Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Learning to stay

I wrote this post awhile ago and I think that this is a good time to publish it.

I've been reading a book, "The Places that Scare You," by Pema Chodron.

While there is a lot of good stuff in the book, the key thing I'm learning is to stay with difficult feelings and not cower from them or medicate them away.

Chodron says that difficult feelings in response to an event are based on a judgement that something will likely be bad.

The reality is that we just don't know how things will work out.

The tricky bit is to have an open heart and mind and not assume that something will be good or bad. Just wait..."stay"...and see what happens.

In the book, Chodron tells the story of a small village and that an only child, a son, of some farmers was thrown from a horse and was injured. He was so injured that he would never be able to work on the farm to support his aging parents in the way that he had in the past.

Shortly thereafter, a call went out to all the men in the village to go fight a battle. Because the son was so injured, he couldn't go to fight.

As it turns out, all of those called to war were killed and the injured son, while not able to works as hard as he once could, was at least able to be there for his aging parents and care for them. They were grateful that he was still alive and he was grateful that he could help his parents.

You never know how something will work out.

I struggle to stay without judgement and see what happens in my situation with H.

A coupla a snippets

Lost at the mall

I come home from work yesterday and H is not there. One of the cars is gone, so I figure that he's gone to visit a neighbor. I don't like him driving and I discourage it...my therapist tells me that I just need to take the car keys (just like I took the stove knobs).

After awhile, he comes back and tells me that he's been to the mall...his dad gave us some gift cards and H was just looking to spend them.

Later in the evening, he tells me that he couldn't find the car in the mall parking lot after he went shopping. Well, he knew where the car was, he said, but he couldn't remember out how to get to the car on foot. Now, the lot he parked in is where we usually park when we go the mall.

I'm glad that he told me about this incident and I responded with calmness and interest...not anger as I often do.

H has had a recurring dream about going to the mall and then not being able to find the car...the mall is too big to go around and too confusing to go through. So, he can't get home. Usually, he wakes up without being able to find the car.

Odd how reality echoes dreams...

Happily, it ended well and H went to mall security to help them find the car. They did and H drove home.

Anger is easier

I have been struggling with anger towards H for a long time. And the anger motivates me. Unfortunately, anger also is not the way that I'd like to respond to H (or to anyone, really). Instead of using anger to derive my strength, I need to let my love for H drive the right outcome for us.

But it is easier to feel angry than to focus on my love for H and for doing the right thing out of love. With anger, I don't have to feel the sadness, fear, distress...you name it. If I focus instead on the love I have for him, it is very upsetting, as you would expect.

And, if I focus on love, then I can center on what is best for H (and for me) as opposed to "I have to get him out of the house or I will go crazy (which is also true)." At this point, the focus needs to be keeping H safe, regardless of all the other issues.

Taking account

I've begun to write down what is going on with H. For example, leaving the windows open, leaving the burner on, getting lost at the mall. I need to focus on what is actually happening as opposed to what H says about his abilities and what I wish were true.

In many ways, I am grateful that these things are happening now...suddenly and in a cluster.

I need to be objective about what is going on with him. I will need this info as I yes, once again, consider placement for him.

Sad to say that what is happening is, in fact, happening. Been here before with dementia, except these types of things usually happen when his viral load is high. Right now, his viral load is effectively zero.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

One of my jobs...

I came home last night and found the gas stove burner on. He managed to cook some eggs (even tho' I had made him some earlier...he "didn't see them"), but forgot to turn off the burner.

I came home the night before and H had left the house, but left many windows open. "Well, at least I turned on the security alarm," he said.

In the past, I've jut gotten mad at him about these types of things, but after he got up from his nap and over dinner, we talked about this. I wasn't mad this time, just weary and concerned.

"One of my jobs is to keep you safe, H," I opened, "and I'm not certain that I can do that. Yesterday, you left the house open and today, you left a burner on."

"What am I going to do if I can't keep you safe at home?" I asked.

"Well, I'm not usually this bad," he says.

"Yea, but you are worried about strangers in the neighborhood and being robbed, but then you leave the house open and you tell all the neighbors that you have AIDS and take pain meds and smoke pot. You told me you wouldn't cook, but then you do...do you know that this is the 3rd time you've left the burner on?"

Now, this is all on top of a simple repair I asked him to be home for last week (unclogging the kitchen drain) that turned into a $600 bill because the tech took advantage of him IMO. I'm disputing the charge with the CC company now.


While this is all somewhat distressing, it is just the most recent examples at how impaired H really is.

If there is good news in this, it is that safety issues can be the precipitating event where I have to place him. The worry is that I don't know how bad this will get when.

In any case, I've hidden the knobs from the gas range and it can't be operated without the knobs. But, this is just a workaround for that one issue.

At least with a kid, you get a sense of what they can and cannot do and you adjust. And you know that over time, they will become more capable, not less. In this case, however, you just don't know what to expect.