Saturday, February 07, 2009

Slow-Moving Week

Thanks for all the comments asking if I'm all right, everybody! I am all right, more or less; I've just been over-busy and under-efficient this week. My back still hurts. Yesterday I went to the doctor, who assured me briskly that I'm only having muscle spasms (not a slipped disk or anything of the sort). He put me on Celebrex instead of ibuprofen, to spare my stomach, and ordered physical therapy. I have no idea when I'll have time for that, especially since we're driving back to Palo Alto next Thursday. I'm also supposed to take muscle relaxants whenever I don't have to drive, which basically means that I take one at bedtime.

I also saw my shrink this week. She wants to see me again in a month and gave me stern orders to keep up my exercise regimen (which I've been doing as best I can, given the back pain).

Dad's having a tough time adjusting to assisted living. His memory's worse than usual, and he has no energy, and even small tasks seem to overwhelm him. Today he, I, and the sales director (more or less independently) all arrived at the conclusion that he's depressed, so I'm going to talk to his doctor on Monday about getting him back on meds. He's been through so much lately, and he's really hurt that Fran took off without even saying goodbye to any of us, and hasn't called him since she's been back in Chicago (we know that she arrived safely, at least, because we called a friend of hers). He and Fran have been best friends for twenty years, and he used to talk to her every night. No wonder he's depressed!

I'm trying to get him to exercise more, encouraging him to follow his PT instructions to walk a little bit with his walker every hour. A nurse, a caregiver and I are also trying to get him to go on the "scenic drive" the facility offers tomorrow. Right now, he only leaves his room for meals, and sometimes not even then, and that's no good.

Gary and I are getting the room set up, though: it already looks better than the apartment ever did (partly because there's a bunch of stuff still in the apartment we'll have to toss), and I think Dad will like it if he can get out of his funk.

Meanwhile, I need to talk to the nursing director about whether they're going to be charging us more to help him with his oxygen ($255/month, to be precise). I asked about this before we signed the contract and was assured by the sales director and the nursing director that helping people change tanks was included, but now one of the nurses has decided that he needs too much help for it to be free. She and the director were supposed to discuss this and get back to me, but I haven't heard anything yet.

Mom's more with it than she was, although she still has some odd ideas. She's convinced that the nursing home kitchen shuts down every weekend, which it certainly doesn't, and is also looking forward to driving again -- which, of course, isn't going to happen -- so she can travel along the coast. She knows who I am when I call, though, and she's fairly cheerful, which is a nice contrast with Dad.

My sister and I are sad and exhausted. I've been very cranky with people at work and at church (probably a depression symptom too), and I owe lots of people apologies, although I think everybody understands that the last few months have been difficult.

Part of my own funk has come from not being able to look forward to some of my usual escapes. We aren't going to Hawai'i for spring break this year; we probably aren't leaving town at all, although the medical student I'm working with has very kindly offered to let us stay in her condo (ten miles from here in the mountains) for part of break, just for a change of scenery. I've also decided to save money by not going to WisCon this year. This is hard -- especially since two of my favorite writers, Ellen Klages and Geoff Ryman, are the guests of honor -- but seems prudent.

Today, though, I started planning my trip back East in June for the Narrative Medicine Workshop offered at Columbia. The med school is underwriting the trip (amazing in these days of financial crisis), and while I'm back there, I'm going to visit family in Philly and then head up to Amherst to visit my cousin Val and my friend Deirdre. I'm really looking forward to this, and since I've now booked my flights (flying into Philly and out of Boston), it feels like it's really going to happen. But when I told Dad about it, he said, "You're going away for two and a half weeks?"

Gary pointed out later that I shouldn't have told him about it so soon. But the way things have been going, he'll forget again soon enough.



  1. Susan, I'm sorry your Dad's feeling abandoned; that really hurts! Fran sure isn't acting like a best friend, but I suspect she is as embarassed by her actions as she was upset by her inability to cope. I hope your Dad will come around soon!

    You & Gary, your sister and her family, and your Mom and Dad are all in my prayers. Did that neurologist come up with anything from all those tests he put your Mom through? I'm glad you can take one trip for something that you love.

    Hope your Sunday is really good! Are you doing a homily anytime soon?


  2. Yikes, it just goes on... I do hope your Dad can respond well to antidepressants, because, as you, say, he has plenty of reasons to be depressed. The move to Nevada came with such hopes and expectations and it seems not one of them is coming true for him. Am glad you saw your shrink, and I do hope you can make time for PT for yourself, and find some smaller and more frequent gifts to self to make up for the lost trips. Prayers continuing from this end.

  3. And, I should say, none of the hopes and dreams and expectations for your Dad's move has come true for you and Gary either, quite the opposite. It's just plain hard, and I hope some easier times might be coming.


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