Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It's Not Taxes...

My father-in-law died last Saturday. It was not a surprise as he was 85 years old and suffering from the end stage of Creutzfeldt-Jakob’s Disease. It was not a pretty or pleasant death, and a swift end was the best outcome. I am glad that I have reasonable certainty that he did not feel any pain, and that he was in competent medical care at the time.

While no one was surprised, the rapidity of the progress of this disease was astounding. Within 6 weeks, he went from being able to dine out with his wife and make minimal conversation, to word salad and dementia at 5 weeks, then to bizarre behavior and incontinence at 4 weeks, to an inability to walk without assistance or sign his name at 3 weeks, to losing the ability to swallow, and seizures at 2 weeks, and then death. I have never seen anything this swift before in my life.

I am the youngest in my family, and my parents were the youngest in theirs. I have seen a lot of elderly people on the slow road to death, via Alzheimer’s, senile dementia, cancer, and the like. I have attended a lot of funerals. I have seen my grandparents, aunts, uncles, even cousins to their final resting places. I buried my stepmother 5 years ago, and two of my remaining three aunts have passed away since then. I am no stranger to dying nor to death.

Nor am I a stranger to the pettifogging, rumor-generation, and general foolishness that generally ensues when a great many family members try to stick their fingers in the pie and stir things up. It has begun, and I have upped my daily yoga time from ½ hour to 45 minutes. I don’t think it’s enough. I may have to add some time in a sensory deprivation tank or in primal scream therapy. Frankly, that’s starting to sound more and more appealing by the moment and standing out in the yard hollering just might do me a world of good.

I’m just too close to this one, in the wrong way. I get to be downwind of everything my husband is receiving, and I have no authority, nor am I the one getting the phone calls. I get a lot of third-hand word farts that are bothering my spouse, and a few background eddies that circle through tertiary family members, blow up into tempests, and then it turns out there isn’t even a teapot, but people sure did make a fuss. Today was an especially blustery day.

There’s dithering over when, and who will be doing what, and if the service should be put back so this distant family member can make it, or that long-time friend, or whatever. There was, but luckily is no more, dithering over the resting place. There’s fretting and consternation over the widow, who, as far as I can tell, is doing just fine and has lots of friends and neighbors helping her out with learning to be on her own. God forbid anyone should say such a thing to the fretters and worriers, though! Heavens above.

Ack. I need to come up with a meditation phrase, something calmative, like industrial-strength word Valium to intone to myself when all this dust kicks up. I’d like something gracious and soothing to say to the worriers, too. I’ll take any suggestions. Even bad ones. Especially bad ones, as they’ll probably make me laugh.

Any takers?


KarenK said...

How about this:

"Remember the flight attendant's advice... you must put on your own oxygen mask first."

There are many many more suggestions and good solid words of advice here:

And if you know a good massage therapist = gold. Good luck! Hang in there.

BoS said...