Friday, November 21, 2008

Rough ride

I've had a rough past two days. Particularly yesterday. Yesterday was bad.

Work was stressful all day. That's manageable. Work stress comes and goes.

I got home early because I decided to work out at home yesterday, since I'd been going to the gym all week. Even though my apartment has free heat, I was still pretty cold through my workout (I had decided that I need some Pilates love and did Kathy Smith's Pilates for Abs tape- yes, I said tape- I'm old-school and still have a VCR).

Then I realized that my bathroom sink was getting a bit clogged. I knew I needed to get some Drano in there at some point, because it'd been a while since I'd done that, but I was hoping to wait until the weekend. My sink has a difference of opinion. I went out in the cold to get Drano, lost my awesome parking spot in my complex, used the whole bottle, and it helped, but didn't fix it. Again, something that's manageable, since I called maintenance today and they came out and took care of it. Thank God for apartments and maintenance.

But this is the part of yesterday that I'm still coming to terms with. I received a letter from my aunt yesterday. She had written to tell me that my 75-year-old grandmother (her mother) has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. This was a massive shock to me. My grandmother has been getting a little forgetful lately, but NOT in a way that caused anyone any real concern. She'd ask a question more than once, or ask us to repeat the answer, etc. She wasn't forgetting major details, or confusing us or forgetting our names, etc. We all chalked it up to getting older, including her. But it's not. It's Alzheimer's. And I read that letter, but it didn't really hit me until later in the evening, for some reason, when I was in the shower. It hit me just what that meant, and I broke down completely. It hit me that in just a few years, my grandmother is not going to recognize who I am, or know my name, or know her name, and that this disease will rob of her everything- her memories, her identity- and she will die from it, probably confused and scared. And I just broke down. Just starting sobbing in the shower. My grandmother is SUCH an amazing woman. You don't even know. She's so intelligent- she's an accomplished pianist and harpist, has played all over the world; she was an English professor and a music teacher for years; she had her first two children at age 22 and then proceeded to raise four kids as a single mother; she is extremely proud of her Irish heritage; she loves classic literature and shares her enthusiasm and passion for books, which she passed on to me (I am the only grandchild that always gets classics for birthdays/holidays, some of which I haven't read yet, but I've kept them all and I'm so glad I did); she'd bake a cake for each and every one of her nine grandchildren's birthday; she knows her family's lineage like the back of her hand; she has a razor-sharp memory- for God's sake, she's always remembered everything; she beat lung cancer just a few years ago. And she's funny, and feisty, and wonderful. She's one tough lady who's beaten every odd thrown against her. And now she's been given one that she can't beat. And I feel sad, and angry, and helpless, because I can't do anything but sit back and watch someone I love and admire lose her whole life, and I can't do a thing to stop it. I feel powerless and furious. I haven't called her yet, because I just needed to take some time and digest all of this, and what it means. I'm going to try to call her tomorrow, and I'm going to try to see her as soon as possible. I'm trying to think of what I want to say and how I want to say it. Besides telling her over and over how much I love her and how much she means to me. I want to say it as much as possible now while it still means something to her and she knows who I am. I'm terrified for the day when she'll look at me like I'm a complete stranger to her. But I'm trying so hard not to think about that right now. Hopefully that day is a long way away. I wish my aunt had given me a little more information (or called instead of written), so I'm going to call her tomorrow too- I know she's been in close contact with my grandmother's doctor and is in the process of making future arrangements/decisions.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that. I don't know how "involved" I am in the blogging community just yet- there's a lot of blogs out there that I read, and I lot of people out there that I feel like I've gotten to know, and I just wanted to reach out as well. If anyone has had any experience with a loved one who has gone through this, please contact me, you can send a message to the blog and I'll give you my e-mail address (it's just occurred to me now that I never set up an e-mail address for this blog... but I'll give you my actual e-mail address, if the blog doesn't already do that? This seems like a really stupid question... I am seriously inept when it comes to this stuff, how sad is that... I just set up my blog one night, downloaded Windows Live Writer, and took it from there).

I am taking most of the weekend to decompress and try to absorb some of this the best way I can. I think that right now I'm still trying to take it all in. When I have more information, I'll post it. I'll definitely check in throughout the weekend, but I'm not sure how much book/food posting will happen. Although I am making a go-to classic comfort dinner in a few minutes- grilled salmon, sweet potato, steamed broccoli, and a side salad. That combination of foods sounds pretty damn good right about now. I'll also probably write in my journal. I do keep a handwritten journal- I have ever since I was little- writing, along with reading, have always been amazing coping mechanisms for me. Writing is such a great way to vent and get your emotions out. Even if you don't think you're a writer, I guarantee that if you just pick up a pen and let it flow, you'll be amazed at what and how much you can write, especially if you just let everything out. Sometimes I'll pick up my journal intending to write about one thing and I just go completely in a different direction. Which I love, because it's clearly something I needed to get out there. So I think quite a bit of that will be happening tonight as well. And then I'm going to wash my flannel sheets, put them on my bed, and curl up in bed with a bowl of popcorn (another favorite comfort food- I'm a big fan of the Smart Balance Low-Fat Low-Sodium kind.... you get a ton of it in one bag for like 120 calories. A few spritzes of Smart Balance butter spray and you're set), and my book.

I'll check in this weekend and let everyone know what's up. Until then, I hope you all have fabulous weekends.


BACON said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother. One of mine developed it as well when I was young.

The one thing that I want to pass along is, visit with her a lot, especially right now. Ask as many questions as you can about her life and experiences (even get some of it down on paper for her and/or for you). One of the things that really bothers me when I'm missing my mom, for example, is that I can't ask her any questions any more. I think of things all the time that I wish I could ask her.

I know watching your grandmother go through this will be very hard. Try to enjoy the time that you have with her. I'm sure she'll appreciate all of the love and support that you give to her.

Take care of yourself and try to do at least a little bit of something fun this weekend. :-)

Anita said...

Thank you for that... it really helps and I really appreciate it. Thank you. :-) I intend to do both those things, especially to let her know how much I love her. My sister and I are hoping to get to see her next weekend and spend some time with her.

I'll definitely post more information as soon as I have it. I called my aunt and am waiting to hear back from her!

I hope you're having a good weekend! :-)

chandra said...

I'm extremely sorry to hear about your Grandmother. I wish I had advice for you, but this is one illness I haven't had to deal with before with anyone I know. She sounds like she was an amazing person and is very much loved.