Messy stress

So, Mom is content in her new facility, the former nursing home owes us some money and the Medicaid application is approved. So why do I still feel a little edgy? I guess these things can have lasting effects. I have wanted to convey complete peace and serenity now that Mom isn’t pooping in trash cans, trying to escape or otherwise expressing her displeasure about her surroundings. I am now convinced she is going to be fine. But I haven’t yet felt quite fine. My therapist says maybe this is a period of let-down, that in some way I am having a physical reaction to having had to be on standby for the next crisis for several weeks. But shouldn’t that be over by now? Plus, why let the Medicaid application be so stressful? That was just a matter of waiting things out.

Perhaps the Medicaid wait was stressful because I received bills for more than $15,000 from two nursing homes and one pharmacy during that wait. They are addressed to me as the “responsible party.” No matter that Medicaid was going to cover virtually every cent of those bills once the application got approved. Seeing figures like that on a bill can make one a little jumpy. I have also carted around a large envelope of documentation about Mom’s finances since June 22, adding to it as I compiled things I didn’t know I needed to compile. This is what that pile of papers looked like Friday, on the floor of my cubicle, after I had gone rifling through the files while talking to the case worker on the phone:

Bank statements, IRA statements, POA copies, retirement and Social Security information, tax returns, you name it.

Bank statements, IRA statements, POA copies, retirement and Social Security information, tax returns, you name it.

And though I am very lucky in terms of my employment, where I am surrounded by coworkers who are friends, my schedule can be flexible and the steady stream of work arrives at a usually friendly pace, I have several stories piling up in advance of a science meeting that will take place at the same time I am traveling for my own professional meeting at the end of this week. And I had to finish up two other timely stories as well. That, coupled with the insanity of last week, when I went a little berserk dealing with Mom’s former nursing home, caused me to not be very attentive to the details of keeping my desk organized. This is how it looked when I left on Friday:

The mess to the right of my computer...

The mess to the right of my computer...

...and the mess to the left of my computer. I\'ve never been known as the world\'s tidiest person, but I find this level of mess sort of embarrassing.

...and the mess to the left of my computer. I've never been known as the world's tidiest person, but I find this level of mess sort of embarrassing.

Finally, the approval of the application means Mom’s disposable underwear will now be provided by the facility in which she lives and the cost will be covered by Medicaid. But because I didn’t know when the application would be approved, I had ordered her latest supply from This box is also on the floor of my cubicle:

Four packages of 14 pairs each of adult size XL underwear - if only I had thought of a year ago.

Four packages of 14 pairs each of adult size XL underwear - if only I had thought of a year ago.

I am kind of irritable these days, sadly. I also have had heartburn every day for a week – something I have never experienced before. And fairly regular headaches. So please pardon me while I feel a little sorry for myself even though things are generally going my way. Sometimes, the rest of the body has to catch up with what the mind already knows, I guess.


16 comments so far

  1. Gemma on

    Go ahead and be sorry. At least you’re recognizing the reason behind the symptoms! And hell, a messy office never hurt anyone. Look at Dave T. who stored six coffee pots in his. His mess was so general, I never saw one the whole 10 years we worked together.

  2. Hellpellet on

    I’ll have to agree. Even though you think it won’t be stressful, working w/Medicaid is stressful. Take yourself away for a long weekend and celebrate the fact that you & Mom (&husband) made it through the maze!

  3. Suzanne Steel on

    I agree with Gemma and Hellpellet. You are an amazing woman and my hero. Go easy on yourself.

  4. Sherri on

    It’s hard to “let go” of all that stress…. When things are going OK after a long time of “not OK”, there is always that “something bad is bound to happen” feeling. Of course, that usually goes unwarranted, so…. hopefully, you can relax a bit. Be careful with the stomach stuff – easy on the coffee, etc. Take care of yourself! Try to rest (I know – I know – I tell people the same thing – “easy for you to say..” :-).

  5. Eileen on

    Hopefully you will start to feel more like yourself once you get past the stress of the next few weeks. Hang in there!

  6. momsbrain on

    Thanks, all. Today is the first day without heartburn, or at least with much less heartburn. I had two Tums just for good measure.

    Suzanne, thank you, but I don’t think I have done anything deserving of hero status!

    Gemma – that is hilarious about Dave.

    HP: I do feel certain Medicaid will always hang over me. But getting through the maze certainly is a relief.

    Sherri: I am trying to figure out foods that trigger heartburn and already had cut back on coffee. Boo hoo. I do get rest – I just never feel like it’s enough.

    Eileen – you are having your own stress, dang it!

  7. jeff on

    Hi Em – I know about that “let-down” stress, although mine is usually about a show or something where there is a really happy end product after it all. Maybe your work travel can be a little of a vacation too somehow?
    I also liked your photos of the manilla envelope of documentation. My tax filing system is identical – maybe a Caldwell thing of the hard copy proof. Clearly you were able to prove the accuracy of your claim.
    Tom would have me tell you to approach the mess one thing at a time instead of trying to clean the whole thing at once. It is what gets me to whittle a pile of mail down to a manageable level instead of procrastinating and fretting about it.

    And finally, yes it seems you can buy just about anything at I really had to laugh about that. 🙂
    love you – JC

  8. jeff on

    and I’ve had great results with Pepcid complete. But maybe ask dad…?

  9. momsbrain on

    Jeff, thank you for commenting – from PARIS! I had thought I would get to the mess a little bit today, but didn’t. It’s a relatively small space. I just need to organize paper, mostly. But I like the suggestion not to fret.

    As for heartburn – we use Pepcid complete, too. I just had persistent problems for a week. Today is the best day by far so I’m hoping it will just go away. I just had dinner out and did NOT clear my plate – brought Patrick home a little snack – so that should help, too.

    Love you and hope you are having a great time!

  10. Lisa on

    Hello Em. I am so happy I came upon your blog! Oh, how I can relate. My mother was diagnosed in December 2008 and moved in with my husband and me in January 2009.

    I just read this one post and related to every aspect of it: feeling physically ill from the stress of caring for my mother, having that “let down” just like you had, even the XL diapers 🙂

    There are so many of us going through this with our parents. It is an epidemic, I am certain of this.

    I look forward to following your story.

  11. Christine O. on

    I’m catching up on my FB stuff, and just caught your last two blog entries. So glad for you! And I agree with Suzanne … you are a hero.

  12. Judy on

    Let me just agree with others that you have reason for let-down. Getting assistance should not be so stressful and difficult. I hear the Medicaid process can be dreadful.

  13. Beth on

    if you ever need to discuss heartburn, I’m the woman to talk to. 🙂 You are amazing, Emily. Trust in it.

  14. momsbrain on

    I’ve been remiss in this comments section. Lisa, I’m glad you’ve returned to blogging. I do think we have a similar take on some things. Christine: well, I don’t feel heroic, but thank you for saying so… Judy, thanks for the support. I feel like some of the stress has lifted, and I am glad that the Medicaid stuff is behind me for the most part. Beth: I think about asking you about various abdominal pains. Thankfully, the heartburn is over, too.

  15. Earle on

    Emily . . . don’t worry about the box of disposables in your cube — Jeff and I will probably need them sooner than you think! 🙂

  16. Emily on

    Haha, Earle, you and Jeff lost your chance. You’ll have to get your own!

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