Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Who will win?...

I’ve been trying to write a post for some time now. Each time I add one to the blog I vow to myself not to go so long between postings, but time gets away from me and I find I’m always playing “catch-up.” Things were always bad when Riley was drinking constantly, consistently and predictably. Now that his body is not-so-functional from all the years of abuse, I find my life to be even more complicated than ever.

One of the medical professionals has told me that Riley’s dementia level is rated at 50% and another tells me he is more than that. I’m not sure what all the percentages mean, but I do know that living with him sober yet not rational is tiring.

He looks like a normal guy. He talks like a normal guy for short conversations. He can remember yesterday’s world news. He can even offer pros and cons when trying to make decisions. BUT… and there’s a big BUT… He often forgets entire days and within a couple hours will lose track of things I told him at breakfast. He talks about TV characters as though they are real people and respects the characters viewpoint often using it to make his own point about some situation or idea.

He falls often and each fall is immediately followed with “I’m OK.” He is stubborn refusing to use the cane or walker any more often than absolutely necessary and instead uses the furniture to maintain an upright stance. It’s probably why he falls so often. We have both tile and hardwood floors which mean falling can lead to a broken hip or injury to his head. He’s always OK and then a couple hours later he complains that his side hurts or his leg or his arm. I should not say the word “complain” because according to Riley he NEVER complains -- like it’s a sign of weakness or a lack of control. Instead he says he just states the facts.

He also never gets angry. At least he says he doesn’t get angry because anger is a waste of time and he is stronger than anyone who ever gets angry. Instead of coming out and staying that I infuriate him, he will be passive aggressive and do things like throw something of mine away.

I believe he is extremely angry with me and the entire world. He is angry because he is no longer in control of Riley World. He doesn’t get alcohol because I will not buy it. He can’t go to bars and clubs because I will not allow him to drive the car. He has no intimate contact with a female because I won’t find him a girlfriend. His drinking has caused any female relationships he has had to run far away from him. He still has faithful friends even though he does not want to communicate with them. Most of them are people he met when he was active in the AA program. They are still concerned and caring. But they are not the friends he wants. He wants his old friends – Aristocrat and Budweiser.  He has no computer access. His days are spent watching reruns of programs like Castle, Bones, NCIS, etc. Those are his friends now.

I do not feel sorry for him. He was warned so many times that he was destroying his body.  He always seemed to think it would never happen to him. He always claimed that he would live to 100 and be shot by a jealous husband. And he was so very proud that he would die in that manner. Now his dreams of that jealous husband are long gone. He is reaping what he has sowed. It didn’t have to be this way, but his choices have led him to be forced to live with a woman he does not like; in a place he does not like; and in a manner he does not like.

And yet – there are people who remark that it’s such a shame that this has happened to him. I agree. It is a shame that he never cared enough about his life to truly have a desire to save it. I want to scream that this didn’t just “happen” to him. Riley decided to take the risk and play that roulette wheel. He played and he lost. Of course, he didn’t want to lose in this manner. He wanted to lose with more finality. He wanted to die from drinking. He did not want to be crippled from it.

 And, according to Riley, his being alive is clearly my fault. This is the one thing he openly states causes him to be angry. Any chaos or problems he causes are things that I deserve because I didn’t let him die. Well… I’d love to say that I won’t make that mistake again but I’m not sure I can stand by those words. Instead I’ll just say that I hope he goes quietly and peacefully so I won’t notice and thus not feel obligated to call for help.

A reader asked how I was doing. Hmmm… I don’t think about that too much anymore. Outwardly, I’m OK. Inside I’m angry, tired, frustrated, and just want all this to be over. I try to be a good caretaker, but keeping someone alive is not an easy thing when life is not what is wanted if it doesn’t include alcohol. I’m surviving every day sometimes just hour by hour. The only way to I can make sense of all this is to make sure I stay healthy and outlive Riley. It would be a shame for my end to come simply from the exhaustion of being his caretaker. I actually WANT my life and have many things planned for my Riley-free days.

I have considered letting Riley have small amounts of alcohol at specific times. It was even suggested by a therapist that I give it to him much the same as a medication. It might solve some of the anger issues and give him enough of a buzz to keep him more complacent. It is a thought, but I’m not going there just yet. I’m already his warden and not sure if I want to take on the role of bartender. It would be one more thing added to my “to do” list for each day. My list is full right now and I don’t see room for one more thing.

How I am doing seems to not be so relevant to Riley’s medical personnel. Most people are more concerned for him than they are for me. So I want to thank you for asking. I appreciate the concern and hope that your situation is a bit easier than mine at this time. I also hope that if you can find help and support in your journey through this alcoholism hell. If you have the opportunity, try to get hospice involved to relieve you from having to make the hard decisions. If you qualify, get in touch with the Veterans Administration, especially if there is a disability compensation connection. Protect yourself – always be aware and compliant to your own needs.

Above all else, remember that if you die before the alcoholic  – alcoholism wins.
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