Life is Hard Thread

Discussion in 'Dancers Anonymous' started by TinyDancer109, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    True (all of) that.

    My grandfather has non-Alzheimer's dementia, which mimics Alzheimer's. Truth be told, I'm not sure what the difference is, functionally. Things like excitement and stress play a HUGE role in his behavior. Fighting it, or trying to set right the delusions, doesn't work and, in truth, only make the situation much worse. Managing the situation before problems arise, or else going along with the dementia when it happens, is the only way to deal with it. Simple, but certainly not easy. (Particularly not emotionally.)

    It's astounding how medication can play into things as well. My grandfather had some of the classic Alzheimer's symptoms: sundowning, fascination with fire, wandering, astounding grandiosity and mood swings. He was, in short, uncontrollable. When his medication was reviewed, and coordinated and streamlined, a lot of the behaviors were greatly diminished.

    Just something to think about.
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    it is also not unusual that the meds will snow the person until they get accustomed to it
  3. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    My grandfather has been taken to the hospital with chest pains. That's a concern, but what's bothering me more is that apparently he has been sleeping a whole hell of a lot, is difficult to wake up, and isn't eating much. Sounds to me like he's in the final stages before dying...and yet family members keep saying that that's not the case. Not sure if they're right, or not recognizing what they're seeing, or are in denial. I'm starting to think that I may be flying down to GA in the very near future...

    Also, my grandmother is flipping out over this. OK, so she flips out over comparatively minor stuff all the time, but still. Thing is, she was a nurse for a long time. The fact that she's thinking he's dying makes me think perhaps he is...but my uncle is so convinced (and convincing) that he isn't. Also, my grandmother is quite adept at working herself into a state.

    I don't know what to think. And then there's a part of me (the part that's winning, actually) that says it doesn't matter; dying or not, I should go. Consequences much less dire that way--it would only cost me money, instead of costing me guilt for god knows how long.

    Also, my grandmother is making life difficult in other ways. (How can someone who falls to pieces over the slightest thing, be so damn strong-willed in other ways?! LOL. She either shatters, or she's made of iron.) She won't move out of the house, won't accept someone living in with them to help...and yet can't fully take care of herself. Argh. The other day she couldn't rouse my grandfather...and ended up not eating at all during the day because she doesn't have the strength to fix her own food or even open a bottle of Boost or Ensure. I don't know what the solution is, but I'm starting to get the feeling some [bleedin'] thing has got to give. Then again, you all know I'm not good at the fuzzy-squishy-nice side of things. Unfortunately, the brute force approach is not particularly effective. "Argh," I say.

    Sorry for rambling. Sitting here waiting for various phone calls about his status. Should go to sleep...it's not like I can really get on a flight anytime between now and tomorrow morning anyhow.
  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    *hug* it never gets any easier, when elderly grandparents are involved. I wish I had wisdom to share, but I don't. *sigh* I'd probably go to GA, just to be sure.
  5. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    peach...you sound like you are spot on in all of your considertions..it is ambiguous...and it will likely have to get worse before she's able to be forced to accept help....hug to you
  6. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    It's weird and very, very touchy, though. I had a great aunt and one of my grandmoms both seem to will themselves to die (and die pretty quickly) after their children made life-changing decisions that required them to give up autonomy. Won't share the details. It's really horrible.

    I will say that I think it's very important to try to engage seniors in decisions that affect them as much as possible. Yes. Sometimes they can seem to be unreasonable. But still ... empathy can go a long way.


    It's hard, no matter how you slice it.
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    re: death and denial. Yeah. It can be very easy to lapse into self-deception, when you're too close to see. BTDT. I was shocked when my grandmom, who'd had advanced diabetes for years, who had a heart condition, who was practically immobile, and who was scheduled for amputation, died "suddenly" of heart failure, days before her surgery was scheduled.

    I was so deep into denial. I just couldn't face the reality of her death. Truth be told, I still don't want to accept her ... absence ... sometimes. My take? (Take this with a grain of salt, P, or even a box) Be kind, P -- to yourself and to the others involved. Whatever happens, each of you will have to come to peace with it, in your own way. If not now, then eventually. Maybe acknowledging the possibility of loss is your way. Maybe embracing hope is somebody else's way. Maybe completely ignoring negative possibilities is another person's way. At the end of the day, each of has to wrestle this kind of stuff to the ground, more or less on our own. (Which is not to say that friends and family can't help, but to say that, like most existential crises, it's ones own to resolve. My thoughts only.)


    It's going to be okay.


    All that said, two memories that are among the most precious in my lifetime are the times I visited my granddad (my father's father) and, years later, visited my grandmom (my mother's mother) both within weeks of their passing, and both when my grandparents were still lucid enough to tell funny stories. Nothing will ever take those memories from me.
  8. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Yup. The strange thing is that I've got empathy...at least plenty of times in life I've got lots of empathy. But for me, it's like when things get serious that empathy gets back-burnered. It's like there is no longer any luxury of having empathy. Hard to explain.

    I get--intellectually--that it is extremely hard on her to give up control, and autonomy, and to deal with getting older. I have a lot of sympathy and empathy for that. But when she can't feed herself (she can feed herself--she just can't prepare the food and get it to the table), even to the point of not being able to open a bottle of Ensure, that's when I start drawing lines. IMO, this situation is unacceptable. Period. I get that it's unbelievably difficult for her, but she can either participate in the decision-making process to find some solution which is acceptable (or the least bad) for her, or the decisions will be made for her. Period. She won't participate in the decision making, will not compromise.

    When the only thing that is acceptable, in any form, to her is what is now outside the boundaries of what is a valid option...well, that's when empathy gets lost for me. Hierarchy of needs and all that, and keeping her alive will trump being sympathetic every time. Empathetic means that my uncle won't take the car keys away, so my demented-with-reflexes-of-a-geriatric-sloth grandfather is STILL driving. Again...I have empathy, but it takes a huge backseat to keeping him (and others) freakin' alive.

    Hence...my brute force approach not being particularly useful.

    Am already rather concerned about how my brother and I are going to deal with my parents when the time comes. He better have it in him to be the fuzzy compromising one. Hell, he better have it in him to deal with the physical/body side of caring for them...talk about something that totally squicks me out. Hmmm...seems I'm pretty useless. All I'm good at is being a [witch] and playing with money--although I suppose that means I'm also good at making hard choices and handling the fallout, and making sure their bills get paid. Shrug.

    Argh. Rambling again. Many thoughts swirling...
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yeah. I definitely get where you're coming from. Their physical well-being is paramount. Don't know what else to say. It just sucks, full stop. *sigh*
  10. TinyDancer109

    TinyDancer109 Well-Known Member

    Dad had a seizure last night for the first time. Scary thing to witness. Esp considering my only other such experience was the one my kitty had right before we were forced to put her to sleep. Docs did a CT scan but we do not know the results yet. Not sure why it happened. Dad said he was completely conscious the whole time. Hoping his melanoma did not bleed. :(
  11. TinyDancer109

    TinyDancer109 Well-Known Member

    WRT losing/giving up control... my family and I have always felt my dad has a very mild undiagnosed case of OCD. And as he has gotten older and sicker, it has gotten much much worse. I suppose that would make sense though... considering OCD is about control... and the more control my dad loses over his life and body, the worse the OCD gets in an effort to grasp at SOME sort of control in his life.
  12. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    yes, most people who are losing control of alot of their life will be more controlling about the few aspects they have left over which they can insist upon it...it is a personal dignity issue and a coping mechanism...

    seizures are not uncommon if one has mets to the brain if that is your dad's dx...

    hug to you TD
  13. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    You and your family have my prayers, TD.
  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member



    This. Hugs, TD.
  15. TinyDancer109

    TinyDancer109 Well-Known Member

    Thanks everyone. Turns out he did in fact have a bleed. He seems to be feeling back to normal other than the massive mood swings from the steroids to reduce swelling and the intense sleepiness from his anti-seizure. Of course now my family and I are paranoid about leaving him alone at the hospital - had we not been there, no one would have known what happened!
  16. TinyDancer109

    TinyDancer109 Well-Known Member

    Docs plan to continue radiation therapy though.
  17. Wannabee

    Wannabee Active Member

    One of my niece's friends died yesterday from injuries sustained in a car accident over the weekend. She was one of my niece's best friends and she was only 18 years old. She just graduated from high school in May and was on her way home from her boyfriend's house in the next town when she lost control of her car and ran into a steel pole. She suffered massive head injuries and was in a coma for about 4 days before she finally died.

    This is a loss for everyone who knew her, and while the entire incident is shocking and sudden, I guess in a weird way everyone was glad she didn't die at the scene because they got to see her one last time and say their goodbyes. The doctors never gave her any hope of survival and were suprised that she lasted as long as she did.

    The loss of someone so young and full of life just gets you every time :(. My niece seems to be handling it ok but I worry for her. I just don't think most kids her age have lost someone so close to them that wasn't sort of expected I guess (like an elderly grandparent, etc.). She realizes that many people her same age have lost far more (parents, siblings, even children of their own), but I hurt for her and just hope that she can cope with it ok.
  18. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    very sorry to hear this...

    as to people being glad they could say good-bye...that is actually huge and very common in terms of helping people to process through their grief
  19. Wannabee

    Wannabee Active Member

    If you see my above post, you will know why this is especially difficult. My amazing uncle passed away very unexpectedly this weekend while on a golfing trip out of town with my dad. He collapsed on the golf course and never recovered. My 73 year old dad was down on his hands and knees trying for everything he was worth to do CPR and revive him until help arrived, but there was nothing anyone could do. Massive heart attack they said. He was likely dead before he even arrived at the hospital.

    He was my dad's brother and best friend. They were inseperable and honestly, dad isn't doing too well. They lived about 200 yards from each other and saw each other every day. I've never heard my dad cry so hard in my whole life. I don't know that I've ever even seen my dad cry period, much less to the point where he couldn't even speak. My heart just breaks for my whole family. It just still hasn't sunk in yet. I have tried on numerous occasions to describe just how special my uncle was, what an amazing person he was, but there are no words that would do him justice. He was that amazing. It just seems that all of us, my whole family, just cant actually believe he's gone. Dad and his cousin had to drive 10 hours back home, minus one. Such an incrediably sad trip home for them. It will just never be the same. He meant so much to so many.
  20. TinyDancer109

    TinyDancer109 Well-Known Member

    so sorry to hear this story, Wannabee. My condolences and prayers to you and your family - especially your dad.

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