I just got back from another visit to Mom's. The word that floated around my head this trip was "toxic," meaning this whole situation is becoming very toxic to my mental well-being. I'm still handling everything on my own with my piece-of-shit sister nowhere to be found and my uncle quarterbacking from the sideline. At least he is now showing me some respect for doing all of this. It's hard enough to live my own life. It's difficult to be forced to live two lives, knowing your decisions affect another person.

On the bad side I think my Mom's caregiver is not working out. She is the quintessential "dumb Polack." I had some misgivings when I hired her, but she seemed like a caring person. I really wanted her to just do the cooking and cleaning while keeping an eye on Mom. I saw that she was conscientious in some things, but clueless in others. I did my laundry one day and was shocked to see she had no idea what a lint trap was. She cleaned the microwave and then turned it on for a minute (with nothing inside) to dry it. She would ask Mom what she wanted for dinner, but my Mom would get confused and not know what she was asking. Rather than ask again, she just held up a pork chop and asked her if she wanted it. Mom thought it was chicken so she asked, "chicken?" She just stood there with the pork chop. Finally I yelled, "JUST ASK HER AGAIN!" Finally Mom figured out it was pork. So I hate that she's treating Mom like a baby even though, quite frankly, she does act like a spoiled 2-year old. Like I said...toxic. Mom gets passive/aggressive easily which doesn't help the situation. So while there is problem on the caregiver side, there's also a problem of the person receiving care who is resentful that there is a stranger in her house taking care of her. She has these wild fantasies about nieces and nephews who will drop everything to come and be her caretaker. Thank doG I'm married so she understands that burden of asking me to move in with her. But the fallback position, where I have already got the wheels in motion, is to get the company who was taking care of her earlier to come back and take over again on a longer-term basis. I would rather pay more for that piece of mind of knowing a corporation is on the line that stresses customer satisfaction. They might even get a caregiver back that took care of Mom a few years ago who seemed to have a good repertoire with her. Also they might be able to swing 2 12-hour shifts so that a no person would be actually living in the house. That might make Mom feel better.

Another major accomplishment of the trip was that I was finally able to convince her to get hearing aids. Everyone around her gets frustrated that you have to repeat things numerous times before she understands. And even then she might hear you, but the comprehension isn't there. The audiologist said that hearing things more clearly might also improve her comprehension. Lord, I hope so. It's extremely frustrating to have her ask you to talk with her, but you know that everything you say will have to be repeated and even then it could be like talking to a brick wall. So once again...more mental toxicity.

The other thing that was different about this trip was it was the first time I stayed in a hotel for the duration. Mom tried to get me to stay while she slept on the sofa, but I insisted in staying at a nice place several miles away. It was my refuge. At first I tried to stay with her as long as possible during the day, but that quickly broke down into a 6-8 hour visit, maximum. I'd then stop at a store or restaurant on the way back and have a dinned of what I wanted in sweet calm. My alcohol consumption went through the roof, but it was sweet release to just pass out and get a good night's sleep. I didn't let myself completely go, however, and continued my 2-mile daily walks, preferably in the woods where I could recharge my soul. Then it was back into the toxic waste dump where I usually became physically ill by late afternoon. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. At least on my next visit in December I'll have Kitty with me to ground me.

What the Bear is Watching

Bless me, LJ, for I have sinned. It has been one month since my last post. Things have been chugging along here without too much drama. My mental health is in shambles dealing with Mom and related issues, but I am surviving. The weather has turned super nice, so I try to spend as much time outside as possible. I do, however, still watch TV usually right after I call it quits for the day. So what are the latest cultural milestones?

"Flack" - I saw a few good posts about this show on FB so I gave it a watch. It reminded me of old skool "Ray Donovan" but with chicks. The writing and characters kept me watching. I told Kitty about it, and she was instantly hooked. We finished S2 together.

"Squid Game" - It's all the buzz on Netflix. I saw a preview and thought it looked interesting. I gave it a watch and was hooked. It's a cross between "Hunger Games" meets "Running Man" meets "Saw." It's not perfect, but very entertaining. Some subplots that I thought wouldn't work actually did. There's one "gotcha" moment that is really lame. I'm hoping the show's popularity will lead to better writing if there is an S2. I find that a lot with new shows that become hits.

"Money Heist" - A prime example of a show that was OK, became popular, improved, but now is too big for its own good. I wrote about this show in previous posts. It was a Spanish show that failed, was picked up by Netflix, and became an international hit. There's just a little too much deux ex machina for my taste, but it's entertaining.

"The Sopranos" - I originally watched the show via discs from Netflix. Of course doing it that way shoots continuity to hell. Now that I have it streaming, I can watch an episode or 2 every day to better appreciate the plot. Good stuff.

"Rick and Morty" - I finally found the uncensored versions on streaming. I started watching random episodes when Kitty asked if we could start at the beginning. I got her hooked. We're already to S3.

The Long and Winding Road

One thing that saves my sanity on long roadtrips is XM. I remember the bad old days where I would have to compile a list of radio stations that I could tune into to find some good music or NPR. Satellite radio made that all a thing of the past. I usually switch back and forth between modern rock and classic rock. When I feel like I need to hear another human voice, I tune in NPR or Bloomberg. Driving home with Kitty in the car is usually nice until she falls asleep. 90's rock is our default music. I started getting sick of grunge, however, so I bounced around the dial looking for a genre we could both enjoy. I was hoping the Beatles channel was still around, and it was! Even better, they were doing a special Labor Day show where they were playing every Beatles song ever released in chronological order. We were set! On Saturday we tuned in just as they were getting to "Sgt Pepper." We arrived at our hotel just as they were staring "The White Album." 12 hours later we were back in the car heading west and they were back at "The White Album!" So then we listened to their final recordings before they started once again at "Meet the Beatles." We then listened all the way back to "Sgt Pepper." It was a fun experience. They also included bits of history and trivia about every song.

Home From Mom's

I had to check back in good ol' LJ to see when exactly was my last visit to see Mom. Surprisingly it was only 3 months ago. In that time there has been a rapid deterioration in her health. Since my last visit she had fallen in the kitchen once again and appeared fine. The nurse who visits her freaked out and ordered her to the hospital where she spent a few days. I also got a very frantic call from Mom one days saying that Alzheimer's had finally hit her. She made it sound like you catch it like a cold. What had happened was that her O2 levels had fallen into the 80% range which causes muddled thinking. I figured it was an oxygen issue, but she couldn't even figure out how to put the little meter on her finger to tell me what it was. Fortunately her caregiver showed up a little while later and found her O2 tubing disconnected. Not too long afterwards she ended up calling 911 since her oxygen generator was displaying a red light. This time there was a major kink in the line which had completely cut off the 02 supply. Her doctor told me that she really needed more care. I upped the frequency of visits from 3 days a week to 5. Soon after I upped that to 7. Her doctor said that she really needed 24/7. Oy. It had finally come to that. I planned this trip very quickly to get out there and get things done.

When Mom lost her ability to drive a couple of years ago thanks to a car breakdown, I was relieved. I really didn't want her driving any more. The decision was made on its own. It crushed her, but I knew it was for the best. Her independence which she prided herself on, was starting to slip away. Now she would have to give up even more. One thing I wanted to free her from was the burden of worrying about financial stuff like bills. I thought I might get some pushback from her, but she willfully dropped the metaphorical keys into my paw and said, "you drive." The 24/7 care worried her, but she knew it had to be done. Her mental state is highly unstable at times, but she had the clarity to put everything into my hands. Easy! Right?

Thankfully her doctor provided a nice outline for me from which I could proceed. She gave me the names of caregiver agencies where I could find a person skilled in long-term care. At this point an assisted-living facility is right out. Mom wants to stay at home. So I set up an appointment to interview someone. Mom also needed to see ear and eye doctors to eliminate problems there for her balance issues. Made appointments. I then tackled her finances. I got all of her utility bills set up for e-payments. Fortunately she had put my name on all of her bank accounts, so getting things online was relatively simple except for sometimes-overzealous security. I also got her health insurance "explanation of benefits" online since they were producing huge amounts of paperwork. Speaking of paperwork, another task reared its head. Mom had started shredding old documents a few years ago. My Dad was a huge believer in "save everything!" so there were statements and receipts going back years (decades?). She never finished the task, so I jumped in. I spent hours destroying documents from 10-20 years ago. My Dad got involved in family drama back in 90's when he was put in charge of his sister's estate. His brothers and nephew thought he was pulling a fast one which resulted in years of litigation and a complete meltdown in family togetherness. After almost 10 years of wrangling, everyone got a few hundred bucks. Was it worth it, assholes?!? My cousin was a huge douchebag. But hey, he's dead. I took great pleasure in shredding all of that shit. I then went through all of her paper files and shredded old worthless documents. In all I filled about 5 trash bags.

I had mentioned that I made doctor appointments for her. That was a chore. She can barely walk with the aid of a walker and needs a portable O2 tank. I hope to get her a portable generator, but that's still in the works. Getting her into and out of the car took some doing. Getting her into the office was another. Sitting around a waiting room for hours as her O2 dwindled was frustrating. But it got done. The good news was that her eyes were fine and her ears were what to be expected from an almost-95 year old. I had mentioned to her doctor that mobility was really an issue. Thankfully she ordered a wheelchair which arrived right before I departed.

The final piece of the puzzle was to find a woman would would live with her 24/7. It would be an important decision, but I was thankful to dexter_fox who provided me with some insight from his experience with finding care for his mother. I went with my instinct which is all I could do. I hired an older Polish woman with 25 years of experience in home care. Kitty eventually joined me for a few days and she was able to talk to the woman. She does have experience as a certified nurses' assistant, so that's a plus. I told Mom we'll just see how it goes. If they don't "click," then we'll call the agency to find someone else.

During this whole time I envisioned myself as a geologist with his rock hammer, staring at a large granite boulder. I could exhaust myself and just beat on it as hard as I could, or I could take a few blows every day and slowly chip away at it. *tink* *tink* *tink* became my mantra as I drifted off to sleep every day. Every time I accomplished something, another chunk of granite would break off. By the time we packed up the Furmobile on Saturday and drove home, I think I got that boulder down to a manageable size. Time will tell. As I said, things have changed so rapidly. I have a feeling they will continue to do so.

Food for Thought

One thing about these trips to Mom's is the disruption to my life. It's a given. I'd much rather be home with my wife and kitties; sitting on my patio in the evenings sipping bourbon and listening to tunes, but I know that this is all short-term and there has to be a little self-sacrifice. One major disruption is in my eating habits. I have been struggling as of late to eat healthy. I have my own routines to try to maintain a somewhat healthy lifestyle. That sort of gets thrown out the window. Road trips are notoriously bad for my health. On the 2 days on the road my lunch consisted of 2 truck stop chimichangas and a bag of maple bacon potato chips. Dinner was a pulled-pork sandwich. Breakfast was biscuits and gravy. Not exactly the healthiest of diets. When I got to Mom's, she is having her caretaker provide meals for her. I didn't expect her to cook for me, so I would scavenge for myself. Thank doG there was still some Costco frozen pizza that I had bought on my last trip. Still...not very healthy. Finally I made myself something a little more healthy. I had bought frozen fish last time as well. So I tossed some in the toaster oven. Cooked up some rice. Nuked some frozen veggies. Voila! Somewhat healthy dinner! It did wonders for my psyche. It felt a little more normal to be eating good food. Today I went to Costco to get some fresh pasta, some sauces, a rotisserie chicken, and more fish. I will be eating nice, well-balanced meals. I brought Mom some fresh peaches, but she's not sure if she can eat them due to allergies. No worries. I bought soy milk and Cheerios, Fresh peaches will go great with that in the mornings. I also picked up some yakisoba bowls which are great for lunch. I've also gone for my walkies the past few days. You gotta take care of yourself if you're in a stressful situation. Good food and exercise go a long way in maintaining a positive attitude.

Chicago Again

I made another drive to Chicago. I'm trying to get Mom set up with some long-term care. At the advice of her doctor, she needs someone here 24/7. I talked it over with my sister, and we both agree that, while we could possibly swing it ourselves, it would be better to have a professional care company enter the picture. Even her doctor agreed that taking on the responsibility ourselves could end up badly. So I guess I'll be interviewing potential caretakers over the next few weeks. The good news is that I can remote work, so I don't have to burn up a ton of vacation time. That's kind of a moot point since where the heck can one go for a vacation nowadays. So I'll be until Labor Day. Kitty is scheduled to come out here before then and we can drive back together. Stay tuned.

I Pity Da Foo...Fighters

I went to my first superspreader event last light; the Foo Fighters in concert. It was my first concert since Alan Parsons last year when he played just before the pandemic hit. I had about 5 concerts all lined up for 2020, all were canceled, including the Foos. They were one of those "bucket list" concerts since I have been following the band ever since its creation in the mid 90's after the breakup of Nirvana. Since they had a 26-year long career, there was a large demographic represented at the show. There was one unifying factor, however, and that was a sense of joy for something of a return to normalcy. This was also the first concert held at the venue in almost 700 days. It's time for this shit to be over and done with. The opening number said it all, "… It's times like these you learn to live again"

Foo Pic.jpg

Albu-FUR-que XVIII

It was time to party again. With Covid restrictions lifted, I decided to go ahead and plan a furmeet. Pretty much everyone is sick and tired of all of the bullshit, and there is a huge pent up demand for some semblance of normalcy. It was as simple as "if you don't feel comfortable, don't come." Most of the drama involved was just of the typical furry variety. We were caught in the middle since we got the brunt of "Well, if HE'S going to be there, I'M certainly not going!" Blah blah blah. So in the end we ended up with around 30 people throughout the day. Once again people stepped up and brought tasty ribs and pulled pork. I did the usual hot dogs and hamburgers. There was much socializing and fursuiting once the sun went behind the mesa. Unlike in previous years where the temps got up to 100, this year was nice and mild (upper 80's) with a nice breeze. And now...a pic!


Fruity Posty

I sorta forgot about my nectarine tree. It was dripping with fruit, but every time I checked, they were all hard and unripe. The same thing with the plum tree. It had never produced so many, but every time I tried to sample the quality, they were all hard and sour. Slowly things changed. I started testing them with a gentle pinch. If they gave a little...ripe! The same thing was true with the plums. So now the harvest has begun! Here is the result from 2 days of harvest with probably the same amount still on the tree. Plums are still a few days away from being truly ripe.


Plums everywhere!


The Results Are In

I posted here a couple of weeks ago about my bum ticker. I had a battery of tests done to see how the old heart was doing. I got the results yesterday, and I must say that the news was good all around. The best news was when I stepped on the scale. I have been trying very hard to eat less and exercise more. I had been afraid that all of my effort had been for naught. I'm still a fat fuck, but I had dropped 9 pounds! Yes! The effort had been worth it! It will be easier now to keep up the good work knowing that it can yield results. The next good news was when the nurse took my blood pressure. Normal. Great! The last few times I have had it taken, I rang the bell. Finally the doc came in and gave me the results from the tests. I had cheated somewhat in that I had checked my chart online and saw that it appeared pretty nominal. Yup. Everything came back just fine. The results were similar to what I had about 3 years ago. The structure is sound. The plumbing system is fine. It's just the darn electrical system that's all wonky. The greatest risk is from stroke, but even on the risk scale of 1 to 10, I'm a 1. To play it safe he put me on a blood thinner to reduce the little risk I had even further. So that's the story. I plan on continuing my healthy routine in hopes of dropping another 9 pounds. I'll continue my exercise routine and hopefully increase it as my stamina improves. I'm liking my strategy of slow and steady progress. Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Hey! I should write a song!