Advice from Everyone-Knows-the-Answer-Except-Me

I don’t talk about my uncle here much anymore, and part of me is sorry for that, but part of me understands that I’m at a place where I struggle to find humor in the situation. Alzheimer’s is a disgusting, terrible disease, but my uncle and I share the ability to laugh about most things. The last month or so has been hard as we are moving towards the prospect of putting him into the nursing home.

Let me just say that this is never some decision that is taken lightly. While there is a certain kind of relief in the thought, there is also a ton of guilt.

He’s so young to be there.

He could probably hold out here a bit longer.

It’s not that bad, is it?

Yes. Yes it is. And we can’t give him the kind of care he needs here any longer.

But it never fails that everyone else has an opinion on the matter. Let me explain. When you become a caregiver, everyone else knows the answers to all your problems. They’ve all of a sudden got it all figured out. And their vocal. I mean, people will come out of the woodwork to tell you how to improve your life, fix your situation, and best of all, explain what it will be like to care for someone.

Everyone becomes a doctor specializing in Alzheimer’s.

Everyone becomes a life coach.

Everyone knows the answer except me.

So today I’m bringing you the answers, as given to me countless times by people who aren’t in my situation, aren’t caring for a loved one, aren’t dealing with someone with Alzheimer’s, and doesn’t know what the heck they’re talking about.

Thank you, you egotistical jerks for bringing the laughter back.

1. You should come over? I can’t. I’ve got to stay home with my uncle. Oh he’ll be fine. Just let him stay on his own for a bit. He could probably use some time to himself. It’s got to be hard for him with the kids and all around. He’ll appreciate it.

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Yes, well. Let’s just leave the man in the house alone who has hallucinations and sees people that aren’t there. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it when he’s trying to chase the bad guys out of his room alone. Or when he goes up in the attic to try to find his hunting rifles. Or when he gets mad about the invisible people trying to steal his truck. He obviously just needs some alone time. I’ll bring the hallucinations with me so he can get some rest.

2. He’d probably be happier if you let him do some of the things he used to like to do. 

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Of course he would. Tell you what, I’ll pack him up with all his fishing gear and hunting rifles. I’ll dress him in camo and you can just have yourself a blast taking him out to do all the outdoorsy things he used to love. Hell, I’ll even let him drive over and meet you there. . .so you can walk around the woods. . .with a man who can no longer recognize his own reflection in a mirror. Happy hunting.

3. Just put him in a home and move on with your life. You’re too young to be doing this.

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Let me just say how happy it makes me to know that most of the people have this sort of advice. These are the future caregivers. “Just throw them in a home and move on with your life.” Gotcha. I’ll toss my morals, ethics, and soul right into a bag with him. I mean, this is such an easy decision to make, right? Sure. You just make sure you call me when you get older and I won’t beat around the bush. I’ll send you off to Shady Pines in a flash. It’s what you’d want.

4. I talked to him the other day and he seemed just fine. He didn’t even repeat himself much.

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Yes, welcome to the wonders of Alzheimer’s. . .you know. . .that disease we know next to nothing about? Moments of clarity are wonderful little rays of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy mind. You got him on a good day. Good for you! Oh, did he just tell you the same story for the twelfth time? Welcome back to reality.

5. Have you even considered trying him back on medication? He wasn’t on it that long. I think it would benefit him to try again.

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You mean the medications that turned moderately controllable hallucinations into episodes that involved knives and the police being called? Right. I’ll get right on that. . .as soon as my super strength returns and my order of Super Healing Potion comes in from FedEx.

6. Do you know what dementia does to the brain? -Proceeds to give me a long lecture on how the disease effects the brain, the short term memory, emotions, etc.-

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Well aren’t you a happy little font of information. After living with my grandfather who suffered from dementia and now caring for my uncle. . .I really had no clue what this disease was doing, or how it worked. It’s a constant surprise over here. The doctors have told me nothing, and I was never one to learn from my past. It really is good you were here to explain all this to me with your extensive medical knowledge. . .Where did you get your degree again?

7. This can be destructive to a family. You need to just find a way to get him out from your inner circle before it causes problems with the core of the family.

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You don’t say? Get him out of my inner circle? I suppose I should just put him down then, like a dog that might bite my children. In fact, why do we even bother to be caretakers for our sick and our elderly? It’s obvious that it could be draining and cause emotional frustration. We should just stick them somewhere away from us and let them die.

So to all of you who like to have these conversations with  me, I just want to share my and my family’s heartfelt thank you. Now shut up.

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*This post includes a lot of sarcasm. I certainly don’t feel like we shouldn’t care for our sick or elderly, or that they should be euthanized. 

**Also, my uncle has never physically hurt anyone, but part of this disease does involve aggressive behavior, anger management issues, and the belief that everyone is out to “get them”.

Herstory Lesson: If there were a quick fix to every issue, no one would have any problems.

This Year…Happened

Which is crazy to think, you know? That we actually lived -coughsurvivedhack- an entire year.

As a wonderful new friend of mine has so kindly shown me the path, I am following in her hilarious, crooked, mismatched, and possibly tipsy footsteps to a new holiday tradition. If you are interested in this sort of visual Twister game, please, please go visit Hacker.Ninja.Hooker.Spy and her awesome Family Christmas Letter. You will love her, I swear. 

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve written about holiday traditions. But Christmas Happened was more of the slightly funny, but mostly sappy flavor. And since I can’t get through the holidays only baking up one kind of festive holy-crap-I-made-that-and-it’s-actually-pretty creations…I’m here to add my own, traditional Family Christmas Letter.

You know those letters. Those “Look what I did this year” letters. Those “Isn’t my family beautiful and perfect” letters. Those “Aren’t you just so jealous that I have the time to condense my entire fabulous year into 12 pages of ego vomit for your misery pleasure” letters.

They always have a picture like this.
They always have a picture like this.

Merry Christmas! Season’s Greetings! Happy Holidays! Joyous Kwanzaa! Pleasant Hanukkah! God/or Whoever You Do or Do Not Believe in Bless You!  

2013 was a fantastic year for our big, mixed up (we have too many last names to put them all here) family! And as you can see, we’re still working hard on our promotions across Facebook for the freedoms for all religions to worship, or not, as they choose. We’ve added to our list of Things We Post to Make Our Family Block Us: Women’s Rights, Left-Wing Conspiracies, Democrats for Hilary Clinton as President, and Science Does Exist (as does global warming and evolution). I’m happy to report that I’ve gone from almost 300 friends to a overwhelming 27 co-conspirators. We have been so blessed.

These sorts of Facebook photo shares worked well, in case you were wondering.
These sorts of Facebook photo shares worked well, in case you were wondering.

The year started out with so many resolutions. I resolved myself to the fact that I was going to have to be a writer, whether I wanted to or not. The voices simply would not leave me alone, and so I chose to accept them. I started three different blogs, with one who managed to survive to today. My little baby, Badass Women of History is still alive, but struggling. Let’s all say a prayer, have a moment of silence, or ignore this completely if you’d like for her. Hopefully she’ll be out of therapy and on her feet again in 2014!

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I even enrolled back in college, discovered the world was still full of young morons we are happily promoting to statuses allowing them to make important decisions for future generations, and so one semester later…I escaped. That’s right. I ran for the hills and left behind the digital world of online learning, where intelligence doesn’t matter and grammar is a myth. Yes, the world of week long discussions on “Who’s your favorite President of all time?” and “What was cool about that character?”. The magical land where you lose letter grades for writing half a page over the required two pages for a final paper, or mantras like “Who needs to understand the meaning behind this story? NO ONE!” are chanted on every available chat room corner. Yes. I escaped.

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I even started a diet this year. Five times! It was an amazing process. I kept watching the Kellogg’s commercials and then I would run drive to the store (this diet never mentioned exercise) and buy up all the crap is that cardboard? tasty Kellogg’s flakeys I could find. Yum. I gained ten pounds this year. I’m so proud of me.

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March was exciting. I published my second book. I sold two copies of it. Which is eight less than my first book. I knew I was on my way then, and immediately set out to work on book number three. I mean, the only way I had to go was down, and with some really hard work and perseverance…I did it. Book three came out in October and I’ve sold…wait…ZERO COPIES. I know. It’s so exciting!

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Towards the end of April we had a bit of excitement. I even documented the conversation, just so I could remember the wondrous feelings of panic, stress, and oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-puke.

Me:   My brother’s coming home in June.

The Man:  Yeah? Cool.

-Silence-

The Man:  -Playing his video game.- We’ll get married while he’s home. Go ahead and set that up.

Me:   –Insert my own Eyebrow of Doom. (It was a rare sighting, purely brought on by immense shock and unable to be viewed again.)- Whaaaaa?

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So the wedding planning began…the next day. It was a beautiful affair (no sarcasm here folks…it was very pretty). The night before was a lot of fun. The man, the brother, and the friend/crazy stressed-out wedding planner and myself got to decorate the entire space the night before. The man was sick. He got dizzy on a ladder and I got to send him home, to fall asleep without me, while I continued to fill this space with as much green, orange, and yellow as humanly possible.

I only had one major freak out before the ceremony, so I count that as a complete win. And I’m not responsible for any of the therapy I may have induced when I lost it in the kitchen and stood there in my dress, demanding they bring me The Man while tears drew streams of make-up down my beautiful, blushing cheeks.

Bring. Me. Mak. NOW!
Bring. Me. Mak. NOW!

I only managed to hurt myself by accident once this year, and it involved a slip-in-slide, so it wasn’t completely my fault. I mean, in my defense, the year before I played on it all day and I was fine. How was I to know that after four or five slips I would be reduced to a hunched over, whining pile of shit-I’m-that-old. I may have had a birthday this year, but I’m stopped counting them. Everyone else got older though. Everyone.

The husband and I both hurt ourselves on purpose. I let a few men stab me, and he let a big Irish guy poke him. I don’t judge…I let the Irish guy poke me, too.

Our wedding rings. These didn't hurt.
Our wedding rings. These didn’t hurt.
The fembot tattoo...which also did not hurt.
The fembot tattoo…which also did not hurt.
These hurt worse than labor.
These hurt worse than labor.

For some reason I believed that the massive canvas that is my thigh wouldn’t be painful. I wore the Cone of Shame on this one. That’s okay though. I wore the Cone so much this year, I should have gotten an award for it. I may have actually, but since this year was the year the husband domesticated me, and since I suck at that as much as I do, the award is probably lying under the pile of clothes that has never found its way into the closets and drawers…or maybe behind that stack of books that we now use like an extra coffee table. It might even be under the bed. I don’t know what’s under the bed anymore. I think it is alive and it eats things…like my award.

So yes, the husband domesticated me. He started a new job and I quit mine. I mean, I don’t need a job. I’m a woman. My power increases tenfold when I enter a kitchen. I become an unstoppable force, surrounded by a cloud of flour and spitting pure vanilla extra into the eyes of my enemies. I am so glad the husband noticed my wonderful disposition towards this lifestyle, and I’m learning my place, truly.

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I even got all the good kitchen stuff for my bridal shower, including the waffle maker I use specifically to crush cinnamon rolls down into crunchy, made-for-my-thighs goodness. I went on an absolute baking spree, and even did a halfway good job of it. Enough so that I looked into what it would take to open my own bakery. That’s right…I was going to start my own business. I am so good at following through with everything I start…I’m still home with no bakery. You figure it out.

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But those cooking supplies are coming in handy, because we’re back in the holiday season, and now that the husband has made it his goal to put us into eternal debt for Christmas, I’m going to need these baking skills I’ve been ignoring mastering.

All in all, it has been a good year. My children are still alive. I haven’t used my “one” (the one chance I have to nail the husband in the face with no threat of retaliation), and I am still the tattooed, dyed, offensive bitch with a backbone that I’ve always been. I wish you the best in whatever holiday you are celebrating and remember…you’ll never quite be as awesome as I am, but that’s okay. I’m just here to give you a visual image of something to strive for.

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You’re welcome.