Thursday, October 10, 2013
Last year, my brother had an unprecedented episode while traveling to a foreign country with his then-girlfriend. He had a huge mental health problem (never had something like this before) and acted very strangely in the airport of a 3rd world country. He was taken to a hospital and restrained due to his irrational behavior, and literally handcuffed to a bed, where his girlfriend was handed a cup & asked to retrieve a urine sample from him. Definitely not like USA. He was not allowed to be released until a family member came. My parents insisted I go and literally begged me - I did not want to leave my 2 small children, but my mom was freaking out & having a meltdown. My husband agreed to come with me, finally - we paid for a flight at the airport and went there with very little packed. I convinced the dr to release him, sedated him, and kept him in my hotel room (w/his girlfriend) until we could get a flight out. I was so nervous about his well-being and all the very heavy psych meds they wanted me to give him that I didn't sleep for 48 hours of time I was there, as I would go into his room to make sure he was still there, and was still breathing. I really think this anxiety began a long string of nervousness.
When my brother got home, he was in and out of treatment, and in between, I would pick him up & take him with me and my daughters wherever we went, so he wasn't alone. He needed a lot of support & reassurance and I was 100% there for him.
Within this past year, several great uncles (who were quite old) died, which was sad, because I have a small family, and I am the hostess in our family, so I always entertained them. I miss each unoccupied seat (3 of them this year). I helped my Great Aunt with some funeral planning, because she said she felt like she could trust me, and was nervous about others helping her.
My grandmother has had two strokes in the past 2 years. The first was bad - left her weaker and with impaired speech. The second was completely debilitating, left her unable to speak, unable to swallow anything except mushy foods and thickened beverages, and she has very bad hearing. Prior to this, a very aggressive glaucoma took most of her sight. She's defenseless and needs help eating, washing, and getting to and from the bathroom.
My mother was reeling from the whole thing with my brother, who moved back in with her. She was a total wreck. So, dealing with my grandparents made her very depressed (she will never admit this). She lost a good 20 pounds, which she didn't really need to lose. She said depressing things all the time. Her sister never got involved to help at all.
My grandfather is old-school, 91 years young and in great shape. But, not good enough to take care of Grandma. She needs a live-in caregiver, which they have hired. And hired. And hired. They are on #3 now, due to the fact that my Grandfather is very assertive, to the point of being mean. My mother and I have been taking turns helping my Grandmother as she has been in and out of rehabs and hospitals, and between caregivers. And, now we are also caring for the caregiver, who needs to be treated more gently.
So, today, I spent my birthday dropping 1 daughter off to school, then taking the other with me to the grandparents to meet & greet the new caregiver, #3, who moved her 2 suitcases in and will be living with my grandparents.. It was around lunchtime, so I brought taylor ham, cheese and bread with me, since I know my grandfather does not have "normal" food in the house. He will have broth, and have leftover rice he throws in it, or leftovers, or bread that he keeps in the freezer. He eats out every day for lunch & brings lunch home just for my grandmother, not for the caregiver. I cooked for the caregiver, my mother, my daughter and me. I brought food from my home, so the caregiver would have things to eat.
The caregiver who earns a very nice salary, plus room & board, demanded internet service, which I am now responsible for figuring out. So, tonight, after my yoga, I will have to drive back to their house and see if I can get a free signal, or will have to get my mom to pay for it (I'm not doing it - my grandparents have money, yet I'm always buying them things). My aunt finally agreed to come and visit my grandparents, but wants to stay with me at my house, instead of with my grandparents who need help, or with my mom, who she doesn't get along with (due to the fact that my mom is mad my aunt doesn't help). I have the space, but I always feel like I need to be perfect for houseguests (buy their fave foods, clean house meticulously, entertain them - I can't be any other way, this is me), and just the thought of this stresses me out. But, of course I want my aunt to come.
Everyone says thank you and that I am nice, etc., but I am so stressed out by all of these demands all the time. My brother, my grandparents, my parents - it's just always something.
Today, instead of eating, I pushed my legs furiously on the elliptical.