I never knew what a trigger seeing someone I love with dementia and Alzheimer’s would be.
I traveled to Chicago (my hometown) this past three day weekend to help my father and aunt with sorting through my grandparents’ house. We just moved them to a care facility due to their debilitating dementia, Alzheimer’s, and self-care ability.
There wasn’t just the pain and stress of going through their house, the only stable home I’ve ever known; but also visiting them at the facility. They barely recognized me. Had no idea I am well past college and own my own house now.
The memory struggle hit me like a punch to the gut.
The weekend fractured and I have whole chunks missing. I’m back home now trying not to lose myself to the terror of losing my memory more and more. The crippling fright is more overwhelming than it’s been in years. Maybe ever. I’ve never seen the struggle of memory reconstruction from “the other side”.
I love my grandparents with my whole heart. But I seized in panic every single time we pulled into the facility’s parking lot. The first visit I could barely carry a conversation. The other visits are a hazy blur due to the disassociation/blackouts/switching/lost time.
I’ve discovered a trigger than I have practically no coping technique for. Besides being a shaking mess in my bed with Zoe.
I’d rather kill myself than have that much constant trouble with my memory.
And it terrifies me to think that I might already be more than halfway there.
My grandma when she was younger- she has an affinity for masks too.
My parents just before their marriage. They’re younger than me now in this shot.
Above are a couple of the old pictures I found while cleaning that give me a slight smile.
I don’t have the strength for a long entry, even though there is much I could say on this topic.
She woke me up by pressing herself forcefully against me (she is an affectionate dog, but not to this extreme and especially not during the summer) and the skin on her back and sides was trembling violently like she was shivering (the room was at least 60 degrees).
My initial concern was a seizure. I know a couple dogs who’ve had them. But she was responsive to me, let me move her and manipulate her while following my hands or mouth. She did not whimper, pant, or drool. Her legs did not stiffen or twitch.
When I tried to get up, she flung herself into my lap and continued to tremble. Her eyes stared up into my face and her nose tried to touch the nearest bit of me she could. I thought then that perhaps she was just scared (a bad dream?) and picked her up as I stood. I carried her to the couch and sat with her, saying soothing words and petting her lightly.
As soon as I was within a couple feet of the door, she started squirming and I put her down so I wouldn’t harm her. She ran to the front door and pressed herself against it, staring up at me.
Ok. She wants to go outside. I’m not an idiot. I took her outside where she halfheartedly sniffed and wandered around, sniffed, peed, had a small poo (normal-looking) and then let me take her inside.
She then proceeded to climb up next to me on the couch and do the same thing from the morning. Pressing herself against me almost painfully with her back and sides trembling.
I called the vet. They were not very helpful. They said it could be a toxin she ingested (though I informed them she hasn’t vomited or had diarrhea, or trouble eating and drinking), seizures (though they admitted they agreed it was unlikely with her responsiveness to me), or just “a behavior possibility” (i.e. she just freaked herself out).
My dog is not a timid thing. She comforts me during thunder storms, she asserts herself with all strangers (dog and people alike), she boldly goes in the car and into new buildings she’s never been in.
When I pressed the vet further, they stated they would have to have her come in for an appointment. However, until July 15th, I absolutely CANNOT miss any work (not to mention I don’t have any leave time left after my most recent hospitalization). They don’t have any openings before or after I get off.
Tomorrow is July 4th, a national holiday. They are closed. They say if she gets worse, I will have to take her to an emergency vet.
I desperately wanted to stay home with her. I desperately wish my mother wasn’t out of town so she could watch her.
Neither of those two things are an option.
So here I am, physically at work, while my mind is frantically trying to reach back and be with my guardian angel of a dog.
It breaks my heart that she is always with me with I feel unwell, but I cannot be with her.
My system is fractured too. I have yelling, crying, screaming, sobbing, begging, on and on and on in my head. It’s all I can do to try and maintain some semblance of normalcy here at work.
I am hoping our office closes early for the holiday.
First of all, I had a lovely “Hump Day Dinner” with Texas and another girl friend of mine that I rarely get to see. It was a lot of fun. There was sangria and calamari; both of which I adore.
We had fun joking around and talking about nothing.
But then it went downhill…
But Texas has been acting weird. She’s seriously contemplating breaking up with her longtime boyfriend of…4 or 5 years now I think. I dunno. Awhile. Mostly due to not getting the attention she needs, but also a lot of money disagreements (basically he wants to use her money for his shit).
While having this crisis of romance, she starts making this really weird deal about how pretty I am and how all the men around us want me (…what?). I’m not really sure how to deal with this. Besides the fact that I have awful self-image issues and can’t even process what she’s suggesting about me; I’ve always thought Texas is a really beautiful woman.
She has this flawless skin I’ll never achieve, shapely legs, gorgeous curly dark hair, and an actual chest region. There’s a reason she was so easily able to steal my high school boyfriend not once, but twice.
Anyway, I am completely befuddled by her behavior. She’s always been nice to me about my looks in that “normal girl friend” way (“Oh you look great in that shirt!”) , but I’ve never experienced such dogged references to me. It feels like she goes out of the way to point out that the waiter is flirting with me and our other friend joins in. I’m completely wigged out at this point. The sangria doesn’t help.
I texted Army to try and get some sort of stabilizing opinion and explain that Texas is making me a bit nervous by pointing out these things. Apparently it comes out wrong because he lashes out at me about trying to “make him jealous” and that if he “said the same thing” to me, I’d be “furious”. I have no idea what he’s talking about.
The words and tone sound like Katherine.
My vision starts swimming and shifting and my head is spinning and I can’t do that again. I can’t be a possession again. I can’t be a slave, an object, a thing. I can’t belong to a person again. I can’t handle over-jealously again. I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t.
Texas notices the shift and comments. I briefly explain, but not entirely. She gets it a bit, but has no words. I understand, she’s dealing with her own frustrations. The car ride home is quiet.
I think about how he doesn’t even acknowledge me on Facebook. I know it’s a shallow teenage thing. I’m not asking for “in a relationship” bullshit. I don’t much care for that. But he mentions when he’s hanging out with friends. Or even his roommates. But he’s goes out of his way to never ever mention my name on there. Even when he uploads pictures of my puppies for his friends to see.
And yet he wants to start talking jealously?
If he wants to be in the “deeper level” of a relationship and it means this sort of stuff, I’m out.
Out out out out out out.
I won’t do the crazy jealously game to myself again. I won’t. I won’t do it.
I don’t why I’m so badly triggered. So badly. Badbadbadbad.
The message Grandma sent me is bad. I know that. But why should it affect me so much? I don’t know why I feel as if it’s a possibility of a parent dying. I think there’s a whole chunk of memory about my paternal grandparents I’m forgetting.
I just got told that my grandfather is possibly dying. Possibly. This is after my birthday card from them last week stated he was in the hospital with “heart trouble”. The message (via Facebook) said that he’s been released from the hospital but that they “don’t think he’s going to last much longer”.
What the hell does that mean? What am I supposed to do with that? Why would you tell me like that? Why in a fucking Facebook message? This is the man I spent a huge chunk of my childhood with. The only adult male in my family I love with my heart AND soul.
I knew there was a reason Chicago’s been calling to me. I need to go. I need to be there.
But I can’t. Stupid work. Stupid puppies. Stupid money. Stupid everything.
I just want to be there. I just want to go. Gogogogogogo.
I hate my life. I hate my responsibilities. I hate this. I hate hate hate it.
This was not intended to be a blog that talked a lot about “romance” constantly. Or feelings about men. Especially Army.
I feel like I talk about him too much. And my indecision too much.
But I have to get this down or it’ll continue buzzing about in my head.
Gods I sound like a 14 year-old.
He asked to come over last night because he needed support. He’d just dealt with a suicidal coworker and patched her up from various things she refused to go to hospital for (I don’t want to divulge a bunch of info about a person I don’t even know, but basically she got attacked by her ex and her exes new partner).
My immediate reaction was panic. I’m in a rough place myself, as you guys know. And there’s the red F-A-T cuts staring up at me from the spot above my knee.
But Army’s never asked such a thing. His texts got a bit ramble-y in going on about needing me.
I acquiescence, darted into the shower, then covered my thigh with the largest band-aid I could find- which thankfully just covered the marks.
I can’t really describe the night well in words. I know I had this post earlier that got into him being more deeply romantic. But that didn’t even touch on what happened last night.
It hit after our (first) round in bed. I maneuvered so my back was facing him as I sorted through the shocked thoughts and voices in my head.
No no no no. That is not the feeling I think it is. No no no.
I think it is.
You do not love him. No. You are incapable of romantic love, remember? That’s why he’s safe. He doesn’t want that, he doesn’t try to bring that forth.
Well he did tonight.
I don’t know why he did that. He shouldn’t have acted like that. He’s supposed to be safe. We need to run. Run run run run.
I dunno if I want to.
Yes you do. You always want to run. You have to be in control. We are the ones in control. We can step back anytime, unscathed.
I don’t think I can walk away unscathed now.
I don’t want you to walk. I want you to run. Run run run. Push him away. Say those things you’re so good at saying. Hurt, wound, kill. Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Falling is for losers. For the weak. For suckers. We are strong. We’re too strong for this.
It’s at that very moment that he runs his fingers through my hair and kisses my temple in concern.
“Are you all right?” He asks and his tone is more deeply worried than I remember ever hearing.
I realize my cheeks are wet and that tears are slowly trailing down my face.
Great. The crazy girl’s not only talking to herself, but making herself cry. In front of an audience.
I glance up at him nervously, waiting for some accusation, ready to make an excuse.
His fingers smooth over my cheeks and he tilts his forehead against mine.
“That was intense, huh? Feels more real now. Serious.” He pauses and his eyes reach down into my psyche and pull out the words to make everything crumble, “It isn’t just you.”
Run run run run run run run. Far far far away.
I manage a slight smile and curl closer into his chest.
I feel like Cassandra; knowing the fall of Troy, but not being able to do anything to stop it.
So of course I have to tell Army about Zoe being pregnant. I mean, not only is he like- lets say a godfather to her, but he’s over at my place occasionally. He’s gonna notice at some point.
I expected him to be annoyed at me for not keeping a better eye on Zoe.
He was not.
He is ecstatic. He is begging me to contact him the moment I know she’s in labor so he can be there. He wants to help her as much as possible.
Everything just….just the complete opposite of how he responded to me a year and a half ago.
So now I mean less than a dog. And puppies are much more important than a-
I won’t say it.
If I don’t say it, then it isn’t real.
I feel that fracturing and I don’t want it. I can’t have it.
splits and cracks and bones and blood and lets hurt him- lets maim him. like he maimed us. have the blood and the pain and the hurt-
I have too much to do. I have to work on getting a car. I have to keep things afloat at work-
Has she told you how work is going? I am doing my best to keep things from falling apart, but the program is going badly and turnover is decreasing exponentially. There is a high chance that I will have to shoulder the blame. Despite it not being remotely my fault. I may end up being fired. I cannot be fired. I do not get fired. I am good at my job. I am an excellent multi-tasker with exceptional attention to detail. I am highly motivated by deadlines and task lists-
I don’t want to fracture. I don’t want to start losing time again. I just want to be normal.
But I don’t want to listen to him coo and smile over her. I don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to watch it. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
I dreamed last night that Army found an entry from this blog. And read it. And thought I was a horrible liar and seriously disturbed.
Then I went even crazier trying to delete posts and edit them to try and appear “normal”.
What I find the strangest is why didn’t I just delete the blog entirely? Why did I go through this whole modification plan. It was obviously flawed. Seriously flawed.
I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something.
The nightmare was terrifying and I woke up thinking the whole world could see through my mask.
I try so hard to appear normal.
(Note: I know I’ve been dramatically absent. The holiday season has been hard mentally as well as time-wise. My blog really is a secret from 99% of people I deal with in person, so I only blog when I’m safely alone and I haven’t been for weeks.
Doesn’t seem like I was missed much, but I understand the nature of blogging/blog-relationships and distancing. I do the same thing myself.)
Last week we signed these new Federal Personal Information Privacy agreements that basically means that we cannot leave a single client file in our desk drawer any longer. All files must be returned to the centralized locking cabinet by the end of the business day (or any time I am not present at my desk- i.e. a break).
It’s been frustrating as hell.
Oh, and did I mention that if we don’t adhere, we can get fired?
Back to Saturday night. I dreamed that I got fired because I left a file in my drawer over the holiday weekend.
When I woke up Sunday, I realized that I had actually left a file in my drawer Wednesday. Accidentally, of course. I proceed to freak out- causing Army to try and calm me down and remind me that nothing can be done until Monday morning anyway.
(Sidenote: yes, we spent most of the weekend with Army. Being that romance is not my area however, I will leave it someone else to update the blog with a post regarding that. It was a pleasant weekend besides the bad dream though.)
This morning rolls around and when Texas calls me on my way to work, asking me to swing by her place after, I joke that it may be earlier than my normal quitting time as I might be getting fired today. I seem calm but inside I am screaming, crying, hating myself. It takes a lot of strength between myself and Rika to not let Victoria or Daria take this self-hatred out physically. But the recent pact with Army is still fresh for most of us (more on that in the future).
When I reach my office, I immediately check my desk drawer. Perhaps I am incorrect in my memory and I really did properly restore the file to the central cabinet last Wednesday. I am not a superstitious alter, but I cross my fingers anyway.
A file sits calmly on top; so obvious; so conniving; yelling for a supervisor to find it and terminate me.
I quickly open Microsoft Outlook on my computer and check my email. No stern emails from my supervisor. I scan my desk. No post-its about seeing him.
I do a normal perusal of the department’s calendar and notice my Saving Grace.
“[Supervisor] attending Ohio Housing Conference all day”
I may be starting to lean a little more towards Roms’ theories of there being a “bigger picture” now.
I also quickly create a post-it with garish colors and big blocky letters: “CHECK”. I tape it above my desk drawers. I will notice it every day before I leave.
I will not be fired over being a scatterbrain. I am better than that.