Posts Tagged With: dementia

Discarded Obama Campaign Stickers

I was visiting overseas during the U.S. Presidential election, but I tried to stay informed. This was my first time to ever contribute to a Presidential campaign. I was also the first time I was really actively involved in any campaign. The Obama campaign had sent me a few bumper stickers as a thanks for donating and I was so excited that whenever I do get home… I was going to be able to post my Obama stickers on my little OLD truck. But my conservative mother threw them away! No thought given to the idea I may WANT them. No consideration, just trash. Some I had actually purchased. 

This campaign MEANT something to me! I willingly gave up my middle class lifestyle because of my Multiple Sclerosis and I had a tough decision to make – my lifestyle or my health. My health won-out! I gave up living in a nice house with one of my most favorite people in the world as a roommate, driving a BMW convertible and living in the exciting city of Las Vegas for living at home with my parents, with no car, in a small town in Mississippi. Like I said… NOT an easy decision, but a necessary decision. I knew the sacrifices I was going to have to make and I was lucky to have a loving and supportive family to help me.  

I struggled for two years with no healthcare because my M.S. was a pre-existing condition and this was during the time Obama was trying to get what is now labeled Obamacare passed. For the first time I saw something in politics that directly affected me and it was the President leading the cause. My new standing as a poor person with no insurance helped me see a side of this issue like others could not. I was living solely on my social security disability income and living at home, I was still only barely by. Eventually I qualified for Medicare and FINALLY had health coverage.  

My conservative, Republican, Christian family that watched more Fox News than ANY other news outlet, called Obama a socialist and believed all Fox News said, even though I was one of the very people Obama was trying to help with Obamacare – they saw it as evil and bad and so was Obama. This is when a passion for what was going on in politics began to grow IN me. My frustration also grew because I could not get them to see and understand – I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE” Fox News is demeaning! My parents had Social Security & Medicare and others in my family even had Medicaid and they witnessed my struggle with health issues all-the-while I had no health insurance. I began to see “conservative” to equal – I got mine and I do not care about you.

Needless to say this created a struggle for me in relating to my family and even strains our relationship today. I felt like an outsider in my own family.  Church was so important and BEING Christian was even more important. But as the conservatives boasted of their Christianity, I witnessed a great deal of not so Christian actions. Being gay has helped me see “church”, Christians, and even God in a much different light. I saw the principles of the Democrats relate more to Christianity than the “religious right”. I wrote a blog specifically to try to engage people to explain how “conservatives” were Christian ( and e-mailed a blog that asked the same but in a friendlier tone than I had be able to muster! ( Republicans extol their Christianity but for me it conflicts with their politics and I feel the Democrats live it by their politics.

I see Jesus as someone that would spend time with gays, having wine and talking with them, not standing in line at Chick-fil-a so the company has more money to prevent gays having equality! I see Jesus touting the GOOD of Obamacare, not worrying how it could affect his personal coverage if the uninsured get access to care! This creates for me my biggest struggle – it makes me see my dearly devoted, Christian mother and others in my family as hypocrites! They already dislike me for being so different in how I think… how could they deal with being viewed as hypocrites? Or possibly even racist because of things they say about Obama? Oh yeah, that is why it was such an internal struggle for me to live that close to them. I hate myself for seeing my family the way I do. We DO love each other… but there is no respect unless there is agreement and I just can’t agree with them. They refuse to listen to my points because I think they do not want to see the hypocrisy. But any attempts I make to talk and try to understand only ends badly! I am a critical-thinker and NEED more than rhetoric and “faith” to understand things! Now I live far away and even at a distance it still hurts me!

My father was diagnosed with Dementia and suddenly Fox News was not on the tv as much (if any actually). A few months later he had a stroke, then 9 days later died. At his funeral, all that spoke (including me) mentioned his trademark little, old, piece of crap Toyota trucks he had over the years.  I did eventually get a little money and had the opportunity to travel to see my friend I call Little Buddy (one of my FAVORITE people in the world) and when I returned from that trip – I bought a little, old, piece of crap Toyota truck like my Dad used to have. I was looking forward to putting my Obama stickers on MY little, old truck, but they were thrown away because no one considered them relevant at that house  – the same as me… discarded without consideration or concern!

P.S. I do love my family and they do love me… like my facebook relationship status says – it’s complicated! My writing is to express feelings I am unable to share otherwise and this is how I feel now.

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The Shell of Man

Most of the Fam Eating Out

“If you want to see your Dad alive, come home as fast as you can.”  is the call my sisters and I  received at the end of June.  We were all in South America. My sisters were in Brazil, and I was in Medellin, Colombia.  My sister’s were already scheduled t take the red-eye that night, but I went into high-gear changing my flights.  The trip home for me was hellish, not just for the reason I was traveling, but truly a horrible travel experience.  Dad was alive when we arrived, but all that was there was the shell of a man we once called Daddy (pronounced Deady).

For over two years Dad has battled with breathing because of Asbestosis from exposure to asbestos when he worked for the federal government.  This condition also made him susceptible to pneumonia.   For the last two years, he had been hospitalized several times because of pneumonia.  When I found out why Mom & Dad were not answering the phone, because he was in the hospital with pneumonia, my thoughts were “No big deal, I will be home in 6 days anyway.”  For Dad getting pneumonia was like anyone else getting a cold.  He would go into the hospital, have a round of antibiotics and go home in a few days.

With all three of her kids, her son-in-law, and one granddaughter out of the country along with the other granddaughter living out-of-town; Mom was alone with only Trace, my nephew, to deal with this situation.  My father has a living will and Mom had already had to invoke that to prevent him from being put on a ventilator.  Dad said his good byes to Mom and to Trace.  The last I talked with him before his condition changed so drastically, I told him I would be home in 1 week and he said, “I hope I am still here that long.”  That is the night things went downhill.  We were called to get home A.S.A.P.!

Traveling with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) is difficult enough….but this was my travel agenda home: Bogotá, Colombia to Medellin, Colombia; Medellin to Barranquilla, Colombia; Barranquilla to Fort Lauderdale, FL; Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta, GA; Atlanta airport was closed due to weather so we landed in Augusta, GA to refuel; then Augusta to Atlanta; FINALLY Atlanta to New Orleans, LA.  With little time to prepare, this was one of the most difficult traveling experiences I have had.  The airlines were a big assistance for me.  Once I arrived in New Orleans, I had to wait more than 2 hours for my ride to arrive.  Then the 1.5 hour car ride home.  I was only able to see Dad for a moment before I fell into a coma in my old bedroom at home.  For days I was physically paying a hefty price.  The actual financial cost of changing my flight was higher than the original purchase price and as noted involved more connections.

The doctors explained that he now had only 25% use of his lungs, but was stable.  They said he could live 2 weeks, 2 months or more than 2 years…. there was no way to tell.  But to complicate matters, he had developed dementia.  The night things turned, he wandered out of the hospital and was trying to get into their car (yes he had found the right car).  The doctors were amazed he had the strength and ability to do that.  When security brought him back, Mom asked, “Where were you going?”  He replied, “Tommy (my childhood nickname) is trying to get home, so I was just going to pick him up.”  His confusion continued and they began treating him with psychotropic drugs.  The doctors did not consult with one another and we left the hospital with him (moving him to a swing bed unit) on 3 different psychotropic drugs.  We were so exhausted, and trusting the doctors had not paid attention to this.  At the swing bed unit, another doctor added another psychotropic drug.

He was not sleeping at all at night and we were taking turns staying the night with him.  My MS limited how much good I was, but I did my best.  He wanted to go to Homecoming at church.  They allowed us to check him out. We came by the house and he fell asleep in his recliner.  We checked him out permanently from the swing bed unit.  The next day we took him to the hospital in Jackson where he stayed for 4 days while they ran test.  They determined the biggest problem was the four psychotropic drugs.  We left the hospital with no drugs except for one to help him sleep.  Which also helped us also get much need rest.

Now, we function day-to-day with Dad not even recognizing he is at home , knowing what day it is, asking where his bedroom is (this is the same house he grew up in), and sometimes not recognising who we are.  He mind is good for moments, but it is only briefly.  I have heard the horror stories, of parents becoming the children and now we are living it.  He is an elderly child.  Sweet and innocent at times mixed with aggravation and frustration because he does not understand what is going on.  Sadly, sometimes combative.  He sits in his recliner looking lifeless, the shell of the once strong, powerful, active man, I call Dad.

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