I've been wanting to blog for some time now. I didn't realize that I hadn't sent anything out since New Year's Eve until just now when I logged in and saw the date. Wow, it is nearly June and where has the firs half of the year gone already? Well, for me I have been dealing with some personal family issues. And I know that I am not alone in this.
2015 has not been kind to many people. I hear struggles everyday from students and friends. The Universe is sure making us deal with some very important issues, isn't it? How are you handling them? I keep asking myself if I am handling them well or making the right decisions. Sometimes it can really feel overwhelming.
I don't remember what month it was, but some time earlier this year I was finishing up lunch and getting ready to teach my 12:30 class when my phone rang. I remember I was sitting in the "tea room" relaxing, feeling quite at peace when I saw that my dad was calling me. A smiled, thinking he must have taken the day off from work and maybe - just maybe - he was actually on his way to take his first yoga class.
Not so much.
No, he was in horrible pain and needed to go to the hospital. I ran in and asked Anne (our amazing Pre-Natal teacher) if she could stay and teach so I could run out. Of course she did and I was on my way. I called my dad back and he said my brother was on his way, so I called my sister, en route to dad's house. My sister informed me that my mother had been sick in bed for a couple of days. This was not like my mom. Since my brother was taking dad to the hospital I decided to drop in and see what was happening. What a horrible situation. Grandmom sat in her wheelchair in the kitchen crying. She was still in her nightgown. She said she was home alone and nobody was there to help her. She had no idea mom was home because she had been sick in bed for days. So I made sure Grandmom had something to eat and was okay, then went up to see mom. I thought she may have pneumonia, but she didn't want to leave the house. Not about to argue with her, I left for the hospital where my brother would by now have my dad, to see just what was wrong with him.
Dad, it turns out, had passed a kidney stone. By the time I got to the hospital he was laughing with my brother. So I turned my attention to mom while we awaited the results. Within another hour, mom was being taken to the hospital. Yup, that's right…both parents in two separate hospitals on the same day.
Long story short, mom did have pneumonia, but the doctor also mentioned that the tests indicated something on her liver and she should follow up. Flash forward a few more months and mom has advanced fibrosis of the liver. Not life threatening, but something to indicate a change of lifestyle, indeed.
For the past 30 years, my Mother has lived with and taken care of my Grandmother, who was born with polio and had been wheelchair bound for quite some time now. Although she had several aids come to the house, the burden of her care, which included challenging maneuvers in and out of the wheelchair, and rising very early in the morning, fell on my mom. But now she was not feeling well and had limited strength. The time had come to talk about moving Grandmom into a nursing home. Mom didn't want to do it. Grandmom had always refused to go. And now we were with not many other choices.
So I did it.
My Grandmother has been in a nursing home for the past two months now. It has not been easy. At all. The good news is that mom is starting to take care of herself and feel better. The bad news, Grandmom hates it and still wants to go home. At 94 she is unwilling to let go of the possibility that she can go home. But the time has come and alas, there is no going home. I visit her 2 to 3 times a week, bring her things she needs, and take care of minor things like shaving her mustache and filling out her weekly dining menu. I think she enjoys are visits, although they mainly consist of her discussing ways to get more hours of aids so that she can go home. It is frustrating and agonizing.
For the first month I kept asking myself if I had made the right decision. I felt guilty as hell. I wondered if there WAS a way she could go home. Maybe if mom felt better and Grandmom got stronger. I had many people tell me how great the place was that I had her in. And I had others tell me she didn't belong there. I was torn daily - hourly - between making her stay at the nursing home more comfortable or putting energy into getting her home.
I write like this is in the past, yet I still have these thoughts. I still wonder if we won the lottery or found someone that could live there for free room and board to take care of her that she could go home. Then I think again, it is time for my mom to sell the house, downsize, and hopefully allow both of my parents to retire. They're both above 65 and working like dogs. They both deserve to enjoy their life more and work less. And it can't happen until the house is sold.
So at the end of the day, I say, "yes," I made the right decision. Grandmom is being taken care of. Maybe not the way she wants, but she is. Mom and dad can finally start to move forward towards selling the house and retirement, which should go far in relieving stress and improving their overall health and well being. So yes, I made the right decision. And yes, it can sometimes feel very wrong.
My yoga students always tell me how grateful they are for the yoga studio and their yoga practice - how it helps them manage life and how much better they feel after class. I'm so grateful to be able to help people that I sometimes forget to get to my own yoga practice. But when I do, it does help calm the crazy. One of my favorite quotes, "Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans." So true. Life is going to happen. Sometimes the choices will be difficult. But at the end of the day, you have to keep a clear head when making decisions and have some coping mechanisms for dealing with them. I've got my yoga practice and my friends, who are always available to listen to me moan a bit. And for that I am forever grateful.
Here's to the second half of 2015 being more kind to us all.