I flinched. I hesitated. I froze. I doubted me. I gave in.
A dear friend asked me to stop writing this blog, to stop putting my business "out there." I get it. I know. I disagree with much of what I see that's shared. I see what this friend is talking about, but...
I am a writer. Been one since a young girl. Writing is my sanctuary, my safe place, my life preserver. Oh, I am aware that my writing ain't for e'rbody, so I'm good with that. But it's what I've always done since I got my first journal at 14 years old.
To my dear friend, should you read this, yes, I am addressing this to you, I have to write. For these reasons:
1) It keeps me from losing it, from snapping, from going to those dark places, from doing what I'm sure I will regret. It gives me power to fight those negative voices in my head.
2) It turns out it connects me to a community of others going through, or having gone through, what I am just now going through.
3) It's information that next person who finds themselves in this place can use or connect to.
How do I know some of these things? Well, while one person, who is perhaps afraid her own grown daughter will be inspired to also write, others, who have read this, have thanked me for sharing. I was initially doing this to save my own life, but now I get to be of service to others by sharing my experience, and being of service is my superhero power.
So what's going on now?
We are in the midst of yet another, the third since she's been in my care, urinary tract infection (UTI). But this time, no hospital stay. I caught it (ish) in time. So let me share with you how I caught it (ish).
We do use multiple urinary health supplements with D-Mannose and cranberry, but that infection still shows its ugly head. So how did I keep us out of a hospital stay this time? What made me urgently take her to the doctor, who sent us to the ER (she tested without evidence of sepsis so we were able to go home with antibiotics)?
The last paramedic who was in our apartment made a comment to his partner over my mom saying it "smelled like a UTI." I asked him what he meant. He said a UTI just has its smell. Now I get it. My mom soils the occassional incontinence pad, and the bathroom garbage can becomes full of them. But when the question of a UTI comes up the urine smell is strong. It is so strong in fact that I feel like no matter what I do I can't get rid of that urine smell. And even if she has not soiled another incontinence pad it is almost as though she herself smells like urine. Whenever she leaves the bathroom, the smell of urine stays with her and it's tangy and potent.
Then there is the behavior issue. I've since learned that as the infection enters the blood it travels to the brain where it affects the behavior. My mother's behavior always changes as the UTI's infection spreads. The day I made the appointment my mom was unusally aggressive towards another person, and when I tried to explain to her that what she did was inappropriate, she kept repeating, " ___said I could take it. ___said I could take it." That was odd and off. She was not letting go or even acknowledging that her aggression was wrong. Then as we road in the accessibility vehicle I glanced over at her in time to see her in like a fantasy moment. Her eyes were 90% closed, she was smiling to herself, nodding her head, and moving her lips as if talking to somebody. She did it twice. It was the second time that I simply wrote the nurse practitioner an email. She wrote me back right away telling me to bring her in the next day.
She tested positive for the infection.
I wonder how many people have perished from UTI's.
When I had to take my mom to the hospital via ambulance, her behavior was a dead give away. I never knew that UTI's, once the infection enters the bloodstream, changed a person's behavior so drastically. But once it gets to that point, it seems to be a rapid downhill spin. The person is going to drift completely inside, and their brain begins to shut down.
Of course I can't help but to think that if my mom lived alone how the hell could she catch this or any UTI? This time my mom came home from the ER under my care. It is up to me to make sure she gets the antibiotics every 12 hours. I have already seen her come back around so to speak. It's interesting to literally watch her morph into herself again. The scientist in me is intrigued.
So it has occurred to me to question how can this person, who is not quite herself, be expected to faithfully give herself her medication as prescribed, or even to get help. I smelled the potent tangy stench of urine and knew it was wrong. Could she or any person with the infection feasting within them identify the cues?
Now, having gone through three UTI's with my mom, I see how a person can perish from them. The infection enters the blood, attacks the kidneys and the brain, and the person is in a dangerous place. I also learned that more women than men get UTI's. I have since learned that it is imperative that we drink our water too, not just for weightloss or satiety, but for bladdar health also. Will water and supplements keep my mom free from UTI's? Probably not. She seems to be inclined to get them.
How am I doing?
I have been struggling to take care of myself. My weight is in a place it has never been before, and I can say that's not a happy place. For more than three weeks, I've been suffering from never ending acid reflux. So I've had to make changes. But I've been struggling making those changes while having to take care of my mom. Yes, taking care of a parent is stressful. So I've begun including her in those changes.
A nagging injury to my foot prevented me from doing the one thing I love the most, walking. The injury has stayed with me for months. My mood went down and my weight went way up.
Finally I remembered my high school days where an injury got in the way of my track training. My coach asked me to get to a pool. I don't remember if I did, but this time I looked for a gym with a pool. I joined the YMCA. I got a family membership for me and my mom. So now we have a new Saturday routine. We go to the Y. She does Tai Chi; I do me. Then we go out for lunch.
While I signed us up for the Y back in July, it has taken me this long to figure out a few things: 1) on the weekends, we can still use the accessibility service to take us to the gym, 2) I can get up and go to the gym before she begins her day, and 3) we don't have to stick to the limited schedule at the Y where we signed up. We can visit all of the Y's.
Today, I tried out a different Y to check out a class for Active Older Adults (AOA) to see if this was something my mom could do. This is what I learned: If you haven't exercised regularly, in a while, these classes are perfect for you, and they're kind of fun too.
After I participated in a couple of classes at this Y, I had another revelation: exercising in a group setting is like therapy. I had been just chugging along by myself on the equipment at our Y, but since I wanted to test if my mom could do these classes, I was reminded of the feeling of community that comes with being with others. I love community. I am a community person. Yeah I like to be alone, and it turns out I like to be in community too. The woman in front of me in the Zumba class was as clumbsy as I was, and I felt an instant bond. She and I were doing our clumbsy thing trying to keep up with the bouncy grooving young instructor and it was just so much damn fun.
Turns out I bonded with folks in both classes. Don't dismiss the AOA classes, is what I say to myself now. They are so much fun and you can really get something out of them.
I haven't learned how to fully find balance yet, but I am actively looking for it. I feel like I have partially succeeded at having more of it in my life and in more places...at least for now.
I'm just writing to keep from losing it.