Love is Watching Someone Die

When I think about aging parents, I think about that Death Cab for Cutie song, “What Sarah Said” and I’m reminded about mortality, responsibility and the inevitability of death. And when I reflect on my own personal decision to have a child at 20, it made sense considering what happened to my dad when I was 17 and what is happening to my mom now that I am 26.

I spoke with my therapist last night. She asked me to envision life as a single parent. As a divorced parent. And I wasn’t on the emotional plane to address it before so we went there via meditation and all I could see was my son, Jackson. Being there as a mom for him. Jumping out of a plane with him. Scuba diving with him. Falling asleep under the stars with him. And when she asked me what it all meant, I still wasn’t sure but I said I wanted to be there for him. I wanted to be able to be that parent that experienced these moments with their child. I didn’t want to be the one watching from behind. I didn’t want to be like my parents. I realized I could do all of this regardless of my marital status. I realized what was more important to me was being a parent. And that I order for my son to be fearless, I have to lead by example.

So as the side story goes, I thought about it some more today. That it kind of ties into the fact that I have experience with older parents and how their deaths/illnesses have caused a sort of manifestation of this fear of prematurely dying. The whole mortality thing.

My mom has been in a senior home since last October/November due to her Alzheimer’s and it’s going to sound so crappy but it really has been for her own good to be there. The thing is people like to pass judgment without knowing or better yet wanting to know all of the extenuating factors that go into a situation. Sure, it’s so easy to say, “I’d never do that to my parents … etc.” but you don’t know until you’re there. You don’t know until you come home and your house is almost on fire because they insist on burning trash in the house, they’re throwing your cats outside because they felt like it, they’re leaving the house whenever they want and getting lost because they have sundowning. And this is just what typically happens in a week.

I’m watching my mom’s head go down the drain. She can carry a conversation with me. She knows who I am. And she’s dead set on getting the hell out of there and getting her independence back. Everyone she talks to thinks that she is okay but she’s not fooling me. I’ve known her all of my life. I know every curveball, every bit of manipulation, everything. But she doesn’t believe she had stroke only because she doesn’t remember it nor does she believe she in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

And I don’t want to, but now I have to file for a power of attorney and for legal guardianship over her. I know she is about to serve me papers soon. I know it’s going to get ugly really soon. But I can’t let her sleep on the streets anymore when she goes out and can’t find her way home and refuses to call me. I can’t let her live out these fantasies of being able to go back into the workforce at 71 after several TBIs thinking it’ll be alright. I have to be responsible. I have to take care of her the only way that works best for both of us because no one from her side of the family wants to deal with her anymore. She refuses to live with me and I refuse to give up my sanity. I love her. So much that I am willing to be the one she hates until she dies as long as she is safe.

This Failing Body

It’s been an interesting week.

Last Thursday, I wasn’t even able to really get out of bed. I woke up feeling extremely disoriented, lethargic and of course, how could I forget to mention that my cellphone (which I conveniently kept beside me in bed) was spinning faster than a record player going at 78 RPM. And I knew it was vertigo right away.

Seeing my phone spin like it was possessed was probably one of the trippiest things I’ve seen in my life (believe me, I’ve seen a whole lot of shit). I rolled over in bed and found myself in what I can describe as an unfinished Dali surrealistic painting. The whole world was askew. The door to the bathroom was ten feet away but it felt like I was trying to source some kind of mysterious oasis in the middle of the barren desert a hundred miles away. Needless to say, I was down. I didn’t get anything done that day and I was kicking myself every minute of it because I like to stay busy. And of course, the pressure of the headache was insane.

I considered a lot of things and did my best to stay away from WebMD. I just knew I felt crappy overall.

I called off work. For the week. I feel kind of guilty about it but then again, I preferred that to crabwalking into walls at work.

I went to see my doctor on Saturday. It’s a clinical diagnosis, but I have chronic migraines and suffer from icepick headaches (which actually makes a whole lot of sense). She prescribed me topiramate (for other reasons too) which should help prevent the migraines overall. I’m still waiting for the pharmacy to get it together so I can pick it up.

I’m glad something is being done about this because I’ve experienced this in the past, but the episodes lasted a few minutes as opposed to every other day. On the other hand, I’m starting to feel a certain negative way about aging. Obviously, I don’t care too much about how I’ll look and whatnot, but it’s the idea of my physical body failing me that is slowly creeping in on my psyche. I know everyone goes through their own things but I’m so much more conscious of what seems to ailing others now. Before, I only had my thoughts and emotions to battle, but now it’s the idea of aging with all sorts of ailments and illnesses that bothers me.

And of course, knowing my family’s medical history doesn’t seem to help with my nerves. I’m still going to do my best to embrace it. But the fear is still there, losing my mind and my body through time.

Which also brought me to begin to ponder about my past so I can get clarification for the future.

I fell pretty hard one time. And it’s crazy that I can still remember it like it happened yesterday. It was the late afternoon because the sun was still shining through the little bathroom window of the apartment I grew up in from the age of infancy to seven. I was about five when this happened. I had created a greeting card for my mom and decided for whatever odd reason to hang it up on the showerhead that was mounted ridiculously high (because of course she would eventually have to shower, says my five year old brain). With the card in hand crafted out of red construction paper, I climbed on top of the toilet’s water tank adjacent to the bathtub and reached forward to hang the card. I remember falling and like all great stories, everything went black.

I woke up in bed with my mom tickling my ear with a Q-tip and my nostrils stuffed with tissue. I asked her what happened. She was at the sewing machine when she heard a loud crash. My mom found me in the bathtub facing upward and obviously knocked out cold. I was bleeding from my nose and both of my ears (hence the Q-tips). She brought me to bed and cleaned me up. I was probably gone for 30 minutes to an hour.

I wonder if the icepick headaches (and a variety of other things) I occasionally get have to do with that incident. I wonder a lot about how that affected things. Maybe I’m just trying to resolve some doubts in my head.

I remember being on the phone with a nurse two years ago.  I had called the 24-hour nurse hotline for some reason and somehow it ended up with me telling her about the bathtub incident. I felt her voice crack as she began to choke up. She asked me why I wasn’t taken to the hospital. And all I could say was that I didn’t know. And in the background, I heard her whisper to herself, “Why?” again. I knew she passed judgment on my mom’s call and that she felt sorry for me.

I’m going back for my physical soon and this time, I do want to find out about the aftershock of the fall. So fingers crossed that despite how bad it may have been that my health doesn’t get any worse.

In the meantime, I’ll just have to keep popping Advils.