Circling The Issues

Last night I flew home from a weekend of visiting my college best friends. I could have driven but got a good deal on a flight and since I am trying to preserve my car until Husband is done with school I thought why not save the miles and fly.

I was laughing about the irony of this decision last night as a huge rainstorm landed smack on top of the airport I was flying into causing us to have to circle the area in the air until we could land. After 30 minutes of circling and knowing Sister K was waiting in the cell phone lot for me worried, we landed safely and I was happy to be back on the ground.

I knew one way or another we would land, it was either going to be in my city or a city nearby. I was praying it would be my city becuase if it was another city I was just imagining the mess I was going to be in trying to make it back. Renting a car/continuing on the plane, how would that work. But when this is happening in a plane you don’t have any choice. You literally have to just “go with the flow.” That is what traveling amounts to most of the time, especially air travel. You have to “go with the flow” because you literally have no control. The pilot is in control and you are in the passenger seat. If you think about it the only thing you have control over is what kind of drink you would like and turning off your electronic devices.

I am feeling like that in life right now. In a way with Mom’s MS I am not in control. She isn’t either, but she has a little more control over how she handles it than I do. But the tricky part is at what point do I have to acknowledge that she may not be utilizing her control in the best manner? At what point do we begin taking part of the control? Realizing allowing her full control is not benefitting her anymore. I know those are dark sentences. Maybe even a bit unspoken territory. But it is there I struggle. There I begin to feel like a bad daughter. Most daughters deal with this battle when their parents are more elderly, their cognitive state more deteriorated, a point when it is more acceptable to take this control. I am a lot younger and so is Mom, yet at the same time Sister K and I feel like we are hitting a wall and needing to take some control. But we struggle because this is also our Mom. I want to respect her but at a certain point I am beginning to think you have to invoke “tough love.”

It’s messy. I am trying to figure that out right now. Talking to Dad about it quite a bit right now. Talking about how to handle certain issues also feels as though we are infringing upon my parents’ marriage. Their way of doing things. The dance they have been doing for the past 31 years. At the same time I also think MS changed the rules on this. This is not just about Mom and Dad but it’s about our entire family. All of us dealing with this together. And the control and the decisions Mom makes impact all of us in one form or another. I feel it’s time for some big decisions. I feel it’s time to stop circling the issues and to just land, as painful as it may be.

How do you handle decisions with your loved ones? Do you believe there is a fine line to be walked in “taking control?” Do you have any crazy stories from plane flights?

Not Crossing The Line

It’s been a bit of a tough week. Thoughts in my head. Words being spoken. Concerns being raised. Its all had me thinking a lot. Thinking about my relationship with Mom. She is still Mom and I don’t want to treat her any differently. I don’t want to give her a free pass when we argue because she has MS and I don’t want to just give in to things because she has MS. At the same time I don’t want to seem like a heartless daughter who doesnt empathize with what she is going through. That’s the part where it gets tough. At what point does the line get drawn. At what point does an argument go from a simple mother/daughter one to a more complicated mother/daughter argument. The kind where if I am not careful I could really hurt Mom’s feelings and become insensitive to the changes going on with her. Changes that I need to learn to accept instead of causing my frustration with them to add one more thing to her plate to be down about. The kind of argument where you forget what the issue is because you are both trying to make a point. I think I am in the midst of walking that line right now.

I am far from perfect. My family is far from perfect. And adding MS to our lives has complicated our family dynamic in ways I can’t even fully articulate. It has also complicated my relationship with Mom. Mom and I had an argument Tuesday. Tuesday was also the day my phone decided to die. I then didn’t talk to her Wednesday and Thursday. Part of that was caused by legitimately being busy but I also knew I could’ve made the time to call if I wanted. I didn’t feel the motivation. I felt I needed a little time to myself to figure out my thoughts. I needed to chill out from our argument. If I got on the phone there was a good chance I wouldn’t be able to let it go.

Today I realized I needed to call Mom. I realized as I was walking to Starbucks today (for free Starbucks refreshers from 12-3) that calling Mom to say hi and catch up was a bigger deal than resolving our argument. I don’t really think our argument will be resolved for awhile. It involves lots of convoluted issues. She has some points, I have some points, some of it has to do with MS, some of it is just life but at the heart of it I don’t think there is going to be a big, grand resolution anytime soon. At the same time it is not such a big issue that it has earned the right to impact communicating with Mom. To impact a part of her life that she really depends on and if I had to admit to myself, I do too. In many ways communicating is one of the biggest things we have right now. I need to put aside my stubborn tendencies to make a point and just move forward.

So today I did. I called Mom. We both acted like nothing had happened. In reality she may not really realize I am still bothered by what happened. Or she could be using her own Mom intuition to realize she needs to not bring it up either. The point though is by not calling Mom today I believe I would’ve crossed the line. Crossed the line into hurting her with my lack of communication. I didn’t want to be that person. I didn’t want to be that daughter. So I took a deep breath and called Mom. Had a great conversation and felt better when I was done. Let the unresolved items stay unresolved. They may stay messy and unresolved. Focus on the moment. And in that moment today I was having a good conversation with Mom.

Do you ever realize sometimes you have to just leave issues unresolved and move forward? Do you believe there is a line in dealing with loved ones between a simple argument and crossing into something that hurts much more? Did anyone else participate in free Starbucks today? What flavor did you try? I got the lime refresher…it was good but a little too lime flavored for my taste. Kinda wish I tried the berry.

It’s A Rambling Kind of Day

My post yesterday sparked a few comments that I loved. Comments that have had my thoughts flying. Flying in all directions. Leading me to think sometimes you need to just ramble. 

To paraphrase the two comments that really stood out to me:

“The real surprise would be if MS did not change your Mom.”
“The changes from MS are happening faster than you can keep up with them.”

I read these and just paused for a minute. They were right. They were spot on. Then a flood of thoughts hit me. A flood of mixed up thoughts.

I thought to myself, duh. Why am I even questioning if Mom is changing. She is obviously changing. MS is a powerful disease. Do I really think this isn’t going to change her? But then this makes me sad. Sad that MS is winning in a way. Changing her in ways I don’t want her to change. Changing her spirit. Changing her attitude. Changes I can’t control and can’t do anything about. Mad because I can’t do anything about these changes. Furstrated because yet again I feel helpless. I take one step forward mentally and then a week later I am taking two steps back. I feel like this is a never ending cycle. Maybe it is. But it is a frustrating one. How am I supposed to deal with this when I can’t get a grasp on what is happening.

Which leads me to the 2nd comment, the changes are happening faster than I can keep up with. Faster because they aren’t all physical. For every physical change there is a mental one. Just as I get a grip on the phsyical, here comes the mental. In the same breath I am beginning to feel like I can deal with the physical changes better than the mental ones. Take away Mom’s ability to walk but don’t take away Mom. Her spirit. Her personality. Start messing with that and I begin to feel like a bigger part of me is being messed with.

And I don’t know how to handle it. I know very few people who can relate. When I think of the other people in my life who are my age, I think of no one who understands what this is like. At the same time there also aren’t many people I would share this part with. This is the not so pretty side. The side that isn’t full of positive and uplifting thoughts. This is the cold truth of what is going on. This is my life. In many ways at times I feel like it is my secret life. A part of MS that I don’t want to share with many people because it is personal. And sad. And saying it out loud to someone other than my immediately family makes it even more real. To watch people’s faces. Watch them struggle for words. I don’t want to go through it. In the end the only other person who gets it from the same perspective is Sister K. She’s the one I can say the dark thoughts to, tell the frustrating conversations without editing any details. It’s Sister K and Me navigating these changes. These changes that are coming faster than we can keep up with. And won’t seem to stop.     

Do you ever feel like sometimes you need to ramble? Do you ever feel like your thoughts are happening faster than you can keep up with? Thank you for your comments. Thankful for the support I have received here.

Unsuccessful Thoughts

Can MS change a person? I am really questioning this because I am wondering about my own Mom. I am seeing changes in her personality that to put it simply, I don’t understand. I feel like an imposter is slowly taking over as Mom. I can’t explain it really, it is difficult and convoluted and again to put it simply, a mess. But I am struggling. I am struggling because this is Mom- my mom. The woman who I have always had on a pedestal. Who is supposed to be invincible, who is supposed to always say the right thing, who is supposed to listen, who is supposed to be there. All of a sudden things are changing. I don’t know why and I don’t know what is causing them to change. Is it just the simple pain of growing up, I don’t think so. Am I asking for too much, again I don’t think so. But something is strained. I feel stressed about what that something is- I am trying to put my finger on it and struggling to do so. Maybe if I can figure it out I can figure out how to deal with it. Maybe there is no way to handle this. Maybe it’s just life. Maybe I am searching for an answer that doesn’t exist.  

But I continue to wonder, can MS change a person? What do you think? How do you handle changes in people?

Disconnected

It is a dark afternoon. My cell phone has died. Not in the sense that it has a dead battery but I believe it has actually died. I am sitting here just staring at its dark screen, its lifeless face and just cannot believe it. So sudden. I didn’t even see it coming. It just started acting crazy, I restarted it several times and then it just shut itself off for good.

But in a way with my phone powered down, I feel a bit powered down. I feel a bit disconnected from the world. This makes me a little uneasy but also a little lonely. I know it’s sad and it makes me realize how much I rely on this contraption to connect me with the world. How much I have grown to depend on it. It’s lack of presence this afternoon is forcing me to sit quietly with my thoughts. No texting Husband or Sister K, no seeing the blinking red light to alert me to an email. Nothing.

But this feeling of being disconnected is also healthy. I think I do need to be disconnected every once in awhile. Not just from my phone but from the outside world. I need to figure out the kind of adult I want to be, how I want to process emotions and think how I want to handle things without relying on the advice and opinions of others. I need to spend time with me.

I think it is important to remember to take care of yourself, your own thoughts, your own emotions and to check in with them as you care for a loved one. It can very easily become all about them without remembering to be about you too. I will be a better daughter to Mom if I can take a step back from Mom’s MS, disconnect from the world and reconnect with me every once in awhile. Thanks to the death of my phone I am having that opportunity this afternoon.

Do you feel attached to your cell phone? Do you believe in taking time to disconnect and reconnect to improve yourself? Has your phone ever just died? Wish me luck as I head to the Sprint store after work.

Sometimes Patience isn’t a Virtue

“Patience is a virtue.” I don’t remember when I first learned this phrase but it is one that resurfaces continuously, especially during moments where I am indeed lacking patience. The hard part is distinguishing when the time is up for patience. When it’s time to start forcing an issue a little more. When it’s time to stop standing by and patiently waiting anymore.

This is pretty much my natural inclination all the time. To not be patient. To get issues solved immediately. To get problems resolved as soon as possible. But Mom’s MS continues to force me to be a little more patient. Emphasis on the little. Ultimately I can make suggestions to Mom all day, we all can, but it is her body and her health. But there is a line. A line we teeter on the edge of constantly. When we have been patient. When we have waited for Mom to make a certain decision, come to a certain realization and it has not happened. A line that separates not saying anything and saying something. From ignoring an issue to bringing it up. Crossing this line immediately makes you the bad guy. It makes you more aggressive no matter how calm you are. It leads to difficult conversations. Difficult moments. Moments that bring out a mixture of emotions. Emotions in Mom and emotions in us. Moments where you don’t know what to say. Moments where you are fighting to stay calm. Fighting to remain rational. Trying not to give in but at the same time going round and round in a conversation. A conversation that ultimately still has no resolution. Other than explaining to Mom how you feel, it goes nowhere. It does not lead to a resolution. It takes us right back to where we started. It’s as if we never crossed the line to begin with. No positive result from all the effort put in.

Another expectation broken: If you put forth the effort, you will achieve a positive response. Lesson learned: That’s not always the case.    

I do not feel that “patience is a virtue” but I also do not know what to feel. I feel a mixture of emotions. Anger being the biggest one. Anger at this situation. Frustration that Mom won’t listen to what we are saying. Confusion as to where we go from here.

*In case you can’t tell we are approaching a tough issue with Mom. One which I struggle to reveal on here because I do not want this to become a place where I just vent frustrations directed personally at Mom. But I will say this sums up how I feel about it. I hope you can gather what I am trying to say from my mess of feelings today.

How do you approach tough conversations with family members? Do you believe in just accepting they are never going to do what you want them to do? Do you believe in continuing to push an issue? Do you believe sometimes patience isn’t a virtue?

A Mental Holiday

I have tomorrow off. A mid-week break. Then it’s back to work on Thursday. It is kind of a strange feeling but also kind of nice at the same time. The mid-week holiday provides something to look forward to that is only 2 days away on a Monday instead of the usual 4 days away. At the same time it is also a bit random that we will all be back here after only one day off. But one day is one day and I’ll take it.

I also intend to use this holiday to take a mid-week-mental-break. Sister K and I have been talking a lot about Mom in the past 24 hours. A lot. This is in large part because Sister K has been home the past two days. We are very lucky to have each other because there are certain things about all of this that you can’t express to anyone else. Today on the phone she said, “Okay I can’t talk about Mom anymore.” It was a simple comment but at the same time it packed a lot of punch. It made me take a step back and realize how quickly this can become so consuming without even realizing it.

I am trying to figure out if it is going home that pushes Mom’s MS to the front of our mind or if it is just the nature of what is happening right now. I am reflecting a lot on that today and will probably continue to moving forward. It’s important because Sister K and I have to be careful that this doesn’t consume our lives. At the same time it is very consuming and a big part of our lives. I have to find a balance between the talking about it and pushing it to the back of my mind. 

So tomorrow I am taking a mid-week mental holiday from this. I am going to try to just live and focus on the present. Not focus on or worry about Mom’s MS. Try to give myself a bit of a break.

Wishing you a wonderful 4th of July. What are your plans? Husband and I will be having a lowkey relaxing holiday at home, but we think we may be able to see fireworks from our apartment balcony. Do you like fireworks?

I Really Am A Little Teapot

I am sure you know the popular song, “I’m a little teapot short and stout….” Well today I had a monumental revelation- my life is a teapot. And this teapot that is my life, it is operated at more than than half full on a daily basis from Mom’s MS alone. Consequently if something else major happens in my life it doesn’t just increase the level of tea in the teapot but it will typically reach or exceed its boiling point. 

In a way everyone’s lives are a teapot. But most people operate their teapot daily at 1/4 full. So as issues arise and their level of tea increases it will boil more but it takes a lot to make it boil over. The problem is that on a day where everything else in my life is operating at neutral, my teapot can still boil over very easily from Mom’s MS alone. If she should be having a bad day or there are new issues to deal with, this alone can make it rise. Add on top of that any issues that may come up for me personally and my teapot is boiling over.   

I am learning that MS is very much physical but the mental portion of it can be equally frustrating. And I struggle because MS is so foreign to me. How much is Mom about to do and how much is she truly not able to do? How much wears her out and makes her tired? Could she be trying harder or is she trying as hard as she can? Sister K is home and frustrated because Mom doesn’t want to go do anything. It makes me upset because we want to go do things with our Mom- simple as that. I have talked a lot about that on here recently but I feel like since Mom’s relapse that is one of the hardest areas we are dealing with and adjusting to right now. The conflicting emotions involved when Mom wants to stay home and we want to go do something with her. Take her to a store, take her to lunch, take her to a movie- simple things that we like to do with our Mom.

So, this brings me back to the teapot. The normal feelings that would occur from the lack of being able to do these things doesn’t just make Sister K and me sad, it sends us into frustration. We end up close to reaching our boiling point. We have our normal MS frustrations plus the new ones plus any small issues that are festering in our own lives. We are still growing up, our lives are not very settled and it’s hard. Sister K can be set off by something as simple as boy problems. I can be set off by a simple fight with Husband that I have no patience for- usually over something that really shouldn’t bother me much…have I mentioned I am still in the newlywed category, still trying to adjust to being married? Sister K and I know we aren’t acting rational but at the same time we are having trouble dealing with our emotions and thoughts because there are so many of them about so many different things. Sometimes I wish I could find someone to “tip me over and pour me out…”

Have you ever thought of your life as a teapot? How do you keep from boiling over and manage your stress? Did you love the song “I’m a Little Teapot” as much as I did when you were growing up?