Saturday, January 15, 2011

Welcome to another happy blog entry

I can’t do this anymore. I can’t live with my mother crowding my brain all day and all night long. I need to find a way to have her exit my mind once I’ve exited the building. My health and sanity are at stake.

Today when I arrived, her CNA (certified nursing assistant) told me that Mom had a rough morning. She was asking where I was and why I had put her in a nursing home. She was very upset and confused, and the aid said she had a hard time calming her down.

By the time I got there, she seemed ok, though a little withdrawn, which is happening more and more these days. So my first thought was, “Why tell me this? The moment has passed and she is ok. Why let me know she went through a period of angst in the morning?” I was selfishly upset because I knew I would be able to think of nothing else for the next few days.

And so my mind wandered down a dark path; how often does my mother think this? How bad is she truly feeling? Does she feel abandoned all the time? How lonely is she without me and Dan and her family?

I was worked up to a point of palpitations. And that is when I realized I needed a way to turn this off. When she is there and I am here, we are separate and individual. When we are together, I can be the all-consumed daughter. I can’t sustain this level of investment 24/7. It’s going to kill me.

Yet, how can I untangle myself from my mother? If she is suffering, I am obligated to relieve it. That’s how my upbringing shaped this unshakable core belief. If there is a way, I have to be invested in changing it. I can’t just abandon her.

So where does this leave me? Depressed and hopeless. And welcome to another happy blog entry...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Another way for me does not seem possible

I can’t seem to stay away from the nursing home. I go seven days a week and stay anywhere from 2-4 hours. If I can’t make it, Dan goes.

Yesterday we had a Nor’Easter in Worcester that dropped 18 inches of snow. The news advised all non-necessary drivers to stay off the road. I couldn’t. I HAD to go there. The driving was treacherous in some areas but I simply could not stay away.

Where is this compulsion coming from? There is no reason for a daily check on her as she is truly in a first rate facility: She is always dressed and clean when I get there, I’ve never found her wet, and the staff is delightful. She doesn’t remember within 10 minutes of me leaving that I was even visiting. And she doesn’t seem all that interested in socializing when I’m there. So why can’t I take a day off?

Could it still be guilt? I’m sure that’s part of it. But I think it’s also due to an unhealthy connection I have to my mother. I believe that if I don’t go, both of us will suffer in some way. It’s such a deeply ingrained feeling of…dependency? I feel my time and care is something I owe her as my mother. I owe her my devotion.

My therapist said it’s perfectly fine to take a day or two off and that it is not the norm for the same family member to visit daily. That it is ok for me to have “a life.” I hear the words, I believe them, but I just can’t make the leap. It would feel all wrong.

Something stronger than I keeps me on a daily schedule and I hope I have the mental and physical fortitude to continue. Another way for me does not seem possible.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Eve Ramblings

I haven’t wanted to write because of the sadness. There is a certain amount of guilt in posting all of this negative stuff. So I’ve refrained in hopes that there would be good news to post. There hasn’t been.

Mom, due to her advancing symptoms, had to move out of the rest home and into a nursing home where she could receive more intensive care. There IS good news in that we were able to get mom into the home of our choice, the Jewish Healthcare Center in Worcester. Odd selection for an old Italian Catholic :-). But truly, they are amazing caregivers and I know she is in the best of hands. A huge blessing.

Today is New Year’s Eve and my heart is so heavy. I feel tremendously heartbroken for mom and yes, for me. Because we live far from my brother, her sisters and nieces, our days are spent together, just the two of us, and it is getting very lonely. Does she feel the loneliness too? My husband and others think not since she is surrounded by people who dote on her…the staff is wonderful. But is she missing her family as well? There are no signs of this that I can see, yet the thought of it keeps me up at night sometimes.

We’ve considered moving multiple times and have even gone so far as to look at properties closer to family. But now especially, with her in excellent care, a move seems less likely.

Dan has been the perfect third wheel. He goes to see Mom whenever I can’t and gives me a break at least once a week. He’ll often join me on the weekends for a visit and bring us supper so we can all eat together on Wednesday nights. What a blessing he is!

So, I guess there are positives to post, and with the New Year I am going to try my best to focus on those. I definitely need a perspective change or else I am going to continue a slide downhill.