Sunday, 2 December 2007

driving miss crazy

We had an okay journey in one sense - the traffic wasn't bad, and the lashing rain miraculously ceased whenever we made a pit-stop.

I had to drive with the window open at one point because I was so tired that I started to drift across lanes and even the adrenaline of nearly crashing into someone didn't seem to help keep me alert. Mum didn't let up about how cold she was feeling, sitting there in her multiple layers while I drove on wearing just a t-shirt, desperately trying to keep my eyes open until we reached a service station. I couldn't get her to understand that a few more minutes of cold might be better than major injury or death.

At the service area, Mum suggested that I had a nap, but then her short-term memory interfered with our attempt and she'd start asking me questions or tutting and sighing every 4 minutes, just as I was relaxing into a doze. I'm ashamed to say that after many repetitions of this I shouted at her, and after the 20th time I squirted my water bottle in her direction. This is emotional abuse and I'm guilty of it. I feel so wretched, such a little man. My only defence is that I was weakened by having only 3 hours sleep in the past 72 hours. Mum called me a "swine" but quietened down, and after another 20 minutes or so I got out of the car and loaded up my system with sugar. I bought her some chocolate gingers and apologised profusely, but it's never going to leave me that I did that. I'll never forgive myself and it's one of those moments that cheapens your soul in an instant and irrevocably.


Sorata said...

I stumble across your blog through your comment at "Long Story Longer".

Don't be too hard on yourself about the shout. I'm sure your mom has forgotten and forgiven about that situation. So, you should do that too.

Keep up the spirit. Your mom is a very lucky mother to have a son like you.

Greg said...

Thank you for being so kind, Sorata. Yes, Mum forgave/forgot the incident quickly, but I'm not sure how to forgive myself. I keep remembering that burst of anger and the hurt look in her eyes. I'm not sure she's lucky to have me, but I'm all she's got and I'm trying my best.

Overall, I'd rather be living in Vancouver with a partner. Best wishes to you and Scotty (and Cleo).


Sorata said...

Oh Greg, this is the least a stranger on the internet can do.

Your blog really touched me.

Don't let the guilt get to you. You have more to deal with and if you look back, things like that is just a very small incident in our lives.

I am positive that she's lucky having you. And you should know that not everyone has the courage and patient like you have. *hugs*

Humphrey aka Sorata

Greg said...

Hi Humphrey. I read on your blog that you'd like some more hugging, so thank you and *hugs*. It's comforting to read your reassurances.


anthropositor said...

I was once a fairly affluent traveling man. My mom had passed away. Periodically I visited my father who was in his late sixties, and a particularly challenging fellow to deal with. He sporadically drank a LOT of vodka. I was putting off the time that I would have to deal with the situation. My sibings, for good reasons of their own, could not or would not deal with the situation.

Clearly my father was losing it. It was only a matter of time. Then I came back from a trip to find that he had had a stroke which had paralyzed half his body.

This was twenty eight years ago. I looked into the care giving options, found them to be in excess of $2000 a month and elected to quit traveling to take care of him myself. I got him over his stroke and worked from home. Soon after his recovery I got married for the second time and got custody of my youngest son.

Aside from the stroke, my father continued to deteriorate behaviorally. It was indeed a challenging situation. My behavior toward him was strained some of the time. I have some regrets about that. But ultimately, I did the right thing. No regrets.

Now I am about the age he was when I took over his full time care. He lived as well as could be expected for seven more years. For me this was an exceedingly difficult time, but I have never been sorry that I dealt with it the way I did.

I had a stroke two years ago which just made me stupid for a while. A pretty humbling experience. Fortunately my mental strength returned and then some. Your Mum is twelve years older than I am and her difficulties seem to be beyond simple stroke damage. Her situation is not likely to improve by much.

The costs of providing care for the aged are really extreme. You mentioned $100 per diem for day care. Full care would be double or more. And such care is often not exactly ideal. The young employees who work in such places often get as frustrated as you have been on occasion. When that happens, they are often not too inhibited with their irritation.

It strikes me that more should be done to set up situations in which lucid and capable old people do more caregiving for their less capable counterparts. They have some serious advantages in caregiving. They know that these things could ultimately happen to them, and maybe in the not too distant future. That alone makes them potentially much more understanding than youngsters are likely to be.

It is also true that many capable older folks need to supplement their income and would find elder care to be a good way to do it.

If someone in my neighborhood made me an offer of say $1200 a month for continuous care around the clock for their loved one, I would certainly be considering the idea.

In the meantime, I will be doing my very best not to let myself become a senile hardship to my children. If I can remain lucid, ambulatory and capable until my one hundred and tenth birthday, I can't think of a better gift for my children or myself.

Good luck to you.

Greg said...

Thank you, Anthropositor. I thought your comment was worthy of more attention than it might get here, so I've quoted it in full in a later post and then written a response. THANK YOU for your thoughts.