Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Alzheimers and Addiction

As I have mentioned before, my mother has Alzheimer's. She has good days and bad days. She still lives at home with my sister and is alone all day while my sister works. It hasn't gotten so bad she needs full time care.

I'm an impatient person. I'm not sure I could be a primary caregiver like my sister but one never knows what they are capable of doing until it is required of them. However, in dealing with Alex I have learned very good life lessons about patience and acceptance.

I see at times similarities with Alzheimer's and addiction. Patience and acceptance are characteristics highly valued in dealing with either condition. In the past I could see myself not understanding the limits of a person, even with a disease. It just wasn't my nature. Fortunately I had enough time with Alex that I learned the necessity of  patience and acceptance. I can't imagine how I would have handled it if something tragic would have happened to him before I got to that place.

Alex is getting better. I see him maturing and growing. I'm not saying that it is over and he is cured. I am just saying that progress can actually be observed in his life. Nothing like that comes without struggle and I am sure there are struggles for him I cannot imagine but that is his world and I try hard to stay out of that world so that he continues to grow.

With my mom, there will only be good days and bad days. There isn't long term recovery. But I see her doing all she can too. It would be easy to become impatient, answering the same question, telling her the same thing over and over but I have learned a great deal from my son, even as he was addicted.

Alzheimer's, just like addiction, you must accept what they have to give. These are diseases of the mind. Each disabling in a way I do not understand but must accept. Each person doing exactly what makes sense to them at that very moment, is that wrong what they do or is it just the way it is? The way it is must be accepted. There really isn't an alternative with either person. They are both doing the best they can.

Once again I need to work on myself. I need to find a way to use my time more wisely. The urgent must not overwhelm the important. The important is watching my son grow. The important is being a hero grandpa to a couple of little ones. The important is to see my mom smile when I visit because she still recognizes me. The urgent can wait, the garage can remain a mess another day and the grass may grow a little higher than I like.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tough Love - The Language of Negativity

The language of addiction is laced with many terms that seem to be designed to scare everyone. Many words and descriptors of addiction make me cringe “Hitting bottom”, is a term I have written about before. Another term that I recently been exploring and considering is “Tough Love”.

TOUGH LOVE is harsh. Tough Love is another descriptor that bothers me. For a parent to do what is necessary with an addicted child isn't "tough love" it is REAL LOVE. Real love is letting your child sit in jail (protective custody) when for only a few dollars you could get him out and spare them from the confines of jail. (Only to find them using again with two hours.) Real love is telling your child they cannot live in your home as they continue to use drugs. Real love is seeing your addict hungry, dirty and homeless, buying them a meal and giving them info of people that can help them and encouraging them to seek help and not offering to "fix it" for them. Real love is selfishly taking the time to work on yourself so that when your addict has a "profound experience" you ARE able to help in the right way instead of just falling back into old habits of enabling.

Addiction is a disease. When we see a parent sitting bedside of a child with cancer taking chemotherapy, holding their hand, wiping their head, combing their hair as it falls out, holding the pan as they get sick we admire that parent and comment how much they must love their child to be by their side. That parent doesn’t love their child any more than you or I. That parent is only doing what they can and must to help their child get better; just like we are doing when we practice tough love real love.

Real Love is why you are here reading this post.

Tough love is easy, throw them out and leave them to the world.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Peace and Serenity?

Is it possible for an animal to find peace and serenity?

Our old cat, Bailey is not doing well. For the last few months he has be especially affectionate, always wanting to be on your lap or close. The last month he has wanted to go outside, he has never been restricted from the outside. When he was a kitten and young cat he was outside a lot always hunting and many times bringing back mice and birds. Then I don't think he went outside for over 5 years.

He has gotten steadily thinner this summer and stopped his grooming probably a month ago. He stopped eating about 3 days ago and now all he wants to do is lay on the rocks around the goldfish pond. This is where many of his successful hunts took place. For some reason he seems at peace. Is peace and serenity only a human characteristic or can an old cat find that place too?

Day After Day

Just a little update. I find I am not writing much about the day to day any longer. I guess when the drama and crisis lessens then the need to unload is diminished.

Alex and Kristy's baby is doing great. Tyler is just a little, squirming bundle of happiness. He is growing so fast. Already lifting his head up when he is on his stomach, which he doesn't seem to like much. We took him some of those black and white cards last night. He really seemed interested. It is amazing how those work. When Erica, Alex's oldest sister was born they were first experimenting with those and gave us some at the hospital and they really work. Even as small as Tyler is he was really intrigued and you could see his eyes following them.

Darlene is getting better after her emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix. Although she had a minor setback last night, we received the hospital bill, just the hospital, over $43,000. Someone should be ashamed. Luckily we have insurance. What about those that don't? We have a broken health care system and those that don't believe that have their heads in the sand. Or worse yet have been brainwashed by the industry and politicians.

Working on preparations for our annual Fall Festival. This is the 8th year. The invitations went into the mail yesterday. Any readers close the KC area let me know and I will send you an invitation too. As it says on the invitation, "Bring anyone you want with you, we love making new friends." We always try to introduce something new each year. This year I am going to construct a real size Angry Birds game. I am gathering materials to build the piggies area. Some type of blocks, boards, posts and ladders, Leslie had a good idea about painting milk cartons to look like the piggies. I know how to build a big slingshot, Erica and Leslie are going to paint up some red playground balls to resemble the angry birds. I hope this game doesn't flop.

Another new thing is a guy that works with me is a national tournament level yo-yo'er. He has invited a bunch of his friends in the KC YO-YO club to come and they have partnered with the KC Jugglers Club. A bunch of yo-yo'ers and jugglers are coming to Fall Festival and going to demonstrate their talents. I am really looking forward to seeing those tricks.

Fall Festival is something we really enjoy doing before it gets cold here in KS. The price of admission is low. The ticket price is you must sit for a picture. Erica and Darlene construct a photo book of each Fall Festival and family photos are a huge part of the experience. We post them all online and I was amazed at how many Christmas cards we got that had the Fall Festival family photo as part of the card. Erica said, the photo book this year is about 65 pages. I can understand why, with all the family photos and all the photos of the games and winners and kids playing. We always have all the years photo books on a table outside during Fall Festival and people are looking at them all day comparing years, new gray hairs and weights I am sure. Here is a link to last years photos: Fall Festival 2010

BTW, I read all the other blogs and I read where some of our kids and some adults writing their own blogs are clean. Every day I think about how lucky I am to be experiencing this life. Every day I hold out hope for every other child or parent that is fighting this terrible disease. Where there is life there is hope. When we look around there is life everywhere we look. Hope is every bit as real as you are reading this right now. My hope today is that no matter the circumstances you will find a moment of peace in your life and feel the love of those around you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


We all know what it means to ass-u-me but I was pretty bad about making assumptions based upon past experience. While my son was using my assumption most of the time was it would never end. A logical assumption was that every weekend there would be drama and a crisis, and just to stay prepared there was always practice dramas and crisis all through the week too. So naturally my assumption was that nothing would ever change.

After taking time I began to understand that my assumptions were destroying whatever peace that happened my way. It was a real struggle for me to get over my assumptions. I have lived my life with high expectations of myself and just about anyone around me. In my mind constant and consistent learning renews me makes me better, from that the natural assumption was that everyone would want the same. My assumptions were toxic to my well being and mental health.

Living life based on assumptions left me very little time for another even more important "A" word, appreciation.

Today I am better about dropping assumptions but I am still pushing myself to get better every day. As I work on that I am learning I have more time to appreciate life's rewards and struggles. I think of where we all were 12 months, 18 months or even 5 years ago and can better appreciate the place we are today. It would have been my nature to take things and people for granted.

Appreciation is slowly replacing ass-u-me. Appreciation is being able to just sit and watch my son play football and golf in the backyard with his sisters and brother-laws on Labor Day. Appreciation is seeing my son and daughters play games with the kids, forgetting that there is a 20 year age difference. Appreciation is the way a granddaughter grabs my finger, looks up and says, "Papa, swing me" or a tiny grandson that falls asleep when I hold him.

When I am able to release the turmoil inside I get these rewards. I think I have made a good trade. No matter what happens in the future I like this place better and I am going to try my best to remain there.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Anderson Cooper's New Show

I got an e-mail from a producer of Anderson Cooper's new show debuting on Sept. 12. They are looking for parents of addicts on the east coast, New York area or able to travel there on this Friday. She said they are doing a show on parents of addicts and would love to have parents in the audience to interact. 

If you are close enough and interested here is Shana's, the producer, e-mail: shana.slutsky@andersoncooper.com 

Here is her phone number: (212) 275-8929.

Shana ask me to publicize this to people reading my blog and 
might have an interest in attending the show.