I’ve been the primary caregiver for family members, since forever. My dad was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer in 1994. He would come to my house after treatment (he did a very brutal chemotherapy regimen in order to buy more time). He didn’t want people to see him that way, because he was very ill and tired after his infusion . I took him to doctors appointments, scans and tests. There was the public cancer dad, and then the private one.
A few years after he died, it became evident my grandma couldn’t be left alone. She had a host of heart problems, and dementia seemed to be setting in. She needed full on attention. Without really thinking about it, I quit my job, sold my place and a lot of stuff, and became a granny nanny. To me, it was a no brainer.
Life went on for me after she died following a massive cerebral infarction. I got older, and so did my mom. She developed health issues that required more supervision. At the time, my sister decided partying in Morgantown, WV was more important so I was tasked with moving my mother 1300 miles away to my home. It’s been a roller coaster ride since, with a lot of hospital stays for her, and a lot of introspection for me. There’s a lot of baggage there that needs to be claimed.
While I tend to be a lone wolf, I also have this strong sense of responsibility. I feel obligated to do certain things, like care for family members, sometimes to my own detriment. There’s a lot of heavy stuff that has weighed me down over the years. Guilt is most prominent. Family can be master manipulators.
After a spectacular flame out living with my sister, my mother moved back into my house Easter Monday last year. For the most part, medically she had been doing well. On my son’s 13th birthday, she wound up hospitalized with some sort of infection. Then her doctor changed her medicine and she wound up really sick and in the hospital. In between, I was dealing with my own health issues, hospitalizations and surgery.
Last Friday, while returning home from a doctor’s appointment, my mother fell on the steps in my house. It was witnessed by myself and my son. It was pretty traumatic for both my Jedi and myself. I’ve had nightmares over the last week about it. I’m sure it’s bothering him too, but he lacks the verbal acuity to express it.
She wound up breaking her femur. If there’s a bone no one should break-most especially a chronically ill 71 year old-it’s your femur. She’s taken to the hospital, and orthopedics is consulted. As the doctor is explaining what will happen over the next few days, his phone rings.
His ring tone? Ball & Chain by Social D.
Somehow, we got into a discussion on SoCal bands. He’s from the OC, originally, and grew up on the same diet of music that I did behind the Zion curtain. There’s a jet stream (actually van stream, back then) that led bands from LA across the desert, into the mountains, dropping them into Deseret for a few gigs, then onto bigger and better things. This happened every 6 months or so, like a train going down a track. In 1984-85 alone, I saw Black Flag at least 3 times (I believe twice with the Minutemen) and one of Rollins’ first spoken word shows. That was the same with Saccharine Trust, Agent Orange, Dead Kennedys, the Descendants, and countless other bands.
What originated as a discussion on surgery devolved into quoting Suicidal Tendencies’ classic Institutionalized. It’s not surprising, since music is such a big part of my life and it weaves it’s way into everything.
In honor of that, I got myself a Pepsi.