Sunday, January 30, 2005

Must We Do Monday?

Today (Sunday) I visited my parents. The backstory on this, which I did not post here, was that my dad is suffering from congestive heart failure and is on oxygen via a really nifty oxygen making machine with a long tether that lets him get around almost the entire house. They didn't want me to bring Murphy to visit if I visited. This struck me as surreal - my dad adores my dog and I thought it would do both of them a world of good if he could deliver a belly rub.

But what if he attacks the oxygen machine??

What the hell is Murphy now, Godzilla? This dog lived for two years with a hospital room at home - the bed, the wheelchair, walker, you name it - and visited nursing homes and navigated around IV stands. (He is the life of the party in a nursing home, it was like walking down the hall with Elvis.) He does not give a rat's ass about medical equipment, no matter how odd it looks or what noises it makes, it's all just furniture to him. My vet keeps telling me I should enroll him as a Delta Society therapy animal, she's convinced he'd pass the tests with flying colors. I'm sure he would too, I'm just not sure I am up to visiting sick people in my ample spare time. Caregiving is still way too fresh. But I digress....

So anyway, we worked out the "the dog will not attack the oxygen line" issue and I went over to visit today. I left at 8 and came home at 5, and was only there for 4 hours. Between Waiting for Sprinkler Guy and visiting BFE, this has been a highly unproductive weekend. I toe-tagged the old pond pump but didn't get to the pond store to buy a new one. The laundry remains half unlaundered (sheets and towels take about a week and a half to dry in my 15 year old dryer). Cat hair abounds, but I did change the cat boxes and buy cat food. So two days were gone in the wink of an eye, and though I am single and should be free to get pedicures and facials and go shopping, somehow that never happens. (The hilarity of this is that my father was appalled that I would consider spending so much money to have my sprinkler system replaced - I should do it myself in my Ample Spare Time?)

Murphy, of course, was impeccably behaved and received many belly rubs. I would be happy to bring the dog and visit them at least once, maybe twice a week if they were nearby. But the subject of moving closer is apparently off the table, now that he is home and doing "so well." He's so frail, so small, but he's still feisty and getting bored with being home with the oxygen machine, and eager to pick up a tank and get the hell out of the house. I encouraged this - told him to go to the store and drive one of those nifty carts and put his oxygen tank in the basket, like everybody else does. Being on oxygen does not mean parking in a chair and not moving, he needs to get out. For the thousandth time I wished that they had moved over here into a convenient adult condo arrangement, but that ship has sailed. My mother is of course fine now that he's doing well, she's as calm and cheerful as a little elf, until the next crisis.

My brilliant Girlchild, who really will make one hell of a lawyer and/or victim's rights bitch, had the best comment on the "maybe we should move closer" dance - "Oh, it's so cute, it's like with the dog, you fake throwing the tennis ball and the dog runs after it, and keeps falling for it...." They fake "'Oh, we're going to move, help us find a place...' and you go running and of course it never happens!" I cannot tell you how dead-on brilliant that analogy is. I'm the golden retriever - they fake throw the idea that they will move closer and not make me schlep across the state on one of the regular crisis drills, and I run after it each time, only to stand there with that quizzical golden expression when there is no ball. After 8 years, you'd think I'd have figured this out by now.

It's not like they have a network of friends where they are. It's not like they have a church that supports them. Objectively, there is no reason they can't bail on BFE and move into that super-luxurious senior apartment place 15 minutes from me (and about 8 minutes from Knit!) and have a life instead of a series of crises. It's not a nursing home, it's not icky, it's just designed for people their age to be able to live with all the conveniences and none of the work. The management would make his being on oxygen a breeze, provide whatever help he needed without being all over them, it's where they should be at this point. But that would make sense. I will NOT chase the tennis ball.

I made the mistake of telling Boss the tennis ball analogy - it's now part of our office vocabulary. When one of us starts following a path that is bound to lead to disillusionment, the other mimes throwing the tennis ball and yells, "Get the ball!" Or if we know we're doing it, we end the wishful thinking tangent with the imaginary tennis ball toss. Thank God we work with each other, we try to keep each other sane and nobody else could stand us.

Today's visit went better because I brought my knitting. I worked down most of the first sleeve of the raglan cardigan. It put me in such a state of calm, even my father's suggestion that I install my own sprinkler system (and dig out the old one while I'm at it!) just amused me. The calm and meditative feeling I get from knitting has gotten me through so many stressful things.

Not so graceful segue into the subject of meditation: if you have ever had any curiosity about it or thought it might help you reduce stress, you need Jon Kabat-Zinn. I listened to Mindfulness Meditation on CD on the way to my folks, and I LOVE this man! He's so down to earth, so un-wifty and real. I have two of his books, but that's not the same as hearing his voice - damn, he's adorable! If you are a type A cynical type who figures meditation is for people who float around looking at auras (no offense to those of you who see auras, but those of us who don't tend to roll our eyes at those who do) he will put you at ease about the common sense medical and psychological benefits. Very funny, very un-wifty, and I love his accent.


Geogrrl said...

It's a control thing, and your daughter is brilliant.

I'll keep an eye out for that guy's books. One thing I've had a hard time getting into is meditation. I've been told by more that one person (including my physician) that I need to start meditating to help control my stress levels. I keep trying, but somehow I haven't been able to make it stick.

Catherine said...

Yesterday's visit actually went well, ignoring my mother's hysteria and helplessness worked wonderfully and she's sounding very rational right now. I did not make any comments or suggestions about long term living arrangements, it's their business, I will life my life and not let them guilt me into feeling I should somehow be doing more. I'm learning how to handle them without going crazy!

Kabat-Zinn is great, his CD made the drive to BFE pass quickly. I've always said knitting was my meditation, and it really still is, but I can see the benefits of a formal meditation practice.

Anonymous said...

Glad things are as peaceful as they can be. and thanks for the tip on the meditation CD/book. I also have a hard time getting into it for all that it's part of the healing work that I do. One thing for your father. CoQ10 is a water soluble enzyme that you cannot OD on because if your body doesn't need it, you literally piss it away. It is ENORMOUSLY helpful for congestive heart failure because it significantly boosts the body's utiliaztion of oxygen. Google it, it is everywhere documented as to its beneficial effects. I also know this firsthand from my uncle who had the same condition. The suggested dose is 100 mg. per day for heart patients. It's important to buy good quality CoQ10 and that means from Japanese sourced raw material.
Solgar and TwinLabs are the only two I know of that relilably state they use Japanese material. And it's also important to buy gel caps since it delivers the enzyme the best to the body. It takes a couple of weeks to build up the positive effects but given his condition, he may notice improvement quicker.
hope he's open to it. btw, it does not interfere with any known medicines.
i send you hugs.
aka fibertribe