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Happy Everything
Posted on Sunday 6 January 2008 at 7:28 pm

Post-Holiday Report


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I think the holiday business has finally died down. I spent Christmas at my grandparents' out in west Texas. It was nice in that I got to see the family, including a couple of my cousins who are now 13 and 15 whom I haven't seen since they were about 2 and 4. It was also nice in that I got a bunch of cool presents (including but not limited to much appreciated cards and small gifts from various flisters, saddle bags for my motorcycle, a GPS with automatic traffic updates, and an FM transmitter for my MP3 player that I bought myself with Christmas money). It royally sucked in other ways.

My dad's mom isn't doing well and hasn't been for years. She is completely blind, has had multiple strokes, and due to either the strokes or possibly Alzheimer's, doesn't know where she is most of the time and doesn't remember much. Grandma usually knows who all the people are, though sometimes it takes bit to place a name, but locations completely stump her. Grandpa loves her and takes as good as care of her as he can physically, but it eats him up to see her this way and he is tired and not in the best of health himself with no time to take care of himself so he gets short-tempered and yells at her all the time. He doesn't seem to get that she isn't trying to be annoying when she can't find her way back to the bedroom she's slept in practically every night for 26 or 27 years. She just has no idea what's going on. I mean, at one point she kept asking if the lights were on because she thought she was having trouble seeing. She couldn't even remember that she's been completely blind for years. Yelling at her isn't going to help anything.

Grandpa lit into my mom and me at one point while we were there for trying to change the sheets when Grandma wanted to take a nap a their dog had peed on the bed. I'm still not sure what Mom and I did wrong there. Mom's probably more mad at my father for watching Grandpa not only yell at us that day but always yell at Grandma and never saying or doing anything. One of Grandpa's brothers went to visit them a while back and later said he thinks my grandfather's behavior towards my grandmother borders on abusive. It is so heartbreaking to see her like this and it just makes it worse to hear him yelling at her all the time. My mom said that when he gets at his angriest she is almost afraid we'll get a call one day to hear he killed her and then committed suicide. I don't think he would do anything like that, but that could just be because I can't comprehend something like that. I don't know what to think about any of it and worst of all there isn't anything I can do.

We came back to Houston just before the New Year. My sister got saddlebags for her motorcycle as well. Since we have the same model, just different years. Dad and I put them on her bike together so I'll definitely know how to put mine on when I head back to Virginia in a couple of days. The folks, Katrina, Kasey, and I spent New Year's Eve watching movies in the living room until just after midnight. It was fun. I prefer a nice, quiet evening with friends and/or family just watching movies or playing games as opposed to a wild party. I'm such a homebody.

The best part about my trip home thus far was this weekend. Two of my best friends ever are Daniel and Aaron. They're a couple of really great guys I met when I was an undergrad in San Antonio. I email them, play with them on facebook, talk to them on the phone, etc. sometimes, but I haven't seen them in two years. Until this weekend, that is. They came to Houston and we just hung out all weekend. They got in late Friday and we played games and watched a movie until about 4:00 am. On Saturday, we went to a bookstore, went out to eat, played more games, and then went to see National Treasure 2 (it's a decent movie). Today we finished up the weekend with more game playing and lunch from Dairy Queen before they had to head back. I had so much fun. It some ways I'd forgotten how much I miss them. I love playing card and board games and have always done that more with them than anybody else but we also have the most amazing discussions on virtually any topic. The two best this weekend were a hilarious twenty-minute discussion of whether "Do not go to jail" and "Do not die" are acceptable entries on a person's mental daily to do list and a discussion of the prevalence of racism in America today that went at least an hour and involved my mom as well. I really can't explain how much I love those two guys and how happy I was to spend this weekend with them.

On the Williamsburg front, my roommate called me at some point while I've been here to let me know that a wind storm blew over my motorcycle. She got it picked back up but thinks there is some minor damage. From the sounds of things, it is strictly cosmetic, but I can't wait to get back to check out the bike for myself. I'm less anxious to get back and start my class. I'm basically ready for the first class. I still haven't finished any lectures for anything beyond that. One of the guys who did it for the first time this fall semester basically told me not to work too far ahead. He said something I'd been wondering about for a while which is basically that I'd completely redo it all based on what I learn about lecturing ion the first couple of classes anyway so I might as well save myself the effort and just work a couple days ahead. I'm taking that as an excuse to enjoy doing nothing for a bit longer. I'd like to have at least one real lecture ready by the time I go back to Virginia. That gives me three days since I fly out on Thursday. So I guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow.
Exhausted
Feeling: Exhausted
Exploring: Bedroom at the folks' house
Listening: Dad watching football in the living room

Comments:

What's Taters, Precious?
mrstater at 1:43 am on 07 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, if I knew my motorcycle had blown over I'd be antsy to get back and check it out, too. Hope it's not anything seriously wrong with it!

That's so sad about your grandparents and I can only imagine must have been so hard for you to see while you were there for Christmas. I'll say prayers for them.

Sounds like you've been having a nice relaxing holiday apart from that, though! Your friends sound awesome, I just love discussions like that.
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 3:59 pm on 07 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
I really doubt there is anything seriously wrong with the bike, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to check it for myself.

Thanks. Prayers can't hurt and at this point I'll take anything that might possibly help.

I have so much fun with Daniel and Aaron. I've never known anyone else with whom I can have those kinds of conversations. Such a bummer that I hardly ever see them now.
Wild Magelet
wildmagelet at 3:06 am on 07 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
I'm very sorry about your grandparents! It sounds like a stressful situation for everybody involved and I honestly don't know what to say, because I'm sure you're all doing all you can. Hugs and good thoughts are all I can offer, I guess!
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 3:56 pm on 07 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. Hugs and good thoughts and more than enough. There really isn't much else anyone can do. I just have to hang in there and your well-wishes definitely help with that.
JD
jdbracknell at 11:10 am on 07 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
*hugs*

My uncle had Alzheimer's and my grandad had Parkinson's - I don't think there's anything harder than watching people you love forget who they are and lose their ability to cope, or see the stress it puts on other people and how they react. If you think your grandad might be agreeable, maybe you could look into getting him some help? I know I felt a lot better about being miles away knowing there was someone else there some of the time.

Good luck with the lecture - I'm sure you'll be great :).
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 3:49 pm on 07 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
Social security pays to have a nurse come check Grandma's vital signs and the like and to have someone come bathe her every couple of days. My mom keeps telling my grandpa that she thinks soc. sec. would pay to have someone come out and sit with Grandma for at least a few hours for at least two or three days a week so he could go do the grocery shopping and the like and not have to worry about coming home to find she's falling or gotten outside and can't find her way back in (there are tons of rattlesnakes in their area so her outside alone is bad on so many levels) or whatever. He keeps saying that would be so much help but doesn't think they'd qualify and never asks. It is quite aggravating.

Thanks for the good wishes. :)
gilpin25
gilpin25 at 3:38 pm on 07 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
Your friends sound wonderful - I'd like a few discussions like that myself.

I think mental illness of any kind, but particularly something like Alzheimers, almost takes more toll on the carer, the person who lives with it every day. Because they don't forget what's happened five minutes later. Aside from our own situation with my mum-in-law, my best friend's mum also had it. Her dad felt duty bound to do everything for his wife, became very stressed with 'his' responsibility and almost impossible to reason with, let alone discuss the situation with. Ironically, shortly before she died peacefully in her sleep, they'd finally got him to admit that help and the occasional day off was both ok to ask for, to give, and to receive. So, like jdbracknell, I'm wondering if any can be arranged or if he'd accept some... But I am sorry; it's such a nightmare to be in the middle of and there's no easy answers at all.
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 3:55 pm on 07 January 2008 (UTC) (Link)
I love the discussions we get into, especially the way they run the gamut from frivolous and hilarious to some of the most serious political and philosophical topics out there.

Grandpa is so tired and worn down all the time and doesn't take care of himself at all. I know in situations like this, frequently the caregiver will be the one to go first and I'm afriad that is going to happen here wih everything he is doing to himself. He always says he can't do it all himself for much longer, but then he refuses to accept help. My mom has made all kinds of suggestions on getting him help (see answer to LadyB) but he never acts on any of it. When he blew up at Mom and me about changing the sheets he just kept going on about he'd do it if we'd give him a minute and we just kept saying we could do it just fine. How hard is it to change shets, for crying out loud? My mom had started the dirty sheets washing and he went back, pulled them out of the running washers throwing water everywhere, and restarted them himself for no apparent reason. It was crazy.


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