Stress is a Killer

Let me begin by thanking all of you readers and your thoughtful comments and suggestions when it came to my mom and her care. As of 5 days ago, she is finally in a safe place. Unfortunately, it was after an incident where “Jack” had to be asked, by the police, to leave Mom’s house.  This was followed by two weeks of me stopping by every other day, checking on Mom, giving her meds, watching to make sure she ate, and horrible conversations with her about moving somewhere where she could be safe and taken care of.  You can imagine how those went, right? Not good.

After talking with Mom’s nurse and social worker, and having them tell me that it was really ok to lie to Mom and tell her she had an appointment when, in fact, she was moving, I ended up doing just that. The facility Mom has moved to also knew what was happening and they’ve had to do this type of thing before. The move is for the safety of the person. My emotional health was irrelevant but Mom’s safety was the most important thing I had to keep focusing on. And I did.

Once we were inside the facility and the director told Mom she was staying there for a while, Mom first got angry and headed for the door. Eventually she followed us to her room, sat on a bed, put her head in her hands and sobbed.

It was absolutely fucking awful.

In many ways this was worse than in January, when Mom moved to a different facility. Maybe because I was by myself this time? But in other ways I knew in my heart and soul that this was the best we could do. She would be safe from herself and at least one other. She would be eating 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. She would have other people around to talk with and to. And she’s only 25 minutes from where I live and much closer to other members of the family.

After driving back to her home that day and getting many of her things, then visiting a bit with her after placing family photos around her room, I left her in a good space. She was listening to music with other residents and was enjoying herself.  Then on the ride home, I had a sudden pain in my pancreas.

I’ve had pancreatitis twice now and I know what it feels like. I wondered if last year’s bout was stress-induced, and now, I really think it was and is. I didn’t think I internalized my stress. I talk about it, commiserate with those in similar situations, and attempt to exercise most days to relieve my stress. Obviously I’m doing something awful to my body and I have no idea how to handle my stress. So, to avoid going into the hospital, I’ve drastically reduced my food intake. I’ve lost 4 pounds in 4 days. As much as I’d like to lose a little weight, this isn’t the way I wanted to do it.  But it’s worked so far in keeping me out of the hospital. (I really think this might be some bad karma coming into play. I’ve tried to keep my weight down for my entire adulthood, obsessed over it for too many days to count, and now, here I am, losing weight and not really wanting to. It’s like the Gypsy from Stephen King’s Thinner is after me!) Not sure I can keep up with it for many more days, so I’m slowly increasing my food and testing how I feel. This doesn’t mean I’ll stay out of the hospital, but I have hope. I’m also running a mile a day thanks to Runner’s World “Summer Run Streak” challenge and my friend, Sonya. It might not be the wisest thing to do on such little food, but it gets me outside and out of my head for those few minutes. (Make that 12 minutes since I am definitely running slowly.) I’ve also attempted meditating (that helps get me to sleep) and have tried to take LOTS of deep breaths.



Stressed much?

One of the most difficult things about Mom being where she is are the phone calls. Yesterday Mom had such a great day and told me she was “happy” to be there. That was pretty amazing and something I never heard when she was at the other place. And yet at 8:30 this morning I got a phone call from Mom, asking me to pick her up. I told her she needed to stay there. When she asked why, I told her because of her dementia. She then denied she had it. I should have known better. I never should have brought that up and just said she needed to stay for her health for a few days. Today I learned that this is called a “fiblet”. It is a “necessary white lie to redirect loved ones or discourage them from detrimental behavior.” The term “geriatric fiblet” was created at the 2000 World Alzheimer’s Conference. Who knew?

I went back to see Mom this afternoon since she asked me to visit during that awful phone call. I said I would. My husband told me I didn’t need to go. We had already had an eventful day, going to Mom’s house and taking care of a few things there, as well as dealing with the stress of having to meet “Jack” and hand over the cat. But since Mom is only 25 minutes away, I decided that I needed to do it for me. So I did and it was a brief but lovely visit. So tonight I can sleep well (barring no pancreas pain) and not worry.

That is the hope anyway.


Enjoy the Journey

I just read an article in June’s issue of Runners’ World about some runners that do not like to race and how they keep motivated.  After reading the first few paragraphs, I realized I was holding my breath.  Had I found other people like me? Were there really other runners out there who disliked racing as much as I do, but still feel ok about calling themselves runners?

When I first started running, I thought I could  only call myself a runner if I kept racing.  I’ve tried to be in at least one race a year, just to keep that title of “runner.”  But maybe I don’t need to do that.  Maybe it’s ok to just….run.

I’m often asked to run 5Ks for local charities or even the friendly, “Hey, let’s run a road race next time I’m in town!”  As much as I love getting these requests, I also inwardly cringe each time I hear them.  It’s not that I don’t want to help out my local charity or that I don’t want to spend time with my friends, it’s just that I really, really don’t enjoy racing.

I get so nervous beforehand that I think I’m going to be sick. Which is silly, I know. I stay in the back of the pack and it’s not like I’m really competing with anyone but myself.  And yet….I always pick one person that I try to beat.  (And let me tell you, when the person you pick is old enough to be your mother and she kicks your ass in the race? It’s a very humbling experience.)

And then there’s the cost of the races.  If I want to help out a local charity or a large research foundation, then I’ll send them a check. I don’t need swag and I really don’t need to pay $35 to run 3.1 miles, since I run that most mornings right in my lovely town of Levant. It only costs me the price of getting up a half hour earlier than usual.   I didn’t have to sit through traffic to do it or attempt to find a parking place that costs an additional $10.

It’s true that when I run my daily 5Ks, I don’t get that feeling of comradery from all the other runners at the race, but if you know me then you know that I’m not usually one for that kind of thing anyway.  If I really wanted that, I could join a runners group or find someone in my area to run with.

Then there’s the motivation factor.  Admittedly, having signed up for races in the past certainly helped get me out the door on those cold, rainy mornings.  Even when I was training for my own half-marathon, I still got out the door and trained my butt off because I set a goal and wanted to complete it by a certain date.  But now that I’ve done that, I realize that just having a goal is good enough for me.  I actually *enjoy* running.  It’s never easy and often not fun, but there are so many moments that consist of pure joy for me. So when you add up all the good, it drastically outweighs the bad.  And typically, that’s all the motivation I need.

I’m not dissing anyone who likes to race or even those that think you should race to keep motivated.   To each her own.  Do what you need to do. But like the piece in Runners’ World said, don’t forget to “enjoy the journey.”   No matter if that journey takes you to a finish line or through your neighborhood.   Just do what makes you feel good.