Archive for August 18th, 2011|Daily archive page

Meltdown

I’m strangely happy – or maybe relieved is a better word – to report that I cried, really hard, for about half an hour last night. I think I really needed it.

I thought my lowest points with regard to Mom might be behind me: the loneliness in January 2009 that led me to start this blog, or the serious stress of getting her on Medicaid and simultaneously finding the right nursing home for her two summers ago. Those were two very difficult times. I think I just decided those had to be the lowest points, which was a mistake, and which set me up for being totally unprepared to experience emotional upheaval all over again.

Mom is stable. She is safe. She is funny. She is in a good mood most of the time. All of these things make being her caregiver so much easier than it was when she was unstable, living alone or still needing me in assisted living, when she went through spells of being afraid and irritable earlier in the illness. But it doesn’t mean I don’t still grieve the steady loss of her abilities and get stressed trying to manage what little bit of money she still has.

I think the emergency room trip could have prompted this latest episode of grief. It was a short and tolerable trauma for Mom and for me, but a trauma all the same. There was this intense day of caregiving – and providing actual health care, sort of – followed by what I guess you could call a letdown. A quick return to what my normal is with Mom. That was good. No lingering pain, no complicated treatment plan, no memory for Mom that anything had ever happened. But slowly, a number of things started happening to and around me – a series of things that sound like petty things to complain about for the most part. But as they accumulated, and with the inclusion of a few very sad events for my friends, I began to feel the potential for some serious emotions brewing just under the surface – perhaps all wrapped up in stress from the worry associated with the emergency room that I didn’t have time to process then.

My first spurt of tears occurred at work yesterday. I received an email from the Alz center about Mom’s Medicaid account. I have made some mistakes with regard to her bank account and the business manager emailed me to tell me how to get it all sorted out with my case worker. It was both a relief but also an embarrassment, and I was already feeling low because of a misunderstanding with Patrick in the morning. I wept a little, quietly, and then Patrick called, and I did some minor blubbering here at my desk on the phone with him.

And then I went to support group last night. I have never cried there when talking about Mom or myself, but I have had a few tears in response to others’ stories. I thought last night was the night that I just might cry. And then we had a newbie at the meeting, and she ended up holding the floor for an hour. Others, including me, were able to respond to some things she said, but she never “passed” to the next person to speak, and I was at the end of the line. As the minutes counted down, I became frustrated and could tell I was going to cry no matter what. With about five minutes to go, I walked out of the meeting and was sobbing before I hit the parking lot. I cried in the car, sitting there, for about 10 minutes. I cried on the drive home. I cried in the back yard, heaving and hiccuping while describing my woes to Patrick. He later told me that when he saw how upset I was, he thought for a brief moment that Mom had died.

I felt much better today, except for that crusty feeling in the eyes and puffy eyelids that follow a major cry like that. A lot of the petty, pesky things are behind me now. And intensely feeling that deep sorrow for a sustained period seemed to have provided the relief I needed from the tension I was carrying around. I think I go through life trying not to let Mom’s illness consume me. I have to make a living after all, and carry on and enjoy my own life, and I just have this stubbornness about not letting it get the best of me. But I hope I have learned that I can’t forget to let myself grieve sometimes, maybe in smaller doses, so I don’t have to reach a breaking point before I let myself really feel how sad this whole situation can be.

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