Friday, June 27, 2008

SQ and Sandwich Generation

Turns out, I got a 100 on my research paper on Spiritual Intelligence. This is such a turning moment for me. I have received lots of perfect scores, but this is the first time that a professor has told me what I have been suspecting - that I am doing graduate level work, for a variety of reasons.

I am considering trying to publish some of my papers - not just on spiritual intelligence, but on other things. I haven't freelanced in quite some time, and making multiple usage of the things I'm learning and writing to help support my family and to further my career makes a lot of sense.

My professor also, who has always signed her notes as Dr. X, is now apparently on a first name basis with me. Interesting. Heartening. Exciting. She sent me a link to Jill Bolte Taylor, which I found interesting. She is a brain scientist who studies severe mental illness (which fascinates me as well, in no small part due to living w/ my bipolar (not to define him solely by that!) ex-husband for so many years), and she had a stroke at the age of 37. She discusses how, as a scientist, she was able to note what was happening to her as it happened, and how she had a spiritual awakening during the process. It is fascinating and emotional to watch, at the very least.

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I got a call from my father's nursing home early this week. He has dementia from his own brain aneurism, which occured when I was 4 months old. I had to place him in a locked facility about 3 years ago, in order to keep him safe, as he was wandering and his walking was getting worse as well. He's 81. He has lived for 35 years with this - and only now is completely losing control.

He has been getting more and more aggressive. I believe that he is depressed. He has a real issue with people being in his room, but since all the other residents have dementia as well, they often wander into his room, not knowing any better. He has had some physical altercations in the past but this time he pushed an elderly woman so hard that she hit the wall and hit her head quite hard and had to have an x-ray. She has quite the bump.

If this continues, he may have to go to a geri-psychiatric ward for evaluation and medication changes. I didn't even know such a place existed! He is on a psychotropic med already to keep his mood level and to help him sleep at night, as well as to help him with agitation. (Seroquel). It has worked fairly well, but the last few months he is having these outburts. I am a bit afraid to take him out in July by myself with 3 of my 4 kids.

This sandwich generation thing is so hard. My parents are not, nor have they been, parental in years and years and years my dad since I was 16. My mom...maybe ever, really. I became my father's power of attorney and guardian some years ago, and have worked very hard to help him keep his autonomy. It has been a struggle which ended in this placement, where he will eventually die.

I feel perpetually guilty. If I didn't have kids, if I didn't work, if, if, if...I could take care of him long enough to transfer him out of state. He is so angry at me. He has so many misconceptions and little understanding of what heart and soul I have put into keeping him safe and independent for years. My kids love their grandfather but hate the nursing home and are a little scared of the little old ladies who hover and want to love them to death - they are all so lonely. And we visit so rarely - 4 hours is tough with 4 kids - the youngest at 18 months. I always feel like I'm making excuses, but it is hard. But I miss him.

It's odd though - he is himself when he is violent; when he is angry. He was a passionate, angry, violent man before he got sick, from all accounts. I didn't know him that way, but I could see as a child, that his true self came out when he was angry. It didn't scare me; it made me feel close to him - like I was getting a glimpse of my real dad - the one I never knew. I feel a bit like that now - I hate that he will have to be medicated, but of course he must be, to keep others safe.

He is a walking miracle. An aneurism. 4 brain surgeries. Seizures. 2 heart attacks and needs a quadruple bypass (at least) which he will never have because of his brain damage. He is my dad.

I miss him. I wish I could call him and tell him how successful I am in school. And I could, but he wouldn't really get it. Being an orphaned sandwich child/parent is very lonely at times. It's almost enough to make me believe in God - just for the support - but not quite ;).

1 comment:

Sue Delaware said...

Kelly,

I watched that Jill Bolte Taylor video on Ted, too. It was one of the most powerful media I've watched in years. It made me cry that she was so able to describe what she was feeling as well as how she has processed the whole experience, giving her a greater understanding of the human condition. Truly amazing.

Erica