Keeping The Balls In The Air

Posted: September 9, 2013 in Alzheimer's - Slipping Away
Tags: , , , , ,

“Your father went out of the house today, talked to a neighbor while wearing only his diaper.” – One of the many rants from my visibly exhausted mother when I arrived to visit them earlier. So I asked my father what he was thinking then, he said he didn’t know he was wearing only his diapers. I briefly told him not to go out of the house anymore as he makes us worry and I can’t expect mom and the help to watch him 24/7, that’s just not fair.

Next one: “your father threw pee on the floor beside his bed, and he has been doing this a lot of times, if not on his bed, his clothes or the floor.” This explains the pungent smell upon entering their home. To pacify my mom, I asked dad what happened. Like always, he said “I had to pee, and I had to empty the contents of the chamber pot somewhere for the next time I’d have to use it.” I’d remind him of his diapers and its purpose. And for the nth time he’d say he forgot that he could go and do his deed in it. I believe him.

Looking at my drained mom, I can see her disbelief in my father’s words. For her, my father was lying. She’d insist that she saw him walk to the toilet several times before. Hell, they even take pictures every time they catch my father doing “normal” things to “prove” to me that he’s been lying to me and everyone else just to get our attention, and, her words: “to make our lives miserable”. And when I tell her that we have to understand that dad has Alzheimer’s and there will always be good days and bad days, she won’t take it. She’d say I always favor my dad over her and that I never believe her.

This is where it gets tricky. Show me a healthy sane man who would want to fake paraplegia (my dad wasn’t able to walk for weeks following a head injury) and lay helpless on his own pool of urine? See, I understand my mom’s frustration. I understand her exhaustion. I feel that way too, only the frustration is multiplied with me because I have to deal with my mom, dad, husband and my sisters abroad. Each time I visit, I explain what Alzheimer’s is and this is rejected just as many times. Then I am accused of loving my mom less than my dad…

To calm her down and show that I believe her, I’d yield to her need for me to admonish my ailing father, and it’s not supposed to be this way. The plan is to visit and keep everyone’s spirits high. I go there with the intention to tell happy stories (even made up ones, because I’m running out of “happy” lately) to my dad while I do my care giving duties. While on the other hand, I also have to care for my tired mom who’s also craving for attention (even more than my dad, it seems).

The beauty of the mobile internet world is that you can be in touch with your friends and loved ones from anywhere in the world. Staying in touch can be its downside as well. My sisters deserve to know all that’s happening with their parents. They deserve to be given the chance to help in whatever way they can. It has also been an on going script of mine to discuss what Alzheimer’s is: “When dad does unusual things, it’s nobody’s fault, not even his”, “No, it is not easy”,  “Yes, these are what he needs”, “No, nobody’s neglecting mom”, “No, this is in no way the responsibility of my husband also but he has been a huge help”, and “Yes, I am doing the best I can and this is it”. How I wish I can say these words instead, “please come home, I can’t do this alone…” But I can’t. Not when they never fail to unload all their life problems to me too. They have their set of crosses to deal with themselves.

It’s a balancing act, one that I am certain I’d never be perfect at.

It’s a juggling act. I have to keep all the balls up in the air. I drop one ball and that makes me a bad person. I have a husband too. I have work too. I have a home to maintain too. I have a life too.

While all these are simultaneously happening, one blatant observation can’t be denied: nobody’s asking how I’m doing.

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