Thursday, September 07, 2006


So I had Tammy home for another visit tonight. She's been really shaky lately (there's more about that in the post I never finished/posted two weeks ago) and it tears my heart out to see her lying on the couch watching TV flailing all over the place, knocking her glasses off, banging herself in the head, throwing the blanket off when she's already cold; but there's nothing I can do about it until the damned nursing home doctor calls me back to discuss her meds. Other than that the night went well... We were watching a 9/11 special on Discovery Channel that ended up being two hours long, so I let her stay until 10:00 p.m., again. I always say that I won't but I think it's been at least two months since we've actually left at 9:00 p.m. as planned.

As I'm getting her dressed and putting her shoes on, she starts talking about how her feet hurt and how she needs new shoes. The shoes she has are less than a year old, but in her mind they're many years old and therefore too small, even though they actually fit fine. Basically, her feet are sore from all the flailing around and whacking them into stuff all the time, like the footboard of her bed. I try to tell her that it's not exactly like we can just hop in the car and go to Yorkdale in Toronto like we used to to buy new shoes -- she's so fidgety now that she'd kick the windshield out before we could ever get there and back. (Context: She's a size 12 AAA narrow and you can't exactly buy those shoes just anywhere -- Tallcrest at Yorkdale is it.) I tell her that maybe I should just try to order some New Balance (her favorite brand) online in size 13, but she won't hear of it; she insists that she's size 12 (which really she is) even though she's complained that the last four pairs that size were all old and too small within a few weeks of their purchase. The HD has just made her hyper-sensitive to everything, I guess it's part of the fixations part. There's really no way to resolve the issue with her tonight and we have to get back to the nursing home, so I just stop talking about it. She gets into the wheelchair okay and off we go down to the parking garage.

In the elevator she starts getting weird, I rub her shoulders like I always do on the way down, and she pitches violently forward and almost tips the whole chair over on top of herself. I didn't make the connection that it was me touching her that caused this, big mistake. We get to the car and I prepare to transfer her out of the chair and into the passenger seat, which I start doing by unbuckling the wheelchair's seatbelt. She immediately slumps in the chair and almost slides out of it, and then refuses to let me touch her. Oh shit, we've been here before. Often this ends up with me manhandling her into the car against her will, her being pissed at me, screaming at me, saying that I hurt her, calling me an asshole; and me ultimately having to call the nursing home staff to come get her out of the car. I decide to try a different tack -- I sit down in the car's passenger seat, talk calmly to her and try to resolve what's bothering her. Bigger mistake! She refuses to talk about it and 10 or 15 minutes into the 'calmness attempt', she slides right out of the wheelchair and onto the ground. Just fucking great... she's 6'4" and 170 lbs, all knees and elbows, and even when she's cooperating with me it's hard to get her up from this position without having to manhandle her, again ending up with screaming, yelling and namecalling, not to mention bruises or injury.

Now what? I move the wheelchair so her head's no longer against the hard footrest mounts with her neck bent at a sharp angle, then try to get her legs untangled before she twists an ankle. A fellow resident [Aside: I can't say neighbour because in a building with 300 units everyone's basically anonymous -- she just happens to park across from me yet I can't recall ever having seen her before] caught the last few minutes of the 'calmness attempt' , saw what happened and offers to help. We make a valiant effort but Tam's still obstinate and the best we manage to do is get her bum on the door sill and lean her back across the passenger seat... still far from being safely inside the vehicle. The neighbour (she's certainly become that now) apologizes all over the place that she can't accomplish any more than that, but I know there's just no way to make this work. I apologize to her (can you imagine how much this whole scene has just traumatized the poor woman?) and resign to calling 911. Yeah. Try explaining this situation to the operator and have it make much sense. Eventually the operator and I agree that I need an ambulance and crew to get Tammy up, and the neighbour quietly (thankfully, I'm sure) makes an exit with more apologies. None of them necessary of course, I know she did the best she could. I get her first name and thank her directly by it; after that it's just me, Tammy lying half in and out of the car, and my cell phone. I call the nursing home (again, since I gave them the heads up that Tam was being difficult before I started the ill-fated 'calmness attempt') and update them with the 911 situation, then call Tam's mom to let her know too but end up having to just leave her a voice mail.

I stand there in the open car door for about 20 minutes waiting for the ambulance, straddling Tam to keep her from sliding back out onto the ground. At the 911 operator's request, the car's four way flashers are on so the ambulance can find us in the parking structure; which has the side benefit of advertising me to the 10 or so people that pass by in the meantime and look at me like I'm a fucking wacko, calmly straddling a body sticking out of my car with four way flashers on. Yeah-huh. The ambulance gets there, drives into the wrong building's garage (we share a driveway with the high-rise next door), then onto the upper deck of my garage (I specifically told the operator the lower deck), then it backs down onto the street, goes down the street, back up the street, tries to park on the street; then realizes that the lower deck is fenced in and finally drives into where I'm still standing like a wacko, straddling a body with the four way flashers on.

I say 'the ambulance' but there were actually two vehicles, a traditional ambulance and a paramedic SUV; a total of four attendants. Oh I'm going to enjoy getting the bill in the mail for this one! I try to explain the situation as calmly and rationally as I can, then lower all the windows and unlock the doors (while still straddling Tam to keep her from sliding out) so that they can get enough access into the vehicle to help her. During the whole waiting period after the 911 call; Tam has gone from screaming obscenities at me, demanding a divorce, begging me to still come and visit her (I never said I wouldn't dear!) to finally pleading that I just get her into the car and take her to the nursing home like nothing has happened at all. Sorry hon, but from this position I can't get you into the car on my own anymore, no matter how much you start cooperating now. The upshot of her new-found docility is that the ambulance crew don't want to transfer her to the nursing home themselves, or perhaps they're only allowed to go to the hospital or nothing, and Tammy willingly agrees to let them sit her up in the car and go on about our merry way, further making me look like a complete fucking idiot for having called them out in the first place. Thanks dear.

Anyways, once we're on our way I call the nursing home back to re-update them on the situation: We're coming, alone, and can one or two of the support workers please meet us in the parking lot just in case Tammy's uncooperative again, or just too tired to help with the transfer anymore? Thank you. Then I call Tam's mom and re-voicemail her on the latest situation. Her mom calls back while we're still on the way and we get to discuss things a little, at least she won't be getting her voicemails sometime later and getting panicked unnecessarily. We finally get to the nursing home and true to form; Tam is sweet as pie, refuses the support worker's help and further cements the world's image that I'm some kind of fucking tyrant husband for causing all this fuss in the first place. I transfer her back into the wheelchair by myself without any problems, get her upstairs, transfer her to bed, get her into her pj's, all tucked in under her favorite oversized comforter, kiss her on the forehead, sweetly say good night, step outside the room; and promptly go to fucking pieces.

I mean, how do you deal with shit like this, time after time, week after week? About three months ago the nursing home staff told me I shouldn't take her home anymore, but that just seems so heavy handed and unacceptable to me. When I wouldn't buy it they softened their approach and said that I shouldn't use the car anymore (sensible), but call for wheelchair transit instead. That's all fine and dandy for functioning people; but you have to call wheelchair transit a day ahead of time to book for specific times, and excuse me; but I'm a total fucking mess... I cannot plan, get motivated, or be on time for anything. Wheelchair transit is quite frankly beyond my ability to deal with at the moment -- the reason I still use my car is because I have no idea when I'm actually going to make it in to see her next. I can occasionally narrow it down to specific days but even that's been 50/50 these past few months with a lot of broken promises to Tammy and the staff in between. I don't know -- it's clear that I can't keep using my own car, but I just don't know how I'm going to manage booking wheelchair transit either.


Anyways, I just started prescription anti-depressants this morning (well, yesterday now) and I really hope the damned little pills work. I've got lots of friends who say to feel free and call them to talk about this stuff, but how can you really say things to them like "I wanted to drive my car into a pole on the way home tonight," or "I love my wife, but why won't she just fucking die?" I do love my wife, and I don't want her to die, but these thoughts come to you anyway when you're regularly dealing with this stuff. They're irrational and you'd never act on them, but you can't stop them from coming and they feel too heavy to talk to anybody about. I tried a counselor two years ago but it just didn't work, I couldn't say these things to him either, and without saying them he was a very expensive way of getting no help at all. So you bottle it up, pray to whatever god you believe in (none) that you can deal with it, don't sleep right, don't sleep enough, show up late for everything, hope you don't lose your damned job, or your awesome friends, even though you're an unreliable, unpredictable wreck 95% of the time. Of course the other 5% you're manic, and doesn't that just feel great for a while?

So really, I hope these little pills work because I just gave up my only escape for them; because you don't dare mix them with drugs or alcohol. You have no idea how good it feels to check your brain at the door and dance all day, all night, in an afterhours for 12 or 24 hours at a stretch and leave this all behind in a swirl of beats, vibes, friends and colour. It's not exactly something you pull off sober; but I've done my homework, known the risks, stayed away from the hard stuff and been careful about it every step of the way. And now I've had to give it all up. I have tritely condescending friends who are 'proud of me' for this decision. Yep, giving up my few fleeting moments of happiness to live this eternal drag 24/7 again -- what a great accomplishment! You try it for a while. Fuck.

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