Creating Chaos

I have noticed this strange phenomenon within myself. Whenever I begin to dwell on my mother’s illness and impending decline into nothing, my thoughts immediately revert to something else. In these new thoughts I begin to pick them apart to find a problem and thus creating a new conflict to dwell over. Once I hold a “new chaos” to deal with, my mind forgets about the one that caused the process to begin.

I am certain this is an actual mental disorder related to grief but I don’t have the time nor the patience to do research. (Although, that may help with my need to focus on something else, so maybe I should do that.)

The one thing I learned from my “Ethics of Living and Dying” course in community college is that process of grief is very concrete. In the moments I begin to feel these emotions, if I momentarily remove myself from the situation, I can see what stage I currently reside. Yesterday it was anger. Today’s emotions I don’t know. Denial, most likely.

It is super humorous to me that the ONLY class I received a B grade was the one that has probably impacted my life the most. I learned so much in it that it has carried over into my real life. I see the patterns, I see the human reactions to things to death and dying. It’s truly fascinating. And even in knowing the clinical process of it I still fall right into the same groove. It’s inescapable. It’s human nature at it’s core.

Knowing that I do in fact create fabricated or exaggerated conflicts I can stop myself whenever it becomes too overwhelming. Because even though it is a momentary distraction my thoughts are still consumed by my mother and I have then “successfully” doubled the stress, and I don’t need to do that.

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Turning Down a One-Way Road

So that’s that. My mother most likely has Alzheimer’s. Or so said the nurse practitioner at my mother’s follow-up MRI appointment. Quite the change of diagnosis from “it’s just stress” we had been told just a year prior. (Not even a full year.) The only good thing that came from the previous visit was a baseline to see her degression. And there is a lot.

The nurse practitioner showed me, and only me, the scale of it. I don’t know why she chose to reveal this information to just me, maybe she thought I wouldn’t have had an overreaction or that I would be able to comprehend what was happening. Whatever the reason, it is what it was.

The decline on her results was sharp. Almost entirely a straight line down from where she had been. I wish I had taken a photo or had them print it out to fully digest what I was seeing. I cannot stress this enough, it was severe.

I posted the results on twitter and the outpouring was so overwhelming. Those that had gone through something similar were the ones to offer their assistance or advice. Even some who haven’t, offered an ear to bend, fully providing (a stranger on the internet) their phone number. I am overwhelmed with love that I don’t even know how to process that. It showed me a world that seems almost counterculture to what twitter appears. It proved to me that at our core human beings are a community and will gather to care for each other.

I don’t think my mother has very long. I arrived at that conclusion by one, witnessing her descent over the past few months (which has been rapid to say the least) prior to concrete test results; and two, being haunted by those three graphs.

The part that frustrates me the most, above knowing I will lose my mother, is that there is NOTHING I can do to stop this. This is a one way road and it’s all downhill.

A Glimpse at Insanity

My mother’s mental capacity is deteriorating at an accelerated speed and I don’t know why. Her delusions are getting out of control to the point that she is speaking absolute non-sense or scary ideas (like “the voice said it and I just knew”). Her visual perception of things is also off the charts. I think I mentioned in the previous blog that she thinks her house is sinking, well she is still holding onto that fact. Even though she has accepted (to an extent) that she’s wrong. She has worked herself into a panic about getting the house clean but in the end only creates more chaos.

I am absolutely at a loss.

Yesterday, my father called me to tell me he lost his cool at her because she got confused about why she had gone into a store. For whatever reason, he sent her into buy a 7 lb. bag of ice. (Why he didn’t just do it is beyond me.) When she went in the clerk came out to ask my dad what he wanted.

The rate at which she is declining makes me think that she is either accidentally ingesting my father’s pills, having her own allergic reaction to her own medication, or there is a brain tumor. At this point though we don’t know. She has an MRI scheduled for the 24th and hopefully that can shed some light into this darkness.

The thing I find most distressing is that she is convinced she is going to die soon. So I have been commissioned, by both parents, to write out letters to her sister’s so that they know how she feels. Yet, when I went to check-up on them today she was talking about more of me writing a book about her experiences. It was so very surreal, primarily because there is almost a strange thread of logic there, it’s just decorated with baubles of “crazy.”

Duty Bound

I don’t know what to write here. I had previously tried to make some poetic entry about me facing my call to a “hero’s journey” but it felt ridiculous and just a tad over-the-top. Not to mention a little conceited as if I am some hero that can vanquish the demon I am about to face. Yet, it isn’t even my monster. It’s my mother’s.

A year ago my mother went through a slew of tests to find out why she was having such a hard time trying to find the words to speak what it was she wanted to say. She explained it to anyone that would listen that she could see what it was she wanted to verablize but could not make her mouth do it. The final diagnosis was that she was “stressed” and needed to get on anti-depressants, see a therapist, and read the bible. That last instruction was a legitimate resolution given to her by the nurse practitioner. He advised her to memorize passages to help exercise her brain. Even after all of that, did she even take his advice? No. Instead she has chosen to watch fox news and become obsessed with checking her bank account, multiple times a day, and printing it off every single time as if it was her first time viewing it in months.

At the time my family and I accepted these results because we didn’t want to bring ourselves to believe what we feared it could be, alzheimers. His thought that this was over-stress fit into the ditch of denial we had dug and we gladly lay in it, until at which time it has become blatantlty obvious that this was not the actual answer.

In that time since her first visit, it would appear we have returned to the situation even worse for the wear. My mother’s thoughts have now become consumed with paranoia and panic that the foundation to their home is sinking. She also has become consumed with shuffling and rearranging piles of paper.

The foundation thing was a sharp alarm. She took me through their house pointing out all these very, very mundane things as if there was some catastrophic event that had occured, while simultaneously alluding to the idea that some person had snuck into their house to rearrange their posessions and leave without taking a thing. Her persistent insistance was even more troubling.

The moment my heart truly sank was watching my mother sit and stare at an e-mail she had printed that contained at most five sentences. For at least fifteen minutes she read and re-read it and still could not grasp what it said. I would tell her, she would say “yeah,” shuffle through the papers and come back to that same e-mail to run through the same task.

Since then my thoughts have been obsessed with thinking of her, my parents, the situation but I refused to see why. It wasn’t until another one of my cousins, who I NEVER speak to, insisted we talk.

I learned today that my mother’s older sister has been diagnosed with alzheimer’s. Hearing that made my suspicion even more concrete. There are now too many red flags to ignore.

The thing I find most enfuriating with the situation thus far was my cousin’s phone call, wherein she implored to me to think of my mother as if I hadn’t been already. As if I lived some fanciful life with no thought or care of my parents. And in the same breath telling me that my mother wanted a baby so much and was so excited to finally have a child, and oh how she loved me, to guilt me into caring for her. These thoughts bring about a lot of anger in me, mostly being why is it that everyone else got to live their fucking life and have their children but fuck what I want or desire in my own? Now it’s all about my parents.  Their lives now run mine, as if I’m supposed to let them because they cared for me. Well, I didn’t want to be born. I didn’t ask for life. They selfishly wanted children so that, what, they could have someone to care for them and watch them fucking die?! It’s ridiculous. And if that is truly the way of life, and how things go, who the fuck is going to be my servant when I’m old? I can’t have children without a lot of fucking effort put into it, and how am I meant to make my slaves if I’m meant to be burdened by my parents?!

I say the last part in jest because the logic of “you care for your parents, like they cared for you” bull shit is irritating.

The worst part of all of this, is if I was to have children (which at this point seems pretty ridiculous to even bother) I could possibly do the same to them. I’m very nearly my mother’s age when she had me. So I could get dementia and have my brain turn to mush right when their lives are really starting. And if that were to happen I would want to be put out of my misery. Alzheimers does nothing to the one with the disease and does EVERYTHING to those watching you have it. And that to me is my own personal hell. Just like this journey will be.

As the Gays Say, “Thank U, Next.”

I did it. I fucking did it. I passed my Real Estate Appraiser’s License Exam.

For the past three years I have been in an apprenticeship with my boss and taking the online classes required to be an appraiser. Once I completed my 2,000 hours of experience, my courses, and the application the state accepted those and ushered me to the next step, which was to take an exam. (My approval came last June, to give you some idea.) They give you 6 attempts or a year to complete it for a reason. It is fucking tough.

This success was my third attempt. Even now, after passing, I still don’t think I studied enough. Regardless I completed the second to last hurdle. The next is a review of my work completed and after that I should receive a license.

When I got my results I literally almost broke into tears. But the two testing center clerks were right there, and a middle-aged man bawling over a score wouldn’t have been attractive. So instead I jumped up and down, while I clutched that paper with my grainy photo and the word “Passed.” My husband told me after that he wished he had filmed it because he had never seen me so happy. (“You weren’t even that happy when we got married!”)

For so long this has hung around my neck dragging me down. I was beyond stressed because for once in my life I was expected to actually complete something. My boss took me on with the understanding that I would get my license and be one of his residential appraisers. That was/is going to happen. I didn’t want to fail him and betray the trust he had bestowed on me. (Again, another first.)

In the beginning the pressure drove me nuts. I ended up diving headfirst into one of my addictions that pushed my relationship to the brink of collapse. Luckily I survived that and I found ways to numb the burden of responsibility in other things going forward.

The other dark side of this journey was that it kept me from working on my book. In my mind there was a level of tasks that had to be completed before one could begin. Whenever I sat down to work on it I would think to myself “you should be studying for your exam.” My favorite was “this isn’t as important as your license.” The “frivolous” venture of trying to be a published author was always back burner.

Now, I have no other responsibilities other than finishing up my AA and editing my book. I can return to the things that, for me, matter immensely. Not saying that the thing that is my livelihood didn’t matter. It was merely a means to an end.

So, tonight I got to sit down with my chapters and feel the creative freedom to work without guilt or anxiety. It was heaven.

Tales of Medications

Already it’s happening.

This morning I wanted to write a piece about how my Vegas weekend with the husband and our boyfriends went, but I lost the desire to do so without even opening up a word document. I thought to myself, “why would I want to do that?” And it is all because of anti-depressants.

I started taking them last week because I was stressing about the upcoming weekend. I was worried how it would turn out, plus I had little to no sleep that week, work was(is) slow, my diet had turned into a parade of sugary pastries and bread, and the weather was total cloud cover for 5 straight days (in a community that rarely, if ever, gets rain). In my infinite wisdom I thought I should start taking my meds again, and here we are.

My mental health has been a constant battle since I started taking them at 18. The doctor deemed them appropriate because I just happened to see him after a break-up from my then boyfriend. Of course I was depressed. I immediately started taking Lexapro and that seemed to work for a while. I didn’t write anything in that time frame, at least none that I can remember. But I don’t remember it taking away my personality. For whatever reason the doctor removed me from those and thus began the sampler platter of medications. Each one more misery inducing than the last. The final one was sertraline, which I have copious amounts of, even though my doctor has removed me from all medications some time ago. I keep them around for moments when I think my depression is flaring up. However, this time I am not entirely sure it was emotional but rather situational. That’s the biggest problem when it comes to drugs. I think we over prescribe them when in fact it may just be a change of lifestyle.

My fretting for the weekend was for naught though. Everything went absolutely fine and it was a really fun weekend; other than me having a freak out on the 4 hour drive home, because I have been trained to give the driver attention and when I in-turn don’t receive the same I get irritable. But, instead of voicing my concerns in the moment I stew in them until I am unpleasant to be around and make everyone uncomfortable.

The only thing this weekend taught me was that Vegas fucking sucks. I use to love going, but it has gotten entirely too expensive. They’re pricing out the average vacationer who goes for a fun cheap weekend. Those days are long gone. And for me, so is Vegas.

Tales of Pink-Eye and Cancer

My this has been one hell of a week.

It began on Monday where I made an eye appointment because my eyes were red, itching, and would not stop crying. I was certain when I made the appointment with the optometrist that it was probably pink-eye. The doctor however looked at my eyes and deemed it allergies. I was skeptical because I have had allergies my whole life and never had I experienced JUST a reaction in my eyes, but as he was the “professional” I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

The following day, Tuesday, I finally had scheduled a CT scan that I had kept putting off because I had no time to do it. My work schedule has been (and is) hectic, so I never had the time but I figured that since I was so panicked about the blood in my underwear (coming from somewhere it should not ever if you’re a dude) I should make the appointment and follow through.

I went for my exam and during the procedure while they were injecting the dye into my vein it collapsed and instead of coursing through my body, probably, about half of it went into my right bicep. So for a couple days I had a bulging arm, much like popeye. After the procedure I felt silly going because I hadn’t had any further symptoms from the initial shock (aka blood.)

By Wednesday, the “allergies” only got worse and so I made a very quick follow up appointment. While rushing to that I get a call from my doctor. They had gotten back the results of my CT scan and it showed that my spleen and my prostate were enlarged and I was being referred out to a urologist for further examination.

After that lovely phone call, the optometrist (now a plucky, quirky young woman) told me I did in fact have viral pink-eye, the super contagious kind. This was after touching my eye with her bare hands (Smart) and swabbing my eyes with a giant q-tip. The cotton swab must have been just for fun because she did nothing with it and never mentioned it was being sent anywhere for testing. Her answer for my diagnosis was “good luck” and a referral to another optometrist.

Later that same day I got a call from the Comprehensive Blood and CANCER Center. They were following up because I was referred to them by my general practitioner (GP). They needed info to get the ball rolling, one piece of which was my blood work I had done the week prior.

The following day they called again to schedule a consultation for November where I (imagine) will be told I have prostate cancer.

To be fair, I don’t know this to be my prognosis. I am making a giant assumption but all the signs point to that and just like my certainty of having pink-eye I am certain that this is the case.

A few things come to mind, one of which (if there is one) god has a sense of humor. Prostate cancer is slow but trying to cure can result in sexual complications. I won’t die from this cancer, it will just kill any semblance of ever having sex again without the aid of a pump (hard pass).

I found out about a year ago that my uncle had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and instead of doing anything about it he let it sit and it has now spread to his bones. At the time I didn’t understand how one could do that. “It’s such an easy fix.” Sitting in the same position I can see where one would refuse to do anything, as that is the road I will most likely take.

The boyfriend, upon hearing my decision, was quiet. He didn’t really have any response. The husband however was annoyed and told me that my decision was bull shit and I was going to do whatever it took. While I respect his opinion more than likely I won’t be doing anything. What worth do I have if I can’t have sex? I know that’s such a petty thing to think but the psychology behind never having another erection is staggering. I remember a statistic about the army spending thousands on viagra, and I get it. For a very brief time I couldn’t get an erection and maintain it and it is a huge mind fuck for one to endure. (At least it was for me.)

As of right now, this is all just theory. I don’t have solid facts to determine anything or if what I assume to be reality is in fact true. The most comforting thing I do have is that I have two men who have repeatedly told me that they will be there for me and that is what’s getting me through, between my sudden outburst of tears (though those could just be from the pink-eye.)