Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph...

My grandmother ("Nanny") who passed away last week was a devout Catholic, who was fluent in what my uncle termed, "the poetic usage of profanity". She liked to curse. One of her favorites was, "You goddamn dummy!", and another was, the classic, "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!". As in, "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Jenny, how can you drink so much iced tea?!" This phrase would always be followed by a body-shaking, cackle of a laugh. I will never forget her cursing or her laugh. She was not what you would call the "typical grandma". She was a witty woman, a strong woman, a sometimes stubborn and strong-willed woman, and a woman who had strong opinions. As people have said often since she passed, you always knew where you stood with her. She was not fond of everybody she met, but she was fond of most of her family and she loved them all with a heart as big as the sky. Yet, she played a mean game of Scrabble, and if you ever thought she couldn't beat your ass at that with one hand tied behind her back, she would be more than happy to prove you wrong. If you were lucky enough to know a word she had memorized from the Scrabble Dictionary and somehow manage to get a high score, she would say, "Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while", or "Even a stopped clock is right twice a day". That was my Nanny.

Earlier this week, I flew to Maryland in a plane with my two brothers, one of my sisters, my dad's wife and one of her daughters, where we met up with my dad and my other sister who were already up there. We visited with my grandfather, who is having a terribly difficult time after losing his wife of 60 years, the love of his life. We attended the viewing, which was horribly difficult because seeing her lying there obviously made the reality hit home. I cried at the viewing more than at any other time this week, or in recent history. My grandfather, at the end of the viewing time, knelt down at her casket and kissed her goodbye. Then he stood, turned, and said to us all, "She always said she wanted to go before I did." He looked directly at me and said, "She always made me promise I would kiss her goodbye." I gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek and said, "You did, Pop Pop. It's okay." A lot of people cried when he said that. They had a great marriage, unlike most married people I've ever known, and certainly unlike my divorced parents.

The next day, we attended the funeral. Out of the twenty-five grandchildren, of which I am the oldest, twenty-four of us were present. All of the grandsons read a piece in the ceremony, which was a Catholic service at the same church where my parents met, where my parents and numerous other relatives got married, and where I was christened as a baby. All of the granddaughters walked down the aisle with the communion materials, and we went in order from youngest to oldest. It was a moving service. I am not religious. Dare I say it, even in this post, I really don't believe in god. But it was a moving service nonetheless. It would have probably been even more moving if my aunt who wrote a eulogy had been allowed to read hers, and had not been told it was "not Catholic enough", but that is how my family is. So be it.

After the funeral about 200 people went to the Knights of Columbus Hall, and we cousins got pictures of ourselves together with our grandfather - the first time in history that so many of us had been in the same room at once. Most of the cousins live in Maryland, except for my siblings and I who live in Florida. So that is why we are not usually together all at once. My grandfather got an ice cream buffet, because he is infamous for his obsessive love of ice cream, and this was meant to cheer him up a little bit, or at least offer some kind of comfort. And that was the end of the traumatic day. Or so we thought.

The nightmare got much worse when my brother and sister and I got back to my other grandmother's house, my mother's mom. That is where the three of us were staying on this trip. Lots of people in my dad's family had asked me about my mom's mom, and I had told them all how well she was doing, because she gets around great on her own, driving her car, and living alone in her two-story house with a basement. Just a couple months ago she came down here to go to Disneyworld for a visit, and rode a scooter around, running into people. During our trip this week, she took us to the mall so my brother could shop for a suit for the funeral, to Olive Garden, to Target so my sister could buy a dress, and to another store, so I could get something I needed to wear, and she was energetic and lively the entire time. Then, the day of the funeral, while we were at the services, she went, by herself, to the mall, and to the grocery store. Ten minutes after she got home she collapsed in her living room.

I saw her fall, but I couldn't tell if she had tripped or just collapsed. They said later that she was so dehydrated she probably just collapsed. She hadn't eaten or drank water hardly at all for the entire day. My sister, luckily, is a Registered
Nurse, and she ran up to my grandmother, took her pulse and yelled that she couldn't find a pulse as I searched frantically for a working phone (she has a phone in every room, but they were not all charged), and finally called 911 from my cell phone. I told the 911 operator everything my sister said about my grandmother's vital signs, and for a couple minutes my grandmother was breathing but not talking. Then she began to respond. The ambulance came. My brother and I were running around trying to get them her medications so they would know what she took, and unlocking the doors. She was taken to the hospital. They took a CAT scan and said she had bleeding on her brain. This was in the same hospital where my other grandmother had been the week prior, when she was dying.

It probably sounds like this story has the worst possible ending, but the good part of all of this is that she is okay enough that they sent her home yesterday. This all happened on Tuesday. Yesterday was Friday. So, she was not in the hospital long. I was so scared, though, on Tuesday. I thought we were going to have a second funeral to go to. My grandmother is 84 years old. She was lying on the floor semi-conscious. It was horrible. Then, to make matters even worse, my mom kept calling me on my cell phone to scream at me, because I drove my grandmother's car to the hospital and supposedly she was going to be really mad that I drove her car without permission. She could have died. I hardly think she was worried about someone driving her car three miles at a time like that. But that's how my mother is. She will take anything and everything out on me, by screaming at me about it, and blame anything and everything on me, or on someone else, so that she has someone to blame. It was not a pleasant night. It was not a pleasant week.

The next day, we had to fly home. All of us had to go back to work, and I didn't see how even staying there one more day would have made much of a difference because my grandmother was in the hospital, and my other grandmother was dead. Frankly, I was ready to go home. I got home and that same night I went to a meeting of the feminist organization I belong to and got reelected as our chapter's secretary. The next day I went to therapy. The day after that, I went to work, and then I saw my psychiatrist for what might have been my last appointment with him. His last week at the community mental health center is next week. I am totally going to be lost without him being there, because I do not know the other doctors there at all. He told me that after everything I have been through in my life, I should be able to easily get through changing psychiatrists, but I told him I have to change psychiatrists every year or two for some reason or another and I'm tired of it. I don't want another new doctor. I don't want a doctor who isn't as good as the one I have now.

Today, I went to the movies with my mom and my friend K. who I hang out with sometimes. We then went and got something to eat and visited my mom's house so my friend could see my mom's dog, because she likes dogs (I'm not a dog person). And then I was really tired and just wanted to go home.

I really am glad for a couple of things. #1 it is now after midnight on Saturday so the week is over. The week from hell, that is. #2, I dropped my class last week so I have no summer courses and even though I think that's a regrettable mistake, I really didn't need the stress at this time of the course that I had been enrolled in. #3, the increased Latuda seems to be helping me, so that I'm not spending all my time thinking I'm a CIA operative anymore like I was for a few days last week. Yes, I'm glad for those things. Also, #4 I'm glad, as always, that I have this blog and you readers to turn to and talk to when things get overwhelming, as they have gotten recently. I don't know what I would do without you.

Some stuff is still going wrong brain-wise. But I don't want any more medication increases. What's going on right now is at a level I can deal with, and it is manageable. I am not going to end up in a hospital or anything. It's really minor in comparison to how it could be and how it has been before many times. It's just things like seeing signs in license plates, and second guessing whether or not people have been involved in mind control programming of my brain because they work for the CIA. Stuff like that. It's not majorly serious.

But I will say, I'm really tired. On top of all of the stress mentioned in this post, my brother has disappeared to some place, and I suspect that what is going on with him is not good. So that is another problem. But what can I do? I cannot fix substance abuse problems any more than I can fix death or sickness. Indeed, if there is a god, I'm not it. I used to think I was, once, but luckily medications brought me out of that particular delusion. So I no longer feel it is my job to save the universe. Right now, I just wish I could get some sleep. Thanks, for listening.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph....


  1. What a week! I'm sorry you had to go through that. The doctor change sucks too. I've had some great doctors and some horrible doctors, so I know that when I have a great one, I don't want to lose that doctor. Eventually my insurance will run out and then I'll probably have to change doctors too and I'm already dreading it.

  2. Yeah it's unfortunate. I really like my doctor. To say goodbye and help me give closure to this fact that he is leaving, I am making him a present. I started making it tonight. I will have to finish it tomorrow. Anyway, yes, when you have a good one it really sucks when they leave or your insurance changes or runs out or whatever. Is there a community mental health center where you live? You can usually go to those without insurance.

  3. Glad you got through a hard week Jen. I think you've been really strong travelling and being with your family, which I know can be stressful. That's great that the Latuda is helping to control your delusional/paranoid thoughts. I've been having a few psychotic symptoms myself, but, as usual, I'm keeping a close eye on it and talking myself out of delusional thoughts when necessary. I've been without my therapist for about 5 months because she's on a sabbatical with her husband (they are both professors), but she should be back in another month and so I'll hopefully see her then. Until then, it's my trusty taperecorder and talking to a few friends that will get me through.

  4. i`m sorry about your worries which you recently faced , life is like dictionary scrabble , every one goes out and goes in, i would like to send some present for my family doctor and the time he spend with me and my family to cure our problems and disease!


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