It's been a troubling week in Elderland. My aunt seemed determined to not behave, and to thwart as many well-laid plans as possible. She did call me at the first of the week to ask if I was mad at her, and of course I'm not. I worry. I stew. But I'm not mad. She was hoping to move to a larger room that had become available, but sadly (and probably because she waffled) it went to someone else. It was a bitter disappointment to her, but I have a feeling it was meant to be. She was fretting about the extra money, and I was already wondering how I was going to talk her into spending more money on some (in my opinion) needed medical consultations.
I've become friendly with a couple of the caregivers at her residence facility, and they are worried about her as well. They regularly tattle on her when she insists on walking the quarter mile to the pharmacy for her 2 weeks overdue blood pressure medication (and she wonders why she's falling so much!), or when she refuses to come down for meals or other activities, or when she insists on taking the stairs. We've had full-on snitch-fests, trying to come up with ways to tempt her to take a bigger part in things socially. Whenever I'm there, and she sees other residents, they are always drawn to her, and she seems so well liked. But she won't let herself be completely inclusive. She sits in her dark stuffy little room watching Fox News. (She likes Fox News, she says. But... ALL DAY?) Sliding door closed, blinds drawn, even though she has a lovely balcony overlooking the patio and a large fountain. Her complexion is pale and pasty because she almost never goes outside unless it's to trek to the pharmacy because it seems she'd rather die than go on the facility bus with others.
Yesterday I went to go visit. Most of the residents were downstairs listening to a musician who had come to perform for them. They were having a great time. Was my aunt down with them? Of course not. So up I went to her room. Knocked on the door. No answer. The door is usually locked, but yesterday it wasn't, so I opened it a crack, and could see her struggling to get up. Looking confused, as usual. I asked where her cane was, and she didn't know. It was over by me, by the door. She looked right at me and said she didn't need it, yet...she wasn't able to pull herself up very well...
I lost it. Right there. Looking at her defiant face, I grabbed the cane, threw it down, and told her that I couldn't take the ridiculousness anymore. Actually, you don't want to know what I said, because it was a little salty, but that was the jist of it. The picture of Christ-like love and patience. And I left. I huffed down the hall, (and my kids are probably laughing right now because they know how I can HUFF) and then got control and went back. Did I apologize? No. Not then. I scolded her some more, and shook my finger at her, and told her that her behavior was pathetic, and what was wrong with her anyway? (Clearly, I missed my calling as a master therapist...)
This good lady just looked at me with a straight face while I was mid-tirade, and said "I'm going to start locking my door." Well - that just broke me up. I laughed and laughed. And I apologized. And THAT is what keeps me going back to try and help. As if I was any good at it. She is a trial - stubborn as a mule. She is severely depressed. And it's killing me to see her decline. But she has a sense of humor that is so clever and quick, and she's still in there. Somewhere. By the time I left she had shaken off the frail old lady act and had become a little more sparky. Showing me her determination and how speedy she had become with her walker, because she was mad that everyone had ratted on her. She sped all around the room and out the door and up the hall. It was impressive, actually. She even held on and went up and down on her toes. Doing her new tricks. I would like to kiss her new physical therapist. He is working a small miracle here.
Now, if we can just get her to talk to someone about her "feelings" (the thought actually horrifies her) I think we could get somewhere. I tried to get her to agree to let me make an appointment but she said she wasn't ready. So okay. Maybe a new physical therapist and speedy tricks with a walker are enough progress for this week. We'll address the issue again next week. In the meantime, I think I owe the lady a tall hot chocolate at Starbuck's. With whipped cream. Luckily, she realizes my temper rants are just badly disguised love. This is when I behave like my dad. We only lose it when we don't know what to do. When we're frayed with frustration and fear. But I can't give in to that frustration again, because it's mean and self serving. It blows off steam, but it's not constructive. Or maybe it is, a little bit. It sure snapped her out of acting helpless, but I think I can find a better way if I think about it long enough. And pray about it a lot.
So there you have it. My week so far. Work and meltdowns. Computer work and bad behavior. I need to get out more, I really do. Fresh air would do me good too. Oh, and I started a Paleo diet without actually reading the book. Protein, vegetables, and fruits, and avoiding grains and bread like the plague. So far, so good. I've felt really good, and have lost 6 pounds since Friday. I think the protein keeps me going steadily for a longer period of time. It's been a little bit hard to pass up bread, and pasta, and make do without, but I feel so dramatically better than it's easy to stop temptation. We'll see where this leads. L and I have been pedaling every night on our stationary bike. I hate it. It's hot and I sweat buckets (Dainty? Not me...) but I've done it, and been glad I did afterwards. So I guess it's been a week of work, frustration, and worried concern, but also better health and feeling lighter. A little good, a little bad. Mia read me a book about a girl named Pinkalicious with great expression and feeling. (Maybe she will love to read like Mema.) And Saturday I get to get my hair done, and L has started to look for good flights to Boston for me, AND he totally researched a trip to Hawaii for the two of us for a time to be determined. I think the sun just came out.