Tag Archive: caregiver


Turgid

I’ve heard certain bodies of water, in particular parts of the Mississippi River, described as having turgid waters, meaning distended and overflowing. The primary definition of turgid is in reference to something that is pompous and overcomplicated, but to me, the word has always had a different connotation, as something that is muddied or unclear, but perhaps I’m thinking of the wrong word.

Using the word turgid in the way to which I have become accustomed, I have to say that since my 10 day trip to Ireland in mid to late June, my world has been somewhat, although not altogether, muddied and unclear. At first after I got back, I simply slept, and jet lag, I’ve discovered, is a very real thing. And since I had six sessions of ECT–Electroconvulsive Therapy, in October of last year, I’ve put on 35 to 40 lbs, and with the body slowing down, so has the mind. I’ve heard that ECT is supposed to reboot the brain, and that it is quite effective, and may indeed prevent future hospitalizations, but I’ve had to get used to things being different in how I function.

With ECT is expected some short term memory loss, and indeed, much of October and November of last year are a haze, but I’ve had some difficulty retrieving older memories as well, and I even developed a bit of a stammer, a kind of stuttering that comes out when I’m overtired, overstressed, nervous, or just overwhelmed. They just don’t tell you these things when you sign on to have an electrical current passed through your brain, that after you’ve had six carefully controlled induced seizures there might be serious side effects in how you think and process information. I do, however, remember them bringing me upstairs just as soon as the anesthesia had worn off, and having them get me to practice writing my name. For someone who hopes to be a published author someday, this activity has stuck out in my brain as being especially relevant.

The good news is that I’m once again hopeful about my future, hopeful that with effort and determination, I can achieve my goals, graduate from Northwestern with an MFA in creative writing, and indeed finish and publish a novel. At that time I had lost that faith in my abilities and had become overwhelmed by trying to care for my older, handicapped cousin who is wheelchair bound and morbidly obese, unable to take care of those activities of daily living that you and I take for granted. The phrase, “Physician, heal thyself,” has seemed especially pertinent, and I’ve realized that if I don’t manage my own health and well being, I won’t be able to be there for someone else. Fueling the fog of my thought process was my feeling that I just couldn’t cope with the responsibilities of being able to care for my cousin who had become reliant on my for her well being.

I’ve slowly crawled out of the turgid waters of my brain, and resumed my place among students, hoping that I can regain my abilities to think my way through a plot, even if it’s only to plot my own trajectory through life.

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Who Wants Responsibility?

I’m a caregiver for my mother’s cousin, and she’s been admitted to a nursing home for rehab, the second time in six months. Last time, she was “incarcerated” for six weeks, and this time around it looks to be the same.

You would think that I would be able to really relax and enjoy my free time, time without responsibilities or accountability to anyone or anything, but that’s not been the case. In truth, I’ve been in a kind of funk. I think I miss the companionship and the need to get up and care for someone other than myself. Two days ago I went to bed at 10:30pm and finally got up at 4pm the next afternoon. Last night was a bit better: I went to bed at 8:30pm, woke up just in time to see the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup at 10pm, stayed up watching the second Sherlock Holmes movie, woke again at 5am, but decided it was far too early to greet the day, and finally got up and started my day around noon. I can, perhaps, blame a bit of my depression on the weather. In the Chicagoland area we’ve had a slew gloomy days in a row recently, and even had a severe storm with a tornado warning blow through here yesterday. Still, not everything can be chalked up to bad weather.

Much as I hate to admit it, I think I rely as much on my cousin as she relies on me. Though I’m in grad school, it is she who gives my day focus. My school schedule doesn’t require that I get up early–so I’ve had no compelling reason to get out of bed. I was thinking as I walked the dogs today that very few people at the end of their life will say they haven’t slept enough. Okay, maybe there are a few hearty souls out there who could use more sleep, but I don’t particularly like them anyway. I first heard the saying, “I can sleep when I’m dead,” when I lived in LA and worked in TV. Despite its laissez faire reputation, people in LA, at least those in the entertainment industry, work really hard, and scrimp on sleep.

I guess this blog is just me musing on what it’s going to take to motivate myself to get out of bed and start my day, my effort to find a reason for being outside of being a caregiver for someone else. When, for that matter, did the term caregiver even evolve? My solution, I suppose, is to ride out the proverbial storm, and create reasons to start my day.