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Archive for March, 2009

This sad post is written now because I just moved far from my family and Eastern Holidays are coming, which made me think about people I left in Poland.

I believe that most of us know or knew someone who couldn’t live any longer on his own and had to be placed in a “residence”. The other place with similar conditions is a hospital.

I happen to have an aunt in that kind of residence for seniors. It’s a good place, out of town, with lots of green. Her room is only for two people- not 4 or 5 like it could be. There are nurses, therapists, doctors. Not that bad, no?

And here is a piece of her life story…

My aunt is one of the most independent persons I know. Even though she was suffering almost all her life because of a bones problem and I don’t remember her walking normally, she always insisted on doing things by herself. She lived alone (her husband died suddenly when she was around 50).

She had a small and nice flat. There was a supermarket next door- she preferred spending 2 hours to go for a bottle of milk and a piece of bread than having someone to help her with it.

Few years later, she couldn’t go out alone anymore, even to the shop next door, so she accepted some help from time to time. Her need for being assisted with every single day task was increasing, until one day she felt on the floor, couldn’t pick up the phone and call for help. She was there, waiting for someone to come. Even if it were “only” 1 or 2 hours, I just can’t imagine what she felt as a human being.

At that moment she decided to live in a residence- this intelligent and so independent woman accepted to somehow forget about this part of her personality. She couldn’t be herself any longer, not at 100 %.

I can only imagine what she felt, what she was confronted to and had not only to tolerate but also accept in her new reality. The family was relieved- because everybody knew she would be safe and taken care of in a much better way. She had to, at the age of 90, adjust to a new world, go through transition- one of the worse transitions one can imagine.

Could you stand that? You can’t eat when you are hungry- only when you are given food. You can’t use the bathroom without stranger’s help. You can’t use the bathroom if that someone is too busy to come. You can’t hold a book in your hand anymore, because it hurts- and even if you could, you almost can’t see. You try to watch TV, with a headset, less than 1 mt away from the television, otherwise you wouldn’t see. Sometimes it’s too loud, but you have to wait for someone to help you with the sound. Yes, the members of your family would visit you, but not very often and then they would go back to their lives too fast, too fast for you to enjoy them even more. You share your room with a stranger. The lady is nice- but she has other habits and it’s difficult that you don’t bother one another with the different habits you have in this 12m2 room. She likes to have the window open, but you are cold, etc. Then she would die while sleeping. So, I guess, you have this strange feeling that death was so close to your bed that night. Shall I keep on?

What’s the reason I am writing all these awful things, things no one wants to think about? To make us think about it- this is what my aunt deserves, this is what someone’s father or friend deserves also. I’m not sure if there is a way to help them, if there is a way they can still feel like human beings, be a part of the society. Unfortunately, in my aunt’s case, there is nothing more (or not much) our family can do. Sometimes I would write a letter or postcard, since I live far away. When I visit her, I would bring some food she likes, but I am ashamed of admitting that I totally hate this place. I can bring her a photo of us in a frame, so she has something to look at. It would be more or less everything I can do for her.

There is one last thing I am doing- I just totally admire her for her bravery and the sense of humour she is still able to show.

 

 

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denial…?

I see denial as a form of finding again this feeling of safety. It can be also comfortable- you pick up the comfortable instead of thinking about something that you might not like. It is also simply a way of avoiding pain- your instinct tells you that there is pain there; you avoid pain by not reflecting, not asking, not questioning. But one is always aware that he is in a strange state called denial.

Am I falling in denial? Are you? It’s easier not to see the truth, not to admit that something is wrong. You close your eyes and deep inside you hope for better. Is my kid taking drugs? Noooo, I’m sure he’s not and his strange behavior is only due to the fact that he’s a teenager. Is my husband cheating on me? Why would he, we’re such a good couple. He’s only got to work harder and can’t come back for dinner, be with his family. Is my business partner hiding something from me? We’ve worked together for so long, I shouldn’t even think this way.

On one hand, everything is a question of trust; there is no good relationship without trust. Falling into a paranoid state when everybody becomes a suspect makes it impossible to live, work, be together. But should the trust have some limits? Most people would say not- you either trust or not trust. I think there is a limit- it is the moment when you chose not to think about something, this short moment when your own voice tries to speak to you for the very first time about this „something”. When instead of doing nothing you should face your fear. Move into some kind of action.

On the other hand, trusting „too much” or „when you shouldn’t trust” does not allow you to be prepared to react correctly, to protect yourself, your family, to be psychologically ready for whatever is (or not) about to happen.

Just bare in mind that unfortunately, maybe this bad thing that you didn’t want to see, accept, that you never allowed yourself to really think about, maybe it eventually happens. Then it can almost destroy you…

And what if I am confusing denial with optimism? How to find the balance between what is reasonable thinking and what is paranoia or good wishing? The line seems sometimes to be thin. If a friend, a family member tries to talk to you, to “open your eyes” at what is evident to him or her, you might have someone to blame for the consequences of YOUR acts. You could tell this person that he’s responsible for what happened in your life. Or you can listen, think and answer.

I believe that sometimes it’s extremely difficult to have this strength, look in the mirror and tell yourself: it’s time I open my eyes. And assume the consequences. In a balanced way. Too much? Maybe.

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