Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Frayed

Newburgh, flotsam on the beach

One ill-thought out action,
one unsteady step
sends you flying back, back, back 
into the bath
and taps
twist and snap and water fountains,
sprays you and dilutes my patience. 

Apathetic lost soul you are
I have to figure out how to get you out
as you flounder wide-pleading-eyed,
whimpering. 

Me, endurance fraying at the edges,
mind all messed up,
sick to death of all of it               and

at this very moment

I have had enough of this caring stuff
and want to drown myself in alcohol.

Anna :o]

This poem represents a true event of and the frustration of an early evening late January.  Even the most cheerful optimists have an occasional bad day and that day was one of them (for me) and oh how so much I didn’t need my handsome one to (unintentionally) dive back into the bath… writing the above proved cathartic.

And apart from the dregs of in a box of Christmas wine – there was no other alcohol in the house… C'est la vie.

(Did figure out how to rescue my handsome one (tap impressions in his back but mostly his pride injured) – wedging with quilts pillows etc. to raise him to the height of the (interior) bath, a thick sofa cushion (to raise the height of the floor) and with the kind help of a wonderful next-door neighbour yanked my main man out.)

In my workplace the subject of non-visiting relatives sometimes crops up and it is at these times I use my experience to aid my colleagues in understanding why this is.  The life of a carer of someone with dementia or profound enduring mental (or physical?) ill-health is a lonely one.  Friends and indeed close relatives gradually cease to visit…

You become increasingly isolated and in the case of dementia your soul mate/mother/father eventually becomes a stranger to you and more often than not – a stranger who is more dependant on your time (and more trying on your patience/sanity) as the days slowly pass.  You cease to love the one you loved – for they are no longer that person.

I also understand burnout as occasionally I come very near it myself – and I guess in view of this I can understand elder abuse too.  How often it may be that we are at our wits end, with no-one to turn to and although I am able to keep my frustration to muttered words – I can understand why some snap and hit out under the interminable pressure of caring.  (I understand it – but firmly believe I would never reach this point – but I could be wrong.)

And so it is for some of those with dementia who enter a care or nursing home – friends and indeed close relatives gradually cease to visit…

(I must add that I am still in love with my handsome one – but accepting one day I might not be and then will (probably) resent his very presence in my life…)

Poem entered at OpenLinkNight at dVerse  hosted by Joe Hesch – thanks Joe!

Image: courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, author Martyn Gorman



40 comments:

Claudia said...

i came maybe not so near but near enough a burnout once myself and that was a loud warning shot.. think emotional pressure can become so heavy that we're just no longer ourselves and act in ways we would've never thought we would.

anthonynorth said...

Too much can certainly cause too much. Powerful words.

aprille said...

Oh Anna, this breaks my heart.Promise you will keep doing this: put it down to share and hopefully have that help a little.
To have to suffer both mental and physical exhaustion is an immense burden.

Brian Miller said...

oh i feel you in this...i have my days when my care level gets to an end and i have let frustration crawl under my skin...happens to the best of us you know...esp those that care and serve and are called upon to always serve....

pandamoniumcat said...

Oh wow... what honesty, we all have a breaking point...a point when we feel nothing...I don't know what else to say...I feel for your situation and those who work tirelessly for their loved ones with little or no support. I do hope you get a little help sometime.

Friko said...

Dressing it up in nice words just doesn’t cut it, does it?
But - and it’s a big but - you still have your sense of humour.

ayala said...

It happens to all of us..we find ourselves frayed..we come undone. Strong write.

Heaven said...

We have our days when everything snaps, we snap and push back everyone ~ I think its important to recognize such feelings ~ And its sad when caring for those lonely demented patients ~

Mary said...

Anna, this is so far the most powerful poem I have read today. It is written honestly and from the depths, and I hear you in this. I understand exactly where you are coming from and how difficult it is. It IS all-consuming, isn't it? And damn, it isn't fair and isn't right and sometimes it just totally sucks. I am glad you wrote this, have your poetry. Blessings.

Bodhirose said...

Of course you feel frayed, anyone would in these circumstances. The isolation and lack of visitors or even someone offering a helping hand once in a while must be especially "fraying." I feel your frustration and fear (or relief) at being done with him too.

mrs mediocrity said...

Such a hard place to be in, it must be beyond frustrating. Your honesty rings out through these words.

Ginny Brannan said...

I currently work 3 days a week in a nursing home with several residents in varying stages of dementia. We do our best treat them with all the kindness and understanding we can, as none of them asked for this disease that slowly eats away their memory. I get to leave at the end of my shift. I can only imagine how hard it is to be a sole care giver pretty much 24/7. I do hope you have someone you can talk to, as it is such a weight to carry on your own. Hugs to you, stay strong.

Todd Alan Kraft said...

Out of the bath and into the bottle... I feel for you.

rowantaw.com said...

So important to take a moment for ourselves (just to remind ourselves of we are) very now and then.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Anna, I applaud you - for your honesty, for your caring in spite of the burnout, somehow keeping on putting one foot in front of the other. I have been a caregiver my entire life and I SO UNDERSTAND burnout, and having times of not knowing HOW that one foot is going to get moved forward one more step. I always thank God for the night and that we get to start fresh the next morning.

Bless you, kiddo - I wish other family members would come around and spell you sometimes. 24/7 is really brutal and is more than one person should have to do.

Do keep writing - we can at least send you our sympathetic support and understanding. I wish I lived close enough to come for tea, watch your husband and let you take a long afternoon nap. Seriously.

I know care homes will take a person in for a couple of weeks so the caregivers can have a break and a rest. But I also know one hates to do that and upset their dear one........

I am so sorry that all I can offer is my sympathy, and compassion for you both in this very heartbreaking situation. You are giving your husband a huge gift in that you ARE there, caring for him, loving him, and managing with him at home as long as that is possible. Bless you.

Heidi said...

Wonderful poem and post Anna. Sending a big hug and much love to you.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Anna .. life can be so challenging and I definitely hear you .. especially having been there - but so thankfully not with dementia.

The post is very powerful and we cannot explain the loneliness of non-inclusion and non-appreciation of where we're at - let alone the person who is not well.

People can help in so many ways - yet seem to struggle to do so .. the human is a 'funny' being at times ...

With many thoughts and lots of hugs - Hilary

kkkkaty said...

This scenario unfortunately plays itself in many homes and being a caregiver 24/7 is brutally challenging and does lead to burnout...I've followed a couple of blogs of women in the throws of it and am amazed as I read the details...my daughter is a caring nurse and I'm sure always will be but I know there is burnout there as well as other places where people who cannot take care of themselves have to have these generous strong caregivier...

Sabio Lantz said...

heart-wrenchingly honest. Thank you for sharing.

Tigerbrite said...

I know that exhaustion burn out. It is both mental and physical. My husband eventually died of a brain embolism. My present partner's wife died from alzheimers. One wonders about the point of evolutional suffering. Peace be with you:)

Eusebia Philotes said...

What an ongoing challenge this must be. I certainly hope you can experience some occasional relief. And such an honest write.

Willow said...

Oh, Anna, I have empathy for your situation. Not quite there yet, thankfully, but there are still trying times and i am exhausted most of the time, with knowing it will get worse. My heart goes out to you. Frayed, you express it well.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I love the emotional openness here...must not have been easy to write but I wonder if it was cathartic in many ways?

Helena said...

Deep and poignant. Frayed is spot on with it's feelings and fears.

Jyoti Mishra said...

moments when everything is just out of our bounds.. and no matter how hard u try.. things just fall apart..
and you just keep on cursing and look for something or someone to hold on to...
Damn such days.. once in a while we all have them..

mindlovemisery said...

Your poetry it amazing, so much depth and emotion.

Marcelo said...

well done Anna.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for you kind and thoughtful comments folks – much appreciated.

I have lived this life for over a decade and to be honest, for a long time I just got on with it and was for the most part content. I counted myself lucky as due to the nature of my work – I knew what was to come – I wasn’t fazed or frightened by new presentations – and I think the resulting calmness was beneficial for both me and my handsome one. I never felt stressed so neither did he – and he still doesn’t. I suppose dementia has in a way been kind to him in that he is apathetic and oddly, I think he is happier than he was prior to his life been taken over by this unwanted illness. Although previously a worrier – now he is not.

I love my job and until recently – never thought of giving it up. But now as my handsome ones decline is accelerating – I feel I should be caring for him and not others.
But the choice is not there – for I give up work – we will lose the house, the house that has been our home for 21yrs. I need to work to pay the mortgage.

Lately, I sometimes hear myself thinking of what our life would be like if dementia had not struck my handsome one. Two wage earners! We would be near as damn it rich – what I consider rich! And thinking like this brings with it resentment…

Lately, an odd day gets me down as my ‘work’ at home intensifies as I cater for his new needs and I just want to retire early – but I can’t. Didn’t appreciate what burnout was until late last year…

Writing the above poem – I have written similar before – was cathartic as was the entire post. But please be assured I am not moaning – just venting off. I love my handsome one and if I could change one thing in my life it would be to change history for him…

And my wish is that there was more understanding of those with dementia and more understanding of those caring too. But that said – I do understand why friends and close relatives gradually cease to visit…

Anna :o]

Heidi said...

More hugs Anna!

Shreya said...

Nice Post :)

http://iredeem.blogspot.in/

Green Speck said...

Life seems pathetic when we are drowned in frustration ... but is alcohol the answer? well, I don't agree !!!

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Hmm Green Speck...methinks you are focusing on the wrong thing here - the post was not to do with alcohol...

Appreciate your comment nonetheless!

Anna :o]

Old Ollie said...

I've done this too many times, but I'm done. Solid authentic poem.

Brian Miller said...

thank you anna...when i return from my break i will catch up with you...hope you have a great week...smiles.

Dave King said...

Powerful stuff, both the poem and your explanatory text, really spelling it out with amazing clarity and honesty. Wonderful.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Looking forward to your next post :)

Buddah Moskowitz said...

You captured that frayed feeling oh so well - I'd almost break my 23 years of sobriety of this. Get well, Mosk

Jenny Woolf said...

A brave, honest and inspiring post, Anna. It is true that sometimes we almost reach the end of our tether and equally true that usually we can find ways to get a little release from the pressure.

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

So intensely emotional. Well done!

Satya said...

I fell in love with the poem... such poetic words... and true... anybody can have a bad day...