How I Deal with Life.....

How I Deal with Life.....

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Letting Go So I Can Go... Not so Easy.

This past weekend was Memorial Day weekend and my family and I went to my brother’s house two hours away for an overnight trip.  Yesterday, I was playing around on my brother’s computer and checked my email by habit. Thank God, I did.  In my inbox was an email from Teach Away Inc for a travel form to fill out for my flight to the United Arab Emirates.  Attached were instructions to complete and email the travel form back by the next day (Monday, May 28, 2012). The email put me in a temporary state of panic because one of the questions on the travel form asked for my passport number. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have my passport number memorized, nor do I carry my passport on my person at all times.  Luckily, over a month ago, I uploaded all the paperwork that I had, thus far, submitted for employment with ADEC (Abu Dhabi Education Council) onto Google. One of the pieces of necessary paperwork for ADEC was a scanned color copy of my passport.  Not the first time that I have been thankful for my almost obsessive notorious habit of backing up files several times and in several places.  I saved my own ass, so to speak.
One more step to Abu Dhabi complete.

 Getting ready for Abu Dhabi: Last week my husband ordered a new laptop on the HP site for me to use while I am away. Eight months ago we bought me a brand new DESKTOP… if I had had any inkling that a job overseas was going to present itself I would have bought a laptop instead.  Now I am the proud, and semi-broke, owner of both.  And I assure you, as soon as the new HP arrives, all of my important documents will be transferred over to its hard drive!

 I have new luggage. I have new appropriate clothing. I have my paperwork in order. I have new boxes of contact lenses and a new pair of prescription glasses. I have made last minute appointments for doctor visits so I can get prescription letters for my medications. I have a 240 volt hair flat iron and hair dryer.  I have dvd movies. I have downloaded music that contains an almost schizophrenic array from  Disturbed to Frank Sinatra.  What I don’t have is complete peace of mind and comfort about the move.

Emotional rollercoaster: The uneasiness and the slight case of nerves I am experiencing about the upcoming departure to Abu Dhabi are not about the trip, or the job, or the new country, language or culture. I am apprehensive due to my father’s continuing decline into the no man’s land of Alzheimer’s. The past six weeks have brought sudden, inexplicable changes in my dad. He can no longer be left alone. He can no longer dress himself, he needs assistance eating, and he sleeps a lot.  Simple tasks such as putting ice into a glass or changing the channel on the television confound him. In addition, his Parkinson’s is making walking more difficult and his fine motor skills have all but deteriorated into non-existence. When I step on the plane for Abu Dhabi I am leaving my dad for good. In six months he may not even know who I am. And I am leaving my mom behind to cope as best as she can without me- her only daughter.

 Tomorrow my father will be admitted to the Veteran’s Administration for a two week evaluation. It was all planned last week. During his stay his medications will be adjusted and his health conditions (of which there are several) will be assessed. I will use the two weeks he is away to make sure that my mom gets some much needed rest and that she attends to some medical appointments of her own that she has been putting off. She and I will also dejunk the closets at her house and toss out the vast and overwhelming collection of items that my father has managed to accumulate during his extended Alzheimer’s hoarding phase.

 Tomorrow will be one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. Mom and I will walk my father into the Veterans’ Administration and leave him there. My mom will not want to leave. My dad will not want to stay. He becomes agitated if he is away from my mom for more than ten minutes. He will feel betrayed, I know, and the blame will be placed on my head. My dad will not be able to process the information that “it is only for two weeks”. He will think we have abandoned him. We have been told to leave quickly and quietly. No goodbyes. No see- you-laters. My mother will fall apart, I know. She has been falling apart a lot lately due to exhaustion, stress, and grief.. She no longer smiles. When my father was first diagnosed almost four years ago, I promised him that I would take care of my mother. I promised him that I would not let this disease take them both. I promised him that I would not allow my mother’s health to be affected adversely. I have to keep that promise. My dad is counting on me, and I will not let him down.

 This past weekend my brother was finally able to see the ravages and the changes that have occurred over the past six weeks. He does not see mom and dad on a day to day basis; sometimes six months can go by between visits, although in the past year he has seen them more frequently- once every two months or so.  His work has kept him away in Texas for almost twenty years. Recently though, he bought a house two hours away from mom and dad.  The company he works for, United Airlines, is transferring my brother and most if its Houston employees to the new hub in Chicago in July and my brother can get on a set schedule of commuting between his work in Chicago and his wife and son here in Georgia. He will be physically closer most of  the time, and will be more readily available for my mom in emergencies.  

My brother helped my dad shave today. He saw for himself how helpless dad has become. How little he understands. How little he comprehends. Today I saw in my brother’s eyes what a difficult time he is going to have coming to terms with the extreme changes in our dad, but my brother will rise to the occasion. Today he agreed that mom needs a rest. He agreed that Dad’s admittance to the V.A is imperative. Next week my brother and I will meet at mom and dad’s house. I will hand everything over to him; copies of the Medical Advance Directive and the Power of Attorney. I will give him the names and numbers of dad’s social worker and various doctors. I will give him the name and numbers of those who help support my mother emotionally; the friends she turns to. I will supply him with an up-to-date medication list for dad. I will fill him in on how to react and handle different situations that may arise. I have had three years to slowly get used to the changes and my new role in my parents’ life. My brother will be taking the crash course version. And he is doing it so I can leave and pursue a dream I have had all my adult life: to teach overseas. 

To be fair to myself and to appease my guilt though, in these economic times teaching jobs are becoming more and more difficult to find. I have to work. I have to put away some money for my retirement. I have bills to pay too. I can make more money in Abu Dhabi in one year than I can make in two years here in the States.  I will hand the mantle to my brother.  He is strong, capable, and will do what is best for my mom and my dad. I know that without a doubt.

 Tomorrow I will be a brick wall for my mom and dad. The day after that I will allow myself to cry for exactly ten minutes..

1 comment:

  1. There are simply no words to express how sorry I am that your family has to go through this horror. My thoughts are
    With you all.