Foxy Mama's Blog

Stories, musings and ramblings from the front porch. Pull up a rocking chair and sit for a spell...


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Bird on a wire...

This morning while reading the news on my computer I heard the unmistakable sound of a cardinal. My computer is in the corner so it only requires a small turn of my head to see out of the double windows. There he was, resplendant in his jaunty red suit, sitting on the telephone wire. Oh how bright and handsome he was. What a wonderful way to start a day. Seeing a Cardinal is supposed to be a symbol of something positive but for the life of me, I can’t remember what. Of course that’s folklore anyway…

A week ago we were supposed to travel down to New Jersey for an “overnight” so The Rock could see his folks’ old house for a last time and look through stuff to see if there was anything he wanted and to finally come to terms with the fact that his dad is gone. With the way our lives have been going this year he hasn’t really had any time to sit and reflect upon his loss and we figured this might help. We had reservations at a nice hotel and the dog had reservations at the doggy hotel with an additional request for a bath while he was there. Well, those plans were short-lived.

The night before we were to go, we were preparing to leave for a visit to see older sonny in the hospital, as usual, when the Old Guy suddenly collapsed and keeled over, unable to get up. Every time he tried he collapsed again. His rear quarters wouldn’t work at all and when he did gain some footing he was splay-legged. His eyes were wild and weird…sort of whirly looking. He got sick and threw up and was unable to stand. We thought he’d had a stroke or a terrible seizure. We made a quick call to the vet and learned we’d have to go to the next town to see the vet on emergency duty as it was just after hours and our vet wasn’t on call that night. Then we called younger sonny and asked him to give us a hand. He had just come in from errands but was quite willing and to his credit, he came over quickly.

The Old Guy weighs 56 pounds and we were still upstairs in my art room when this happened so he had to be gotten down the double hall stairs and then another short staircase to the outside. That was a trick and no matter what they tried, the Old Guy foiled it and yet he couldn’t get down the stairs himself, even with help. In the end The Rock picked all 56 heavy pounds of the Old Guy up in his arms and carried him down with little resistance. It was clear that the dog instinctively knew this indignity was in his best interest so he cooperated.

I won’t relate all the details here. Suffice it to say that 2 vets, 2 days, multiple blood tests and $326.99 later, the verdict was Canine Peripheral Vestibular Disease. He was a dizzy dog. He couldn’t eat, drink, walk, or be left alone and for 4 days straight The Rock had to carry the Old Guy up and down all the stairs so he could relieve himself and he had a tough time getting him to stand long enough to do that. He had to take Dramamine. We cancelled the trip to New Jersey, the nice hotel, the doggy accommodations, a couple of trips up to the hospital to visit older sonny and tended our loopy little buddy to the best of our abilities. For a while it looked as if he’d never get his sea legs under him again or regain his confidence but just when The Rock’s body started to rebel the Old Guy started to recover enough to cautiously and with help, get down all those stairs again. Thank goodness! In fact, he’s made what we consider a pretty nice recovery and seems like his old waggy tailed self again.

On another front, older sonny has, after four and a half months, been released from the hospital to an intermediate care facility (sort of a group home) in our town and it came as a totally unexpected shock. We don’t feel that he was ready and although it’s nice not to have to make the 102 mile round trip every other night to see him, we’d like some assurance that this is in his best interests. Thanks to their chemical lobotomy he’s not able to function very well and we’re really concerned. We’ve requested a meeting with the doctor and team up there to find out what’s what. We’d like to know their criteria and also what we can expect in the coming months…

When older sonny went into the hospital the voice signals were calling the shots and making his life a hell but he was able to have a conversation during the short periods when they weren’t as strong and he could walk and talk fairly normally. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s a very intelligent person. Now when he sits, he jerks and “pops” like an evil puppet master is pulling intermittently on his invisible strings, he’s clumsy and stumbling and he can’t put two words together and get them to come out coherently. He can’t concentrate and he has trouble tracking a conversation. To add insult to injury, he still has voices making him miserable. I feel like my son (his “essence” anyway) has been stolen. And yet he still suffers. We will persevere. Maybe we’ll conquer this foe yet… There is always room for hope. I have to believe that or I will go mad.

Today is our anniversary. The Rock and I have been blissfully married for 23 years. I promised him 23 years ago that he’d never be bored. He says that in 23 years he has never been bored. Neither of us had ever suspected then what our lives would be like together now but we both agree that even with all of the stuff we’ve been through together, we’d willingly do it again. I’m blessed!! Together we will do what we have to do to get through what we have to but we’ve both agreed that a little boredom wouldn’t be such a bad thing right about now. A vacation wouldn’t hurt either…


Monday, August 08, 2005

Tyranny from within…

I just realized that my blog is one year old today. Is it what I wanted it to be? I don’t know. I had never thought to have a blog so when younger sonny set it up and presented it to me a year ago, I didn’t even know what to do with it, let alone have a plan. I’ve enjoyed writing this blog…until recently. Here is where I thank you for coming over and being so loyal. I’ve let you all down lately, I know. A friend of mine sent me an email last week that said: “Geez! Y'know... I go ahead and bookmark your world-famous blog and check it most mornings and what do I see? No updates since July 24th! Boy, oh boy...”

He’s right. I haven’t written for awhile. I haven’t felt like it. Right now I feel as if my creativity has been sucked right out of me. It’ll come back one of these days I’m sure, but right now, well, I’m sort of nowheresville. Know what I mean? I can’t write when I’m feeling down and a lot of friends and family are wondering if I’m still alive and why don’t I respond to their notes? Maybe you’re one of those people. The thing is, I can write a long epistle but then you’ll just end up feeling crummy too.

Oh, we’ve had some good things happen lately, which I would have liked to have shared with you but then before I could get it down, a deluge of “other stuff” has come along to swamp and bury us. I will eventually get around to writing about some of the nifty stuff. We have celebrated (if you want to call it that) every holiday and special day for our family in one hospital or another, starting with last Christmas. I have never eaten Christmas dinner in a hospital before, let alone a locked ward. This year my older son has spent more than 5 months in a hospital. On April 7th, my 60th birthday he was admitted to the state psychiatric hospital and he’s still there now. It looks like it may be awhile yet before he’s released. It also looks like we may end up getting to know a lot more about electro-convulsive therapy before long. The future is not looking very positive for him or for us right now. It is a heartbreak.

My son is a handsome, sensitive and very intelligent man but in this case his intelligence is actually working against him right now. He has been diagnosed as schizoaffective, which is a fancy way of saying schizophrenia with additional problems. His case is complicated and his delusions are strong and elaborate. He is not responding successfully to any of the myriad psychiatric drugs, including the main one he's on now which was touted as the one which is different and would work where the others failed. There are no miracles here.

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe brain disease which is classified as the most devastating and disabling of all mental illnesses by the National Institute of Mental Health. Sufferers often experience hallucinations and paranoia, and may have difficulty communicating with, and participating in, the outside world because schizophrenia interferes with the way a person thinks, speaks, expresses emotions, and behaves. It does not mean a split or multiple personality. The cause is not yet completely understood, and scientists are working to comprehend the chemical imbalances in the brain that may result in schizophrenia.

The hospital is an hour away…one way. We go up to visit on an average of every other evening. A minimum visit would take at least 3 hours of our day, although we try to spend more than an hour usually. This is particularly difficult for The Rock who must work every day and will soon be teaching chemistry classes at the college again 2 nights a week in addition to his regular job as a chemist. Occasionally, friends go to visit.

The hospital is a modern, efficient and very beautiful building with rolling landscaped lawns and looks like everything but what it actually is. The staff is friendly and efficient. The doctors and social workers, etc. are excellent. Every effort possible is made to try to construct some quality of life and dignity for poor, often forgotten, tortured souls. The people we’ve dealt with are patient, understanding and accommodating. They are special people. It is still a place of broken dreams and sad, dispirited souls who are unable to take joy from life.

My son is never alone. The people who inhabit his head hate him and shout at him and threaten him constantly. It is difficult for him to concentrate anymore. We have to compete with these “voices” or signals as he calls them, and often lose out to them as they are loud and aggressive and formidable opponents for his attention. He once told me I should tell you about his story and what is happening to him and what “these people” are doing to him. Alas, I could not since what is happening to him is a terrible illness and “these people” do not exist, no matter how much they torture him and render his life a hell.

I love my son and it is hard to stand by and watch him suffer and see his beautiful mind erode and his body, full of necessary drugs, become clumsy and unfunctionable. He is in a safe place and that’s a small comfort since several times he came close to harming himself irrevocably. It is a constant worry. He struggles to maintain but the fight is a tough one and he is being worn down. So are we.

So on this first blogaversary I thank you for stopping in and I’m grateful for all my blog-friends who have been so loyal. I have enjoyed getting to know you and I shall try not to treat you so shabbily in the future. I have taken respite in your kind words and sharing of laughter. At least now you know why sometimes there are big holes in my posting routine and hopefully, will not give up. We still have a sense of humor and try to keep that working for us. I do have so many good stories I’d like to share. And I will…

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