Today’s imponderable

•April 16, 2019 • 17 Comments

I wonder: on days like today, when dad really wants to do something and needs my help, but it’s not something I’m comfortable doing (involving carpentry or tractor machinery, for example), and I say no, does he regret the gender arrangements with which they raised me? Or does it confirm his assumption that they were correct to do so?

And is my unwillingness to cross those lines — the decision to give in to my extreme discomfort (and my fear of him yelling at me when I fail to do something the way he wants me to) — a sign that I’m accepting those arrangements? Should I be braver than I am?

[sorry — between work and the news from Paris, I’m wasted. Remarks on Wolverine: The Lost Trail coming soon.]

Desolée in the deepest sense of the word

•April 15, 2019 • 10 Comments

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A shrew about the floor: or, I have to write this down because I feel like crying again

•April 14, 2019 • 45 Comments

So I had the meeting with the geriatric care manager (I think I’m going to call her the GCM) and it was pretty helpful. She has a few ideas already, and she is going to talk to all dad’s doctors and come out to the house to evaluate our entire living situation.

One of the things she said is that it’s important to know what kind of stroke dad had (we only ever got vague information on this) and what kind of dementia he may have, because the nature of both of these impact ability to learn. I’ve been dealing with him on the assumption that he can learn or relearn things, because that had been the fundamental assumption of the speech / cognitive therapy he had, but those assumptions may be wrong, in which case I should focus on finding workarounds rather than trying to coach dad about stuff. Right now I can’t tell if he can’t do something, or won’t do it, and the results are exasperating. She also said that the clearer diagnoses might be useful in communicating with dad, i.e., if he knows something more specific, we could set up clearer boundaries and he could potentially be more cooperative with a clearer situation. Finally, she said I need to make a list of things that have to change for me to stay in this situation, because if it could persist indefinitely I may be putting my mental health in danger if some things aren’t corrected. (She’s right about that; I am showing clear signs of depression and have been for weeks.) She pointed out that if we paid someone to provide 24 hour care for dad, they would have weekends off.

So, case in point, yesterday.

Dad has always been, shall we say, inconsiderate about certain things. It definitely falls into the female purview to keep the floors clean and the male purview to walk wherever he likes. There are three entries into the house, two of which have chair stations for putting on and removing outside shoes, but he doesn’t like either of those options and prefers to walk into the house as is through his preferred entry, without considering what’s on his feet. This has always been true and it’s meant that keeping the floors clean in our house is an ongoing task. More than once, even before the stroke, he’s walked in dirty boots over a floor while I was mopping it and then been stunned when I expressed anger or frustration.

So my workaround for that, again, before the stroke, was simply to start wearing socks and shoes in the house and mop on a set schedule. I could tell this was making him angry as the floors have sometimes been quite dirty during the intervals, but I I had decided I was ready for a confrontation, rather than turning into a shrew about where to walk every single day, or constantly mopping. Remember: I never wanted to have children.

Post-stroke, dad has gotten much more concerned about the cleanliness of the house. It’s not clear why but the neurologist thought it might be an attempt to control his environment, or related to memory loss (he can’t tell if a mess has been there for an hour, a day or a week). That doesn’t mean he actually cleans it. Rather, he creates a situation that makes it impossible for me not to clean up after his efforts. So: if every other dish is in the dishwasher and it’s running, but there’s a dirty roaster (say) sitting on the stove, he’ll fill the kitchen sink with water and soap and put the item in the water but not wash it. This usually happens on days when I work so when I get home, there’s a grimy dish or dishes sitting in cold water. Sometimes with nice quality knives to accompany it. Often in the “wrong” sink, i.e., I have to unclog a drain as well after removing all the stuff from the sink. I have asked him politely many times not to do this, now, and the only solution has been to wash dishes constantly or hide dirty dishes elsewhere. Which is nuts. When I do it it makes me feel nuts.

But I’ve felt like — if the only way to get him to do something the way I want or need it done is to scream — I don’t want our entire relationship to consist of me screaming at him. That’s abusive. We have a lot of dilemmas like this, though.

We did have a cleaner for two weeks, until dad scared her off.

Friday, I was meeting with the GCM in the morning. Her advice was to treat him as if he can’t help being this way and can’t learn, i.e., as if I am really dealing with an infant, and find workarounds later. So, while I was away, dad apparently decided to tackle the kitchen floor / hard surface, which runs from our kitchen to tile in the porch room to the laundry room, hallway and bathrooms. However, he did not sweep before he mopped, so when I got into the house the entire hard surface floor was covered with some kind of crunchy layer that had been mopped onto the whole floor: all the mud from the entryway had been spread all over the house.

Being wise now, I said, what would the GCM say? So I took him to Flower’s, came home, and cleaned the entire floor. This was exasperating not only because i hadn’t programmed an hour of cleaning into the day, but also because I first had to spend twenty minutes looking for the cleaning supplies, which were scattered everywhere (another dad has never done: put things back where they belong). 90 minutes later, I got the floor spic and span (not that that mattered much because he just walked into the house without taking his boots off when I picked him up), but I thought, what I need to do is get my own cleaning supplies and just keep them in my own room so that I always know exactly where they are. This will cost us about $70 to start, but I will never be angry about the mess and then angry again because I can’t find the cleaning supplies.

So, I put the stuff I wanted into my grocery order for Saturday morning (when we always get it). Usually I go by myself but dad needed something from the hardware store so I took him along.

Stupid me. Of course, he noticed all the stuff when we got home.

“Why are you buying all this stuff?” He was really angry. “You’re just throwing away my money! We have all this stuff already! And the house is still dirty because you never clean.”

O to 60 in 0.5 seconds.

Lately my response to being screamed at has been to scream back. I’ve been able to stop myself from starting with the screaming but I haven’t been able to control my responses yet.

So I yelled. “Normal people put things back where they belong. I need to know where our stuff is. I have to clean up after you all the time and I can’t live like this!”

“Well, you should just ask me!” he screamed back.

“I don’t have time! Haven’t you noticed that I spend every second of every day either working or dealing with your problems?”

He stomped off and I sobbed.

So yesterday, I was vacillating between anger at him for being impossible (which is probably increasingly not his fault) and severe annoyance with myself for not remembering to hide the purchases from him or arrange the situation so he wouldn’t notice it.

Today, I was feeling really guilty for losing my temper.

Until — after I put our lunch in the oven — I noticed that he’d shut off the stove timer. When I said, involuntarily, “What happened?” he said, “The stove isn’t supposed to look that way so I turned the whole thing off.”

I just started sobbing and left the room.

I’m calmer now. I put one of those small timers like they use at Starbucks into our grocery order for next week — I can put it in my pocket and no one will ever see it.

And the cleaner is going on the list of “absolute conditions.” Hopefully the GCM can make that clear to him, because I don’t think I can go on this way.

Richard Armitage tangentially related

•April 14, 2019 • 10 Comments

Current projects:

Kudos:

Past projects:

Collateral attractions:

Things we’ve talked about:

Interesting:

Familiar stranger

•April 13, 2019 • Leave a Comment

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@netflix @netflixuk Stranger than strange #TheStranger

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Look who saw into the Storm #richardarmitage

•April 12, 2019 • 9 Comments

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And yet there are competing train wrecks to watch today

•April 11, 2019 • 34 Comments

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