Once it was confirmed that I'd be transferring to CA to move in with and help care for my parents, I decided to blog about my experience as a potential help for anyone doing something similiar as well as a weekly remembrance for myself.
I live online thru my blog, Facebook and Twitter but my parents don't. So I'll do the best I can to accurately portray my experience and thoughts while protecting their privacy.
The road trip from CO to CA was amazing, even tho I threw out my back the last day of the move. I made it thru the moving and packing-up-my-car-part thanks to my friends Matty & Justin/Sam. Thank GOD for friends and for having heated seats w/ lumbar support :-)
Another awesome friend I made was Deanna who I'd met the week earlier at my hair salon when I announced "who wants to ride with me to CA" and Deanna said yes. Thanks to The Universe for putting us together for Deanna was an AMAZING Road Trip buddy and I'd Road Trip again with her in a heartbeat.
Driving for miles and miles is good for processing what's going on in your life and a great time to take stock of where you've been (physically & mentally) and where you're going. Had not lived at home since 1981 and although I'd visited numerous times, visiting is not the same as being there full time.
How to explain the last 10 days? Surreal is the best word that comes to mind. Part of me still can't believe I left my company and CO and actually moved back to CA. It's a bit shocking to wake up surrounded by my stuff (most of which I left behind, gave away or donated away) and to find my car in the driveway.
About Dad and Mom...Mom has Stage 6 Alzheimer's. Some common symptoms of this stage are :
• Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as of their surroundings
• Remember their own name but have difficulty with their personal history
• Distinguish familiar and unfamiliar faces but have trouble remembering the name of a spouse or caregiver
• Need help dressing properly and may, without supervision, make mistakes such as putting pajamas over daytime clothes or shoes on the wrong feet
• Experience major changes in sleep patterns — sleeping during the day and becoming restless at night
• Need help handling details of toileting (for example, flushing the toilet, wiping or disposing of tissue properly)
• Have increasingly frequent trouble controlling their bladder or bowels.
• Experience major personality and behavioral changes, including suspiciousness and delusions (such as believing that their caregiver is an impostor)or compulsive, repetitive behavior like hand-wringing or tissue shredding
• Tend to wander or become lost
Mom has "Sundowner" episodes which means as the sun goes down, she often asks, sometimes demands, that we take her home. She knows her address - our current address - but insists this is not her home. So we drive aimlessly while I flip on the heated car seat (she's always cold!) and I ask her to tell me about her babies, her husband and memories of her past. She can tell me within 5 seconds the names of her childhood cats, which school she attended, the name of her husband and her brothers and sisters names, but has no idea who I am, who my siblings are (present day - she remembers the day we were born and when we were small) and what she had for dinner an hour earlier. Sometimes 1 drive suffices and she is calmer when we return. Sometimes it takes 2-3 drives. And sometimes she doesn't calm down so we deal the best we can.
For the majority of the first 3 days, Mom had no idea who I was. She had a brief moment of clarity on Saturday as I drove her to meet other members of our family and told me how happy she was that I had moved home and how it meant the world to her and my Dad. I'll tell ya right now that was the highlight of my week. Most of the time, I'm the "really nice lady" who stays and keeps her and Dad company instead of going home at night. All good, it doesn't matter if she knows who am I on a day to day basis as long as she is happy, healthy & content.
Dad has Vascular and Diabetes issues and gave up driving voluntarily, so part of my new gig is driving them to Mass, grocery shopping, errands and Dr appts as well as getting away with Mom for longer errand time to give Dad a break and some much needed alone time. I'm also giving my siblings a break, particularly my sister that's spent the last 16 months taking care of them 3-4 days a week in addition to working a fulltime job and having a family of her own...and lives more than an hour away in rush hour traffic.
Have also taken over cleaning, laundry & home organization (all loves of mine) and have slowly started cooking meals for them - never a strenth of mine and definitely NOT a favorite activity :-)
Tomorrow I'll start back to work (same job, different location) which will help complete my assimilation to life back in CA.
I'll end with a Pro's and Con's List
Californian's smoke way more than Coloradan's :-(
Miss my CO peeps and the CO sunsets/mountains/landscape/sunlight
Not that I miss it 100% but BOY did I have a lot of free time before the move :-)
CA traffic is CA traffic - you can't escape it
As of tomorrow, I will definitely miss my 4 minute commute to work
Peace of mind regarding Dad & Mom & no more long distance worrying
Spending my sister D's birthday with her!
Spending Thanksgiving with my family
Spending TIME with my family - quality time, not just rushing-around-on-vacation time
The little moments of clarity that Mom has where she knows who I am and why I'm here
The gratitude I get by knowing I'm doing the best I can for my parents and siblings
My parents have Cable - hello HGTV!!!!
Hugs and kisses from parents and family members
Gratitude that my company transferred me - HUGE GRATITUDE for that!
Most of all, I'm happy I listened to my gut and went for this. Told my Manager on Sept 6 that I wanted to transfer and verbally accepted the official offer on Nov 1. Not too shabby of a timeline.
We'll see how this next chapter plays out. So far, no regrets!