Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Second Thanksgiving

Last Monday evening we finished off the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, but with a brand new sense of counting blessings.  We had made plans for a trip to the nearest hardware store to pick up a few items followed by a visit to a friend who has a small couch she wants to get rid of that might be useful.  Because of that detail we were in the Ford Ranger pickup instead of my Sonata when we hit a patch of ice.

By the time the world stopped spinning our truck was totaled, another truck was damaged, the axle had been ripped from under the U-Haul trailer the truck had been towing, and both of us and the driver of the other truck were loaded into two ambulances to be checked over.

Amazingly all we suffered were minor bruises, facial abrasions from the airbags, soreness from the seat-belts we both were wearing and a bad case of the shakes.  The other driver was a bit more banged up, according to the EMTs at the scene, but will make a full recovery.

Thank goodness for those airbags and seat-belts.

The merry-go-round started at 3:30 PM - we were finally cut loose from the ER at 9PM.  Being suddenly pedestrians we called a friend to come fetch us home - 15 miles is too much of a hike on a 20 degree snowy night for two banged up survivors of a major wreck, especially since hubby can barely walk across the driveway these days.

I spent a chunk of today dealing with the aftermath. First we went to the yard where the truck was towed to retrieve all our stuff, then treated ourselves to breakfast at the Phoenicia diner. Then we filled the prescriptions for the weeks worth of pain meds and went home. I spent quite a while on the phone with my insurance company - they were great! We didn't have collision on the 10 year old truck, so that was a total loss, however all our medical bills and the cost of repair or replacement of the other vehicle will be covered.

Another thing to be grateful for - since I made him sign that slip of paper W has been good - no drinking. I know he still thinks about it, and as his strength improves it will get harder to resist temptation, so the time of trial is really still ahead. However, at least for the moment, he is keeping his word.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

shattered again

After all his promises, and my agreeing to give him this last chance he did it again. He said he wanted to go shoot some pool and have a cranberry & ginger ale, so since he has been good I gave him $5 and drove him to the local place for an hour of conversation and a friendly game or three. When I arrived to pick him up, there on the bar in front of him was a very tall glass with about a half inch of beer left in it. The barmaid had no way of knowing he was supposed to be permanently on the wagon, so I wished her and the other folks a Happy Thanksgiving and waited till we got to the car.

I asked why and he said he'd just wanted a taste and had only had a little. BS! If he had asked for 'just a taste' it would have come in a short glass - why waste a quart glass for a sip? I confronted him about the return to lies and shattered trust. I blasted him for doing it to me AGAIN - why should I expect him to keep his word this time? In the past 5 years I've given him so many opportunities to do the right thing, and in the last two I've given him entirely too many 'last chances'. I hate to give up after 30 years, but why should I keep trying if I'm the only one trying? He begged for one last chance.

I typed up an agreement, stating that if he breaks his promise and drinks again he will immediately grant me an uncontested divorce. He read and signed two copies - one to keep in his wallet, one I put in an envelope and put away. I don't want his pension - I'll settle for survivor benefits. If he breaks his vow and we divorce, chances are I'll collect them all too soon, since he has never had to take care of himself for more than a few months at a time in his entire life. I've told him repeatedly that if he wants to kill himself with alcohol or anything else that he will have to do it someplace else. Like Etta Place, I don't intend to watch it happen - I'll skip that part.

A couple of betrayals back I had made a sign "Once an alcoholic Always an alcoholic" - I even showed it to him a few days ago to show how close it had come then. It is now posted on the door. Maybe I'm just a soft sentimental fool for even bothering to try again, but if he fucks up this time he can pack his meds and a few changes of clothes and come back for the rest when he finds a place to stay - I will not go through this again. Never, no nevermore, never again.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving.... well sorta anyway

My old range oven decided to crap out just in time for Turkey day....
Happily I think it will be a relatively easy fix - a new thermostat most likely - but the placard with the model info fell off during the move so I have to call the plumber in to look at it, order the replacement and install it - more $$$ I'd have preferred not to spend. Oh well.

I had the range originally meant for the residence sitting in the garage, and went through all the *&^%$ effort to unhook the old and drag it out side and bring in the new....only to find it was factory set for natural gas, and I can't decipher the instructions to switch it over to LP. <sigh>

So my old fave now sits outside covered in a tarp, awaiting the ministrations of the plumber while the new Tappan sits in the middle of the kitchen, useless. I'll have to drag it back to the garage once the weather clears. I will have the plumber do the switcheroo on the gas type while he is at it so we can install it in the room T will be moving into - he deserves a good stove, and I like my old Magic Chef goldurnit!

Anyway, for Tday W had an English muffin and I had leftover Zatarain's Dirty Rice warmed in the nuker - and I'm going to bed early. Didn't get a lot of sleep last night due to a phone call about 11:30. It was just a fishing expedition for room prices which came to nothing, but it woke me up about an hour after I had fallen asleep. I wound up awake until 3 after that, partly due to stress, partly to W being an idiot. First he wouldn't keep his hands to himself while I was trying to get back sleep - I compared him to Boris the Spider - and then he wouldn't STFU. Too many sleepless nights are brought about by him getting diarrhea of the mouth at the darkest part of the night :-(

I'm so tired!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

So far, so good....so far

It turns out he hadn't gone off looking for a way to turn that $20 in his pocket into beer after all. He was walking around outside thinking about what I had said - in particular about the ultimatum I had given him; get straight or get out. He came in and asked if it was OK to be inside. I said yes, as long as he hasn't been drinking - he hadn't. He still doesn't quite grasp how totally appalled I was by this latest betrayal, and how it left me sick inside - I don't want him touching me, even non-sexually, because it makes me feel ill with regret for the loss of trust. However, he is giving me room to recover, and I am giving him time to prove himself. As long as he continues to behave I will give him all the help and support I can, but I made it very clear - this is the LAST last chance. One beer and it's all over - no more please, no more I'm sorry, no more it won't happen again.

So now I am attempting to rearrange everything (again!) to allow a path to remove the old stove and bring in the new one from the garage. We had bought the new one for the upstairs residence that never got built, like the cabinets. The old stove is the one we had bought over ten years ago in the old house. It still works for the most part, but I had trouble with the oven the other day. When set for under 350 degrees it doesn't seem to work properly, and with Thanksgiving and then baking season coming I need a reliable oven that can function at any temperature I need. So out with the old, in with the new. Chances are the oven is an easy fix - the thermostat replaced or some such - but I just don't have time to fiddle with it right now. The old one will get a good steam cleaning and get stored in the garage until I have time to tinker with it. If it can be fixed I'll put it in one of the two efficiencies and the antique currently in that room will go up for grabs in Freecycle.

In the meantime all the stuff I had taken out of the kitchen so I could re-do the floor is all over the front room in the way of progress, so I have to lug a chunk of it back into the kitchen to make a path. After the big switcheroo I get to lug it all back into the front so I can finally do the floor <sigh>

Oh well, at least I see some progress - the floor is a lot cleaner, and I'm starting to get an idea of how to rearrange all the cabinets, the freezer, the china hutch etc to make a functional kitchen. Thank goodness I have all winter - I may need it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ducky, just ducky

The past two days have largely revolved around D and the funeral for her ex, and her re-connecting with the family, so pretty much nothing got done. W is still refusing to sit, so I had to wash the rugs again yesterday, and still wakes me up with stupid stuff in the middle of the night, so I'm more sleep deprived than ever. What's worse is that now that he is out of the hospital and starting to feel better he is back to his old tricks. Apparently, in the guise of comforting T, he went down to visit, but his real purpose was to try to score some beer. T refused, knowing the new rule is zero tolerance. He tried it twice, once with a witness present, so despite him trying to tell me (with the sad puppy eyes) that it's too bad I believe T rather than him, I have corroboration. Not to mention this has been his pattern for the past three years.

After this latest hospitalization I told him, as soon as he was lucid enough to understand me, that I refuse to go through this again. If he wants to kill himself he had better find someplace else to do it. I still have the number of not one but two lawyers, and if I see that nothing has changed, and he is going back to the old pattern of drinking behind my back every chance he gets, lying to my face about it (and everything else) I will have no choice but to file for divorce and bankruptcy. This has happened too many times, and no matter how much love there has been in the past thirty years I need to save myself - I refuse to go down with him! He is a classic alcoholic, with many of the markers for a sociopath as well. Lies without compunction, blames everyone else for his problems and refuses to grow up and take responsibility for his actions. I think after all this time supporting him, protecting him from the consequences of his stupidity and taking him back "for love" it is time I finally did what I should have done before he had the stroke - force him to face what he is and either change or take a hike.

For almost two years before the stroke he was on a constant buzz, going through a bottle of tequila a day, and putting me through hell. If I argued with him and begged him to stop and grow up he threatened to walk. I should have let him then. Now that his health has deteriorated so much I'm chewed up with guilt at turning him out, and he knows that. Of course he swears he isn't trying to guilt me, but I'm not sure he knows the difference between his delusions and reality anymore.

Now he has taken off - probably to hitch to a bar with that $20 in his pocket, and will probably show up sometime late in the evening begging to sleep on the floor or the recliner, then if I allow it he'll take that advantage as leverage to get into the bed about 3AM. Not this time. There is a foldaway bed in the utility room, which is much warmer than the garage - he can sleep there if he comes back drunk. I've had it.

I just have to wonder what flaw in my character made me put up with his shit for so long?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The business, as usual

Well, they can't say I didn't warn them. For that matter W can't say I didn't warn him! I got a call from the ward about 10:30AM, and the nurse said that since W had been rather out of it when brought in they were not sure what was 'normal' for him. I must have sighed, knowing what that meant.

'Well, when he is all there he is witty, astute, a great conversationalist with a dry sense of humor, and probably very cranky because he hates being in the hospital. Sounds like he's feeling better, eh?'
The guy at the other end gave a sound that was half laugh and half sigh of relief because clearly I understood the situation. I went on;
'I understood that the staff wanted to keep him here until Monday so the weekday doctors could check him over. I take it you want to cut him loose today?'
'Well, he certainly wants to go home today.'

That was a clear admission of defeat - W had bullied or given enough grief to someone that they just didn't want to deal with him any longer than absolutely necessary. I don't blame them - BTDT. Besides, by now it was pretty obvious that he was on the mend - the beer had been the problem, and the old yucky liquid med was the answer.
'No rush - after lunch is fine' he said, trying to be nice, but not realizing that with the 2 hours it takes to get there, even if I left right then I'd only get there just about lunch time.

OK, so I had just started thinking breakfast, having let myself sleep in, went for the papers at 9 and hadn't read them yet. I made a hearty brunch - eggs and ham - and settled down to read the papers. Then I got dressed and was on the road by noon. I was more than a little concerned about his attitude when I finally arrived - last time he started griping right off to the tune of 'what took you so long'. However, this time, in an effort to placate him, they had told him I was coming, and about what time, and he was magnanimous in his victory, allowing them to shampoo and bathe him without too much fuss. For that I was grateful - when he is depressed one of the first things to go by the wayside are little amenities like regular showers. His last was almost two months ago. I can remind, and show by example, but while you can lead a man to water...

It took about 10 minutes to get him dressed - first he tried to put his foot into the sleeve of the long-john shirt, then was going to put his briefs on over the hospital jammy bottoms, but eventually he was sorted out. I even dragged a comb through his still damp hair before he could clamp his trusty denim hat on it and ensure it would dry kinked and snarled. They delivered paperwork to sign him over to me, and a big bag of the liquid med to take home. From now on he takes both the pill and liquid version.

Since I had brought his personal wheelchair, getting him back to the car was easy. The rest stop visit he requested not so much. Unfortunately I didn't see the handicapped/family restroom door until after he had disappeared into the depths of the regular men's room. I did my own thing and took up station outside the door and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally I asked a gentleman leaving if there was an older bearded man in denim who seemed to be having difficulties. He looked startled but said yes, but there was someone helping him - he thought they were together. I said no, he's with me. He said I could go on in if I wanted - the two were the only ones left. I thanked him and went to the end of the access hall.

It turns out one of the workers at the rest stop had either been asked for help or had seen his difficulties and offered assistance. By the slightly wild-eyed look on the kids face (he couldn't have been much over 18) he was close to panic, afraid of doing something wrong and getting himself sued. I told him I'd take care of this and gave him a big smile and thanks, and once W had gotten to me the kid's face was a picture of relief. He had been trying to put his arm into the wrong arm of the jacket - I'm almost afraid to think of what stuff might have fallen out of the pockets in there, but since the worst would be a bit of money or a lighter I decided not to ask to inspect the premises - just cut my losses and got him out to the car.

We made it home without incident, and much to my surprise D was already there. Apparently her fiancee had shown uncommon foresight and suggested she come back Sunday to give herself time to get her head together and get some sleep, rather than taking the bus straight to the viewing and being totally wiped from the trip. After I put together a quick supper and got us both fed he began dozing, so I told him to go ahead add sleep, but I was going next door to give D a chance to vent, cry or reminisce. He was OK with that. D did a little of all three and an hour later felt enough better that I was able to excuse myself and head back to bed myself.

Of course just because he was sufficiently better to come home didn't mean he was together enough to be left unattended. One full cup of milk spilled all over the floor and everything on it in from to his nightstand (a perpetual problem area) and at 2AM I was awakened by him thrashing his way to the bathroom and proceeding to pee on the floor. I yelled at him to open his eyes and turn on the light. He muttered 'I'm OK' - I said 'No, I can hear it hitting the tiles - nothing is going in the toilet'. He ignored me, as usual. <sigh> I had just cleaned that bathroom floor (again) and put down the freshly washed rugs (again). I just hope this liquid med works quickly enough that the rugs survive daily washing until he can think clearly enough to sit rather than stand.

The final analysis is that his options now amount to drink his beer, get divorced and die much earlier than necessary, or quit drinking, live as long as possible and continue to bust T's chops and make my life interesting a while longer. He has accepted the new mandate (so far), and has promised to follow doctors orders. No more beer or alcohol of any kind - period. I have some small hope that as his brain gradually de-pickles he might even get back some of the motor skills he lost over this last binge. If so, great - if not, so be it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Who needs sleep anyway?

A week ago yesterday W was lucid, actually making plans with me for the winter projects. Then he took a fall in the bathroom, landing on the edge of the tub with his ribs, re-breaking or at least cracking one rib. I gave him a light supper, a pain pill along with his normal PM meds, and told him to rest. That's all you can do with ribs these days - they used to tape them, but not anymore for years. BTDT - so off to bed he went.

The next day I let him sleep in, only waking him to take his AM meds (breakfast Skittles he calls them). Later I finally woke him because 1) if he sleeps all day he will keep me awake all night and 2) I needed to go over the plan for Sunday. That was my first clue of the trouble brewing.

I explained simply and clearly that I had been invited to go on a bus trip to NYC with my friend G who drives tour buses - there were extra seats so she was told by the group to feel free to invite a couple friends. I was her first call and after a few seconds of deliberation (clean the floor or take a day off?) I accepted ;-)  There was plenty of easy food and drink for him to take care of himself for one day.

The problem is 1) he somehow got the idea that he was also invited (NOT!), 2) he couldn't quite get it through his head that he was staying home, 3) I was only going as a guest, not a back-up driver, and 4) that he needed to rest, and so did I. Three hours later he finally was able to parrot back to me the gist of the plan, and seemed content to spend a quiet Sunday resting and watching TV, or sitting in the sun outside (it was scheduled to be a really nice day). OK, it had been unusually difficult for him to get that straight but I thought we were OK. Next morning I was up super early - we had to meet at her house just after 6 in order to get to the bus depot in time. He woke and glibly parroted the game plan for me, took his pills and was asleep again before I made it out the door.

Fast forward to my return home just after 9PM. He asks, with tragic puppy-dog eyes, where the car had been all day and was I OK? I hadn't run away and left him? ZERO recollection of our discussion - nil, nada, nothing! It was mind bending!

The next few days and nights were sheer torture. He slept most of the day except for occasionally calling for me in a panic thinking I had abandoned him 'again'. He could not hold a coherent conversation, or even a single coherent thought, and it was getting worse. Then he kept me awake most of the nights. A couple nights it was just constant bathroom trips, another night he got diarrhea of the mouth - couldn't STFU even when he tried, then last night he got stuck at the bathroom door. He became fascinated by the shoe rack hanging from the closet door and seemed to want to climb it. I had to physically manhandle him into the bathroom, where, as often happened, nothing happened - another false alarm. :-(

The bathroom and my head were in about the same state of disarray by this morning, and I called the VA ER for advice. After chatting with an RN telling her what I had been observing, then answering a bunch of her questions it was determined he needed to be seen ASAP. The possibility was there that he had also hit his had in that fall, or suffered a TIA or another stroke Friday night, which theories could only be confirmed or discarded with tests. She was inclined to blame interaction between his meds and his beer, but better safe than sorry. I confirmed that making the trip would not be a problem - I had called to be sure my concerns were justified, she concurred, and she called ahead to let them know we were on our way.

Much to my surprise and relief he gave no argument, willingly got dressed in the sweats I provided for a comfortable ride (2 hours each way) and off we went. He dozed part of the time, muttered to himself, or tried to engage me in conversation, but between the road noise and his fuzzy thinking that fell apart quickly.

The consensus was that the efficacy of the new med they had started him on to replace a nasty liquid one he had hated was being wiped out by his beer drinking. The drinking, however light, wasn't doing his brain any favors and was wreaking still more havoc on his poor abused liver. He had already begun to accept that he needed to stop again...'but not just yet'. Now the choice is gone. He either stops all alcohol completely and forever, or lose his brain AND liver. Further, as a necessary evil, he is back on the yucky liquid until the nasties are cleared out of his blood and he can think again. He was good about that too - a sure sign of how far his faculties have been eroded. Once he starts feeling better, I warned the staff, he will begin to get very cranky - he hates being in the hospital! The speed with which the mental dysfunction had set in apparently was more a function of his injured body trying to heal and being incapable of simultaneously coping with that and the warfare between the meds and beer than due to any sudden surge in his intake - which there hadn't been.

So now we wait. He will be spending at least two nights in hospital, since he needs time under observation. Also, the 'real' staff is off on weekends, and they want to have him seen properly on Monday. That means I get two nights of uninterrupted sleep! No being wakened by crashes as he thrashes his way from bed to bathroom a dozen times, no having the blankets ripped off as he rolls over, no getting my mind abraded by mindless babble for hours. Just peace and quiet in the knowledge that he is safe... and there are folks who are being paid to see to it that he makes those dozen trips back and forth to the john safely, or, more likely, he'll be forced to use the portable plastic urinal unless he feels a BM coming on. Knowing him as well as I do I feel sorry for them, but that is why they get paid, rather than doing it for love. Nice folks on this ward - I hope they survive...

Sleep - what a concept. I think I'll give it a try real soon....

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Day, New S#!^

OK, W appears unable or unwilling to admit that both his failing vision and failing health make standing to urinate impractical. Just as the aim and distance possible is better with a rifle and sight, rather than a handgun and blindfold, his equipment is no longer up to the challenge of hitting the target with any degree of accuracy - a fact not helped by the ever increasing tremors in his hands :-(

I have to wash the bathroom rugs three or four times a week because even after pointing out that his pointer isn't working, and him agreeing to sit, he persists in pissing me off by drenching the rugs and anything unfortunate enough to be under the sink or next to the toilet. I've had to remove just about everything from 'his' bathroom to avoid contamination and/or just plain nastiness. Some nights even the basin is not exempt from the shooting gallery. I know, it would be simple enough to remove the rugs, but with his lousy vision, plus his propensity for falling, wet tiles would be a sure recipe for disaster. At least with their rubber backing they keep him relatively safe. I may pick up a couple cheap spares so I can just pull the soiled ones out, do a quick mopping and slide the next set in place to cut down on laundry loads. Thank goodness we have a second bathroom so I am not constantly subjected to that urine stink.

This other bathroom is in the process of becoming my personal oasis - once I've massively re-worked it, anyway. Like everything else in the place it was put together over 60 years ago on a budget, and it shows. Decrepit cheap white-face board surround, riddled with scratches and gouges and leaking groutless corners. Borderline tolerable country-kitsch wallpaper. Baby blue sink and tub (we replaced the toilet two years ago with a white one, happily) and matching painted lower wallboard. If I have to I can live with the wallpaper for now, but I have picked out a replacement faux tile wallboard in almond & tan stone pattern to replace the old surround, and will paint over the blue wallboard with either almond or tan. That will reduce the blue to a tolerable level - just the two fixtures and the hints in the wallpaper. It will also stop the prior leakage problem from rotting the floors - the main reason we stopped using that tub and have been exclusively using the other tub. For two years this one has been a combination spare potty and walk-in closet as I dealt with other, more vital repairs and renovations. However, since I can do the work myself, and on the cheap, it is one of my planned winter projects, to come in for under $50.

Another big project is re-doing the kitchen, again, on the cheap. We had originally planned to build a second floor owners residence over the office/store and first two efficiencies. The money went to more important things and now we are stuck in the rooms we have. However, W had constructed most of the kitchen cabinets for the residence while we were still in our old place, and they have been in storage ever since. Before I start installing them in this cramped cheerless and virtually storage-less kitchen I have to do something about the floor. Ancient linoleum that has seen so much wear and abuse as to be barely recognizable. Even after steam-cleaning (I had picked up a little Eureka hand-held at a yard sale a couple years ago, still in its original sealed package - not bad for $7.50) the flooring is a mottled s#!^ brown with speckles of blue here and there. With no window, greige wallpaper and only a double fluorescent overhead it is a dreary little room.

So I went to the local bargain outlet and picked up almond peel & stick floor tiles and the spreadable cement to make sure it stays stuck (the newer tiles glue stinks). Once I get everything out and can scrub the old floor down to the cleanest it can get I'll lay the tiles and then, after they have time to set and settle I'll start bringing in the cabinets. I already dismantled and removed the over-sized table - one of the old metal tube-framed jobs with a Formica top - white with gold flecks. I have a small rolling open-sided cabinet I was using for computer paper and other odd storage that is about to get a new life as a rolling kitchen island.  We have a collection of odd ceramic tiles amassed over many years (along with entirely too much other stuff), so I plan to use some of the extra tile cement to put a better top on this and also redo the existing counter by the sink (also white/gold flecked mica). Since most of the stuff going into the kitchen I already owned all the renovation will cost is sweat equity and a bit less than $90 for the floor tiles, glue and spreader tool. I don't know yet what I will wind up doing about the hideous wallpaper, but that is a problem for another day - I'll cope for now.


Now for the real drama - or melodrama - of the day.

Yesterday morning I drove D to NJ to spend Thanksgiving with her fiance and his family. Last night I found out her ex, S - the one who tossed her out after 14 years in favor of shacking up with his recently dead brother's widow - has just died. That makes three of the five brothers gone in three years, all under 60, mostly due to excessive drinking, diabetes and poor eating habits. One of the remaining two, T, lives here, a rescue thanks to D who adores him like a brother and looked after him for years. He has cancer, but mostly it is inactive at the moment, and he is reasonably mobile and able to look after himself given proper surroundings.

His brother S (the one who just died) had installed him in a dilapidated health-hazard of a trailer, was taking his SSD check for rent, barely giving him enough food, and never taking him to his doctor appointments. Nice guy all around. Well, his new girlfriend and eventually wife as of June, is a registered nurse who allowed her first hubby to drink himself to death, and despite his raging diabetes she did the same with S, her new husband. Nice gal - serial black widow, but in true mountain style, kept it in the family. She now has complete control over both brothers pensions, and two sets of kids have just lost their inheritance - they'll never see a dime out of it - she spends every dime she gets on herself. I feel sorry for the next guy she sets her hooks into when she starts running low again. Like I said, Peyton Place, mountain style.

I had to be the one to tell D - I knew she would be shaken by the suddenness - we had just seen him a few days ago, looking more like a beer keg on legs than the vigorous man she first knew almost 20 years ago. Mostly, as I expected, she was sad for the kids, now all in the clutches of that gold-digging harpy. She plans to come back for the funeral for their sake, but I hope I don't get roped into going. I will drive the two of them if they need it, but I don't like funerals at the best of times, I never knew him and never wanted to, and I sure don't want to be in a position of biting my tongue around that woman. What a lousy situation.

Oh well, another day tomorrow - hopefully W will not keep me awake half the night like he did last night, and I'll be able to get some work done.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Same Day, Different S#!^

I had him settled down with Shrek 2, and, as expected, he fell asleep. When it ended I popped in a Byrds disc - part 1 of a 2 disc set I got him over a year ago, and which he watches about once every two months. I figured it was a good choice because whether he is awake or asleep he lives and breathes Clarence White. He woke up about 15 minutes into it and asked me, with a straight face where I had gotten it - he liked it - but he didn't remember having seen it before. He fell asleep. He woke up, unable to deal with the volume control - he must have leaned on it in his sleep and it was at about the level of a nuclear explosion, so I turned it down and put in the second disc.
He told me, again, how much he loves me. He watched for about two minutes and fell asleep again.

Day 1 of blog but year 30 of life with W

He is getting worse. Friday he actually seemed to understand basics and I was beginning to hope he was improving. Then he took another of his falls, re-cracking his rib on the side of the tub. By Saturday he was having trouble understanding and maintaining understanding of simple things. It took 4 hours of repetition before he could repeat back to me the game plan for Sunday. Sunday morning he parroted it again, but when I came home Sunday evening he had abandoned-puppy eyes, hadn't eaten all day and clearly had no recollection of our discussion about my day in the city with my friend. This was the first full day away from him in almost a year, and he was like a dog - no comprehension that I would be back.

Today I tried to explain to him that tomorrow I would be driving D back to J's house in NJ, and invited him to come along for the ride. I figured it would be a nice change of scenery for him and it would allow me to keep an eye on him, and he wouldn't be 'abandoned' again so soon. There is a warehouse outlet near J's house where I might be able to pick up some cheap stick-on tiles to redo the kitchen floor, and I'll get the gas money back from D so it looked like a win-win situation. The problem is he couldn't register the full story. First he got dressed, eager as a puppy to go for a ride. I explained again that the trip is tomorrow. Then he wanted to know if D was coming along for the ride. I explained again that taking D back to J was the primary reason for the ride. We went around and around for well over an hour, with him convinced we were going for a joyride today.

I finally became so frustrated I threatened to take him for a ride - right to the VA psych ward - if he persisted in this. Oddly that seemed to shake loose some of the confusion and a little later he was able to parrot back tomorrows itinerary. I don't know if it will stick, but I am determined to take him along tomorrow no matter what, because clearly he cannot be trusted to look after himself alone anymore. He eats when I put food in front of him - it has to be soft these days, as his gums are too tender for anything chewy, and the VA won't replace his dentures, because the teeth problem is not service related. He spends much of his time sleeping, which is good for now, as it allows his body to heal. He takes his meds when I present them to him, and generally gets them all into him, though I still have to check for any that might have fallen out the side as he pours the little cup in his mouth.Today I found one - some days it's three or more.

He is going to be 60 in less than a month, yet is already in worse shape mentally than his father was just before he died. Physically they are almost on par - he can barely walk - his dad had lost a foot to diabetes; he has trouble seeing without the glasses he refuses to wear - his dad was blind from diabetes; he has little quality of life as he can no longer do any of the things he once enjoyed - ditto for dad. So sad considering he isn't all that old.

I am 56, and feeling the beginnings of the arthritis that plagues my family, but I keep active mentally and physically, and don't give in. The stress of being sole care-giver to a spouse who seems to be in the beginnings of premature dementia, however, is telling on my stamina. I need Valerian or some other herbal tea almost every night to get enough sleep to cope. Post menopause sleeplessness, night sweats and mood swings don't help either. Coping with trying to run my little motel single-handed, while keeping him fed, cared for, to his doctor appointments and entertained while keeping him from hurting himself is as much of a full time job as anyone could ask for, but one barely keeps the roof over our heads and the other costs me daily.

So for now he seems to understand that we are staying here today, but will be going to NJ tomorrow, and he has gotten undressed and back into bed, watching Shrek 2 on the DVD.