February 4, 2010 Care Giving

My dad is home and now instead of wanting to live, period, he wants to live “on his terms”, which statement I took to mean (since he removed his oxygen the moment after my sister, the nurse, left his house) that he wants to live unencumbered and free of both oxygen and a need to give up smoking. Whatever. I am exhausted and feeling blue because this is the beginning of what could be the end of the release and relief I felt after my mom’s death: release from being the decision-maker and caregiver who filled out paperwork and went to the status meetings with the staff at the nursing home, relief because care-giving my parents was, as of her death in ’07, an already eight-year-long process. 

The hardest part is negotiating boundaries. What will my father allow me to do for him and to require of him, if he expects me to do so much, as in get him to the doctors and the specialists and make sure his oxygen equipment is kept clean, although it was my nurse sister who called to give me those instructions, thank you very much. Every three days some part has to be thoroughly cleaned – don’t ask me which one – I was at work and quite frankly I wasn’t in the mood to take instructions from afar regarding my dad’s care from someone who has, for years now, had minimal contact with my parents. Don’t. Get. Me. Started.  
I love my dad and this will all be worked out I am sure but if he chooses to begin smoking again, I may just lose it. I won’t take care of someone who won’t do that one thing for himself. I know it’s not a small thing, but rather a g.d. addiction, but Jesus H. Christ come on. I have three siblings he can call for help and there are services he can make use of, services for people like himself who are functional but need some extra looking after. I am much too tired to be making decisions and even thinking about all of this, yet I am unable to think of much else. Tonight, I will take a long hot bath, watch Project Runway (ah, escapist TV, how I love ya!) and contemplate how best to do nothing at all except love my self. I did my work-out this a.m. which I skipped yesterday due to running around to get pop back home. Oh oh oh – it’s a gorgeous sunny day and all I can think of is how much I long to be asleep in my wee bed. Only 11 more hours of awake to go……

February 9, 2010 A Drama Queen

Yes. I am a drama queen, especially when tired and stressed, both of which I have been of late. Last night I slept well and long and as a result life looks much better this morning. I have had my long walk, started a fire in the wood stove and set-up a time for lunch with a good friend I have not seen in several months; all of which are life affirming actions. And, I have taken innumerable deep breaths in the process. I was also better able to sleep because I had a talk last night with my father about some of the issues I have with my being his primary caregiver, the one who does for him because I want to, but also because I can, and because it’s the right thing to do and I just want you to know, daddy, that sometimes doing the right thing SUCKS. And he acknowledged me and all that I’ve been doing and have done this morning (admittedly in his very understated way but still…), an acknowledgement that went a long way toward making it a lot better. 
And yesterday afternoon I wrote. I worked on a creative writing project I have had on my desk for about a year – a project I have neglected far too often. I had dropped it in the midst of the crisis, and as I had not sat down to write for two whole days it was eating at me, adding to my sense of anger at my poor old pop, who is certainly not responsible for my lack of discipline when it comes to my writing. Hard to write when I’m a wreck, and all I really want to do is watch mind-numbing TV, but it can be done. Another deep breath. I equate writing, especially on the bigger projects, with diving in, immersing myself in another, imagined world. It takes some time and space and a lot of commitment to go there. And writing is lonely. Suck it up, drama queen, and get down to it. I shall, once I am done here, promise. 
My dad keeps taking his O2 off and has a follow-up appointment with his doc next week. We’ll see how his blood oxygen levels are. Maybe, drama queen, he won’t need it for ever and ever, especially if he can stay away from cigarettes. Anyway, I am not responsible for his choices, but as I reminded him last eve I do tend to get most of the picking up of the pieces when both he and I pay for the bad ones he makes. Still and all, it’s all good. I slept. I dreamt I was in love with The Office actor Jon Krasinski and we were planning a fun day and night to celebrate his birthday. Hilarious. I also told my dad that I love him. Always a good thing to know and say, drama queen.