What is a normal life, anyway?

Screen shot 2015-02-21 at 2.31.54 AMTonight I tweeted, “Will things ever be normal again?” A friend responded, “Define normal.”

I told him it had to do with my father being in the hospital (Yeah, he’s back after his blood pressure dipped and he developed a fever) and that, for the past month, my only two destinations have been work and nursing home and/or hospital.

But he’s right making me consider a definition. What is a normal life, anyway?

I can’t say my life was super ideal pre-my dad’s pretty debilitating fall and hip trauma, but I wasn’t mired in constant worry about them unless I’m completely immersed in my work. Today, even when I’m at work, they’re all I think about.

My father has had Parkinson’s for a little more than 18 years, and my mother is his primary caretaker, despite working part-time. I always went to their house to visit, but in 2014, as his Parkinson’s progressed a bit deeper, I went home nearly weekend to give her some relief.

But this is different. Going from work to hospital till nearly midnight, and back home (with mom; she’s asked me to stay with her until my father comes home), and back to work again, is EXHAUSTING. On top of that, not staying at my own apartment means a half hour ride to my place to pick up clothes once or twice a week. Then there is the mental party, constant worrying, even though he’s in a facility crawling with nurses. It’s tough.

So, no I can’t define normal. But I do know it’s not this.

Factor in my father’s inability to speak clearly (something that started about eight years ago, and has gotten worse since) and mild dementia, and I’m left mentally and physically drained.

I’ve written this in the past: None of this is about me. It’s incredibly tough on the entire family. But this is my dad. I feel like I have to be there for as many hours as possible every day. I’m also there to offer comfort to my mom, who I can tell, is scared about this all.

As abnormal as this may seem, I’m glad I’m here with her, and in frequent touch with my brothers. If I could go back time, I’d prevent my father from falling, but this closeness that we’re feeling as a result of this sad trauma is priceless.

Still, I wonder: will I ever have fun again? Will I ever just aimlessly walk around after work and dip into a store, or into a place for a glass of wine? It doesn’t seem that way at all.

On ‘working’ from the hospital or nursing home.

Screen shot 2015-02-11 at 4.24.53 PMWhen I am in the office, I feel distracted by wondering how my father and mother are doing, phone calls to and from doctors, insurance companies, social workers, and attorneys, and the dozens of relatives calling, texting, and Facebook messaging me from overseas to check on my dad.

When I am working from the hospital, and now, nursing home/rehab facility, I am often interrupted by speaking with my mother, trying to figure out what my father wants/needs (his difficulty speaking due to Parkinson’s was made worse by his hip trauma), and calling on nurses and nurses aides for help.

This is tough. My brain feels like scrambled eggs.

Still, nothing compared to what my parents are experiencing. I feel very faint today, and almost guilty for admitting to it, because sitting around worrying, or pacing while making phone calls, doesn’t exactly add up to rigorous exercise that would warrant being dizzy. :/