mmexlibris: (Default)
e x ~ l i b r i s ~ i g n i s ([personal profile] mmexlibris) wrote2012-10-23 11:51 am

Hallowed be these frozen fields

[Starlight - The Wailin' Jennys]


So I wanted to write today. This means using my phone to write while waiting at the bank. Writing a blog post in Evernote, wondering if I'll ever get to finish it. Splitting my focus between my Dad and this tiny screen that I somehow got syrup on from breakfast. Nephews love to share the sticky, bless.

Let me back up to July and how real life finally succeeded in eating my head completely. The weekend before the Fourth of July, my Dad took my mom home from skilled nursing care, against the doctor's orders. This not only lost her spot in a posh, six bed private facility, that was basically a private home, it reinforced her belief that she could order my father to do anything and he'd just cave. He was convinced he could take care of her at home, with the help of a part time caregiver. He'd completely forgotten how bad it was in January when mom first entered detox.

All well and good until she started to get violent. She started by scratching and biting my Dad, grabbing at the steering wheel when he was driving to our group therapy appointments. She got into the glove box, grabbed a screwdriver and stabbed the caregiver who was trying to restrain her from the backseat. There were multiple trips to the ER, which all resulted in nothing happening. Because she had insurance, no one wanted to have her committed against her will, even though it was clear to everyone that she was a danger to herself and others. Tina, my sister, attempted to get her in to see an addiction doctor here in Ventura, but she ended up in the ER here, completely out of control. It took five people to get her out of the car, including a police officer. (Not the first time that law enforcement was involved in this whole hot mess.) After a desperate, exhausting night in the triage area, she was discharged to the local psychiatric facility, who refused to take her because of her advanced age and disabilities. So he took her home again.

I don't know how, but Tina finally convinced him that she needed real help, and that the closest geriatric psych facility was at UCLA. After trying to wait for a bed for a direct admit, he ended up just taking her down to the ER at UCLA. Without the caregiver. With her in the backseat in improvised restraints. How they arrived without killing themselves or anyone else, I have no idea.

[cont'd in October]

She was admitted as a 5150 (a danger to herself and others) to UCLA's geriatric psychiatric facility, and spent 17 days there. They are an acute care facility only, and at the end of the 17 days she was moved to a large, albeit beautiful, skilled nursing facility in Oxnard. Her behaviour was such that she ended up getting herself put in the dementia ward, not because she lacks the mental faculties, but because she won't stop screaming. She was scaring her roommates, so she got herself into her worst possible scenario. She's since had one trip to the ER for being utterly out of control, scratching and hair pulling the nurses. She screamed herself hoarse. We stayed away, and didn't reward her outbursts by running to her rescue, though it was difficult to convince my dad that that was the best course of action. Since then, she's had her antipsychotics increased to the point where she's mostly stable. She has good days and bad days, though recently the good have outnumbered the bad.

In the mean time, my dad has been living in my guest room. The Saturday after mom was admitted to UCLA, he called my sister in a panic, not knowing where mom was. So Bill and I took off to Lompoc, took him to the ER, got him gone over with a fine-toothed comb. No cardiac event, no neurological event, a little higher than normal blood pressure, but nothing impending doom-like. We insisted he come home with us, and he didn't object. Since then, he's had an appointment with a neurologist, who deferred a decision on his driving ability to Tina & I. (Chicken shit.) And today, 10/23, dad is finally getting his psychometric testing done with a neuro-psychologist. This is an extensive four hour series of tests to determine his mental capabilities and determine better if it's dementia or pseudo-dementia, which is is how major depression presents in the elderly.

He has good days and bad days, too. If things are emotional and stressful, as they are when we go home to work on the house in Lompoc (we're preparing to sell the property), then his memory is terrible. He literally doesn't remember things from minute to minute. When he's relaxed, well-rested, and fairly calm, he does much better, but it's still about a thirty minute loop.

So I haven't been able to do any art, because he follows me around everywhere, with 'helpful' suggestions on how I should do everything. I can't wash the dishes without getting an opinion rendered. He's talked about rewiring my garage, would be cool, except I've seen the plans he had for putting in a lawn irrigation system at his own house... I appreciate the thought, but I don't want to get this massive project going to have him lose his focus and drift away from it in the middle. He's also helping out with the household expenses, which is good, because there's no way I could go back to work now.


One thing I've discovered about myself in the midst of this shit storm, is that I still love my dad. I still crave his approval, to an unhealthy extent. And I am an emotional sponge. I feel everything he feels, and it's been like having a hurricane in my head. There is so much frustration, confusion, sorrow, anger, and hopelessness, it's making it difficult for me to get out of bed in the mornings. I'm filled with rage at my mother for letting him get so far gone, and only focusing on how his memory loss could work to her advantage. And having to be in proximity to her again also makes me brush up against the reality that I still love her as well, and I still wish I could fix whatever has broken her head and her heart so terribly. I'd gotten to a place where I could sit with the fact that there was no making her happy, that nothing anyone could do or say would appease her, but the little girl in me is still desperate to make her smile. And I kinda hate that part of me, too.

The one good thing I've been able to do is get some spinning in, because I can sit and relax while I'm behind the spinning wheel. I'd forgotten just how much I adored that headspace. My hands itch to make stuff, don't even really care what it is. I have great plans for my studio, for forging copper, and for more mosaics, tiny this time, not huge. I just can't get anchored long enough to do any of it.

I felt like I was making headway before this landed in my lap. I haven't been to any artist gatherings, I haven't worked on anything new, I've got a commission languishing, because I can't get enough minutes stuck together in a row to be productive. Right now, I'm sitting in a Starbucks inside Target, with a gorgeous view of the vast empty parking lot, palm trees, and a pale blue autumn sky, writing this while waiting for him to break for lunch. I feel like I should post this right quick, before the next phone call jerks me away.

So we're coming up to Halloween, and I'm still (mostly) alive in here. I'm just neck deep in real life, and it doesn't seem to be letting up any time soon.

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, I promise.

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