Knee Deep in Gators

Well, here we are again.

Writing done this week: Zero. None. Nada. Mainly because I’ve had the same quantities of time and most importantly, sleep.

It’s not literally true that I haven’t slept in a week. But it’s functionally true, because I’ve gotten just enough sleep to function. Function in the manner of a George Romero zombie, that is. I can shuffle with the best of them. Moan incoherently. I’d go forth in search of living flesh, but frankly I’m exhausted and I’d rather just sit here and watch old Saturday Night Live videos until a cheeseburger manifests within easy reach.

Providing care to an elderly parent with dementia is the most draining thing I’ve ever done. You must remain calm and compassionate, even when you find the floor covered in smears of cat food (or worse), or you hear the tell-tale creak of a door opening at 2 AM. You can’t allow yourself to get angry, or become confrontational. You can’t rely on reasoned discussions, any more than you can come to a gentleman’s agreement with a hornet-stung wildebeest.

You must simply clean up the mess, close the door, and keep smiling.

I’m not at all suited for this role. But, as I said, here we are.

I realize that blogging about this is probably not a good idea. But I can’t think of anything else. This situation is akin to a maelstrom — it consumes you, heart and soul, as I’m sure some of you know from your experiences. Bit by bit, your life drops away, pulled down by the spiralling chaos that is always hungry and never satisfied.

I don’t mean to make it sound as though I am all alone. I’m not. Karen is here too, sinking with me. Our lives are both in upheaval, with no clear end in sight.

The existing system for long-term care makes things worse. You can’t simply pull up to a rest home and say ‘Here, please take care of my father.’ The hurdles are high. Finances. Paperwork. Approvals. Availability.

Which means dealing with a horde of bankers and lawyers and doctors, all of whom must be satisfied with offerings of time you don’t have and money you won’t have by the end of the appointment.

It’s a helluva thing, watching everything a loved one earned or built or saved get vacuumed up like so many french fries from a rental car’s floorboards. Worse is the ignominious twist of fate that leaves a good, decent man in such a wretched state at the end of his life. As a wise man once said, probably before he was consumed by a burning ball of jet fuel falling inexplicably from the sky, there ain’t no justice.

This experience has made me appreciate how good I had it before. I miss sitting down to the keyboard and channeling Mama Hog. I miss watching Darla casually mow down bad guys. I miss Markhat’s quips, his easy calm, his ready self-assurance.

One day I hope to regain all that. It won’t be today, or tomorrow, or the day after.

I suppose Mama Hog would advise me that, when one is knee-deep in alligators, one should “run like Hell fer dry land with no time wasted weepin’, boy, them gators don’t give a rat’s ass for yer whinin.’” And that’s good advice, because there really isn’t another option. Do what you have to do, and keep doing it, for as long as necessary.

Next week I’ll blog about ghosts or something interesting. Thanks for sticking with me.