Monday, April 12, 2010

The "Why me?" syndrome...

Do you feel this way? These past few weeks I have drifted in and out of this thought. It is not always negative, as you can look at it as if the event, or events, are  happening to you for a specific reason...this is the glass half full approach. The glass half empty approach has you screaming from the roof tops
with a bottle of hard liquor in your hands and your self pity overflowing.
I feel I have kept my syndrome in check. But man oh man the last few weeks have been trying. I can only thank my amazing coworkers, parents, and husband for their strenghth and skill through all this.
Our trials and tribulations on this ranch don't always have to do with animals, gardens, or where we are going to adventure next. Rather, because of the humongo responsibility a large piece of property holds, family is rather heavily involved. And with family comes more family, and more respnsibility at times. These last 3 weeks have held the usual burden of practically no days off for quite a stretch for me, as well as our entire family getting wipped out by a double whamee virus, but that we can deal with. What follows we never saw coming till it was upon us, literally sitting in our laps.
Aldine is my husband's grandmother. She is 95, born in 1914, and is quite the amazing lady. I mean, really, when is the last time YOU had a conversation with a 95 year old? She doesn't take ANY medications, has NEVER had surgery, and besides some poor eye site, gets around quite well.  She has lived with us part time for two years, with Alex's mother Gloria. The past 2 months we have been with her full time. So yes, folks, we have a one year old, and a 95 year old living within 50 feet of each other, (seperate houses mind you, but still, close quarters.) The dream of having your family all together may be nice, but I tell you, it is HARD work. And sometimes a bit impossible.
Lately Aldine's stories of her childhood, her loving late husband, and her job with the telephone company have left her, and in their place are the rather uninviting stories of poisoned food, a house that will blow up, and people loosing arms. Her hallmark place in her rocking chair in front of the woodstove have been replaced by jaunts on her hands and knees through poison oak and berry bushes, when she escapes the house.
No joke.
And it gets far worse, but I don't need to go there, you get the picture.
Alzheimers Dementia...advancing quickly.
So quickly, that we, for awhile, couldn't figure out how to get Aldine into town, to a doctor, where she desperately needed medical advice, prescription drugs, to help stop the voices.
She stopped eating and drinking as the voices told her it was poisonious.
I truly have never felt so helpless. She started wandering, getting combative. We called 911 and they wouldn't come, not a true medical emergency and we just live too far out in the sticks.
So, taking matters in our own hands we, (or Alex, my one and only....:-) scooped her up and drove her to the local ER one hour a way sandwiched between family. Thankfully my parents just happened to be "spring breaking" and up for the week, (some spring break huh mom and dad!) And having them here was truly a godsend. Aldine, got the help she deserved, we got the assistance we all had been craving, and finally this crazy chapter has come to an end.
So, my "why me?" syndrome has concluded as well...because I now know the anwser to "why me?"
Why not me?
This time in my life gave me an extroardinary amount of knowledge about our elders, the struggles we all face, how ill equipped Medicare leaves us to help our family get longterm care, and how a person WITHOUT medical knowledge or a healthcare connection could become so, hugely lost in the system. What would have happened if I was not a PA, who happened to work in an ER? Would my family still be living the nightmare that was 1 week ago? And more importantly, would Aldine be living in her nightmarish brain, with voices telling her her worst fears?
Now THAT is a scary thought.
So, moral of the story,
1)Please, GET a primary care provider, even if you are so against doctors you are 95 and haven't seen one in 20 years. EVEN if you don't take a single medication! And if you are caring for an individual, please, get them a doctor.
2) Have a plan for yourself, even if you are the tender age of 29, (ehhh hmmmm). I've heard rumors of our new healthcare system offering a set up to pay into a fund for money towards nursing home care should you need it later in life. This is huge. I still need to research it.
3) Always, always remember that the sweet, elderly person you call grandma who is now yelling at the top of their lungs to "hit the decks, people are shooting!" is not really aware of what they are doing. The relative you once knew is in there somewhere, but it will get you nowhere trying to reason with them.
4) And to end things....One day at a time. There were days this last month that we all wanted to escape. I work...funny how work can be your escape sometimes. EGGGH. But, as so many people have said before, "this too shall pass...." And it has. Aldine is now enroute to a new place, an Alzheimers care home, that can give her much better, educated, and well rounded care, and we can go on with our lives....forever changed.


Ashley said...

Sounds rough Katie!!! I have had a little experience with demented grandparents whom were losing their minds, and it is truly sad to watch. I am not looking forward to the day when my parents are that old, or myself!!! She is lucky to have good family to take care of her and help her to be somewhere that can take care of her better than you! I often remind myself of the "this too shall pass" saying!! You have had a crazy month!!

Ashley said...

P.S. I like your new look on blog!!

Amy Musser said...

wow Katie! I had no idea she was still living with you. She was definitely an interesting woman to meet when Sara and i were there 2 summers ago. I am glad to know it is taken care of. Very scary to think about (Grandma Sylvia sadly has early signs).

Sheelagh said...

WOW! I have been feeling that why me feeling later and this kinda puts it in perspective a bit more. I might have 3 kids to care for, but a one year old and a 95 year old woman, now that is truly amazing! Crazy-ness!I'm glad you got this all worked out and can start getting back to normal in your home life now.

Jonna said...

Oh, Katie, how rough. You guys did great. I looooove that pic of Forrest, by the way. It's an amazing shot.

Roundy Clan said...

I have had the "why me's" lately too! Hope it gets better or easier for you.

Fultmeyer Clan said...

Thanks for the good words all! It is getting better...and Aldine is actually liking her new home. They have two "therapy" dogs she adores....!