I've had a couple of Eureka! moments in the last few days. I thought I'd better write them down lest I forget them. The last thing one wants to do is to forget a good eye opener!
Long term care giving is like living in perpetual crisis. You roll from one 'event' to the next. And none of these events is a small thing. Doctor's visit! Dentist! Neurologist! Heart attack! Podiatrist! Stroke! Every one requires an exclamation point because, quite simply, when you're dealing with a patient with a chronic illness like dementia, everything else is an exclamation point on top of that. Nothing is just the cold. No, no, it's The Cold! Upper case T, upper case C, exclamation point.
That said, I realized today that it means that you're constantly in fire fight mode. This is no small nuisance fire in a trash can. No, no. This is a five alarm blaze burning in the nearby forest. Houses are at risk. Thousands of acres of pristine land are at risk. Lives and livelihoods are at risk. Critical habitat is at risk. And the fire is raging on. Weary, both in mind and body, you ply your hose but nothing beats the blaze back. You simply fight and fight. Until it wins.
For those incapable or otherwise ill-suited to the task of fire fighting, weariness comes early and we curl up and admit defeat. We allow the flames to overtake homes and char lands, accepting that we are simply not up to the task. We'll deal with the consequences of our early defeat later. Much, much later. Maybe never. Maybe we'll be able to pretend there were no consequences? Yeah, let's try that!
For those with more in reserve, more pith in the belly, we battle on and on and on. We may score a few wins along the way; we may save a few houses; save a bird or two; win a few battles, but ultimately we lose the war. So it is. There's less cleanup in this second scenario, but there's still loss and mess to be addressed later and let's not even talk about the inevitable rebuilding that must occur.
The cost of this battle is tremendous. I've managed to make it until today, six days before my surgery, without shedding any tears or blaming anyone for my plight or even getting angry. The reality is that crap we've done has put me in a bad place. Terrible choices I've made (to wit, putting my mother first) have compounded the sin and the total absence of a real plan well, that didn't much help. Can't do anything about it now. The price simply has to be paid. If I could avoid payment, Lord knows I would, but that's not in the cards.
I'm filing this under the heading 'no good deed goes unpunished', shedding my tears, giving up yet another dream and leaving it at that. I'll tell you what though, when I make it out of surgery, there will be New Rules (à la Bill Maher). New Rules baby. New Rules. You can be damn sure of that.
Change. Soon come.
That's those New Rules I'm talking about.