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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Life with Alzheimer’s, Heaven or Hell

I could go into an entire scientific explanation of Alzheimer’s, but it would never help you to understand what it is like to watch a family member go down that road. I would like to share my experience with the disease and hopefully bring you closer to understanding that there is much more that can be done to make life bearable under these circumstances.
When I found out that my mother was officially diagnosed with the disease I’m not sure I knew what it meant, other than she was going to forget everything. I left North Carolina to come back to Florida so that I could assist. I had no idea what was in store for me. My parents were living in filth and an infestation of cockroaches. They had a couple of jack Russell terriers that were neglected at best. The house smelled so bad that you could smell their house on their clothing. I was appalled. I had no way of being able to determine what was needed, what to do, or how to help.
I was close enough to them to feed them daily, but I couldn’t do anything about the behavior that resulted in their current living condition. I began by calling the county, asking them to visit the home and my hope was that they would find my parents living in inhabitable conditions. The goal was to open the door to assistance. That got me nowhere. The county inspector, case worker didn’t see any cockroaches, nor did he find them living in filthy conditions. I called agency after agency and while these are great organizations, I was looking for a life-preserver in the middle of a desert.
The next route I took was to call my mother’s doctor. Instead I just showed up at the doctor’s office and asked the receptionist if I could sneak in to see her. The doctor asked me to come back at lunch and I did. I told the doctor how they were living, that I was concerned about their ability to take care of themselves. That is when the ball really began to roll. More like a snowball. It got bigger and faster and more destructive as it went along.
Long story short, I had them get rid of everything and move in with me. I thought that I was prepared to care for them but I was sadly mistaken. Displacing my mother by taking everything she knew away and moving her to a new environment would prove to be disastrous. It was a daily dose of “I want my dogs, I want to go home, I want my stuff.” I thought that I would go out of my mind. She was violent at times and would break my things. She would be confrontational and want to duke it out with me.
I stayed close to the doctors. I attended all physician appointments. We tweaked meds until we found the perfect cocktail of anti seizure and anti psychotic. The first six or seven months were hell. I was angry all the time. I would wake up and my first thought was shit, I have so much to do before I go to work. They are like kids. I had to have their breakfast on the table and lunch in the fridge before I could eat and prepare myself. My resentment grew with my mother’s resistance to a normal life. It seemed like she would never be happy ever again. Not that she was a happy woman in her youth, but she never ever laughed anymore. It was just a constant torturing of my stepfather and me. I was pissed that my siblings would not, could not help me. I hated that my parents never did enough for me; on the contrary, they hindered my financial growth and ability to love others securely.
I found myself hoping for an early death.
Then one day I discovered that I was doing this out of love. Why am I so angry? I’m a great caretaker and mother. I just needed to add that one component, love. I’ve always wanted to make things better, but I was too focused on how f’d up it all was.
All I wanted was a happy mom. Everyone wants a happy mom. How do I achieve this? I must be happy myself. Every day I adjusted my attitude a little more to reflect what I wanted the outcome to be instead of how I was seeing it.
I began to focus on their nutrition, cleanliness, exercise, and giving lots and lots of love. I had to be affectionate even when she was resistant. I had to act loving toward her even though she was offending me. I just kept on keeping on. Then it started to get easier. I would wake up in the morning and jump to my feet to do all the things that make her life better. I was grateful for this opportunity to see my mother through these days. I found the shower to be a place where she would soften up. She was so resistant to taking a shower in the beginning. Getting her in the shower once a week was quite the task. Then she began to ask for one every other day. Today, when I see her getting into a negative space, I give her a shower and it changes everything. I think of God when we are in the shower. I thank him for giving me this time with her. Most times she doesn’t know who I am. She asks me if I’m a volunteer or if I get paid to care for her. Once in a while, she knows who I am for a few minutes and that’s enough for me because in those few minutes, I am the daughter that she loves.
They say when you get to heaven, and you see your loved ones, you will understand who and what you really are to one another. I feel like I’m in heaven.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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My Panic Room

When I was a little girl I spent a great deal of time in a panic. Mostly the panic was about my death. I was afraid that I would die. There didn’t seem to be any logic to the theory that I should die. I just worried about it constantly until it became routine to obsess about it.  My near death experiences would keep me in a space that separated me from everyone else. There wasn’t anyone that I felt I could tell about this feeling. I would tell my parents that I was afraid that I was going to die and they would reinforce that fact.

I really wanted to share what that place is like. What it is like to be so afraid that nothing else in the world is going on. The anxiety would usually begin with me noticing a change in my skin. I would find a new freckle or mole and off I would go to my panic room. I would spend days obsessing about it. How it would turn into cancer or something else that would end my life. I just knew that this little mark on my body would have all of my attention. I became known to many in my family as “the nun” because I would dress from head to toe covering as much of my skin as I could. I would wear long sleeves, pants and a high collar. My face and hands were all that I could bare.

As I got older the panic was still with me, probably even more so because I was armed with so much more information about disease. I remember on one occasion when I was breaking out of my shell a bit, and I was getting more comfortable with showing skin that I decided to go to the beach with my sister and the kids. I drove all the way to Tampa to find that my sister had invited a friend of hers. Her friend was married to a Dermatologist. I went straight into my panic.  I told my sister that I couldn’t go because she had invited someone who could look at my skin. Even though my sister tried to explain that her friend was only married to a Dermatologist, I kept insisting that I was sure her husband told her things about his work, and if she saw something on my skin she could probably tell that it was bad. So I didn’t go to the beach that day. I didn’t go for many days. I had to ride this out for a while.

Nothing seemed to make me feel better about it ever. If everyone around me got sick, and I didn’t, then I suspected that something had to be wrong with me. I should be getting sick like everyone else. What is wrong? I was constantly asking about myself.If I happened to get sick, well, then I knew I would die of a cold.

I spent way too much of my life in this room. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else when I was in there. I couldn’t watch any movies that dealt with illness because I would be forced to that room and the only thing that I knew about treating this condition was to stay away from things that stimulated the panic. Like a real panic room, I sat separated from everyone in the house. No one knew that I was there, except for me.

Things are different today; I’ve since then had quite a bit of therapy regarding this ailment. It turns out that I was afraid of me. I didn’t want the world to see me, so I made myself invisible by slipping into this room. I didn’t want the world to see just how flawed I was. It wasn’t for the reasons that you may think. You see if the world saw me, they would comment on what they saw and then if I heard it, it would become true. As long as no one said a thing, I would be fine. I spent a couple of decades of my life trying to escape it, only to find I was a hostage to it all along.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Remember when?

Before cell phones, pagers and caller I.D.

March 10, 1876, Alexander Bell would say the words “come here Watson, I want to see you.”

That was the beginning of the telephone. The race was on to get everyone talking. I’d like for you to join me on a journey of what it was like when we all a phone, but the restricted uses it had made us all innovative.

This is an informal list of what it was like.

You dialed zero and talked to someone.

When you called an operator for a number, she could find it.

People in the store would say hello to a stranger instead of talking into a Bluetooth.

Everyone in the house used the same phone, usually located in the hall, on a small table.

You could go hours, even days without talking to someone.

If a phone you were calling was constantly busy, you could call the operator to interrupt the call.

It was when long distance was so expensive, that a couple of long conversations a week could cost you as much as your mortgage.

You never had to dial an area code, unless it was long distance.

You could be stuck in the middle of nowhere, and still get help.

You couldn’t reject a call, you had to answer it and take a chance on whether or not you really wanted to talk to the caller.

You had a special code, like let the phone ring once, hang up for a minute and call back to identify you as the only caller who did that.

You could make a new friend just by answering a payphone.

Call boxes on the free way.

Your parents could lock the phone, so you could receive calls but not make them.

You had at least a dozen phone numbers memorized.

You had a book of numbers in your purse, and a bigger book at home.

You could call the operator from a payphone, tell her you lost your dime and she could return it to you over the phone. You could do this at six phones and buy a pack of cigarettes.

When you called in sick at work, you had to talk to someone.

You couldn’t video tape a fight on the school bus.

Most young people can’t appreciate the simplicity that some of us older folks did. I can say that it is part of the evolutionary process. Every time one of us said, “it would be great if I could call that person right now.”

I can remember when I was fifteen, my parents needed to take an extra car to Maryland. They let my brother drive one. So my brother, my sister and I followed my parents. Somehow, we lost each other on I-95. We didn’t make any back up plan in case this could happen. We had no money, and no idea of how to get there.  We remembered that my parents always stop at South of the Border so we drove there and looked for them. We found them. It would have been nice to have been able to call them, but we made it.

I believe that every thought is a spark. “I wish I could call that person right now,” Sparked where we are today.

So keep thinking good things. Every thought counts.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Do you need to be right?

Looking out the window of the Winter Garden police department cruiser I could see Rene’s tears roll down her cheeks as she spoke to the officer taking the careful notes that I would not read until tomorrow this time.  There she stood, in her brown bathing suit skirt thing, acting like a weakling. That’s what most attracted me to her.  After my rounds in the last two relationships with strong women, I thought perhaps that the opposite would better serve my personality.  Who am I kidding?  I never made a choice; I just gave into my need to control.

Her soft blonde hair would testify to her angelic origin.  Blonde draped her soft blue eyes.  Her nose had sharp and refined lines that were only accentuated by her pale pink cheeks.  Her smile gave her away.  They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but I say for some, the tarnished hearts, you have to look at the smile as well.  Rene had that one sharp tooth that was exposed from the corner of her smile.  The sharp pointy tooth peered at me as it exposed the sharp side of her. Of course this meant I could only see this when she was smiling. Like you are going along having a good time, she smiles and exposed the pointy tooth which had a polished shine on it making it stand out from the rest of her features.  Whenever it was exposed, I looked away because it too often reminded me that there was a sharp, cruel side to her.  She was the master of the dispute and she didn’t like going there alone either.  Too often I joined her; helplessly I couldn’t resist the temptation to argue the truth with her silly and casual attempt to appear intelligent.  The tooth wasn’t showing now.  The cops couldn’t see the sharp side that I was wrestling with earlier.  I had to look away once again, even though the tooth wasn’t showing, I knew it was there.

The cuffs seemed to tighten the more I shifted in an attempt to make them more comfortable.  I was double cuffed behind my back so each shift of motion would double the restraint.  Deep down inside I wanted to go crazy.  I recalled an episode of “cops” where the guy gets placed in the cruiser and begins to yell savagely until it all ends in him attempting to kick the back windows out.  That is exactly what I wanted to do.  Go into a physical outburst until you hear the sound of something breaking.  The sound of shattering glass was the perfect sound because the shattering sound was especially pleasing to me whenever I felt like my life and reality was shattering .Reality was shattering at such an alarming rate that I found it difficult to restrain myself and yet here I was, physically and legally restrained.  The only freedom I had at this point was mental and spiritual.  Both which were questionable at this very moment.

This is the place where you are truly tested in your belief system.  Will I crack?  I placed my forehead against the metal security barrier between the front and back seat of the police car.  The air conditioning made the metal cool to the touch which is exactly what I needed, cooling.  I rolled my forehead back and forth and let it assist me to chill.  I closed my eyes and begged myself to maintain control.  I wanted to scream and yell, and cry out for justice. I chose instead to recite “Our father”, over and over again.

The door to the cruiser opened and the officer asked me to get out of the car.  I opened my eyes slowly begging myself to stay calm and in control of the emerging violence deep inside me that was scratching at the surface.  I stood before the officer as he informed me that I would be transported by another officer.  I dared not look at Rene again.  It was too much.  Then I stopped for a second and the officer yanked on my arm.

“Can I please just say something to her?”  I asked him with all the humility I could muster up at the moment.

“Say it from here.”  He replied as he turned me around to look at Rene.

I looked up at her, she was still crying and her blonde hair was disheveled as it absorbed the tears and was glued to her cheekbones from the combination of tanning lotion and tears.  She was surrounded by officers who were falling for the exact same act I did two years ago.

“It was wrong of me speak to you in such a disrespectful way.”  I paused to think about the fight and the degree of escalation that was leading me to jail tonight.

“I’m sorry for throwing your close out the window the way I did, that was demeaning to you and that is not what I meant to say.”   I could feel my throat close up to prevent me from continuing.

“I said some demeaning things and I didn’t mean them, I just….”  I couldn’t finish and the officer was now pulling on my arm to go.

“I’m sorry, really I am.  Please call Alex! The number is right by the computer.”  I was speaking louder and I was more desperate now that I was approaching the police car that would silence me from her forever with the simple slam of a car door.

“We fucked up the relationship, but please call Alex, make it right!” I yelled to her as they pushed me in the back seat of the police car and that was the last thing I ever said to Rene. She made no attempt to say anything back to me, once the door slammed shut, that was the end of Rene’s reign. I had an important job interview in the morning and all I wanted was for her to make the call for me.

The charge was domestic violence. I was never prosecuted, but it cost me a pretty penny. What’s the lesson here? When your girlfriend hates you, leave her. It’s that simple. When someone repeatedly tells you that you are less than what you are, go away. It won’t get better.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Half Breed

From my dream journal titled: THE HALF BREED

April 4, 1992

Green dreams. The only color I have ever recalled clearly and repetitively in my dreams has been green.  This dream falls under that category.

The dream began in a storm at night. The rain was coming down pretty hard. I was worried about my brakes so I asked someone to please watch me drive away. I wanted him to flag me down if he didn’t see my brake lights come on. I could see the stranger whom I asked to warn me in my rear view mirror. He was waving his arms over his head trying to flag me down. I drove away without acknowledging him. Then suddenly there was someone in the passenger seat. No one I knew, but I wasn’t uncomfortable either. The further down the road I got, the darker it became. The rain seemed to be slowing down, but that was because I was covered under a canopy of trees. They hung over the dirt path and the only visible light was that of the dim headlights of my Volkswagon Bug.

The car began to sputter and I realized that if the car stalled out I would have to get out and walk for help. I was surrounded in jungle. In fear of having to walk I revved up the engine to try and keep it going. This worked for a while as I began to notice that there were no other cars. There weren’t any behind me and there were certainly none coming from the direction in which I was traveling.

I could hardly see a thing as my car stalled and the lights dimmed even more. My attention was drawn to a light in the distance and so I went ahead and let the car stall out as I couldn’t keep it going much further. My passenger and I got out of the car and made our way toward the light.

The pathway had shrunk and there was only room to walk it so I couldn’t have gotten my car past here if I tried. There were fallen trees that lay across the path. I had to climb over them in order to pass. I could hear the familiar sounds of the wild. Bird calls, monkeys screeching and wolves howling. There were large snakes wound around the fallen tree that I had to straddle in order to pass. I wasn’t fearful though. I would sneak by the snake because I didn’t want to scare him and cause him to scatter. I wanted to leave him in his peace. Smaller life forms were scattering as I stepped on twigs and dry leaves.  I laughed out loud and the huge snake slithered away. I couldn’t believe that these human devouring beasts had no interest in harming me.

The path ended and I found a clearing from where the light was shining. My passenger was no longer with me. I made my way to the center of the clearing and I couldn’t quite make out what I was seeing. It looked like a throne. There was something sitting on the throne. It was a creature of sorts. It had human characteristics, like it had two arms, two legs, a nose, a mouth and two eyes. As I approached he spoke to me. He spoke English and I assumed by the voice that it was a male. He was bright green and bald. He had different colored, horizontal stripes  around his head that were about four inches wide.

“What are you?” I asked him.

“I am half human and half Zori. I am from the depths of your imagination. By the way, I could use some work.”

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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A Message From the Universe

I signed up with tut.com a few years ago. It’s a short message that makes you think. I should say, makes you think good things. When you think good things, good things appear. That is the main message.

Today’s message:

“Wild, huh, ramona, how the entirety of living deliberately can be summed up in just three words?

Thoughts become things.

Of course, beliefs are important too, but your thoughts can change what you believe.

And words are important, they’re your thoughts that will become things the soonest.

And taking action is absolutely critical, because more than anything else, it creates expectation.

Spread the word,
    The Universe

 

You were thinking chocolate, vanilla, ramona, and strawberry?”

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Crazy Love

There are scores of love stories out there and while we can all relate to them somehow, someway I wonder just how many of us are really truly living the story. Without extending any conflict or offense to anyone out there, I think about all the couples that I know and I can’t say that I know of any that are living in a star gazed “love story.” Don’t get me wrong, I realize that there are people in love. I find more times than not that there is one person in the relationship that is in love.

What does that mean? Well after making it through the grueling love story of “Notebook” I find myself lonely for that first love. The love that you thought would never end, and if it did the world might as well end. The love that made you so brave that you would stand up against anyone and everyone to defend it. It was the love that made your life feel so complete that you could live with little else. It was that love that was so accidental and so uncontrollable that you couldn’t help but be overtaken by your desire to never feel anything but this love.

My daughter asked me the other day when I would date again and I laughed while promoting my reasons for living the way that I do. I’ve been single since forever. Those that know me can recite my excuses for being single. The reasons change all the time. I love to use the time excuse. Who has time to date? I’m a busy woman. Who is going to give me the time to do the things that I do? I work, take care of my parents, support friends, maintain a blog, and try to promote a book. I smoke, drink and sleep. When will there be time to kiss someone goodnight or have the long conversations on the phone when I can’t be present? That would be the reason for my laughter.

I’m not a monster and it’s not like I have never had a shot at this love, relationship thing. I have had my bite at the apple a handful of times and this is what I came away with.

First of all I do have the ability to love. The relationships that I have been in have been what they were. They were a relationship. Either I was madly in love with someone who was luke warm about me, or someone was in love with me that I was luke warm about. I wish that I could say that I have been in a relationship where we both felt so drenched in love for one another that nothing could come between us. The mere fact that something came between me and everyone I have been with proves this theory.

Don’t get me wrong. I have spent 15 years of my life in a relationship. That may not seem like a longtime to many who have spent decades married to the same person. At the age of fifty I realize that I am on the short end of the stick when it comes to a wealth of information on this subject. I was in two 7 year relationships. The first one I was in love to the max. She was with the luke warm individual that found being with me was easier than being alone. I was not only aware of that fact while I was there, but I accepted it hoping that someday I would see a change of heart. That didn’t happen so I eventually moved on to someone that was in love with me.

My second seven year rage would allow me to play the luke warm role that I had been demonstrated before. I don’t want to say that I was not attracted to my partner, I was. The fact remains that I had a role to play out and it wasn’t going to be over until I was fulfilled with this phase of love.

The third relationship that I encountered allowed me to dwell in a place where none of us should dare. I was duped hook line and sinker. This is the one that cured me of spontaneity. I first met her and was instantly entranced.  She was in a relationship at the time so I waited. I would tell people that I had a girlfriend and when I pointed her out they would ask, well then who is that woman she is holding hands with now. My answer, oh that is her girlfriend now, but she will be with me one day.

The day that I got together with her I think I was more shocked than anyone else. It didn’t last long. Again, I was madly in love and she was luke warm. Offset once more I realized that there may have been some factors to loving that I just didn’t understand.

People ask me how I can stand to be alone and I don’t think of myself as alone. I have friends and co-workers to interact with. I know it’s not the same as having someone to kiss at night before I turn to sleep. On the other hand it could be better than having to kiss someone as my last responsibility of the day. Neither of these ideas matter because I’m single.

I have wondered if I’m just done with it all and I can say with all confidence that if I never have sex again in my life, I would be okay with that. Then as fate would have it, I met a woman who I was instantly attracted to. I found myself wanting to get closer and kiss her. I was surprised that I still had those feelings because I thought that I couldn’t feel any of it anymore. I didn’t ever make anything of this encounter. It was a good call because it turned out to be a bad fit. Never the less, I got to feel it. It’s there but it is carefully reserved for someone who I have an extreme attraction for.

Of course I love crazy women. I imitated the only love that I knew.

As I take care of my mom now I have come to realize that I am with my crazy love.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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