taking me on that picnic in the park instead of expecting me to spend a whole day in the kitchen. And all I could think was, "I don't fucking want to spend my day cooking! How is that not a chore?!"

And I was wondering when she was going to die again.

I hope I'm not supposed to feel bad about this, because I don't. I find it funny. I loved my mother, but we didn't have the perfect relationship and I spend a lot of energy not being angry—and not showing I was angry when I couldn't avoid feeling it—and I'm relieved not to have to do that anymore. I'm relieved to be able to feel the unacceptable emotions that have always been there.

*Dr. John Carter

New poem

Tuesday, 23 August 2016 04:33 pm
carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
The Death of God

And then the moment comes.
You see it happen: darkness at noon, just as it says in the Bible—
only it's just another summer thunderstorm.
The world trembles
slides silently away.
You have become alone—
ultimately, permanently, sui generis
(springing from no-one):
truly the only child.

You finish your chicken&stars soup and play another game of solitaire, wondering why there is no fanfare
only rain.

But it always rains when the world ends, the thunder coming to soothe you.

Released from your obligation to worship and attend, you have more time to wander aimlessly and stay up too late.
All of your mistakes belong only to you now and no-one gets a say.
Your life is your own and you have no idea how to do this.
You are standing on the horizon—that mythical point where the future drops off into its own infinity. If you look down you can see straight through to nowhere.

It would be exhilarating—
if you could feel anything
if you weren't numb from all the years of feeling too much
if you didn't keep falling asleep.

You pick up socks to wash and cat food cans to throw away, brush your teeth and set the alarm, buy food you will forget to eat, write notes to thank people for their notes of condolence:
yes, she was a wonderful person,
yes, it was time,
yes, she will be missed.

You do not tell them what a relief it is.
You do not tell them that you don't go to that church anymore.
You do not tell them you don't care that you will never get your wings.

You can fly without them.
carose59: death (a scientific fact)
"A Disagreement In My Family Involves Restraining Orders, And Bloodshed."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

This morning I got an email from my cousin in Texas. He had found out my mother had died while he was doing some genealogy stuff online. He didn't find out shortly after it happened because I didn't have his phone number. He didn't find out from the card I sent him because I didn't have his new address. And this is somehow my fault and I didn't behave properly when his mother died (when he wrote and told me although I never heard from him) and he's not sure he wants to come visit because he doesn't think anyone cares about seeing him.

I wish he would come, but I don't particularly want to see him. The rest of the family seemed to enjoy him. I got tired of the long silences after I spoke, as though he was trying to figure out what I was talking about and why I was wasting his time. I think I'm too much of a Kiesel to fit with the Donahues, and I don't even know any Kiesels.**

As I was writing this, I thought of something that happened many years ago, when my father was still alive. My step-cousin, Steve, was inexplicably angry at my parents about something, and one thing he said was that nobody ever treated them like they were Kiesels, that they weren't invited to family gatherings.

Afterward, when my mother told me about this, I said, "You should have told him that being excluded and ignored is being treated like a Kiesel! He was being treated exactly like a Kiesel." That is not an exaggeration. My grandmother kept the family entertaining segregated. We were invited over when my father's father's family was in town. My father's brother was invited for actual fun party-type things--and for all I know, he was the only one invited. My mother and I were once excluded from a family reunion.

I could stretch a point and understand my mother, since she's only a Kiesel by marriage (although my grandmother was going and she, too, was only by marriage), but me? And I look like my father! Who looked like his father! What the hell?

I was in high school when the family reunion occurred, or just graduated, and I didn't particularly want to go. And I still find it all amusing. But it is telling that there is family on both sides that feels like they're being excluded, that they think they're being treated differently when what they're complaining about is being treated the same. This is what my whole family is like. It isn't any better on the inside than the outside because there doesn't seem to be any actual inside. No wonder I became a professional outsider.

*Joe Morelli
**That isn't strictly true. I have a cousin, Patty, who is my father's brother's daughter. I sent her a note when my mother died (pretty much the same note I sent my cousin Jeff) and found a message from her stepbrother—or maybe ex-stepbrother, since her father divorced his mother—in the mailbox last Friday. So I called and got condolences from him and I called to see how she was.

Patty was always slow, but I'm thinking years of antipsychotics have done a number on her. She didn't seem to know why I had called. It was hard to talk to her on a number of levels. (She's about ten years older than me I am, but even when I was in grade school, I had to slow way, way down for her.) I worry about her.
carose59: dreams (whose mind watches itself)
"I Don't Know, It's Authentic . . . Dead-Something."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

First I dreamed about more criminal activity, though I wasn't involved in it.

I was driving around in the little area in my neighborhood, just to the other side of Emerson Avenue. It's strange back in there. For about six blocks there are no north-south streets that go all the way through from 16th Street to 21st Street (the bigger streets where there are stoplights) and Emerson to Ritter Avenue. Also, there are more than four streets between 16th and 21st, and they wind around. They're all number streets, but there's 18th and 19th Place. There's also a creek, which is probably why the streets don't go through.

Anyway, I was driving around there and I kept seeing cars coming from a dead end. Somehow this told me that a crime had been committed and the police had set up a roadblock, and those cars were going to the dead end to turn around. (I'm very intuitive in my dreams.) So instead of continuing the way I had been, I got turned around to take a different route home.

There was lots of traffic because the police were looking for Brad Pitt. I don't know what he was supposed to have done. I decided to go to my grandmother's house on the south side.

(My grandmother's house isn't there anymore, it was torn down years ago and to the best of my knowledge, nothing has ever been built on the lot. But the house Pat and I lived in before this one reminded me a lot of that house, though the walls weren't old turquoise.)

There was a family gathering at my grandmother's house—and my grandmother, dead lo, these many years ago, was there. I told her about the manhunt for Brad Pitt and she offered me a cup of punch, which I took.

It wasn't a party, and it might have been a funeral because everyone was very subdued and wearing black. My grandmother turned on the radio so we could all listen to the news reports about Brad Pitt, and there was speculation that he might be hiding upstairs, but nobody went to look.

There were a lot of dead relatives there—in fact, mostly dead relative, but not my parents. And Pat was there, in a wheelchair, and my cousin Andrea was also there, also in a wheelchair. (I don't know why Andrea was in a wheelchair; she doesn't need one in real life. Also, she's not dead.) We were standing by a door that never existed that went to the basement. (There was a basement, just not a door to it in this location) and we were discussing who could get down the stairs in a wheelchair "best." I'm thinking best meant without injury or falling out of the chair, and I was trying to dissuade Pat and Andrea from trying to find out because I was pretty sure there was no "best" in this situation.

I woke up before either of them could try to wheel down the basement steps.

Then Saturday night I dreamed that my aunt Shirley (dead) had come to visit my mother (also dead.) I wasn't entirely sure where my mother was, but my cousins did and we went to see how she was. It turns out she was living in a small apartment about a Dollar General store. Rather than go in and upstairs, we climbed up on the the awning that was level with her window and just looked in. She was fine. She had friends visiting her. My aunt was there.

That sounds like a metaphor.

*Evan R. Lawson
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
I Have A Rock Garden. Last Week Three Of Them Died.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Yesterday my mother told me the same story four times.

I know it was the same story because of the hand gestures. They weren't identical. No, each time they were a little more precise, a little more nuanced. If those motions had been words, their emphasis and enunciation could have cut glass by the fourth time around. It was like she was speaking to a slow child.

Except, of course, she wasn't speaking.

People have told me to humor her. That doesn't work, anymore than it worked when she'd pretend to have understood what I said when she was tired of me repeating myself. We know each other too well. Smiling and nodding isn't an adequate response, and neither are generalities.** We're precise people. We're word people.

I'm aware that I'm now in a position similar to hers: when she speaks, I hear only mumbling, mostly. It does not make me more sympathetic; it pisses me off. When she couldn't hear me, she could yell at me to talk louder or to lower my register. I can't tell her to stop mumbling and use real words. If you're thinking, well, she can't help it,this is outside her control, I agree. But how deep and loud I'm able to speak isn't something I have a whole lot of control over either. I did my best, but it wasn't enough.***

I wish, I wish, I genuinely wish she would just shut up. I'm so tired of looking at her with my very best expression of devoted interest while she mumbles incoherently. In so many ways I am my father's daughter, inappropriately pragmatic. What is the point of wasting my time listening to my mother express ideas in sounds I cannot understand? If she was getting something out of it it would be different, but we're both frustrated.

But I have to be there because she wants me to be there, no matter how unsatisfying the experience is for both of us.

*Richard Diran
**The most bizarre thing about all of this is, she seems to be able to hear better. I have no idea how this is possible, but some of the staff members have commented on it.
***Please, put this on my tombstone.

*sigh* More of this

Sunday, 19 June 2016 12:14 am
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
I Don't Necessarily Agree With Everything I Say.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I feel like I should be writing about the stuff with my mother, but there just isn't anything to say. When I visited her today, she prayed for a while. I could tell this by her folded hands and her cadence. When I told her I was leaving, she kissed me, then she looked at my earrings, and then she pointed at my face the way you do when you're using your finger to count something. I have no idea what that meant.

I was talking to Diane today and I told her how the weirdest thing was the way words are interspersed with the unintelligible sounds, and it hit me why that's the thing that throws me so. It's the title of a James Thurber story, What do you mean it was Brillig? That emphasis on the was always cracked me up: the implication that the question isn't what the hell does brillig mean? but isn't it still brillig? is funny. And two sets of nonsense syllables connected by a real word is also funny. You can dismiss something that's nothing but nonsense, but if there's a little sense thrown in, your brain wants to parse it. At least, my brain does. We're pattern-seeking creatures.

I don't know what she wants. She practices writing her name, and she's doing very well. She's told me more than once that she's ready to go, but I've known for a while she's not who she thinks she is.

Probably nobody is. I work very hard at being who I think I am, but I probably fail a lot. My mother would say things like she didn't want people at the hospital with her, but that wasn't true. (She once needed an early morning ride to the hospital. I assumed I'd just be dropping her off. Two hours later—after she was settled in her room in her bed—I was home, with Pat asking me what had taken so long. But if you asked my mother, she would have told you I just dropped her off. I, on the other hand, really don't want anyone there when I go to the doctor or hospital. Dropped off at the curb works great for me.)

It's all so frustrating. I have to make decisions not knowing what she wants, not even knowing for sure who she is. Some days I'm not even sure who I am. And all I want to do is stay home and watch TV.

*Marshall McLuhan
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
When Cryptography Is Outlawed, Bayl Bhgynjf Jvyy Unir Cevinpl.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

My mother is getting speech therapy.

Yesterday she said "no" and "zipper."

The "no" was in answer to a question. I think the "zipper" was just to show that she could say it. I'm all in favor of them increasing the number of words she can say, but I wish they'd focus on the ones she really needs. None of her clothes have zippers, so saying zipper doesn't seem like a high priority to me.

They're also working on her writing. From what I could tell, she's been practicing her maiden name, and her twin brother's name. Since her legal name is now Kiesel, and since my uncle is now dead, again, I'm thinking this isn't the most productive use of her time. Of course, it could be what she's choosing to write, and maybe there's a message in there, only I don't have a secret decoder ring.

Talking to her is making me crazy. I can't understand anything she says, and she's been pulling that cat trick of staring over my head like something is about to land on me. It makes me nervous. I was looking around, but I've stopped doing that. Now I just look down and wait for her to look at me again.

For all I know she's seeing dead people. Before the stroke, my father was talking to her. Last I heard, he wanted a bed and new clothes. I told her he wasn't getting any new clothes, he was dead and he didn't need them.

This voice-hearing was about her deafness and her solitude. When you can't hear, your brain will make up stuff to entertain you. Why her brain chose my father complaining, I don't know. Before that it was a noise that wasn't there, and before that it was me arguing with an unknown man, and before that, it was me singing.

And if this sounds like she was losing her mind, kinda-sorta. We're crazy in my family, but we're also very grounded. At one point she told me if I was going to pray for her, I should pray to St. Joan of Arc because she heard voices, too. Nobody who talks like that about the unreal voices they hear is really crazy. It's possible to believe and disbelieve simultaneously, but it will never make you happy.

When I go to visit, I sit in a room with two TVs going, and a conversation behind a curtain, loud to be heard over the TVs, and sounds in the hallway, while my mother mumbles at me. Even if there were words strung together in actual sentences, I'd be having trouble following her—I've always had trouble with multiple simultaneous conversations. But this is like some terrible game: I've always felt inadequate, like I wasn't doing well enough, wasn't trying hard enough. Now it's marathon How Inadequate Are You?, where I spend eternities getting it wrong, having nothing to say, being helpless, drowning, wishing I were someplace else, wishing I could go to sleep, wishing I were dead. I just keep saying I'm sorry.

It doesn't help.

I wish we could be wordless and primal, just sit holding hands and being together. But my mother has things to say.

I got a call from a person the activities lady at the rehab center. She wanted to know what my mother enjoyed doing.

Well, she liked to read, but I have no idea if she still can. The last book I gave her, she snuggled with. She watched TV, but she can't really hear, so the volume level needed for her to know what's going on is likely to make her roommate deaf. She liked talking to people, but she can't make words; she liked keeping a diary, but she can't write. What the hell do you want from me?

I didn't say that. I think I whimpered helplessly.

The woman asked if she like to go outside and play games.

I think those were supposed to be two separate ideas, but I had to suppress the urge to say, "Yes! Tag and hopscotch are her favorite games!" I said I think she'd like to go outside, now that it's gotten really warm, but that I didn't know about games.

I told her if my mother wasn't interested in doing something, she was quite capable of making her disinclination known, and we agreed to use that guideline. And I sat and trembled for half an hour.

I don't know. I don't have any answers. I'm so tired I feel like I'm going to die, and the last time I felt like this, Pat died. So I'm not in very good shape.

*Bumper sticker

So, here's an update

Friday, 10 June 2016 10:33 pm
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
"Why Don't You Just Dot The O, And Be Tim?"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

My mother is making sounds and, very occasionally, words. It's disconcerting. She'll be muttering, saying, "Ruh-ruh-ruh-ruh," no words, but with the cadence of a conversation. And then it will be, "Ruh-ruh-ruh-ruh, but ruh-ruh-ruh-ruh," which, I have to tell you, is just freaky. The sounds-that-aren't-words is frustrating, but that occasional word thrown in is maddening. It's like a code I can't decipher.

Her eyes are bright. She's very engaged. She has a lot to say, but she can't make the words to say it. I have to keep telling her I can't understand her which frustrates her and leaves me feeling inadequate. I'm supposed take care of everything and how can I take care of things I don't understand?

She's doing speech therapy, and apparently—writing therapy? I don't know what you'd call it, but when I visited today she had a pen and paper and she's writing maiden name. The first few letters are good, readable, but the last few aren't. There were also a lot of loops and squiggles.

That was really odd for me. (And it is all about me.)

Before I learned to read, I was trying to learn to write. I wasn't trying to learn to read—I had no need to learn to read, people read to me. But nobody could write for me, and apparently I had things to say.

I knew what handwriting looked like, so I would make loops across a page—probably the only word I could have made from that would be "eel." I also understood about i's and t's—I knew you crossed some of them and dotted others. I would show this to my mother and ask if there were any words there.

I know now how bass-ackwards this was, not unlike saying nonsense syllables in the hopes of stumbling on language. But, to a very real extent, that's exactly how we learn to talk. A baby makes a "mmmmm" sound and the grownups go crazy and say claim they're saying mommy. Positive reinforcement makes the baby repeat that sound. Personally, I think that's how the words for mother came to be. M is a really easy sound to make.

That's probably enough digression.

I have no idea what's going on with my mother. She can't hear, she can't speak, and she can only see out of one eye. She's in kidney failure and she's in a-fib and she's not eating. But she's happy when I bring her sprigs of lavender and she has things to say, even if no-one can understand her.

*Steve Allen
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
"If That Was A Nod, Nod."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

The first time she slept the whole time. I put my hand on her back, against her skin, and watched TV for an hour. Then I left.

The second time I took a Dilly Bar—a butterscotch Dilly Bar. I didn't even know there was such a thing and I bought them by mistake. But she liked them so I took her one.

This time she was awake, her dinner sitting untouched on the table. But the Dilly Bar made her smile and she took several bites of it before she gave it back to me. I flushed the ice cream and threw away the stick. I took her some wet paper towels to wipe her face and hands and she was very offended when I tried to do it for her. She did a fine job of doing it herself.

I'd brought a book with me, in case she was asleep again. But she assumed it was for her and took it with pleasure, looking at the spot where my bookmark was and paging through it. But it was like with the rosary: she remembered this was a thing that made her happy, but she didn't really engage with it. But I left it with her.

She talked to me a lot, by which I mean she earnestly made sounds I couldn't understand. I tried to say things that might soothe her or be responsive or something, but I failed. I told her I loved her several times, but I have no idea if she heard me or understood me or anything. We spent a lot of time making what seemed like very intense eye contact. Finally she made a shooing motion at me. I asked if she wanted me to leave and she made what I thought were affirmative sounds. I told her I'd be back tomorrow and I left.

I think she's in there but she can't get out and we can only get in through tiny cracks. It makes me wonder if she should be DNR, if they should be working with her to help her communicate.

But she was DNR before all this; she's been DNR for a while now. And no-one but me seems to get just how deaf she is. She fakes it really well, but I know from my own attempts at talking loud enough just how hard this really is. It takes a patience most people don't have the time for and her faking it makes it even harder.

She's ready. At least, she's been telling me for some time that she's ready and if I can't take her at her word, I don't know how I can make any decisions at all. So I believe her and I follow through.

This all makes me think of my old cat, Mimi. She's apparently had a stroke in the night and was compulsively turning in a circle as thought trying to see her own butt. We took her to the vet where she acted perfectly normal and made me look like an idiot. But she still died not long after.

*Adrian Monk


Friday, 3 June 2016 11:18 pm
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
Who Else Loves You Enough To Send You Notes Written On Cats?*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Wednesday, I went to visit my mother. With me I took her fuzzy pink blanket, her rosary, and the Humphrey Bogart bag.

In the late seventies, Humphrey Bogart was very hot. You could buy things with his picture on them, and Pat bought a canvas bag. She had it when I met her.

When my mother was in the hospital with her broken leg, I gathered up the things she wanted and took them in the Humphrey Bogart bag. After that, Humphrey became my mother's companion whenever she was living away from home. She wasn't all that crazy about him as an actor, but she was very fond of him as a companion.

My mother was happy to see her fuzzy pink blanket; with some help, she spread it over her legs. She was happy to see her rosary and she fingered it earnestly the whole time I was there, moving her lips. But she wasn't saying the rosary. Maybe only a Catholic school girl would be able to tell the difference, but it was like watching someone turning the pages of a book, knowing they weren't actually reading: you can just tell. It was what I was expecting. I didn't bring the rosary for her to pray with; I brought it because she's told me how much she likes it, the way it feels in her fingers. I brought it for the same reason as the blanket: sensual comfort.

I was more hopeful with Humphrey, but she didn't recognize him. I brought him home again.

Yesterday evening, I went to visit my mother.

She was making an "Rrrr-rrrr" sound, very agitated, when I came into the room. They were restraining her wrists. She had been pulling out her IV and peeling off her heart monitor stickers. She's been in a-fib the whole time she's been there and they're giving her something for it, so she really needs to keep that IV in.

If you're going to read the next part, please read it through to the end.

Listening to my mother making frightened, pain-filled sounds, seeing her uncomprehending eyes, my heart broke. There is nothing in the world that hurts me like an animal in pain and not knowing how or why. For most people who react strongly to animals in pain it seems to be their innocence that's the big thing. For me it's the incomprehension that tears me up, that helplessness that comes from not knowing why you hurt. More than anything my mother seemed like a good old dog, hurting and abandoned and not knowing why this had happened to her.

There are people who would be appalled that I just compared my mother to a dog. But I don't consider humans better than animals. And I know my mother wouldn't be offended by it.

My aunt Shirley once asked if my mother wasn't worried about me being the one to make her end-of-life decisions and my mother said, "If she treats me half as well as she does her cats, I'll be fine." I got my value of animal life from my mother.

Today I just came home from work. My mother has been moved back to the rehab place she was in before, this time for something called Comfort Care. It's not rehab. She's not going to get better. Possibly she'll be moved back to the hospital. She won't be coming home.

I don't know how I feel.

*Jenny Lawson

Stroke of wings

Wednesday, 1 June 2016 04:11 pm
carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
When I found her, she was in a cage
smaller even than the one she had accustomed herself to.
Lead weights entrapped her fragile ankles and chicken wire bound her broken wings—
but still, somehow, she had fluttered to the window
where she perched, looking out with wide, enraptured eyes.

Years before, the sun had burned away all but the voices in her head; now
the moon had stolen her voice.

She would never sing again.

She didn't know me anymore
but the lovely summer day outside enchanted her.

An entire solar system couldn't take that from her.

Perhaps, in her own mind, she flew.

A memorable Memorial

Tuesday, 31 May 2016 03:33 am
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
"Through The Mouth And The Nose. The Usual Method, In Fact. God Gave Us These Orifices To Breathe Through, And Who Am I To Condemn Him? I Think You Can't Breathe Through Anything Else. If You Start Breathing Through Your Ears, You Can't Hear Yourself Speak For The Rushing Of The Wind."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

After three days of doing pretty much nothing, I decided to try accomplish something today. So I went over to my mother's house and did some laundry.

I got four loads done altogether. I finished the last one around eight. I took it and hung it up, then went back over to lock up.

Once the basement was locked, I went upstairs to let my mother know. She was sitting in the chair by the TV, alternately looking out the window and looking in the mirror. She didn't look at me when I spoke to her.

I sat down and tried to get her attention, but she didn't seem to know I was there. I touched her hand and she realized I was there, but she didn't say anything.

By that time I was scared to death. I called 911 and told them I thought my mother was having a stroke.

The firemen came first, then the paramedics. They had as much luck getting my mother to talk as I had. I gave them all the information, then rode in the ambulance to the hospital.

Everyone was nice. I told them about my mother's stroke in October, I assured them that the last time I saw her—around one in the afternoon—she was fine, and by fine I meant the way she's been since October. Yes, she was talking. Since she started losing her hearing, her philosophy has been that she doesn't have to listen to other people anymore, she can do the talking.

Her heart was doing things—she was in afib. I held her hand for a while. They took her for a cat scan.

I waited for five hours, having a panic attack the whole time. Finally, around one thirty, I asked if I could go home.

My cellphone had died—that is, the battery. The phone itself is dying too. Since I'd ridden there in the ambulance, I had to take a cab home. Except for driving to the wrong entrance (the professional building instead of the ER), it was fine. I got home and called Meg, who came bounding into the house. Now he's laying next to me, occasionally mouthing my wrist. My panic attack is abating. I'll be going to bed soon.

I don't know what's going on. I don't know what to hope for.

*Sir Arthur Steeb-Greebling
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
"I Have Been Asked To Tell You That Your Cries Of Anguish Are Keeping The Whole Neighborhood Awake!"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Monday night, my mother called to tell me she had a sore throat and wanted to go to the doctor the next day.

So, Tuesday morning I made her an appointment at a medcheck place. They did a strep culture on her, but she had no fever and the culture came back negative. They diagnosed allergy and gave her a prescription for a nasal spray. She enjoyed going to the doctor and talking to them.

After that, she wanted to go to to Fazolli's and pick up spaghetti. That was going fine until it wasn't; suddenly it was all too much for her and we had to go home. Of course it wasn't that easy; it took a few minutes for them to give us the food we'd paid for, and I had to actually drive home.

Once we got there, she had a hard time getting out of the car, and I was almost thinking she'd had another stroke. I asked if she wanted to go to the hospital, but no, she wanted to go into her house. Instead of her walker, I'd gotten her wheelchair and I wheeled her to the steps. (She refuses to have a ramp.) She made it up the steps and into the house, utterly exhausted. I went to work, wondering if I was doing the right thing, leaving her alone, not arguing about the hospital.

Yesterday evening, she called to have me come over because she'd fallen. One problem we have is that the wheelchair slips on the hardwood floors. (I'm going to get some rubber mats.) I don't know if that's what happened, but she seemed fine, she was herself. I got her settled in bed and came home and felt awful because everything is my responsibility and I never know what to do and she won't listen to me.

This morning, before I left for work, she called again. She was trepidatious about getting herself to the bathroom and wanted me to come over and watch her. I got dressed, went over, and watched her get herself to and from the bathroom and took her a bottle of water. She didn't want any food.

This evening, she called for me to come and watch her go to the bathroom again. After that, she wheeled herself into the dining room where her chair is. She was in good spirits, except for crying about Grandma and how hard the end of her life was. I got her a Boost and some more water. She didn't want anything to eat.

I can't make her eat.

I can't make her do anything. I can try to persuade her, but she listens to me even less than she used to.

She tells me pretty much every time we talk that this has been going on too long, that she's ready to go. I'm already mourning.

*Linus Van Pelt
carose59: dreams (whose mind watches itself)
"No, My Brain Is Distracting Me, And There's Nothing Anyone Can Do About It."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Sunday night, I dreamed the police were looking for my cousin Patrick. They wanted to question him about a list they had found—a list of kitten names. They suspected he was planning to get another kitten. Although having a cat wasn't a problem, conspiracy to acquire a kitten was a very serious offense.

I've been thinking lately that cats are authority figures in my dreams, and this backs that up. Because the only one (besides Patrick himself) who would object to him having a kitten would be Little Cat.

Monday night, I was stuck in a loop of promos for BBC comedies. They were all amazingly glitzy and glamorous, with sparkling chandeliers and long, curved gilt staircases, and the laugh tracks were really loud. I was somehow both inside the stories and outside, watching (which happens a lot in my dreams), and friend kept recommending various show to me, but I felt no enthusiasm for any of them. The shows, that is. I have no idea where this came from.

Tuesday night, I went shopping with my mother. We went to a flea market—not someplace my mother would have been interested in. My father's the one I got my love of flea markets and garage sales from. I didn't want to go. I told her I have a very hard time making decisions about buying things unless I have a specific purpose for what I'm buying, and I really didn't need anything. But she insisted and we went in.

It was in a tent, a big black one. At the first table, there was a man selling iguanas. He kept them in shoeboxes—it was like they went into suspended animation until they were taken from their boxes. He was playing with one when we came in, a bright yellow one, the color of a gumdrop. It didn't look real. He started telling this horrible story about cats attacking and killing iguanas.

I kept trying to leave, but my mother and this man were insistent that what I really needed was an iguana—but not the yellow one. The man got out a different box, and inside it was something he said was an iguana. It was more like a skink, only it was really big and had very subdued rainbow colored fur. I did not like the looks of it and didn't want it, but they kept telling me Meg would think it was another cat (like Meg would consider that a good thing). I don't remember how it turned out, although I do remember feeling very relieved when I woke up.

Very often as I start writing down a dream, I won't know where the component parts came from, but as I write, realizations occur. With this one, I think the skink is actually a cucumber I bought the other day for Meg. Not to eat, or to scare him with, but to keep the ants away from his food when he eats in the bathroom window. I don't know, sometimes it seems like my mind is just playing a weird version of MadLibs.

*Trace Beaulieu
carose59: health matters (an intuition of mortality)
"Well, Perhaps You Should Consider That Your Delusion Is That You're Not Delusional."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

On April eleventh, a woman From Alere came out and showed me how to stick my mother's finger and test her Coumadin level. She was very nice and held my hand, which was a mistake. I didn't get the hang of it, but I didn't know it at the time.

The next Monday, I went over to test my mother again. Only I kept getting error codes. I stabbed my mother several times, wasted several of what I had been assured were expensive test strips, and upset the hell out of myself. I didn't get a reading, and finally I went home.

I went back over the next day and did the same thing. I used up six weeks' worth of strips in two days.

I got a call from Alere, asking why I hadn't called in the results. My answer was that I hadn't gotten a reading, that I was having a lot of trouble. The woman I spoke to asked me to elaborate on this, and almost immediately I found out that either she was confused or I had been trained wrong. I was assured that she would talk me through the procedure, and all I could think was, how can I hold the phone and do this at the same time?

(Of course I could use the speaker phone, but that's where my stress level is now. And it wouldn't work anyway, because telling my mother that I was talking on the phone getting instructions would not be enough to shut her up so I could concentrate and hear somebody else talking. She wouldn't stop talking when the first woman was there training me.)

Anyway, I didn't do anything at all except duck their calls.

Until yesterday, when I decided to answer.

I talked to another very nice woman, and I explained everything. I told her my problem was twofold: I can't see what I'm doing, and I can't feel it. I stick her and the blood starts, but I can't see where it's coming from. And since I can't feel it, I just don't know what I'm doing. Oh, and my mother doesn't help.

She isn't unco-operative, but she won't move closer to me, just holds her hand out to a point where I can barely reach it.

And I told her that I'd been avoiding their calls because I cannot do this, and while I have no problem telling them I can't do it, I wasn't up for arguing with someone about how incompetent I am, trying to convince them I'm incompetent. Bad enough to be incompetent without having to argue someone into believing me. Not that they ever believe you, they just think you're a quitter. Anyone can do this, anyone. If you can't do it, it's because you're not trying.

The woman was very nice and said she understood and didn't believe me. And I had to argue with her about it.

Then we moved to the second part of my pathetic life, the part where I have no friends or family who could do this instead of me.

Well, I don't. I can't even imagine who I would ask to come over every week to do this.

The woman was very insistent about all this, and when I said that maybe we just needed to have somebody come and do the testing, she said that was an option, but it would be expensive.

Of course, Alere isn't in the business of sending out nurses, they're in the business of selling home health supplies. So I don't particularly trust what she has to say on the subject.

And now I have to call somebody.

*Dr. Lance Sweets
**Alere Inc. is a global diagnostic device and service provider.
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
"I Can Think Of One Logical Starting Place: Why Do You Think You're The Only One Who Hears Dogs?"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Monday, my mother called me to ask me if there was a tornado watch in effect because she was hearing a siren. There was no tornado watch. I was at work, so she called Patrick to come over and see what was making the noise.

When I got home, he was on the front porch and told me he'd talked to her, but had not heard a noise. When I went over to her house, my mother told me Patrick had heard the noise but couldn't find it, and now it had stopped. I don't know if he told her he heard it or not.

One thirty in the morning she calls me. The noise is back. "What do you want me to do?" I asked. Nothing. I told her I needed to get back to sleep. Oh, it doesn't matter what time she calls, she sleeps all day. "Well, I can't do that," I said and hung up.

Tuesday she called me again. The noise was back. I was at work and nothing I said seemed to get through. I told her I'd see her when I got home. She said she'd call Patrick.

I called Patrick and told him to tell her it was the dehumidifier in the basement. He did that. He also unplugged the dehumidifier. (Yes, he unplugged the real machine to make the imaginary noise stop.) She's still hearing the noise. Maybe it's going to set something on fire.

This isn't a hallucination, it's her bored brain. Deaf people hear things that aren't there because their brains get bored. She knows this. But she won't listen to me when I tell her. Today I tried again and she wanted to know why she should believe me. "Because I can hear and you can't," I said.

"How do we know that?" she asked.

I got up to leave.

I have more than enough problems with reality and figuring out what is and isn't. Every time she pulls this crap, I feel like I'm being pulled down the rabbit hole. It shakes me.

I've always been stupidly sensitive, annoyed by sounds that other people barely noticed. My mother always brushed it off, as though I was somehow deliberately being annoyed, looking for something to bother me. This is not the case. She was never sympathetic about it. But now I have to listen while she talks about sounds that aren't there and might set the house on fire.

Life sucks.

*Tony Peterson

Problems from last July

Thursday, 7 April 2016 05:49 pm
carose59: my mother's family (it seems to absolve us)
"Well, Lucky For Me, I Speak Delusional."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-*

[I wrote this back in July. I don't know why I didn't post it then. I guess everything worked out, since I haven't gotten any more phone calls since. I'm not sure why I'm posting it now, either, since I doubt anyone reading it will be much interested.]

A couple of weeks ago, my uncle had a stroke.

He's doing quite well; they released him after about forty-eight hours. First he (and my aunt) went to my cousin Molly's house, now he (and she) are home. But my uncle still needs someone besides my frail, petite aunt to look after him.

So Patrick's spending the night with them.

Twice now, my aunt (who has dementia) has called my mother to ask her to look out the window to see if Patrick's car is there. The problem is, the bushes are grown up quite a lot, so my mother can't see. So she calls me.

I can't see out either, so I have to get out of bed and actually go outside.

The first time, it was about eleven-thirty, and Patrick had just spoken to his mother at ten-thirty. He doesn't get off work until eleven, and he comes home to feed his cat before going over.

The second time, it was only ten-thirty, so he would still have been at work.

Monday, I talked to my mother about this. I advised telling my aunt that Patrick would be there soon, and offering to talk to her until he arrived. (My aunt finds my mother comforting; she's known my mother since she was seventeen, longer than pretty much anyone except my uncle.) Actually trying to ascertain Patrick's whereabouts is pointless; my aunt is anxious and needs calming down. She doesn't remember the information she's been given, so what difference does it make what the information is?

And, yes, I'm annoyed because my sleep gets interrupted. The inconvenience of getting out of bed is less minor when you're wearing a C-PAP mask. Even answering the phone is complicated. (You start off at a very low pressure and it ramps up as the night passes until you're where you're supposed to be. Stopping and starting means going back to a much lower pressure than you should be on.)

And if I open the front door, Meg assumes it's time to go out and play and has to be herded away from the door and gets cranky and won't come cuddle with me. I need all the cuddling I can get.

Jim Longworth
carose59: mental health care (and the pelican says)
[Originally posted elsewhere January 9, 2010]

When I talk about myself as emotionally unstable, I'm being literal. I'm taking both Cymbalta and Clonazepam. Both of my grandfathers were alcoholics, and one of them had a grandmother who was manic-depressive. There's agoraphobia and panic attacks slithering around on one grandmother's side.

And the second grandmother? That's where you hit mental instability pay-dirt. All but one of my father's uncles died in the mental hospital. That one was the over-achiever of the family; he died in prison.

My father was manic-depressive, heavy on the manic, hospitalized many times, on Lithium when he died.

My mother has panic attacks and has had serious agoraphobia. She (and I) have the symptoms of one of the milder forms of manic-depression, heavy on the anxiety (and with me depression), light on the mania.

Like my father, I'm high-functioning. (The man would come out of the mental hospital and go right back to work. His only addiction was to cigarettes, and he took his medication religiously.) I don't drink, smoke, gamble, or have random sexual encounters. I was in a committed relationship that lasted twenty-five years and ended only because she died five years ago. I've held the same job for thirty years. After some moving around, Pat and I settled in a house next door to my parents, and have been here since 1986. I'm not in debt. I've never been arrested. I am overweight and my house is a mess. The only one who's diagnosed me is me, and my mother concurs. When I told all this to my last psychiatrist, I told him I was mildly manic-depressive, but not very good at it.

I describe myself as emotionally unstable because my emotions are where the instability shows. I cry easily, I have periods where I feel (metaphorically) as though I'm standing on a wobbly stool with my hands tied behind my back. I have periods where I feel as though my shadow is simply too heavy, and periods where the weight of other people's thoughts keep me immobilized. (I tell my therapist these things and she writes them down because they're both poetic and accurate. There are some things you can only be accurate about by being poetical.)

Besides all that, I'm terribly nearsighted and have an over-active imagination. Life comes at me in puzzling images that my imagination interprets before the rational part of my mind gets a chance. Those interpretations could be scary when I was a little girl, but now they're usually amusing.

I honestly don't understand most other people, which makes them potentially dangerous. I'm always saying things that seem perfectly reasonable to me, but upset other people, and they almost never tell me what they're upset about. (I do have a very silly sense of humor and a very serious way of expressing myself, which confuses people.)

I don't feel compelled to write this—I write about this stuff all the time in my private journal. I'm writing it because I want to, because if people are angry or upset with me because of nothing more than misunderstandings, this seems the easiest way to clear them up.


Wednesday, 2 March 2016 07:49 pm
carose59: amusements (a medley of extemporanea)
[Originally posted elsewhere December 18, 2005]

Five things about today

1) I had a very strange dream last night. I was sitting at a picnic table outside a grade school where a TV station was doing an interview with Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer. I have no idea what I was doing there, but during the whole interview Robert Downey, Jr. was eating vanilla ice cream, and every so often Val Kilmer would surreptitiously flick some onto his face. It happened several times and Robert Downey, Jr. never caught on how it was happening, he thought he was doing it himself, and he kept apologizing for his messy eating. Just before I woke up Val Kilmer smiled at me like, "He's cute, but God is he dumb."

2) I'm watching America's Sweethearts right now because for the last three days I've had Julia Roberts in my head saying, "Kiki! Someone in the universe is smoking, Kiki! Make them stop!" and I have to hear her actually say it again or it will never go away.

3) I'm having a hard time organizing my thinking, so if there's any way Christmas could be postponed a few days, it would really help me out.

4) Earlier there was a mouse taunting me. Really. It was over by the closet door squeaking at me. I'm thinking it was either telling me it wasn't going to go near my traps, or it was demanding I bring it a cookie.

5) It's snowing again.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

[Originally posted elsewhere January 21, 2007]

My mother's car hasn't been starting lately—probably the battery, since it only goes on very short trips unless I need to drive to work. Anyway, she went out yesterday to see if she could get it started.

My phone rings, and it's my mother. She tells me she's out in her car, it won't start, she's talking about what it's doing and not doing. She lives right next door to me, so while we're talking, I'm putting on my coat, and I go out to talk to her. When I reached the car, I said, "I'm right here by the car now."

She looked out the window at me and said into the phone, "I have to go now. My daughter's here."


Thursday, 25 February 2016 07:08 pm
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
"The Only Reason They Don't Give This Job To The Service Robots Is They've Got A Better Union Than Us."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I have to take my mother to the doctor. Several doctors, actually—well, two doctors and Coumadin clinic. They're all separate appointments, each one a trip unto itself.

And I hate it.

I hate her going out of the house. I hate watching her walk down the front steps and down to the car. I can't watch her, it makes me sick to my stomach with anxiety. I see her falling, I see Pat falling, and there's nothing I can do. She won't let me help her.

I cannot deal with it.

I have no choice.

And we get there, and I get her out of the car, into a wheelchair which I park in the lobby, the car sitting blocking traffic; I run back to the car, park, hurry back, wheel her wherever she needs to go. Talk to the receptionist, relay information, park my mother, take a seat. Wait.


Wheel her back, make polite conversation, wish I was dead. It's like I'm not really there. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I wasn't.

Then everything in reverse until finally I can go home and sit and cry.

I wish I knew what was going on in her head. She doesn't seem to like me anymore. She doesn't seem to care if she sees me or not. I tell myself it's just how she is now, but maybe it's my fault because I'm acting different. I don't know how not to act different. I can't talk to her anymore. I mean that literally—there's no point to it, she can't hear what I say and she's not interested anyway.

I feel like I've spent half my life trying to hold back the tide with my bare hands. Sometimes Meg is the only one I love, because Meg is uncomplicated. Meg just loves me, and even when I don't give him what he wants, I'm not a disappointment.

I'm a disappointment to me.

The one thing I know isn't my fault is the voices my mother hears. I'm not talking about hallucinations; she hears voices because of how deaf she is. Apparently when you go deaf, you brain gets bored and gives you things to hear. She's been hearing me talking and singing for years now—when I'm not there. Of course, when I am there, she can't hear me. Of course.

But lately it's become my responsibility, the things I say when I'm not there. It's like her telling me how when she dreams about Daddy, he's always just the same. It's like it's not coming out of her mind, it's how things really are. I've tried pointing this out, but she's not interested.

*Dave Lister

July 2017

23456 78

Style Credit