Monday, December 22, 2008

The First Noel

I’ve been a bit quiet on my blog lately as I’ve been really busy at work and also moved workstations at work (and have NO privacy whatsoever now!). I’ve also been quiet because I’ve been feeling a bit down about Christmas and New Year’s.

I’m not into Christmas this year. I feel blah and very indifferent about the whole thing. I don’t mean to be a downer but the first Christmas after a parent passes is quite depressing. I remember the first Christmas after my dad died – it was horrible.

I’ve been avoiding and/or laying really low at work functions just to avoid the annoying chit-chat that goes along with them (i.e. “so, what are your plans for Christmas?”). I’d like to answer “I’d like to go to bed on December 24 and wake up on December 26”. But that won’t happen so I’ll just soldier on.

I’ve been feeling sad and my eyes have been welling with up tears for a couple weeks now so I finally had a little cry on the weekend. My siblings are still as dysfunctional as ever and my DH’s family is still gluttonous and ignorant as ever – remember last year? I'd be surprised if any of his family actually takes a moment to ask me how I'm doing. I think if my siblings were normal and we had some semblance of a family left, that perhaps I wouldn’t feel so alone and sad somedays.

As for New Year’s, I think DH & I are just going to spend it at home. It’s weird, I feel very odd about the upcoming year. It’s almost a mix of relief that 2008 is over since it’s the year my mom passed away so it’s good for the year to physically change on the calendar but also...hmm...not sure what my other emotion is. It’s tough to describe. It’s almost a fear of “letting go” of 2008? A fear of moving on? I had a similar emotion when the seasons changed in the fall. It’s the passing of a milestone and realizing how fast time moves somedays.

I'm welling up again just writing this so I'm going to finish this post off. Thank you for reading in 2008 and I'll be back after the New Year ~ citygirl.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Grocery Store Frozen Lasagna

Since when is it cool to serve grocery store frozen lasagna to guests when they drive a freeking long way to your house (2.5 hours one way) for dinner?

This has happened to me twice in the past couple of months (2 different hosts) and I just don't get it. Sure, it's nice to spend time with the hosts instead of them slaving away in the kitchen making a gourmet dinner but at least buy a decent lasagna. These crappy grocery store things are just pushing the tacky envelope a bit.

I usually reserve these type of lasagnas for nights that I work late and I'm too lazy to make dinner at home (and it's just for me & DH). Or a group of friends and I used to make them for a weeknight dinner together so we could catch up and have yummy drinks instead of cooking which was fun.

BUT. When people drive a long way to come to your house at your request, please resist thinking this is acceptable!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Let it go

So remember this? Yep. I consider myself a slightly intelligent person yet I ended up in a similar situation this weekend. Why can't I learn?!

Long, silly story so I'll try to give you the reader's digest version. On Saturday, DH and I had to drive 2.5 hours (each way) to his relatives house to visit. On the way there, we ran into a few frustrating situations. You know how somedays just don't start smoothly and the rest of the day seems to keep going that way?

Later in the evening, I teased DH about our earlier frustrations in front of his relatives (because I thought enough time had passed that we could laugh them off). Nope. It just set him off all over again. WOW. I wish I could go back and tell myself to ix-nay the teasing and just sit quietly. DH & I ended up having a little spat right there in front of his family. Nice. I wished I could have just disappeared into thin air.

When I look at this situation overall and trace back to what started the day off wrong, it seems ridiculous that by the evening, DH & I were squabbling about it. I think we were both tired, not thrilled with driving 5 hours in one day for a visit (don't even suggest staying over - we'd prefer to drive home) and yes, I ultimately bugged DH enough that he snapped at me (I admit, I was being a bit mean and annoying). I have got to learn when to LET THINGS GO.

While I'm blogging about this, I want to take this one step further. On Sunday, I felt terribly guilty and sad about how our day on Saturday went. To the point of wanting my mother's comforting pat on my shoulder and the ability to sit and cry to her. GOD, I MISS HER on days like this.

As I've written about before, since my mother passed, I sometimes feel that I'm less patient, more irritable, grumpy, negative and more argumentative about stupid things. It's been six months tomorrow since my mom passed and overall, I think I'm doing better but I still catch myself somedays and think "why am I acting this way? I can feel myself being a bit of a jerk". It's almost like I can't help it but at the same time, I am aware of my behaviour.

The people who suffer are my friends, my family and most of all, my DH. Sure, he's not perfect (nobody is) but I know he takes the brunt of me and I feel so bad about that. I don't like how I act somedays and what results from it. I want to be pleasant to be around and fun again (side note to one reader: don't worry, I'm not going to go all "The Secret" on you). But really, I'm going to try to get myself out of this rut and when a scene starts going south, I'm going to remember to take a breath before proceeding.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Trust

After writing my last post, I started thinking about how that year affected me in the long term. The word "trust" came to mind.

I've never been an overly trusting person (my cultural background is known to be a suspicious bunch of people!). But after the year 2000, I became quite distrustful. After the being dumped by my boyfriend of 7 1/2 years (read here), I felt very unsure of myself and other people. When your life partner (or so you thought!) deceives you and you're suddenly on your own, you do a lot of soul searching for moments that you feel you should have "clued in". I found quite a few of these and kicked myself for not seeing them before.

Fast forward to today...I feel like I am overly aware of things. Honnestly, I don't think I really trust anyone in my life absolutely 100%. Even people in my life who I should be able to trust 100%...I don't. So sad, isn't it? But I guess it's a self-preservation tool. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice...

Monday, November 17, 2008

The other turning point

I mentioned in my earlier post that I had another turning point in the year 2000 and I didn't want to leave my readers hanging ;)

The same week that I met my friend P. for the first time is the same week that my boyfriend of 7 1/2 years ("T") broke up with me. It was one of the most devastating moments in my personal life.

We had been together since highschool and we were planning on moving in together in the near future/once I got care for my mom settled. T had started his own business and I was in full support of his dreams, thinking that one day it would be our business that would support us and our future family. I often paid for things, knowing that T was scraping by, trying to get the business up & running. I didn't mind. I figured it was all an investment in our future together.

Then, one day, T broke if off with me, out of the blue. There was no reason or forewarning. It was just out of the blue. I barely functioned for months; it was just more than I could handle in my already emotionally exhausted state. I cried so many tears that I didn't think I had any more. I sat by the phone thinking he'd call and want to come back. I'd call him sometimes and beg & plead to let me know what had gone wrong. He didn't have much to say. His own mother, his family and friends were completely shocked and called me asking what had happened as they weren't getting any answers from him.

My poor mom...she was still somewhat with it somedays and could see that I was not okay. She could sense my heartbreak & sadness and would comfort me and let me bawl to her about T. But then the next day she'd forget about what happened and ask me "when is T coming over? Aren't you seeing him tonight?".

A couple months passed and one of T's associates from his field called me one day. Their annual year-end dinner had taken place that weekend and the associate was shocked to find some "fluzy" as T's date that night instead of me. That's when I started to piece things together. Fluzy? Sounded like a perfect description of his neighbour. But wait, she lives with her long-time boyfriend. It dawned on me that there was a lot more going on than I knew.

I waited outside T's apartment one night and when he got home, I confronted him. I said "after 7 1/2 years, I at least deserve the truth". He told me the painful truth: he had hooked up with his neighbour (yes, the fluzy) and she had broken up with her boyfriend and they were now living together.

Words cannot describe how I felt after hearing that. I was still hurt and in a terrible state but I was also oddly relieved to hear the truth. At last, this mess made some sense. It's very difficult to move on or heal when you're living in the dark, not knowing what happened. At least with the truth (as hard as it is to hear) you have something to work with.

So that was my September in the year 2000. It was a month that I'll probably never forget. I turned 25, confirmed my mom had Alzheimers and got dumped by my highschool/college sweetheart out of the blue.

Now that it's been 8 years, I can look back and know that things happened for a reason and for the best. Eventually, we got my mom assessed and got her in to the care that she needed. And eventually, I saw that T did me a big favour by breaking things off. The following year, after the breakup, I met my DH and began to see how I was just settling for T and he wasn't the best for me. It's amazing how much sense things make in retrospect! So the moral of this story? When you're having a hard time and things just seem to be falling apart, know that years from now, you'll be able to look back and make some sense of all of it and hopefully be in a better place overall.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It was the year 2000...

I went out for dinner last night with someone I met on the internet. It's not what you're thinking. I met this person online 8 years ago (the internet wasn't quite what it is today) on an Alzheimers chatboard. When I think back to how the internet was then, it might as well have been in DOS - it was so primitive!

It was the year 2000 and my mom had been sick for about 8 years already. Her symptoms were showing more frequently and I was starting to get quite worried (and a little bit insane myself!). She showed general paranoia, being uncharacteristically aggressive sometimes, forgetfulness and very poor day-to-day life skills (she didn't shop, cook, clean or care about her personal hygiene anymore). I had been living with my mom on my own for 6 years at that point and knew something was wrong - much more wrong than "she's getting old and forgetful and misses Dad" as my absent siblings used to preach.

I had started researching Alzheimers which didn't seem to be as widely known about back then* and came across my city's Alzheimers Society's website. I read the materials which basically confirmed my fears but I wanted to talk to someone real (and not an operator at a 1-800 number...someone who was actually going through what I was experiencing). That's when I visited the chatboard on the site and found my friend, P.

P. and I chatted back and forth for a while about what we were going through. She was going through exactly what I was experiencing. It was such a relief to talk to someone like this! Eventually, we disclosed to each other where we were located in the city and found that we worked/lived near each other. We made plans to meet for dinner one night in September 2000... what a chance I felt I was taking. But it was a chance I was willing to take because this person was giving me a beacon of light in some of the darkest days that I can remember. This person might turn out to be a homicidal maniac but I figured s/he wouldn't kill me at a public restaurant!

We met and P. turned out to be completely normal and an amazing person. We talked for hours about our moms, Alzheimers and a little bit about our lives in general. We shared stories about what our moms do on a daily basis (classic tales!) and how exhausted and devastated we felt sometimes. It felt so good to find a real person who confirmed all the things that go on in the early phases of Alzheimers. The year 2000 was a turning point: I had confirmed for myself that my mom had Alzheimers. It would be almost another year before my siblings were convinced and we got mom properly assessed by doctors. Another life changing event happened that year (actually that same week!) but I'll save that for another post.

So, 8 years later, here we are. Both our moms have passed on due to Alzheimers/its complications and we're out having dinner. P is still a beacon of light for me. She's been through it all (and much more!) and always listens to me and provides such refreshingly candid (yet kind!) advice. She reassured me last night that I will feel "normal" again but it takes time.

P's mom passed away 6 years ago so P has already been down this path that I'm currently on. I still remember her mom's funeral - it really hit me that Alzheimers eventually takes the patient's life. When you're in the earlier stages, the end seems so far away and doesn't seem like a reality. But it is real. Enjoy the time you have with your patient now; especially when they're having a good day. And try to reach out to supporters - through family, friends, the internet, support groups... the support will help you tremendously and maybe you'll meet a great friend like I did with P.

*afterthought: somedays, I don't think Alzheimers is widely known about even NOW. Even up until this year, some people haven't a clue about Alzheimers...they don't know anything about the disease. This is what some people said to me about my mom/ Alzheimers:

-"I hope your mom feels better soon"
-"How is your mom doing - is she getting better?"
-"Alzheimers...hmm, I've heard they have all sorts of treatment out there. Have you tried them for your mom?"

Friday, October 31, 2008

Another one bites the dust

Time for a piece of fluff post.

I've discovered over the years that I have the power to discontinue restaurants and retails goods. I know what you're thinking - I haven't lost my mind. This power is REAL.

It seems that if I really like something, it discontinues. Just this week, I found out that 2 skincare products I use are discontinued. It was actually a bit comical. I was looking for the first item at my local drug store and asked a sales associate for help. She advised it had been discontinued. A couple of days later, I asked the same associate for the second product and she advised it had also been discontinued. I swear she must have thought I was a mystery shopper testing her knowledge.

I'm thinking of all the things I liked that have been discontinued and will share a few highlights:

  • Olive Garden Restaurant (no longer in Canada)

  • Toby's Good Eats (I think there might be one left somewhere but these used to be all over the place)

  • Denby "Reflex" pattern (when I got married, instead of having a fancy China pattern, I chose this set of dishes so we could use them everyday. They were discontinued shortly thereafter so I'm missing pieces.)

  • Lancome Clarifiance face wash

  • Andrea pre-soaked eye makeup pads (these were a great deal at $4.99 a pack. A similar product by another manufacturer cost me $8.49 this week and they definitely aren't as good)

At least a dozen items from the grocery store (this happens a couple times a year). I feel like I curse things when I declare that I like them!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Maybe it's the weather

I've noticed something about a couple of Alzheimer blogs I read. The bloggers are a bit down. Is it the weather? The shortening of the daylight hours? I think the fall season is a bit depressing. I've never liked it. It's not a very hope-inspiring season. One blogger even wrote that s/he feels like crying somedays.

I'm writing this entry because I know what they feel. Day-to-day, I'm okay... but somedays, you just feel like you want to cry because you've bottled up so much that you need to let it out. I know a lot of people might feel foolish or nutty for crying as an adult and never do it (or admit to it!). But I think a good cry helps release things.

I did exactly that one night last week. I came home from work (where I appeared with-it all day) and sat in my living room by myself and bawled my eyes out. I actually openly cried. Not a few tears and gulps. I had a GOOD BIG CRY complete with little wails. God, it felt good. Why did this happen? No reason in particular. I just needed it. DH was not home and has no clue that I had this big meltdown. And by the time he got home, I didn't feel like talking about it. Sometimes, there's nothing to really talk about. No amount of talking will help you get out the raw emotion that crying does.

I know my fellow bloggers who are currently caring for their moms with Alzheimers have horrible days where they just want to run away and cry. I hope that my blog and comments on their blogs help them cope a bit. Even after your mom passes on, you're not okay right away or even for a while after. You've been living this disease as long as they have and it will take time for you to recover. Sometimes I think Alzheimers hurts the carers/families more than the victims.

Someone once said to me that my mom didn't just die this summer; she's been dying for 16 years and I've been grieving for those 16 years (while having to be strong and caring on the outside). Now that she has finally (I don't mean to say "finally" in a bad way) passed on physically, I can't expect myself to snap out of it right away and be great all the time. I have good days but I also have not-so-good days.

Closing note to my fellow bloggers - try to keep your chins up but know that sometimes a good cry will help you keep going.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Loooser!

Ever have a disagreement with your SO and then feel like a complete and utter loser later? That's how I'm feeling today.

The disagreement was started by me (and now I kick myself for starting it) and there really was no point in starting it. And the end result just highlighted what a loser I am sometimes. A BIG LOSER.

Someday, I will learn to bite my tongue and just let things go. A boyfriend in high school always chanted that mantra to me "let it go" and I thought it was funny at the time (because he was seriously into karate stuff and his zen-like ways cracked me up). But maybe I should take that advice now. Some battles just aren't worth it. Gotta pick and choose what I'm going to fight about or there will be too many days that I end up feeling like this :(

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A General Update

It's been a few months since my last "General Update" so I thought I'd write one.

It's been just over 4 months since my mom passed away. I seemed to be okay for the first couple of months and then I seemed to slump into a bit of a depression for these last couple of months. I think maybe it hadn't really sunk in for a bit and when it did, it hit hard. It's hard enough to lose a parent but to be slowly losing them for 16 years and then finally have it happen is very hard. It doesn't help when your family is the ultimate portrait of dysfunction. Your family should band together to help each other through times like this but unfortunately, that's not always the way things go.

I did something sad last week and survived it. I went and visited my parents' gravesite. The plate has been affixed with my mom's name and the grass has been replanted. I sat there for a bit, cried and told them how much I missed them and how there are some things in my life that are just really messed up (like my siblings being basically estranged from each other and now slowly from me, like my DH's ex is still tangled up in his family/friends) and how I wish they were here to guide me. I know my words might go no-where but I felt better "talking to them". Overall, I think I've been doing a bit better these last couple of weeks. I've been trying pretty hard to not let the sadness creep up on me. My friends have been amazing ~ thank G*D I have them.

I also have an update about my little storyteller. I finally confronted the person a couple of weeks ago. I guess s/he noticed that I was avoiding him/her and we got into quite a conversation. I wasn't going to confront this person but it just happened. And s/he got really defensive and had all sorts of "reasons" for this lie, that lie... mostly all the reasons were "so s/he wouldn't hurt the person" being lied to. Okay, we all have told a little white lie here & there to save someone's feelings but these were not little white lies; these were ridiculous lies. The conversation ended and we haven't talked much since. I'm not sure what the next step is. Sometimes it's just not worth opening up a can like this.

I think that's all I have to update on... thanks for reading and comment if you wish - I'd love to hear from you, who-ever my world of readers are!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Stelllllaaaaa!!!

Ok, so I promised I'd work up some fluff since my last post was a bit serious. Here it is ~ I'm going to tell you about my neighbour.

He's no ordinary guy. I've never seen anyone quite like him. He's a crackhead...we'll call him CH. I know, I know, we shouldn't make light of drug addicts but, hey, they do exist and living next to this guy is priceless. And for some people who live in nicer places or the suburbs, this is a glimpse of city living next to a crackhead.

I should have clued in the first day I met him. It was moving day for us and we were hauling boxes and stuff into our house. Our neighbourhood isn't the best in the city but our immediate neighbourhood is good, our house was affordable (which is unheard of in our city) and we think it's an "up & coming neighbourhood".

So back to our moving day. Our neighbour, "CH" is standing on his porch watching us. We'd never met our neighbours before this day so we didn't know anything about them. CH isn't looking too good but hey, it's early in the day and maybe he's a shift worker or something. I had no idea he was a crackhead ~ I was so naive! Later in the morning, a person in a beautiful Corvette comes to visit CH and when he goes to leave, CH is screaming "Jimmmmyyy!!! Jimmmmmmmmmmyyyyy!" CH's voice carries through the neighbourhood. All I kept thinking was "Stellllllaaaa!!" as he kept yelling.

Over the first few weeks of living in our new house, we quickly realized what CH is. He was always out & about walking around the neighbourhood. The police were at his house every week. He was constantly begging for money from his mom or sister (who also live there). He'd actually make quite a debater or bargaining agent as the conversations go like this:

CH: Hey Sis, can you lend me $5?
Sister: No
CH: Oh c'mon, $5?
Sister: No
CH: C'mon sisssssssss...$5?
Sister: No
This goes on & on...and if CH gets tired, he'll re-try later in the day. We hear them over the fence.

Lately, CH has taken to begging outside our local variety store. One day I got off the bus and there he was in all his glory, sitting on a milk crate, begging. Then, a few feet away was my other neighbour and her daughter walking along. My other neighbour is a vice president at a very large worldwide company and has done really well for herself. Her & her daughter are always impeccably groomed and dressed. What a freakish scene this was ~ it was like night & day crashed into each other! I joined her & we walked home together. She remarked "CH is something else. He lives in a 4 bedroom house yet he's sitting down the street begging outside a variety store". Yep...that's our neighbour.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Warning: some readers might find this posting offensive or controversial!

In a conversation lately, someone told me that they feel like they only see their relatives when it's a holiday or a kid's birthday. Other than that, they don't see or hear from them. I've been thinking about this and it is kinda true.

I have some relatives in my life like that too. We see them at holidays and kids birthdays and that's about it. Other than those events, we don't really socialize with them because of a few reasons...they're too busy, they socialize with other people and overall, we really don't have a lot in common with them. They suggest elaborate gifts for their kids' birthdays by sending annoying emails from Toys R Us online ("Mary is sending you a suggestion from Toys'r'us: Johnny would like this for his birthday!"). Gee, thanks Mary. Great to hear from you.

My sibling started a trend in our family where only children get presents at Christmas and on birthdays (this person doesn't believe in celebrating adult birthdays). Well, that works out great if you have kids. You don't spend a cent and everyone brings your kids presents. S/he thinks that "Christmas and birthdays are for kids". So what happens if you don't have kids? You don't celebrate? I don't mean to come across as a greedy person but I think even a token gift would be nice or a "pick a name out of the hat" or Kris Kringle for Christmas for the adults. Or geez, a celebratory dinner for a birthday even. Nope. No buyers.

Now, why I thought this post might hurt some feelings is because I don't have kids and maybe I just don't get it. I've heard once you have kids, your whole life changes and they become the centre of your life and etc. Ok, but is it any reason to treat people differently? Is it any reason to only socialize for holidays/birthdays where you bring a present for their kid(s)? It makes people feel pretty used and sad.

On the other hand, I'm thinking that maybe if I had my own family (read: kids) then I wouldn't feel so left out or used. Maybe I'd be so wrapped up with them that I'd forget about this stuff. Maybe I'm still clinging to my old family (i.e. my parents & siblings) too much and others have moved on and started their own families and no longer consider themselves part of their original family.

A little deep eh? Well, I promised I'll work up some fluff for later this week ;)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Be our guest...be our guest...put our serice to the test

Near my work is a very large & grand hotel that is 80 years old. It appears pretty ritzy to the outsider. Rooms start at $300 per night. It has lavish ballrooms. Big-time politicians visit and conferences are held there. It's a bit of a historical landmark in my city. But after staying there a couple of times, attending a few events there and short-cutting through the hotel for the past 10 years to the subway, I have some of my own observations.

Overall, the hotel is okay. I've stayed there a couple times and the guest rooms are really small (for such a grand hotel!) and a bit dingy. Definitely not worth $300 per night. I actually feel bad booking visitors there when our preferred hotel is sold out.

The food at the hotel is pretty good...however I have no idea how the restaurants stay in business. I rarely see them busy and their service levels definitely need some improvement. There's one place for soup, salad & sandwiches at lunch and it never fails that the service is the pits. The decor in that place could use some help too.

Events at the hotel have always been good but I think that's more because the people who run them (i.e. our events group at work) are top notch. I think they could hold an event anywhere and people would have a good time. One yearly event is a sit-down lunch and the food is always good but once again...service is lacking.

And now onto the shops inside the hotel. I have no idea how they stay afloat. No. Idea. Some of the stores have been there for the 10 years that I've been strolling through while others come & go overnight. There's a mini variety store which is quite busy and useful so I must exclude that from my general observations. The other stores include overpriced clothing stores and one store completely devoted to rain-wear & umbrellas (hello, is our climate that rainy?). The stores are always empty except for the staff that work there. Honestly, I've never seen real customers purchasing things.

There is also a "spa" among the hotel shops. It should have a revolving door as its entrance for the staff turnover. I occasionally have a service done there (i.e. nails, wax or whatever) and there's always new staff. Apparently, the owners are completely nutty and drive staff away in droves. If you look at its website, you'd think you're going to a luxury day spa when in fact it's an overpriced beauty salon in a dingy hotel basement run by lunatics. Down the hall from the "spa" is a barber shop which gives me the creeps. Its employees are usually standing around the hallway giving everyone a slow, creepy once-over as they walk past. Eew.

So, overall, I have to say you can't judge a book by its cover...or should I say, you can't judge a hotel by its first impression. After 10 years of looking at it from different angles (i.e. day-guest, overnight guest, event guest, shopper, etc.), I have to conclude that it's not all it's cracked up to be.

p.s. "Be our Guest" was my favourite song from Beauty & the Beast. I love Lumiere!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Politics of Facebook

Are you on facebook? I am. Well, I am in a very quiet way. I have all the settings on my profile to be "friends only" including searching for me. Why? Because there are all sorts of people on facebook that I really don't want to be "friends" with never mind have them poking around my life. (Haha. Ironic this coming from a blogger.)

Who are these people? They are my DH's ex and all her friends (yes, including that army of vicious gays), my DH's sister and some extended family.

My entry into facebook started out as fun. It's fun to:
  • keep in touch with your friends and relatives you don't see often on there
  • post & look at pictures
  • play games and exchange little peeks into friends everyday lives
  • see what people from your past are up to (yes, a little voyeuristic of me but hey at least I admit it!)
It's NOT fun to:
  • be "friends" with people you don't trust
  • have your DH's sister scroll through everything on your page looking for anything damning and report your every move to your DH ("gasp...citygirl wrote on someone's wall today!")
  • have pictures posted of you from hellish events and then be made fun of by the army of vicious gays...yes it was horrible. These people don't even know that I'm on facebook so when I stumbled across these pictures I was pretty hurt to see little catty remarks being made about me. Frig, I was the bigger person to attend that stupid event in the first place.
  • see that your DH's ex and his sister are "friends". Who knows what that really means but it still hurts. Makes me feel like a complete loser. Somedays I think to myself "why am I even in this situation? Why don't I just step aside?"
Other ramblings about facebook:

At one point, I put my account on hold as "friendships" were causing some major problems with extended family. A couple was going through a divorce and it became quite a situation where "friends" were almost being asked to choose between them. I ended up "de-friending" both of them and blocking them (along with a ton of other people...I guess I'm paranoid that the privacy settings aren't strong enough. You know what they say...better to wear a belt & suspenders!)


Since then, I've almost chucked my account now & then a few times. Maybe I should just look through my friend list and weed out some people instead. I don't know exactly why I feel uneasy about it somedays. It almost feels like being back in the playground at school and being worried about being unpopular or talked about behind your back or worse yet, being out rightly picked on (oh wait, that already happened to me!).



Speaking of the playground...I wasn't terribly popular in elementary school. I was quiet and kept a few close friends. My school had 2 geographical areas, one was walking distance and the other was school-busing distance. I was part of the walking group which was considerably smaller than the bus group. Needless to say, the walking group were the outsiders. We weren't "in" with the bus group and majority ruled popularity. The bus group would all go to each other's parties and laugh about them on Monday at school. The bus group stayed at school for lunch and would party everyday while the walking people went home for lunch with their mom or nanny. The bus group bullied and picked on the walking people quite a bit. It was a really personality-defining experience for me.

So here I am again...on the playground known as facebook. I have my close friends. And I seem to have a ton of other friends. But there's also that group that makes me feel like I'm that 7-year-old girl in the schoolyard again.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Testing...testing...is anyone out there?

I've had issues with my feedjit tool since I installed it. It looks great on my blog and I can see the little map of where visitors come from but the second I click on it to see a bigger version of the map (with more detail) my internet explorer experiences an issue and closes down. I've tried reading up on this and found no solution.

I've also been poking around with Google Analytics. It seems to be able to track where my visitors are coming from too but I don't know if I've successfully installed it or not (hence there is a section at the bottom of my blog right now titled "test"). It takes a minimum of 24 hours to see if data is being tracked.

Why am I doing this? Because I find it fascinating. I LOVE seeing where visitors come from! I absolutely find it thrilling to think that people around the world read my ramblings!

Rough Day

I'm having a hard time today with it being my first birthday without my mom. Just thinking about it makes my eyes fill up with tears. I bawled this morning when my sibling called.

I've always thought birthdays were kinda like little "anniversaries" with your mom so I'm just having a tough time and I do much better if I just don't think about it and can just get through today. I'm at work today so I can keep my mind occupied (well, except for this little blog entry) and I am one of those fortunate people who have in an open style cubicle so I have no.privacy.whatsoever.

I'm also thinking about how wonderful my visit was with my mom last year (I figured out how to import a historical post...I wrote this little thing out last year before I started blogging) and how I wondered last year if it would be the last one we celebrate together.

No big plans tonight. I honnestly just want today to pass. I didn't realize how hard it would be.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Stop this ride, I want to get off!

I was reading one of my favourite blogs this morning and wrote such a long (and it turned out to be quite interesting!) comment regarding euthanasia that I thought I would share it with my readers...

Ahhh...this is tough topic but one caregivers must face. When my dad passed away 16 years ago, my mother would go on about how she wanted to die or wished she had died instead of my father. She would bawl her eyes out at the dining room table as I sat helplessly. I would let her know that I was happy she was still here and that I still needed her (I was only 17 years old at the time).

As the Alzheimers progressed, mom would sometimes bring up how she wanted to die when she was having one of those days where she was somewhat with it. On those days, I think she realized that something was wrong with her and wanted to end her own suffering and confusion. Those were really hard days. But it wasn't a person in their right mind talking. I don't ever think that an Alzheimers patient could make this decision.

On a somewhat related note...the DNR. UGH... it makes me feel like I'm going to bawl just thinking about it. Our nursing homes here require us to sign a form regarding this - you choose the level of life-saving activities that will be done if something happens. At first, we had a high level of life-saving activities.

As mom got worse over the past couple of years, (i.e. bedridden, unable to communicate, eat or stay awake for more than a few minutes) we lowered the level of activities that would take place. We consulted with doctors and my sibling is an emergency worker so he has seen a lot of people revived just to live on for years completely brain dead in a coma. So for the last couple of years, we had DNR as our request. It absolutely killed us to sign the forms but we knew it was for the best...mom was in a terrible state these last couple of years. But in a small way, I felt like we were murderers, not trying 100% till the very end.

After years of caring for sick parents and many ambulance trips, I always thought in my head "the next ambulance won't have flashing lights & sirens...it'll be a quiet drive away".

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Goodbye, M.

Somedays, I think about an old friend I used to have.

"M" and I met in early high school. We had a lot in common - we were quiet brainers who didn't hang outside the school and smoke. We had family issues. We shared a common cultural background. We could talk for hours & hours.

After high school, we kept in touch quite frequently. We went on a couple of fabulous trips. Then after university, M went away for grad school. I was proud of her.

M got sick half way through the school year abroad. She ended up coming home and she's never been the same. She was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. I felt terrible and hoped that she'd be able to get treatment and get her life back on track. She didn't.

Ten years later, M is still sick and on disability. On top of her Crohn's, she has developed a million other ailments (and I'm sorry to say but I think they're mostly in her head). I know other people with the terrible disease of Crohn's and they suffer but they also keep going in life. They didn't lie down and apply for permanent disability.

And it's funny, M cannot go to school or work due to her illness but she's perfectly well to socialize, sleep, work for cash and shop her days away. I've been a good, patient friend who's always been there to listen and comfort (despite the inner voice telling me that she's a bit of a hypochondriac). We all have these friends. It takes all kinds to keep the world going. But what made me end this friendship is when she wasn't there for me on two very important days in my life and I also realized M had become a crazy bitch was no longer herself.

The first day was my wedding day. M came to the ceremony (it was a 10 minute quickie type) and then promptly grabbed me after it to say that she was leaving and going home because she wasn't feeling well. Since we were at a hotel, I offered for M to go lie down for a while in a guest room and join us for dinner (which would be in an hour or so after pictures/cocktails). M declined and left all teary-eyed. I felt bad and it weighed on my mind a bit (on top of all the other political sh*t that goes on at a wedding...don't get me started. Just elope.).

A year later, M told me the real reason she left. She left because she "was upset that I didn't ask to her to be bridesmaid and she was jealous to see me happy". Nice. I told her that I didn't ask her to be a bridesmaid because all she did was complain (regarding the pressure on her health and finances) about being a bridesmaid for another friend earlier that year. M seemed accept this and we got past this.

The second time M failed me was when my mother passed. I truly needed support and she was not there for me. Why? She says she "had a doctor's appointment" on the day of the funeral. We had arrived at the church for the funeral and M came flying across the street at me telling me she couldn't stay because she had an appointment. Really, was it for brain surgery? M left a voicemail for me later that day going on about how she had a doctor's appointment and blah blah blah.... I erased the message and haven't called her back. It's almost been 4 months and M hasn't called again.

I can't understand what appointment could not be moved on an emergency basis. You really can't help when funerals are held. But then what really bothered me was that M didn't show for any of the visitations either. Surely, in 3 days worth of events, she could have showed for something? Even a visitation. If you really couldn't be there for the funeral, then a visitation would have sufficed. Actually, the visitations allow for much more interaction/support anyways.

Another thing about M... I noticed in the past few years, she became a crazy bitch quite evil. M was/continues to be "the ex that won't go away" in someone's life. She knows all about my situation and how it hurts to have your SO's ex lurking around. She laughs and delights in her "small victories" against the current girlfriend. It's horrible to listen to. It makes me sick. The last I heard, she had basically driven such a wedge in her ex's current relationship that his girlfriend left him (even after they had bought a house together!). M moved in (because her ex was drowning in bills and needed a roommate) but she was hoping romance would bloom again with him. How horrible is that?

It was horrible enough that I realized it was time to say goodbye to my friend. M was no longer the person I used to be friends with. She had become someone else. Goodbye, M.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Keeping in touch...with an ex

I'm here to rant today about my DH keeping in touch with his ex. WHY WHY WHY??? WHY do people keep in touch with their exes? I can see the occasional friendly email between exes...I even have that. I can see keeping in touch very often if you have children together. But otherwise that's it. That's where I draw the line in my mind.

It's an issue that my DH and I have been dealing with for our entire relationship. He knows it bothers me so he's "cut down" their contact. But even the mere mention of it makes me fuming.

Perhaps I should give you a little more to work with. My DH and this person had somewhat of a bad breakup. There were thoughts that she cheated on him and honnestly, everything points to that (including little love letters she had stashed away from her new guy!). But she denies it to this day. After a few months, things apparently didn't work out with her new guy and she came crawling back but my DH had already met me and told her that he didn't want to get back together with her. She cried. She called & called & called. She kept in contact with his family (more often than when they were together!). She gave the "ok, let's just be friends" routine. This person was determined to stay afloat!

After my DH bought a house and moved in together, I was cleaning out an overloaded closet one day when I came across letters from her pleading her case to get back together (the letters were dated way after we had started dating...even after we had bought our house). DH said he always told her he didn't want to get back together but they could be friends.

Fast forward years later and here we are. They're not in contact as much anymore and she's FINALLY started dating someone. But they're still in touch and it still bothers me. It hurts. It still boggles my mind how my DH can't just cut her off. Especially after her attempted home-wrecking.

Am I crazy? Am I overly jealous? Please chime in my readers.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Run over the car. YES. Run over the car.

There's no typo in the title. I meant to type "run over the car".

This is exactly what this child did to our car on the weekend. Remember him?

While visiting on the weekend, our car was assaulted many times by the hands and feet/shoes of two 6-year-old boys. I am still stunned at the idea.

The children were playing in a large backyard/parking/garage area of their grandparents house. There were 5 cars parked in the driveway. The children & their parents walked over to a local fair after dinner so we decided to pop out for some coffee.

We get in the car and DH looks in his rear-view and absolutely freaks. There are hand prints all over the back window. He gets out of the car and it becomes quite clear that the kids have been literally running OVER the car MANY times. Their SHOE marks are on the back bumper, onto the trunk...hand/shoe prints up the rear window....across the roof of the car, down the front windshield and across the front hood. There are so many prints it looks like hundreds of kids ran across the car. There are noticeable deep scratches in the paint and dents. DH WAS PED!!!! His dad notices him looking at the car and comes outside and freaks too. His mom comes out and says "well, how do you know who it was". Well, let's see, the car is parked in your driveway/in your backyard and was not like this when it arrived hours ago. Hmmm...let's see....

DH was so furious that he opted for us to leave and go home before the kids/etc got back from the local fair out of fear that he might strangle them be very angry with them.

The parents/kids return from the fair and the grandparents let them know what's happened. The parents call us at home and go on about how they are sorry/can't believe the kids did this. DH asks what their punishment is. Get this - no hot-tubbing last night before bed. Ooooohh... AND grounded for 2 weeks. WTF? The kids are 6 yrs old. Where would they normally go? What difference does "grounding" make to them? UGH!!!

The parents insist on putting the the boys on the phone to say sorry.

Conversation goes like this:

Kid: I'm sorry (how robotic!)
DH: Well, I want you to think about something next time you think of damaging something. Think of your favourite toy...maybe your little bike that you love so much. Think of someone ripping a handle-bar off it. How would that make you feel?
Kid: Well, that wouldn't really matter. I can still ride it without handlebars.
DH: Ok...so you aren't really sorry for what you did to my car, are you?
Kid: No, not really.
DH: Put your mom back on.

Friday, September 5, 2008

What your doctor doesn't tell you

A couple of months ago, I went off the Pill because after a million years of being on it, it had started to reek havoc on my blood pressure. This was no small decision. My doctor & I have been monitoring my blood pressure since April and it was way too high for someone my age and build. There was a suggestion that I go on blood pressure meds but that was not something I want to do so off the Pill I go!

What my doctor didn't tell me is that I'd gain 5-8 pounds INSTANTLY and feel like I'm 100 years old.

In the past couple of months, I've gained 7 pounds even though I'm going to the gym and eating the same or less than I used to. I also noticed that I'm grumpier than usual, lethargic, wanting to sleep more than normal and overall, not the social organizer that I usually am. Sure, I've had a rough summer but I thought I was losing my mind with the way things were going. I've never had a weight issue in my life and suddenly I can't fit into half of my clothes. I've always been the social organizer and suddenly I have become a hermit. WTF?!?!

So I started thinking... besides a rough summer, what else happened? I went off the Pill. Could this be factor? Surely, my doctor would have forewarned me. Nope. I looked into it online and found a ton of women going through this & this! THANK G*D!! I'm not losing my mind!

Hopefully my body will sort itself out in the next few months. I guess after a million years of having my hormones falsely levelled, it takes a while to get back to nature. Until then, please bear me with me!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Regrets

Do you ever have an argument or situation with someone and then feel so guilty after? I know I do.

There are situations and arguments that happened in the past few years where I look back and feel really guilty and second-guess myself. At the same time, I can still justify what I did or said so I feel quite torn.

Things would have been much easier if I had not started the argument/argued back or if I had just let things go. But then, things would not be right (being a Libra, this would mean things are not balanced and that is something I can't deal with!). Some of these situations were huge and if I had not stood up to them, I would have ultimately paid the price.

Who were these situations with? They were with my DH, his family, my family and friends. Overall, I think I'm a nice, easy-to-get-along-with person. Sometimes, I think people mistake that for a push-over or someone they can treat as they wish. It was quite a shocker for some people to hear me roar when I was pushed too far (trust me, I shocked myself somedays!).

I'm not going to get into specifics of the situations but the bottom line in most cases was the person was not respecting me and/or our relationship. Some situations I ended up in were just absolutely ridiculous. I took action at the time and now, I am full of regrets somedays. But if you don't stand up for yourself, who will?

I'm okay

Hey, I thought I'd post to let you know that I'm okay. I had a couple of good chats with good friends this past week.

One friend, who is a social worker, pointed out to me that what I've been through in the past 16 years has been very traumatic and exhausting so it's only normal that I still have bad days now and then. She said it's like having post-traumatic stress. Thank goodness I have such great friends.

My DH, on the other hand, is not as sensitive or understanding. He doesn't seem to get it somedays. This weekend, he said that I'm more "hormonal" and sensitive lately. I shot back that he's more INsensitive and snippy lately. Yep, it was a lovely long weekend...ha ha.

However, I did admit in my blog that I've been grumpier than normal. But wouldn't it be nice and ideal if my DH would notice this and say "hey, do you want to talk about how you're doing? I know you've been through a lot this summmer. Is there anything I can do to help you?" But as I've accepted and said before, my DH is a guy's guy and there's a better chance of h#ll freezing over.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A look back...

It's almost the end of summer (well, Labour Day weekend is pretty well the unofficial end). Yesterday afternoon, I found myself reading blogs about people who's parent(s) have Alzheimers. I think I was subconsciously having a tough day and it somehow comforted me to read this blogs.

My mom passed away this summer after a 16 year battle with Alzheimers. I think the end of summer/change of seasons is somehow signalling to me that time has kept moving and I've survived. What have I survived? I survived some of the most terrible times. Somedays, I wasn't sure I'd make it and I wasn't even the person with the disease; I was "just" the family member/caregiver. And I've survived my mom's passing. It was something that I knew would come one day, like every human knows, but I was terrified of it. I guess after watching her slowly "die" for 16 years, my imagination would run absolutely wild with how the end would be.

I thought it might be good to blog about this. Long before blogs, I survived many, many insane days with mom and I think that blogging would have been an incredible outlet for me. Instead, to cope with the day-in/day-out challenges, I'd call friends/family or I'd go to internet chat rooms for Alzheimer families. Now that I've survived, I thought I'd tell the tale in an effort to purge a bit and to also educate people out there who are living the nightmare of Alzheimers.

As the youngest of three children, I was the last to leave home. I stayed with mom throughout my schooling (including 4 years of college) and for the first few years of my career. My 2 siblings had moved out and had their own lives. Truthfully, one of them was estranged from the family for a few years and was basically disowned by my mom (who was convinced this child was a thief and was constantly stealing from her).

The next section of this entry is in point-form (as taken from my log of observations regarding my mom; the family doctor advised us to start a log of behaviour when we first approached her about mom...a funny aside...funny how "log" is just one letter short of being "blog"!). This is in no way a full day-to-day documentation of caring for someone with Alzheimers. It's simply a glimpse of it. Everyday is full of challenges, bizarre conversations and sometimes arguments (as much as you try not to argue with them, it gets impossible somedays).

Constant over the years
• Losing purse, glasses & blaming other people (i.e. they stole her items from her). The "suspects" even include her own children.
• Constant suspicion re: teenage neighbour – that he’s wrecking things around yard, that he’s been in our house.
• Short term memory failing here & there (staring 1992...gradually gets to the point that she cannot remember 5 minutes ago)
• Long term memory failing (starting 2001)
• Repeats herself
• Easily confused

Events
Events began in 1992 with small symptoms after my father’s sudden death. Mom was always very dependent on dad and didn’t do any of the banking or household administration for as long as they were together (approximately 40 years). There are 3 children in my family: sibling1, sibling2 and me, “citygirl”. For the first 8 years of the disease, we manage mom as well as we can. Her symptoms are mild enough that it's manageable. I sought advice from a counselling centre at school and learned about Alzheimers. I mentioned this to my siblings who shot the idea down with "mom's just getting old or missing dad". But I knew mom was facing something much larger and darker than age or heartache...

Over the years, these symptoms develop into much larger issues.

• November 2000 – Mom walked into neighbour’s home and to confront their teenage son (“D”). D does not live there – mom is in the wrong neighbour’s house – not even close to D’s real house. However mom is convinced that D does live there and that the young girl who lives there is his daughter (hmm...D is 12 and the girl is 5...let's do the math). She believes D has been targeting her house and vandalizing it. (ie turning on outside water taps, throwing garbage into yard, peeing in garbage cans)

• January 2001 – Mom reports that she received a letter from her sister (who is deceased) that morning regarding her niece. The letter requests Mom to sponsor the niece to come to live in Canada. When I ask to see the letter, Mom spends most of the day looking for the letter.

Later in the day, mom tells citygirl that the niece visited her that morning and asked directly if she could live there. Citygirl asks mom about the letter from her sister. Mom does not recall anything about a letter. Citygirl suggests to mom that she is confused. Mom admits that she is confused and does not know why she is thinking these things.

• January 2001 – mom up most of the night. Yelling/crying at citygirl. Complains of lost blanket, that she’s cold...is whining in almost a child-like way. Mom announces she's going to call sibling1 at 5:00 am; citygirl discourages. Mom finally goes to sleep.

• September 2001 – mom wants to go “home” to her native country and live with her brother (who is deceased)

• Early October 2001 - mom has a check-up booked at doctor's...she cannot remember how to get to Dr’s office that she has been going to for 40 years/it's 5 minutes from her house. She calls the Dr's office and identifies herself using her maiden name.

• Mid October 2001 – mom does not recognize her own house. She does not know where she is living, thinks she is staying in someone’s else’s home.

• Early January 2002 – mom has started wandering. She does not recognize neighbourhood and does not know how to get to church, store or doctor. Went to the convenience store across the street and the cashier called the "Wandering Bracelet" number (our city has a program for Alzheimers patients to wear id bracelets to help people who find them lost).

On another night at 10:00pm, citygirl is out (yes, I tried to have a little social life despite the insanity I lived with) . The next-door neighbour finds mom banging on her own front door, demanding in a loud voice to speak to the landlady. When neighbour told mom that this is her house that she owns and lives in, Mom does not recall this and is shocked. She continues to say the landlady has locked her out. The neighbour helps Mom look through her coat pockets and once the key is found on Mom, she goes in.

• Mid January 2002 – mom is calling citygirl & the siblings 1 & 2 the moment one of us leaves to ask to be picked up and taken home since she’s not in the “right” house. When explained that she is, she gets very upset. She is not sure what country she is in or why. It is thought that mom has had a small stroke at some point to explain this sudden decline. Sibling1 has Geriatric Doctor do home assessment – score was 12/30 (that's pretty bad...means mom couldn't tell what day it is, what year it is...etc).

• Early February 2002 – mom continues to not remember her own house or belongings. Still thinks she is staying in someone else’s house. She asked citygirl how she knows her. Citygirl tells her that she's her daughter. Mom asked if she was ever married; when shown picture of dad (they were together for approximately 40 years until he passed), she does not remember him. She also asked if she had other children; when told of 3 children (citygirl being one of them), she is shocked and does not recall this.

• Mid February 2002 – Sibling1 admits mom to hospital under emergency – it is quite evident that mom is getting worse day by day and has maybe had silent strokes in past few months. Mom has become quite physically aggressive in wandering and trying to "escape" us and it is a bitter winter. We fear that we can longer keep mom safe.

Mom even tries to escape the hospital and has a scuffle with a security guard at the hospital. A few days into her hospital stay, Mom suffers severe bout of pneumonia which she fights off (thank G-D, otherwise all of us would have never been able to let go of that guilt – trying to put her in secure environment and end up killing her with pneumonia).

• May 2002 – mom admitted to temporary seniors/nursing home. It is quite difficult to get placed in nursing homes in our city so we take this opening as a temporary place for mom until we can get a better place. At least it's clean and safe.

• Sept 2002 – mom admitted to more permanent home. This home houses residents that are still physically well but are not able to function by themselves due to Alzheimers.

• May 2004 – mom suffers bout of shingles. Is extremely tired and weak for several months. Starts to become unsteady on her feet and losing continence.

• August 2004 – I took mom to get her hair done one day at her usual salon (outside the home). We were going to eat before hair appointment. She got out of car and became very pale and disoriented. She said she didn’t feel like herself and wasn’t sure what was wrong. She had wet herself and was unable to tell me. Sibling2 brought a change of clothes and after eating, she seemed a bit better and then after hair appointment, she was quite perked up...it was like 2 completely separate days within a few hours.

• September 2004 – mom is now using a wheelchair most of the time. She is very unsteady of her feet and is very hesitant to walk. (I later find out that Alzheimers patients sometimes suffer from spatial issues and cannot process what they are viewing, especially floors and stairs)

• October 2004 – mom admitted to another nursing home because the first home was no longer able to care for her. She needs full assistance in washing, grooming, clothes, eating, toileting, walking. Sleeps more. However, there are days when she is surprising alert and strong.

• November 2005 – mom sleeping more and mobility is limited.

• 2006-2008 in general – mom continues to sleep more and need more assistance. Needs help to eat meals, move, needs adult diapers. Eventually needs to be in wheelchair at all times. Speech becomes infrequent and eventually becomes one word answers when prompted. Hands become curled up. At times, she appears to be zoned out and some tears roll out (although tears could be that she has a bit of a cold). We’re not certain that she can understand when we speak to her.

• November 2006 – mom is admitted to hospital for dehydration. Mom stays overnight and is re-hydrated and doing much better. She returns to the home the next day.

• Sept 2007 – mom suffers a mild seizure in the morning and is admitted to hospital for review. No evidence of a stroke is present. Hospital offers to run more intrusive testing but children decline the testing. Mom returns to the home later that day.

• May 2008 – mom sleeps much more and is very groggy when awake. There are some days when she has a few moments when she is more alert. The children hire a personal careworker in late 2007 and she works with mom everyday for 2 hours. She talks to mom all the time and takes her outside on nice days. Mid-month, mom has a small blood-bruise on her heel from pressure. It is monitored and rotated regularly and she wears soft booties instead of shoes.

• May 23, 2008 – citygirl visits mom in the evening for approximately 1 hour immediately after mom’s dinner. Mom sleeps through the visit, which is quite the norm now, with the exception of 1 minute where she opens her eyes and tells citygirl something jumbled. Her eyes look very nice and alert when they are open.

• June 1, 2008 – Siblings 1 & 2 visit mom in the afternoon and report that she was no different than usual days lately. Personal careworker reports the same.

• June 2, 2008 – mom peacefully passes away in her sleep overnight. Caregivers discover this on morning rounds at 6am. Children are called. Mom does not appear to have struggled at all – looks like she was just sleeping in her bed.

So there you have it. 16 years in one entry.

I want to tell other families out there something rather blunt: you will survive. I know somedays you think it just can't get worse and it DOES. Every step hurts. Every decline seems horrible but then you get used to the operating level...it almost becomes normal. When you start out on the Alzheimers journey and read things like this entry, I know you are freaking out. I know you can't possibly imagine your parent becoming sicker & sicker. But it happens and when it does, you survive. It's important to reach out to family, friends, support groups, internet..whatever you have.

I know in the early days, when I thought about my mom becoming incontinent, bedridden and unable to communicate, I just about wanted to die. But I didn't. And here I am ~ after the storm and still alive.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Liar Liar...

...pants on fire!

I'm writing today as a follow up to a snippet about someone in my life that lies non-stop.

She's at it again. I cannot get over the things this person lies about!

A few weeks ago, she told someone a lie right in front of me. I asked her about it seconds later (so she wouldn't have the regular excuse of "oh...you must have heard wrong" or "did I say that? no, no, I said ____").

So I struck when the iron was hot. She was a bit stunned that I asked and knew she was scr*wed. She made up an elaborate reason why she lied. When I said this particular person wouldn't really care either way, she said that nobody except me knew the truth about this topic so she was just telling everyone the same story. I asked her about 2 other close/important people in her life and she confirmed that she HAD TO lie to them too about this topic. Why??? Oh, she had her elaborate reasons for both cases. It absolutely drives me insane!!!

Which leads me to the next part of this entry. If she lies to all these people, all the time, does she lie to me? I'm sure she does! I've caught her tangled up in many crazy webs before where she's lied to me. If I try to "straighten things out", she just gets defensive and/or lies more to cover up the lie.

This is someone in my life that I should be able to trust 100%, without a doubt. Instead, I feel myself distancing away from her because I really don't like what she's doing and I can't stand being lied to. It's disturbing to me and makes me feel really frustrated, hurt and angry. (sidebar to some readers - this reminds me of a course I took once where you say "when you ____, it makes me feel ____" haahah sorry, it made me laugh).

Can I talk to her about this? Never. This person is so difficult that I'd need to sedate her before she'd ever admit to anything.

What if I take another approach and look at the reasons for her lies and try to make it that she doesn't feel the NEED to lie? I've thought about this too. She doesn't lie because she feels inadequate or embarassed or something easily fixable. She lies because she wants people to feel sorry for her. Honnestly, this woman carries around a cross to nail herself to everytime she opens her mouth. She wants to come across as hard done-by, a martyr, a saint...she wants people to feel so bad for her that they go out of their way to be nice/helpful to her. I fell into this trap many times. The favours she looks for aren't simple. Then she turns around and treats you like cr*p later. It's quite a vicious circle...one that I'm taking a break from.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Power of Shades

Have you ever noticed the power of sunglasses? I don't mean how much they protect your eyes from the sun. I mean how much emotion they hide.

I noticed this summer when talking to people, I often take my sunglasses off or put them on top of my head. I started doing this because I find when I'm talking to someone wearing sunglasses, that it's very difficult to gage their emotion and interest. I like to be engaged and emotional when I speak so I find wearing sunglasses is a bit antisocial (which I am not!). If someone wears their sunglasses through a whole conversation, I feel quite disconnected to the person and awkward in a sense.

When sunglasses are propped up on top of someone's head, it's better than actually wearing them, but at any given second, the person could whip them on and it almost feels like a very weird threat they're sending out by keeping them so handy on their head.

The saying "the eyes are the window to your soul" is so true. If I am talking to someone, their eyes tell me so much more than their voice. I can see if they are sincere, sarcastic, sad, happy, etc. Your eyes speak volumes over the words that come out of your mouth.

Check it out next time you're talking to someone with shades on...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Excuse me, I seem to be lost...in my own life.

I often sit and wonder if I'm on the right track. I look back at how I've gotten to where I am and wonder if I took the right roads and if I'm in the right place. There's no magical way in life to know if you're in the right place...so how do you know? How do you know if you're making the right career, love, family, friends and health choices? One might answer "if you're happy". Well, I'm happy enough. It's hard to measure happiness.

I've been fascinated with the idea of "choices" for many years now. The "what ifs" in plain terms. What if I had not dated that guy for so many years? What if I stayed with that other guy? What if I had not applied to my current job (going on 10 years this summer...). Even small things. What if I left 10 minutes early/later for work today?

I love my DH immensely. I hope we have a long, happy life together. But what lies ahead for us? Will we continue to live in the city (which my DH says he can't stand but now that he's been here for so long, I'm sure the country would be a rude awakening!). Will we have children? This is a topic which totally boggles my mind. I don't really feel all that maternal. I don't go ga-ga for babies or kids. I actually find them a bit overwhelming! They're like little aliens to me.

Somedays, I think maybe we should have children (and soon...I'm not that young anymore!) but the reasons are pretty weird. I think that maybe we'll regret not having children one day. I worry that we'll be old and need someone to take care of us one day (I know that sounds selfish but when I see what my mom went through, I thank G*d everyday that we (her kids) were around to see her through it). My DH's opinion on the matter? He says he doesn't care either way and it's up to me. Great.

So now let's say hypothetically, we have kids. I can't imagine my life with kids. I can barely function the way I am. I get up, go to work everyday from 9-5, get home shortly before 6 (sometimes run errands), make dinner, clean up and go to bed. Where do kids fit in here? Who's taking care of them from 8am to 6pm? How do I get ready for work (i.e. shower, dress) with kids? My DH works crazy shift work so he's basically a write-off. I have no family that would help me. His family lives a few hours away. I'd be on my own. So that makes me run for cover. I am not capable of this! This is nuts! Back to being DINKs (Double Income No Kids). Phew. What the H*** was I thinking?

Onto the other fronts. Career? Currently, dead-end. I hope opportunities will come up at my current workplace and I have good reason to believe they will. That's all I can say about that for now. Friends? I think I have a pretty good group of friends. Family? Dysfunctional. Health? I think I'm doing alright. I could always be doing better. At least I joined a gym (and actually go!) this year.

Could I be doing better? Have I made the right choices? I guess there's really no way to answer this except for "I hope so".

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened” -- Winston Churchill

Friday, July 25, 2008

Baskets: Good or Evil?


Today, I'm going to write a fun post and debate if baskets are good or evil.

Baskets are Good:
-I love baskets; I have them all over my house
-I love receiving gifts in baskets
-Whenever I'm shopping, I am drawn to baskets by my desire to buy more
-Baskets help you organize (for example, I have a bench in the kitchen with baskets under it to keep items like bottles of pop)

Baskets are Evil:
-While baskets help you organize, they also give you a handy place to stash all sorts of stuff when you are cleaning up. That's great but then the stuff ends up staying in the basket forever and not being sorted out properly. Half of it is garbage and should be chucked.
-The point above leads to another complication. While the baskets help you "temporarily organize" things, this is really a lazy way of getting rid of clutter instead of putting things back where they belong. The point? There are lots of things that you can't find because they're in one of the million baskets around the house instead of in their proper spot (my DH is famous for doing this with his tools)
-I'm often lazy or preoccupied and drag baskets towards me when going to look in them. I've scratched up some surfaces doing this (yes, I now I should put little felt thingys on the bottom of the baskets but that just one of those things that I think about and don't follow through on)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Eeee

This is a sound that coworkers of mine often tack onto the end of names and it drives me INSANE!! I work with professionals who suddenly sound like kindergardeners when calling out names to each other. Let me demonstrate how adult names can be transformed into kiddie names:

Ann = Annieeee
Bill = Billieeee
Fred = Fredieeee
Mike = Mikeeeee
Paul = Paulieeee
Rick = Rickeeee

WTH?! Who started this trend? It echos the other name-nightmare that I despise. It doesn't sound cute or fun to me. It's ANNOYING!! STOP IT!!

Whoo.... gotta chill. In other news... I posted a response to a blog that I've been reading lately. I thought it was a pretty good piece of writing so I thought I'd share.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hello World!

I am fascinated with the Feedjit on my blog. I have visitors from all over North America and now some from overseas too! I wonder how these visitors find my blog and what they read/what they think of it.

Please leave me a message if you'd like to. I'd love to hear how you landed here and what you think!

~citygirl

Monday, July 7, 2008

Little Miss Grumpy



The children's book describes it all...well, except for the "Mr." part.

Lately, I have found myself grumpier and more impatient than usual. And I can actually feel myself being this way. My DH annoys me at the drop of a hat. And I feel bad afterwards but at the same time, he sometimes has it coming and maybe I was just way too patient before.

Maybe I need a holiday. I really haven't stopped this year and to be honnest, I don't feel like I've stopped in 16 years. It's been a long haul with my mom and I think it really wiped me out and took years off my own life.

For the first 10 years of my mom's illness, I took care of her at home. My siblings had taken off and had their own lives and I was left behind. Not that I ever held that against my mom as I wanted to see her at home for as long as possible. But I didn't sleep well for those 10 years. I felt like I was on the 24 hour emergency desk, especially at night (my father passed away overnight and I found him one morning...after hearing him cough at 5am and dismissing it as a nagging cough). If my mom coughed, moved or called out in her sleep, I was out of bed, cordless phone in hand, ready for action. It was quite exhausting. Try adding highschool then university full time, have a part time job and a little bit of a social life and that's what my life was like. And I somehow managed to keep it all together and get pretty good grades.

After we moved my mom into the nursing home, I slept a bit better. I knew there was a 24 hour staff there, doing patrols and there was always a big glowing green help button beside my mom's bed. My mom was a wanderer (or exit-seeker as most Alzheimers patients are) and I knew the nursing home was locked down so she couldn't get out (you need a swipe card to get out).

But I was never completely relaxed. I was always waiting for "the call". Even when I went on vacation, I would be worrying in the back of my mind. I'd get back to the hotel room and immediately go look at the phone to see if there was a message. I know it wasn't healthy and I know it was a bit obsessed but there was really nothing I could do about it - when it's your mom, it's YOUR MOM. You can't turn it off.

This year, I didn't go on vacation. I love the beach and the ocean and find I almost "need" a vacation to revitalize in the winter but I knew something was up this year. I told my DH, my friends and my siblings why I wasn't going away. My DH & siblings thought I was bit nutty for this but I said "I don't want to be stuck somewhere, trying to get home if anything happens". Getting home from foreign places isn't always easy and I also didn't want to travel under those conditions ~ I think I'd end up having an all-out anxiety attack. My friends understood for some reason. I usually go away in February so I was a few months off with my intuition but I think that's pretty close timing considering we were working with 16 years and there were some pretty bad times over the years.

Over the years, my siblings and I got a few calls from the home. They were non-emergency calls re: injury or need for hospitalization but you still just about faint when you see the call display. The big call finally came this year and it was just as bad as I imagined it would be. I went numb and cold all over and into a state of shock. Auto-pilot took over and I got dressed and went to meet my siblings at the home.

I guess I'm linking my grumpiness to my tiredness and exhaustion after a 16 year marathon. Although I would never trade my time with my mom for anything...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A General Update

So, here I am. I've not been blogging much lately. I guess I don't want to write depressing entries and when I start typing lately, depressing things want to flow out of my fingers!

It's been a month since my mom passed away and I'm doing ok. My DH doesn't get the whole "losing a parent" thing at all so he's been trying as best as he can to support me. And I think I've been pretty good. I had a good cry the day after the funeral and then I had another good cry this past weekend. Other than that, I've been going to work and functioning quite well... I think. My DH suggested that I might need to seek counselling during my bawl this weekend which I thought was a little mean of him. I don't think he meant it in a mean way, but geez, it's only been a month and overall, I've been doing pretty well.

It's a bit shocking to be alone in the world. Not that my mom has been really "with me" for many years since she was very ill but now it's for sure that I'm alone. My siblings continue their insanity towards each other so this loss hasn't changed their ways. I have a lovely DH who tries his best but somedays, I just feel alone. Thank G*D I have a full time job to keep me occupied. I think I would be a wreck if I wasn't busy.

In other news... I don't think I've updated the blog regarding that job I applied for. Well, I didn't get it. I was interviewed but did not get the job. It went to an external applicant. I can't say I am overly surprised as that department is a bit weird and I'm not 100% sure that I'd fit in there. I also had my suspicions that the new head of the department would be bringing people into the company from his former workplace(s) so I was almost expecting an external person to get the job. I'm not overly upset (considering the other events in my life lately, this is not a big deal) as I really don't mind my current position. For future growth, I'm not sure my current position really has the room. But for now, it's fine and at least I tried for the posting and the weirdo department knows I want to expand my career there.

What else is going on... I have a person in my life who lies a lot. It's a bizarre habit that I don't really understand. This person is in my family so it's not like I'd cut him/her off (which I might do if it were a casual friend). The things this person lies about are so weird and somedays, I actually catch the lie and ask them about it and they just lie more to cover up. It must be exhausting trying to keep the stories straight! I don't bust the person outright because that would be quite aggressive and confrontational so I just ask for clarification which starts showing that I'm seeing holes in their stories. Then I usually end the conversation once the person starts getting flustered or agitated.

So what do they lie about? Everything. Anything and everything. I'm never sure what the truth is. Part of this lying may be a result of trying to manipulate people and get people to feel sorry for him/her. Because the lying often ties into how hard life is for this person (it's really not, believe me).

Well, that's all for now. Hope you're enjoying my ramblings... I see from the "Widget" thing that I am picking up readers from all over the place - cool!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Full Patch Member

Warning - sad posting

Two weeks ago, I became a Full Patch Member of Club O.

My mother passed away overnight, in her sleep on June 2. My mother was in a nursing home for the past 6 years because her Alzheimers had deteriorated her physical condition to the point of needing 24 hour care. She had Alzheimers for a total of 16 years which is a very long time. The average length of illness is 5-7 years; maybe 10 years if it progresses slowly but 16 must be some kind of record.

My brother got the call from the nursing home at 6am that morning and he called me at 6:14 am. It's never good news when the phone rings at that time of the day. He sounded so far away, sad and not himself. He said "The home just called me. We have some bad news. Mom passed away overnight."

I have not told anyone the words from this conversation yet - until now on this blog. The call haunts me. I've been "waiting" and dreading for this call for 16 years and it finally came. I've imagined obsessed about this moment and how it would happen. When my brother called me that morning, he awoke me from a dream where I was at my mother's funeral. Freaky eh?

I met my siblings at the nursing home and we visited my mom. She looked peaceful, like she was sleeping in her bed. But she was cold. Cold, like my dad was when I found him 16 years ago in our living room. It's a feeling of cold that you've never felt before.

We arranged for the funeral home to come pick up my mom and then met at the funeral home later in the day to make the arrangements. We basically did a carbon copy of my dad's funeral so it wasn't too hard/too many decisions.

The visitations were held over two evenings and it was nice to see family and friends - I think that's what keeps you going for the first bit. The actual funeral went smoothly. We had a full mass at our family church then proceeded to the cemetery (where my dad is buried) and then we had a small reception at my brother's house. It was a long day. And I held up pretty well.

The next evening, I had a full and utter meltdown. I cried and cried and it felt so good. My poor DH had no idea what to do because this was his first situation like this (i.e. a parent passing away). He's never lost anyone close to him so he doesn't quite know what it's like. After I cried, I felt much better. I was keeping it together pretty well all week so it was due.

I took about a week and a half off work in total. The last few days, I was on my own as my DH went back to work. I enjoyed those days by myself. It was nice to have time to reflect on the past 16 years as it has been quite a long journey. Both for my mom and for my siblings & I.

For the first 10 years of my mom's illness, I lived with and cared for her. My siblings had moved out and had their own houses and lives. It was a hard 10 years but I would never change what I did. But then, it got to a point where my mom needed more care than I could provide (even with the outside help we hired for years 8 to 10). It was becoming dangerous for my mom to be alone for a second. And she was becoming very aggressive and needed more than we could give.

I know alot of people say "she's in a better place now" and it's true. In the past 6 years, she declined quite a bit. Especially in the last 3 years. She could no longer walk so she was in a wheelchair all the time and had to be helped in & out of it. She could no longer feed herself or use the bathroom. And this past year, she could no longer talk which broke my heart. I don't even know if she could really understand me when I spoke to her. She couldn't tell me if she was in pain or needed something. It was very hard to watch and I'm sure even harder to live through.

I wrote alot of the Eulogy for my mom's funeral and my brother compiled it with his thoughts and read it on behalf of the family. He added a nice ending about an Irish saying: May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you're dead. He said he thought mom left this world and had time to spare.

I had a dream 3 days after the funeral about my parents. They were together in a nice looking place, smiling and waving at me. They didn't talk but I'm sure it was just a short dream to let me know she made it and found my dad.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Two very hard things to do

There are two things in life that I think many people find hard to do: (1) forgive and (2) let go of guilt. At my uncle's funeral last week, the minister talked quite a bit about these actions. I'm sure that my uncle had some input into this as he was very close with his minister, who visited him in the hospital during his last weeks.

These two actions are especially hard in my immediate family. My siblings and I seem to live on guilt and grudges. I wonder if this section of the funeral was directed at us in any way? Or I wonder if our seemingly perfect cousins share our affliction?

I find it very hard to forgive people. I try and think I've forgiven them and gotten past whatever has happened but it still lurks in the back of my mind. I don't think I ever truly, 100% forgive people. Is it possible? Can you forgive someone and never look back?

With forgiveness comes something else - retrusting. I find it very hard to trust people in first place. Once they have my trust and then lose it, wow...it's hard for me to ever really trust them again. I have many relationships where I still have to interact with people (due to work or family relations) where I do not trust the person 100%. And there's been a few times where I've gotten past things and re-trusted the person just to have them stab in me in the back. Quite a circle of events, isn't it?

Now, onto the second action: letting go of guilt. VERY hard. I have always lived with a little guilt. I do things out of guilt; I think I should have done things differently and feel guilty; I have a constant ball & chain of guilt on my ankle with some people. It's a heavy emotion that really pulls you down sometimes. It makes life complicated. If you could let go of it, you might make decisions more clearly and objectively with your mind and not your heart. But would that truly be "me"? I am quite soft and subjective a lot of the time. And yes, I do get taken advantage of because people pull on my heart-strings (aka guilt!).

I think the answer is finding a balance. Find a balance of forgiveness and letting go of guilt that you can live with. Try to strive for these actions but recognize your limits. Of course, it's easy to say and hard to do. But it's a good thing to keep in mind when your emotional baggage gets heavy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My heart aches for the new members

I went to my Uncle's funeral this week. It was nice as far as funerals go.

I cried a bit at the church service as there was a slide show of my uncle's life, including my dad, so that was a bit hard for me. Of course, it was mostly set to sad songs so that is definitely a trigger for me too. I've found over the past few years that I cannot bear to listen to sappy songs or watch sad movies. I avoid them at all costs.

At the grave site, my cousins were openly crying and I found myself crying too. I was crying for many reasons as many thoughts flooded my mind as I looked at the casket: the loss of my uncle, the memories of my dad, my mother's illness, the dysfunction of my family... but most of all, I was crying for my cousins' newly found pain.

The more I saw my cousins cry, the harder I cried. They were being inducted into "Club O" and it hurts like nothing you've ever felt before in your life. I was hurting for them. I was crying for their pain. I was physically aching for them. And there is nothing you can do. All the words in the world won't help.

Later at the reception, I gave all my cousins hugs. I looked into their eyes and tried to give them strength. Even my older cousins, who are in their late 40's, openly told me that they were still in shock and the day felt so surreal. My uncle had been sick for many years and very sick as of late so they knew this day was coming but you are never quite ready for it.

So far, I've been talking about the children's pain & loss. But what about the spouse? My aunt was solid. She didn't cry. She was married to my uncle for 53 years and was a rock at the church, cemetery and reception. She has seen my uncle through years of illness and here we were at his funeral and she was the most composed person there.

When I think about it, my mom was the same at my dad's funeral. She didn't cry that day. She didn't even cry the day he died. But it all caught up with her some days when she would cry so hard and barely be able to utter "I miss Dad" (my parents always called each other mom and dad). It killed me to see her like that and to see her slowly become sick herself. How cruel and unfair life seems some days.

My uncle & his family have always been very religious (unlike my family of quasi-pagans). At the funeral this week, my cousins' speeches spoke of how religious my uncle was and how even in his last days, he was faithful to God. In one sense, I thought this was nice but then in another sense, I wonder how there can be a God that allows such pain, sickness, suffering, wars....if my uncle was such a good religious follower, why did God not reward him with a healthy and long life?

My mother (when she was well) was also quite religious. She went to church every Sunday and was always quite devout. Yet she has also suffered for over 15 years now with a horrible disease. What gives??

Well, I'm rambled on long enough now. Time to hit post. Till next time...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Welcome to "Club O"

My Uncle passed away this weekend. He had been very sick for a few months and generally sick for many years. In fact, I always remember him being sick from my earliest memories. He had diabetes, heart problems and was very overweight so if you add those up, it's a recipe for disaster. My father was the exact same and he died 16 years ago when I was in high school.

I'm sad about my Uncle passing away as this was my dad's only sibling so in a way, I feel like it's the end of an era. Sure, there are kids on both sides and the sons have sons so it's not like my family name is gone. But that generation is done and the knowledge and wisdom is gone with them. There are many things I wished I had asked my dad or uncle but never did. With my dad, he passed away suddenly so I didn't have much warning. With my uncle, he's been sick for a long time so I had ample opportunity to talk to him, but I never really did. I found it hard to be around my uncle because of his likeness to my dad. Maybe some people would have found that familiarity comforting, but I just found it too hard to handle.

So what's "Club O"? It's Club Orphan. To me, there is a distinct difference in personalities between people who have parents alive & well and those who do not. A friend of mine (who lost her mom years ago) brought this up one day to me to see if I notice a difference too. She & I concluded that when you lose a parent, something happens inside of you.

You have been orphaned and something intangible inside of you changes. And when both parents pass and/or are very ill, it's like that safety net is no longer there. You have to sink or swim. You're on your own and if you fail, you don't have a nest to run home to. Even though I'm into my 30's, there's been so many times where I've just wanted to run home to my mom and have her pat me on the back, give me a cup of tea and tell me "everything's going to be ok". People who have parents don't get this. They don't know how things are in Club O. And I look at them somedays and know the heartache that lies ahead for them one day...

I went to my Uncle's visitation last night and looked at my cousins with such heartache for them. A few of them mentioned to me that "I must know what they're going through". Yep. Went through it way too early in life. Even though my cousins are mostly older than me, it's still hard for them. You're never ready to join Club O.