So some of you may have noticed I was online this past Saturday, and I told some of you what I was up to. So, I figured it was time to tell everyone what’s up with me, and I’m going to stick to the personal family stuff because we all know how fed up I am with Travis, so here it is. Expletives may appear as this is an emotional entry, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.
*sighs* Where the hell do I begin with him? So let’s go back a little. He’s had a Parkinson’s diagnosis since 2010 or so, right after his 50th birthday. This is what contributed to his gambling problem–his medication plus the symptoms of the disease itself caused him to lose control (some of you may’ve seen those commercials asking if anyone’s lost their home over gambling debts racked up because of certain Parkinson’s drugs). So recently, they’ve changed up his meds and they decided to ask him about having brain surgery to implant a device to help stop the shaking.
Some history here: My cousin Charlie had epilepsy and had a device implanted to help stop his symptoms. It was primitive technology then. Yes, it worked, but he lost control of his seizures (he could no longer sense them), and I think he was still on just as many meds as before. Then I find out he’s committed suicide. We know now it was his seizure medication. Like the Parkinson’s meds in the news, they’ve discovered that epilepsy meds ,plus so many others, have a shocking symptom–they can cause you to commit suicide. So we know this now, but Dad still knew about the device too.
He decided to try it out because yeah, he’s got problems. So he went in Monday and had it done. Okay, it’s working. It’s calculated and is doing what we want.
But there’s a problem. My dad is paranoid as hell right now, and we’re 90% sure he has schizophrenia.
More history before I get into the symptoms: His sister had this disease too since she was young. She’d take apart her heater in the dead of winter because she thought microphones were inside listening to her. She eventually decided medication was better than being committed, so she got it under control. According to my granny, the one who’s staying with us, my blood grandfather on this side had a similar problem. Medical reference: the same neurotransmitter is effected by both diseases. So there are ties.
But holy shit, guys, was this a sharp curve ball into the left field parking deck. We know now this isn’t the beginning. When he had his back surgery last summer, he had a similar issue of feeling like he was too loud in the room, but it wasn’t as bad. We thought it was because of the pain and because of unruly people around him–the guy had a rough four days (which he won’t shut up about to this day).
This time? Heh-heh, yeah, :censored: So Tuesday we were up there all day with him. The night before he was fine. He sent Mom home to rest once they <i>finally</i> got a room (it was 11:30, midnight before Mom got home and in bed). When we get there, he’s whispering about people complaining about him being too noisy and wanting to go home and all this shit, and I’m just like “*sighs*, here we go again, Mom,” but oh my god, it was so much worse!
Okay, so I had to leave the room not long after we get there. He keeps shifting around and he’s naked under his gown, plus they needed to remove his catheter to see if he could pee on his own, so I got the fuck out of there. I’ll be 24 in a few weeks and I haven’t seen him naked yet. Now ain’t the damn time. Besides, I had work to do with some writing, and it was blissful. I finished a handwritten piece and life was good.
Then Mom comes in and demands I go back upon my father’s orders.
Um, okay?? So his thinking was that she or someone else forced me out of the room (nope, I wanted to protect what little bit of innocence I have left) and he demanded I come back, and then I walked right into fucking Crazy Town. Kookoo for CoCo Puffs, y’all, I ain’t even kidding! He swears everyone on the floor is complaining about him and that we’re too loud. Um, no. Okay, so we’re in the ICU. The guy had brain surgery, you know, so that’s where he needed to be. The lady in the room next to us? Sedated and on a ventilator. I can hear her machines all the way from my seat across the room from the door. Yeah, we’re totally the loudest people on the floor-__- I could hear other people’s TV’s in their rooms and nurses chatting and laughing. Believe me, we were the quietest people there. They probably would’ve given the bed away if Mom and I weren’t sitting there.
But he’s getting worse and worse. He’s picking fights with Mom over the stupidest shit ever. He’s all “Have you called ***?”, our bankruptcy lawyer. Mom hasn’t called anyone–she got home late and went straight to the hospital with me on this day. She hadn’t even checked phone messages. She hadn’t had time. But he’s telling her where the book is (at home in the bathroom or somewhere else. He wasn’t sure but she had to call him). Then there was the fruit argument, which ended up sending us home, but before that, we’re getting the whole “I’m not safe here. They’re talking about me. We’re too loud. They’re going to kick us out.” or “I want to go home,” so we finally said, well, we’re hungry and need to call Mom’s boss, and we leave.
Well the nurse saw us leave and probably saw we were stressed as hell. Dad has never done this. Yes, he’s a paranoid old man, but he grew up in the projects of Atlanta. He’s entitled. But this level of paranoid? No. So the nurse notices and asks us, and Mom told her, look, he’s losing it. He wants out, he doesn’t think he’s safe here, he wants to go home now, etc., and we don’t know what the hell to do, and she tells us she’ll open his curtain (the wall adjacent to the central nurses’ station was made of glass but had a thick curtain for privacy) and whatnot.
I don’t know what the hell she said but when we came back, he was flipping. the. fuck. out. Losing it. Physical therapy came and got him up, so he’s in a chair, and he demanded Mom come over, and they had this whisper battle about how she betrayed him and “Listen, they’re talking about me. They’re listening. Shh! Chrys, come tell her,” and Mom is like “HELP” and I honestly could only piece together half of what they were saying because they were whispering. Mom is trying to tell him, but it’s not working.
Later we get him back in bed, and he’s still going on and on, and I’m apparently not even in the room. He starts demanding fruit, and we refuse because he hasn’t eaten in like 2 days so we need to get permission even if we do go buy something from the cafeteria, but he keeps being so vicious about it to Mom. She’s trying to reason with him to the point that I have to speak up to attempt to translate it to him: WE CAN’T JUST BRING YOU FOOD. WE HAVE TO ASK. And he’s pissy and Mom finally says she’s going home. We got permission beforehand (and he was all “Well I don’t want it now.” *groans*), so Mom bought an apple and a banana at the cafeteria and sent me back up with it.
By the time we get home, the hospital has called to say he’s trying to rip out his lines and they’re talking to multiple doctors to attempt to sedate him because they think it’s lack of sleep, but Mom wasn’t convinced. The icing on the cake that told her the truth? The ICU had a doctor come by with students who literally stood right outside the door telling his whole history, complete with multiple name uses. If he was really hearing these people say shit about him, he would’ve flipped the fuck out. But he didn’t even hear them, so yeah, it was all in his head.
Part of this is his guilty conscious, in my opinion. He was convinced the next day that the cops were going to “give him an hour to run” because “I was too loud” and yeah, he thought the nurses were listening to him through the call button, and yeah, cah-razy. He came home the day after, and Keith and I had to power wash the siding for these insurance people who were coming, so Dad comes out to supervise (like always. So annoying but whatever), and he starts telling Keith this shit, and as soon as he was inside, I asked Keith if he knew that was a delusion.
So yeah, now Dad has paranoid delusions, and we don’t know what to do, and that’s only half of my problem right now.
So Grandma is my mom’s mom, and some of you may know that she was diagnosed with cancer last summer (and if I forgot to tell you, my bad. My dad has kind of been the driver of my life for the last year-plus so yeah, it might’ve slipped my mind). It’s lung cancer, and it started at a Stage 3, which isn’t good, I guess (y’all can google it. I won’t be. The less I know the better when it comes to stuff like this). She went on chemo and targeted radiation, and honestly life was okay. She was weak and nauseous and she had to go on a feeding tube because one of the tumors was pushing on her esophagus, but it seemed like they were going to get it.
Well they didn’t, and we recently found out that while some of her initial tumors had shrunk, the cancer had spread some. Now she’s on a different medicine, a life-long thing specifically for lung cancer patients, plus other treatments, and she’s still having major issues with her esophagus, which means she’s still on the feeding tube. Add that to weakness and yeah, she was already seeming worse this time. They even upgraded her to Stage 4 (which is really bad, not terminal, but bad. Again, google it), and then she got pneumonia. It’s aspirating phenomena, and basically what I saw today, that means she’s spitting up the fluid.
Needless to say, it’s not good. She’s in the hospital, and she’s weak, and she’s coughing, and her spirits aren’t high because she’s in pain. My mom, who’s been pessimistic from the get go, has decided she’d not leaving the hospital. People are super upset, especially my cousins on this side. There are 3 of them (1 from my uncle’s first marriage, 2 from the second), and the 2 are facing the possibility of losing their great-grandmother on their mom’s side. So yeah, they’re upset, and their mom, who’s losing her mother-in-law/former-m-i-l AND her grandmother at the same time, is even more upset. She’s been doing all the stuff for my grandma, and though they’ve never really gotten along (they’ve tolerated each other and that’s about it), she’s been her rock, kinda. And now she’s losing two people at once, and it really fucking sucks.
Now, despite this, I’m surprisingly okay. Yes, I know it’s bad. It’s always bad. You don’t want to lose one of your last remaining grandparents to something as ugly as cancer. There’s no guarantee she’s going to go in her sleep or get hit by a bus while running a marathon or something else quick. With lung cancer, you probably can drown or lose the ability to take in air or some other terrible way.
But I’m comforted somehow because death doesn’t bother me when the person is this sick. I’m going to explain this so just bear with me here. When people die, I’m usually okay with it. If the person is young, even if they die from something like cancer, yeah, it bothers me. Suicides really bother me, and it’s taken me several years to not think of my cousin Charlie, who committed suicide the week before my 16th birthday, every single day. But if they were sick, I’ve always understood that it’s better for them to be elsewhere. Add in that Grandma is our genealogy guru, I think she’ll be happy to get up there and finally get some truth, you know?
But there’s something else that I wouldn’t dare tell people, but I’m sharing it here because I need to get this out. The main reason why deaths of such important people don’t bother me is because I’ll know the moment it happens. There’s a possibility I’ll be there when my grandma dies. We’re about 2-1/2 hours away, but Mom is going to go up there no matter how crazy as hell my father is. With the way Grandma’s sickness is, we’ll probably have plenty of warning. We could spend days in hospice literally watching her die. I hope that doesn’t happen. I want her to go in her sleep just like my aunt with lung cancer.
But no matter what happens, I’ll know. I can just sense these things, and a lot of people probably think that’s terrifying, it’s fake, etc. Knowing that some of you are religious, I’m sure this really doesn’t sit well with you guys, but it’s happened before. When my aunt passed away (not lung cancer aunt but mom’s sister, aka “the aunt that died a week before Christmas”), I felt something that night. I felt something here, like in my room watching me. I didn’t think anything of it. I thought I’d just heard something and got paranoid, but then we got the news the next day and I had a glorified “Holy shit” moment. When I found out how much my aunt cared about me when we looked through my things (she kept my birth announcement and I think she had other things), it clicked. She was coming to check up on me and that’s what I felt that night.
I think Grandma will do the same thing, even if she’s super weak when she passes. She’ll leave a resonance that I’ll sense. My grandfather that passed last year had that. I just knew that afternoon that there was something different, and then we got the call. His was a little weaker, but we weren’t blood related–he was my step-grandfather who married my granny (the one staying with us) the year before I was born. Yeah, he was the only grandfather I knew on that side, but still, I didn’t have a deep bond with him or anything.
I am closer with my grandma, and I do get along better with my mom’s mom than my other grandma, so I am going to feel horrible when she dies, but the best part about my ability is that it won’t be this mind-numbing surprise. If she goes during the day unexpectedly, I’m going to feel it and stop what I’m going and have that “Oh my god” moment, and if she goes during the night, I’ll have the same thing. And while it’s weird and it sucks kinda, I’ve enjoyed the ability now that I know I have it. It’s good for things to not be a complete shock. Besides, I’ve got some people that I need to stay strong for.
My poor aunt, God, I feel so much for her! She’s already had a year with two major losses (my grandpa, grandma’s 2nd husband aka her father-in-law and neighbor [at Christmas no less] and her father a few months before), and now she’s facing another year like that. And Grandma understands. She told her to get down there and see her granny and beg her to stay another two, three years so her grandbabies didn’t have to lose two grannies at once. That tears at me. These kids don’t know death like I do. They don’t have any way to find comfort in such a dark place, something I’ve always been able to do. They see my grandma every day and their granny just as often. Their world is being torn apart before their eyes, and my aunt is the one trying to hold it together. My thoughts are with her because I know this is absolutely terrible for her. As soon as I graduate, I want to go up there and stay with her and my uncle that lives with my grandma and just help them through this because…I love my grandma, and I don’t share the same pessimism as my mother, but I think she’s got a little more fight in her. She’s ready to go, but she’s not quite there yet. And if she is and she passes tonight, I’m okay with that. I’d rather her pass and be in a better place than be stuck here in pain. I’ve always felt that way and nothing will ever change that.
And for my religious friends who want to send me verses to comfort me, I don’t need them, but my family could use them if you’re interested in providing them, and I’ll pass them along when the time comes. But I refuse to tell anyone about my ability. My mom still doesn’t know what I felt the night her sister died, and I never intend to tell her. If it comes up, so be it, but with Dad’s issues, I can’t do that to her right now.
And if I get cancer any time soon, I’ll tell you all, but I won’t be telling anyone beyond those who have to help me through it. I can’t do that to my aunt, my other grandmother, etc. It’s a battle I’d rather face alone than burden other people with. I hate to see people hurting like this, and I also hate that I don’t feel the same way. I don’t know why I am the way I am, but I probably am struggling more than I think. I just don’t know it yet.
INSTANT UPDATE: So it turns out there’s another tumor blocking her esophagus and now they have to decide what to do about it. My guess is that my grandma won’t want to do anything. I don’t know where she’ll go from here, but it’s not good news. A tumor that big that wasn’t there 3 weeks ago is never good news, but I hope she gets to go easily. I don’t want her to suffer, and I definitely don’t want her sticking around just for us. We’ll get to see her again one day, and she’ll always be looking over us in the meantime. I can live with that, and I hope things go okay even if the situation sucks.
So, there you have it. My life is upside down again right now, but honestly, 2015 taught me so much about the world. I hate all of this. I don’t want my dad to lose his mind because we do worry about his safety (not really ours. Either way, I think we’ll have some warning first), and I don’t want my grandma to die, but so many things are out of our control. Last year taught me this, and I know that no matter how hard today is or tomorrow is, things get better eventually. We might think our stress is too much, but tomorrow will show us otherwise when it gets here. Sometimes it takes forever, and I understand how hard it is for some people to hang in there.
But if you’re reading this and you’re like “Pfft, I’ve got it worse,” or “Wow, I could never,” hear me out no matter where you stand: Stress is more of a motivator than anything. It sucks in the moments. I wake up some days and wonder how the *^&* I’m going to get on with life. But then I go to the bathroom, pour me a glass of tea, maybe sit and get my surroundings. And I think about what I have to do that morning, and then I go do it. And while it’s hard to get up period when your life has gone to shit, you have to keep going. I’m not religious, but the saying “God won’t ever give you more than you can handle” is mostly true. “Time heals all wounds” is the other one that’s more true than anything, but combine them. With time, you’ll be able to handle whatever your stress is. It might take a while, from weeks to years depending on the stress, but things get better. Things change no matter what, and they usually get better, or you learn to live with things. Either way, hang in there.
Tl;dr: My life is crazy, but I’m hanging in there and I’m okay right now.