Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Update on me

Tonight I think I finally have an answer on why I've been so reluctant to talk to friends lately -- and, similarly, post to my blogs.

I really expected that I'd be so bursting with news about what's happening with me, and how it's going taking care of Mom, that I'd be dying to talk to as many friends as possible. And instead I've been avoiding it.

And I think there are 2 reasons. One is that much of the time I spend with Mom, my brain is working trying to figure her out, and figure out how to respond to what she says, and figure out what to do to help her. And all that figuring out leaves me very tired of figuring out how to describe my caring for her. People ask me how it's going, and I feel tired as I try to figure out how to answer.

And the other is that I spend so much time listening to her right now that I don't have much listening time for anybody else, and it's very hard for me to talk to a friend and not be able to listen to what they say about themselves, it leaves me feeling boorish and self-centered and, afterwards, stressed to have heard stuff I couldn't retain.

I think this will change -- I hope it will.

Yesterday I took Mom to see her psychiatrist, Dr. A., and the visit went *much* better than expected, and much better than the last one.

I acted as a kind of interpreter or mediator -- explaining things Mom said to Dr. A., and vice versa. Dr. A. has a thick Polish accent and sometimes is hard to understand ("wheelchairs" becomes "wilchers").

Mom and I described with real feeling what life is like for Mom right now, and Dr. A. looked compassionate.

I knew we'd have time in the waiting room, during which Mom's anxiety would build, so I brought along some printouts of pictures of Mom's new great-grandbaby, and postings to a blog about some friends, and it really worked to keep Mom's mind off it.

We went for a chocolate milkshake at McDonald's afterwards, and then back to where Mom lives, and I stayed with her for dinner, and we had a nice conversation over dinner. She was so bushed afterward that I helped her get ready for bed and tucked her in, which I absolutely love doing. We had spent the afternoon reading, talking, laughing, enjoying a milkshake, and sharing feelings, and it was really satisfying.

About my life apart from being Mom's caregiver -- I arrived in Illinois on June 7, and after about 3 weeks here, I was starting to feel fairly grounded. Then I needed to go live someplace else for 6 days so the homeowner could have his house back. I moved some of my things there, and that went reasonably well. And then I moved my things back after the 6 days.

And it was that 3rd move that seemed to scramble just about every circuit in my body. I could continue taking care of Mom, but that's about it. It took me a week to unpack my suitcase. I've moved into the 2nd bedroom here (it's not so bright early in the morning) but haven't brought my clothes in.

It may be that the whole move from Colorado finally hit me, I'm not sure, or if it's really just the moving out and moving back after 6 days. But it's been hard for me for the last week to do anything that required perspective or focus. I can take one piece of paper off my desk and handle it, then take another piece of paper and so on. I've tried taking days off (meaning spending time watching movies, mostly) but it hasn't worked, it seems I need to continue picking up pieces of paper and handling them, so that the chaos gradually lessens.

Tonight I could clearly remember for the first time several important phone calls I wanted to make this week, so I think the cloud is lifting.

And here's something interesting, and a bit embarrassing -- I often find that when it occurs to me to watch a particular movie, it turns out the theme of the movie speaks to my current condition. So yesterday I thought of a teen movie called She's All That, and I watched it this morning over breakfast (and then some). And I realized it's a remake of Pygmalion, and that's what I feel like in my work with Mom! I can honestly say without arrogance that I've made, and am making, a big difference in the quality of Mom's life, and it's like I'm bringing her back to life again. It's hugely satisfying.

Now maybe I should watch Charlie (Charley?), or Awakenings, a film about somebody who seemed to come back to life and then went back to an old way of being, as a check on savior behavior.

What else is happening -- I went to a shape-note sing on Sunday afternoon for the first time, it was fun, and it seems there are plenty of sings around here, including some pretty big ones. I've added some new music to my iPod that I'm enjoying -- Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, Red Clay Ramblers, Stan Rogers. I'm still not getting enough exercise, but I think that will come. At the moment there are so many things I have to force myself to do, that I can't force myself to go get exercise, and go only when I really want to. I'm enjoying worshipping at Evanston Friends Meeting more than I can say.

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