Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Toast to Self-Restraint

I've decided I need to keep some semblance of a written record of my life at present -- being a writer and all that, it might help.  Everything has been O.K., not so bad, but lately I'm starting to feel like Atlas with the world on my shoulders.

I'm a fan of the Property Brothers shows on HGTV (or Harlequin Hottie Heroes, as I like to call them).  It's often noted on the show how the little things "add up."  That's how I feel: the little things are starting to add up.  Under normal circumstances, it's not so bad, but when big things are in the stress cup, all the little things build and build.

Right now in my life I'm something of a caretaker.  That is not a little thing.  However, this thing takes up a lot of my stress cup.  I live with my grandmother who has dementia.  When I first moved here three years ago, she just had a bad memory, was a little absent-minded as she's always been.  Ever so gradually the bad memory became worse -- gradually as in I could see some change, some decline over a couple months.  Then that time span shortened; there were what I called "good days" and there were "bad days."  The good days she could make it through her day normally while the bad days she'd get confused and wouldn't be able to remember how things like the tea maker functioned.

Last November Nana went into the hospital with a blood clot, and the battle really began.  That was my "It all starts here" moment.

While Nana was in the hospital, it became clear she couldn't be in charge of her daily medicines.  For a while we kept the big bottles (this is how I will refer to her prescription bottles) in the kitchen as well as her pill case (daily doses).  Because of her growing confusion, this strategy didn't last long.  I had to hide the big bottles and case in my room.  I pop out her daily pills each day and set it out on the counter for her next to a daily chart to cross off each time she's taken her pills.

Her doctor's visits are handled by my uncle (her son).  If he can't go with her, I try to make sure her friend -- her one friend -- can.  Any more, Nana hardly remembers if she's even been to the doctor's on any given day.

So what was a gradual memory loss and lack of coherent thought noticeable from month to month has grown to a noticeable change from week to week, occasionally day to day.

My self-restraint is often tested.

When I was on vacation in July, Nana wanted to be left in charge of her medicines, which, of course, I wouldn't allow.  She was very put-out by this (a whole story in and of itself).  The trial of this week -- I needed more of the 1mg blood thinner.  So her primary doctor (of whom I do not have a very high opinion) wrote a prescription which my uncle picked up -- he picked up the RX orders I mean -- on Monday.  Tuesday I left a note with the RX order for Nana to pick up the RX from the pharmacy.  Both the note and the order were still sitting on the counter when I returned home Tuesday evening.  Nana was still in her nightdress playing on the computer.  "I was going to pick it up when I got dressed, and then never got dressed," she said.  It's "incidents" like these that are hard to forget, to let go of, to not throw back in her face -- "You want to be in charge of your medicines, but you don't show you can handle that."  Self-restraint to keep from saying these awful things is sometimes a daily practice.

These things I keep myself from saying, they're not bad in and of themselves.  The things I try hard not to say, which are often true -- really it is what the words would do to her that is awful.

So, everyone, lift your drink and say a toast: To Self-Restraint!

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