Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ashes to Ashes

Mom and I went to the funeral home today. She made the reservation, but she hasn't checked in, although she quipped that if she "popped off" it would save $150 on transportation. The funeral director was clearly not used to people who are so forthright about such things, but he's never met my family.

My mom's side of the family talk about funerals. We talk about funerals a great deal. A few years ago, the little village church where my mother and her siblings were baptized, some of them were married or buried, celebrated its 75th anniversary. My mom's whole side of the family went to the celebration, and we wandered the graveyard behind the church to visit the rest of the family before dinner. My father is buried there-he bought the plot when my grandfather died because he was close to my grandfather and wanted to be buried with mom's family. My mother and my aunt always joked they had to stay on good turns because they would be lying beside each other forever, and mom perked right up when she found out that "Katie" was on the other side, because "Katie was always lots of fun." Death is a normal part of our conversation.

My dad died suddenly in his sleep, and he and mom had never had the conversation. We didn't know what his wishes were, other than we knew he wanted to be buried in the graveyard at St. Eugene because that's where he bought the plot. We knew he wanted a Catholic mass, but as for the rest of it...we guessed.

Since then, mom and I have had numerous discussions, and lately, mom was talking about it a great deal-daily, sometimes hourly. She had scrimped and saved her money to ensure she had enough money to bury her. She did without to ensure the bank balance didn't drop below a set number, and if it did, she put it back. When CCAC came to talk to us, the case manager mentioned that we might as well pre-pay the funeral, because otherwise, mom would be expected to use all the funds in her bank account first. So that is how we ended up planning mom's funeral today.

My mother is very clear about her wishes. The casket was to be closed. If it was open, she would reach up and close it herself and then haunt me for all eternity. Since all the family ghosts come and visit me, I knew she wasn't kidding. When the Catholic church changed their stance on cremation, mom's wishes became simpler. Cremate her before the funeral and dispense with pallbearers. "Who'd lug me up those stairs anyway..." She wants a Catholic mass, and then burial "down home." No visitation, no fuss, a lunch under protest. She's been a member of her church since 1990, but she doesn't like the current priest, but she does like the priest at my church, so she'd like the funeral at the church who has the priest she likes. Since you have to cater a lunch at her church, and the CWL provides the lunch at mine, it added more strength to her choice. Top it off with the fact that our church choir is better than her church choir, barring the tiny issue that I'm the funeral cantor and would probably rather not sing at my mother's funeral, although I DID sing at my mother-in-law's internment, and as far as mom was concerned, problem solved.

It's not quite that simple for me, although I will respect her wishes. I mentioned the haunt me for all eternity part, didn't I? I wanted the funeral to be at mom's church so I could walk away and never go back to the reminder. Having the funeral at my church, while comforting on one level, is stressful on another. I really didn't want the funeral in my place of solace.

I know what readings mom wants. I know what hymns mom wants. More important, I know what hymns mom doesn't want. Having this pre-paid means mom gets what she wants. When my father died, mom tried to accommodate the wishes of dad's family, even if it meant ignoring mine. My uncle, dad's brother, wanted an open casket. I didn't, even if I did iron the shirt he was buried in.If my cousin hadn't been right behind me when I walked in the room, I would have fallen flat on my butt because my legs collapsed when I saw dad in the casket.  I caused a minor family kaffuffle because I refused to go up to the front. My father was many things, but lipstick wearing was not one of them. I wanted to remember daddy as he was, not as he was stuffed. 

Mom's funeral and burial is set. It's written down, it's paid for and now mom knows it's settled.

I don't think the funeral director quite knew what to make of a mother and daughter with the black sense of humour, making quips about checking in, casket closing and strapping the urn in the backseat to take mom home. Mom said we could just put her in a ziploc until I found an urn. The funeral director did a double take at that one.Unlike my father's burial, we won't need the funeral home to carry the body-we'll take mom ourselves. We'll have to hunt down a priest down home to do the burial-mom won't pay to fetch one from here. Surely someone in our family can turn up a priest, a deacon, a shaman, a minister-someone will preside when the time comes.

Sometimes my twisted sense of humour is a help. Today was one of those days.

I'm hoping that in true Murphy's law fashion, pre-planning will prolong the necessity. One of her funeral readings is the passage about God's mansion having many rooms. I just hope hers isn't ready yet.

Friday, February 24, 2012


I'm stalling. I should be on my way to my mom's. Yet here I am, posting a blog instead of driving. I'm stalling.

My mom has been home two weeks tomorrow. Yesterday, she had another cognitive assessment to see if the dementia that showed in the hospital had resolved since being back in her own home. Some of it had-she kicked butt counting backwards this time. Some of it was worse-things she could do in the hospital she couldn't do yesterday. The Occupational Therapist echoed the opinion of the case manager: "we think you would be safer in a retirement home."

And there it is, my mother's two worst nightmares encompassed in one sentence. Her grandmother and great-aunt lived with her family when she was a child. They were both "senile", the word used to describe dementia then. Mom has lived in terror of losing her mind since then. Now it appears to be happening, faster than either of us thought possible.

My mother's other worst nightmare was losing her ability to live on her own, and having to move to "one of THOSE places." She had a simple and profound conviction that God would let her die before she had to make the move. On the day before she came home, she was still vehemently and loudly proclaiming that she was not going to one of THOSE places, and we couldn't make her. "I still have some rights, and I won't go."

And then she came home. While she didn't say anything to me, mom confessed to her sister she "should have stayed in the hospital." . Home is no longer a safe and comforting place. I live in terror of her falling again, and since the recalcitrant senior flat out refuses to use the walker, it's a real and constant possibility. I make sure she has a good meal at noon, and she's still lost 3 lbs since being home. I've now filled her fridge with Ensures, yogurt and coconut cream pie. She's not starving on my watch.

She's starting to accept that her days in her apartment are numbered. Because she is still my mom, and worrying is an Olympic-class pastime in our family, she worries about me coming every day because she knows my work is suffering. She finally acknowledged that we can't keep things going like this indefinitely.

But I can pretend. I can sit in my house and imagine things at mom's apartment as they used to be. Until I go and deal with the new reality, I can cling to the old. I can remember my mother as the hustling, bustling, cleaning and tidying, baseball-watching, politics following person she always was, instead of this tiny, scared, confused old woman who suddenly appeared. I can pretend that mom can still make things all right in my world, instead of being the person who has to make things all right in hers. I can pretend she is still my rock instead of now being her rock, her grounding, the person whose eyes she looked for in panic when she couldn't get the words in the cognitive test. I can pretend my mom is still there, and the ten year old kid in me can still go there to be comforted and protected, instead of being the adult who must now do the comforting and protecting. I can keep mom's nightmares away for awhile, until I walk into her apartment and become the person who must bring those nightmares into our reality.

As long as I stall, I can still be the child who isn't ready to lose her mom yet, instead of the adult who in so many ways already has. I can still pretend, because the reality is so unfair and harsh, and yet must be dealt with. And so I'm stalling for a few minutes more, but time is ticking and mom is waiting. And so I go. I will walk into this dual nightmare, and we will face it and figure it out. And I will be the cause of making one of mom's nightmares come true as we start to find a new place for her to live. And I will do what's right for mom. And it will break my heart in the process.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tough Choices

My daughter didn't want to go to school today. There was going to be a supply teacher and my daughter's behaviour is an acquired taste, so to speak. If you don't understand the special needs, it looks like bad behaviour.

It was going to be a tough school day. Over the weekend, one of her classmates died. He was born with heart problems, and had recently had surgery to correct it, but experienced complications. He has been in the Kid's class since her first day of school. He was 6. I burst into tears when I read the notice, and the other mothers have said the same thing. The parents are devastated by the loss; our kids are taking it in stride.

My mother is scheduled for another cognitive assessment this morning. The first one was done the afternoon after she'd been sitting in the ER for 27 hours. She'd had very little sleep, was in a hospital, was disoriented, and they asked her to count backwards from 100 by 7s. I couldn't do it. I got to 93 and I was done. Mom made it back as far as 50 something, and although she didn't always have the exact interval, she did pretty well. This assessment will give a better benchmark for the level of marbles left in the bag in her brain.

The funeral is at 1030 hrs. The assessment is scheduled for 1100 hrs. I gave the Kid the option of going, and I would have rescheduled things if she wanted to go. She tought about it, and then, with the simple logic of a child, decided that she wasn't really friends with him, would rather stay at school and "she had enough sad for now with Grandma."

This morning, she didn't want to go to school. I had to make a tough choice and I sent her anyway. I suspect the teacher will have a bad anxiety-reaction day because the Kid is empathic and will pick up on the stress and sadness in the school. Normally, I would have kept her home, but with mom's cognitive assessment, she doesn't need the distraction of her granddaughter blurting out the answers, climbing the cupboard in search of cookies, interrupting to show grandma her progress on Mario Kart...so I sent the OCD-Anxiety kid to school so that I could take care of the vascular dementia parent.

Sometimes there is no good choice. I just had to make the best one I could.

And RIP little one. I hope you've found lots of angel friends in heaven. Your smile will pave the way.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"When Grandma gets better..."

My mother and my daughter are the best of friends. From the time my mom first laid eyes on her granddaughter, it's been a closer than close relationship. The Kid loves going to grandma's house, where "grandma lets her do anything." From filling the bathtub to the rim to eating ice cream out of a crystal ashtray, eating ice cream right out of the container to drinking juice out of the crystal wine glasses, grandma's apartment is a magical place.

 On nights when my husband had to work and I had other commitments, the Kid would go and hang out at Grandma's until daddy was finished work. She packed up her treasures, ransacked my mom's apartment, and although my mom was laid out the next day, she lived for those mother-granddaughter moments.

We did try a sleepover once, even though my kid didn't "sleep" in those days (we hadn't discovered melatonin yet). We were at a stag and doe for our friend's daughter when my cell phone rang at 2330 hrs. It was my mother, 'fessing up that she had fallen getting out of bed on the wrong side (because the Kid was lying beside her in the twin bed) and had "cut her hand." For my mother to be admitting that she cut her hand, I knew it was bad, so we headed over to my mom's immediately.

What my mother described as "cutting her hand" was in actuality a wound that needed 28 stitches. My mother took daily prednisone for years and her skin is like rice paper. She had hit her hand on the door knob when she fell and peeled all the skin off the back of her hand. She and my then 5 year old had managed to bandage it, and my amazing little girl tried to help grandma clean up the blood. Mom had a rubber glove on it to stop the blood from seeping through, and wasn't going to tell me until she started to feel light-headed and decided that maybe it wasn't a good idea...The Kid took it all in stride, but was pretty happy to see grandma the next morning.

All of our lives have changed since mom's medical crisis. The Kid is very empathic, intuitive and tuned into the vibrations of the house and of others. Her anxiety went off the charts when my mom went into crisis. The Kid who would call grandma five times a day if I let her refused to talk to grandma on the phone, and didn't want to visit grandma in the hospital.One visit to hospital to see grandma sent her OCD and Anxiety off the charts and gave the teacher a very difficult couple of days.

The Kid knows that sometimes grandmas don't come home from hospital because her paternal grandma didn't and is now an angel. Once my mom was home and settled into her apartment again, the Kid and my husband came over. It's different now-grandma is frail and weak and can't do the things she could do even a couple of months ago. The Kid is getting back into the habit of phoning grandma to tell her tales. The Kid loves repeating and grandma won't necessarily remember so it's a win-win.

The Kid is pretty smart, but she's still a child. She keeps making future plans that begin with "when Grandma is well enough to babysit me again..." A couple of days ago, she lay on the couch, her head on grandma's lap, my mother gently smoothing the Kid's hair. The Kid was talking a blue streak, making all kinds of plans that started with "when Grandma gets better and she can babysit again..." My mother looked up and caught my eye, and then looked away as my eyes welled with tears. We both know Grandma's babysitting days are over.

I have always been very cognizant of the fact that Grandma and Granddaughter have a finite amount of time together. I pray that it will be long enough for my daughter to remember her grandma. My mother, on her 80th birthday, announced to the whole family that "the Kid was her reward for 80 years of living" and that was true. It breaks my heart to see that relationship change, but it's not safe to leave my daughter alone with grandma any more, for either one of them.

My maternal grandmother was one of the most influential women in my life. She loved fiercely, told it as she saw it, and called us out when we were doing something she didn't approve of. She was all of 5 feet tall and weighed about 98 lbs in full clothes. She once took on a drug dealer with a cast iron frying pan because he turned up on the doorstep and threatened my cousin. We always knew that grandma loved us no matter what, even if she didn't particularly LIKE our choices at a given point in time. May my daughter know that her grandma loves her like that and may she remember it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


My mother is the second oldest of seven. She grew up in a small farmhouse in Eastern Ontario. She moved to Ottawa during the 1940s when she was in her mid-teens, but returned home every weekend to help out. She told me once that her first task when she got home on the weekend was to unload and sort all the stuff on the dining room table that had accumulated through the week.

Mom has had the same friends since the 1940s, and only added a couple of new ones along the  way. Mom is very private.

Since she's been home from hospital, there has been a steady parade of strangers through her house, asking her intimate details of her life and helping her with things she'd rather do herself, thank you very much, except she can't. It's been very stressful for her.

Today, for example, we had homecare and the occupational therapist in, and I was there too. Tomorrow, physio plus home care. When the occupational therapist left, mom looked at me and said "Is there anyone else coming today?" She was worn out.

Mom is managing right now. RIGHT NOW being the operative words. She was managing just fine before January 14 too, and then everything crashed. I need these people involved so if things go down again I have supports in place. The homecare really isn't doing all that much for mom right now (and they DO NOT LIKE the fact that I am a constant presence. Get used to this face, people, you will see it a great deal) but if mom spirals down again, she will need them. For someone who has always taken care of things herself, this have been really hard on mom.

I drove mom to radiation every day for 6 weeks because I knew there was no way that she would take a ride from a random stranger, no matter how lovely a person they were. It's hard for mom to accept help from the homecare, not that they are doing much right now from what I've seen, but the physiotherapist and the occupational therapist and the case manager have mom's back. The OT ratted out home care for me today. They aren't doing the job they are supposed to be doing. Having the OT report it meant that I didn't have to, although in my usual notetaking way, I did document it.

I'm sure I've already got a reputation for being "difficult" or some other word that rhymes with witch, but I can own that. If I don't protect and advocate for my mom who is going to? Just call me Tiger Daughter.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Parenting Fail

It's 8:20 am. My daughter and I are scurrying around, trying to make it out the door to school. She's in the hall getting her boots and coat on while I brush my teeth. It's Valentine's Day, and she wants to get there early. Valentine's Day is bigger than Christmas when you're in Grade 1.

And then the phone rings. Since all of my friends and family know my kid starts school at 8:30am it can only be bad news or something to do with my mom. Sure enough, it's the physiotherapist wanting to re-commence her physio sessions. He also wants to know what the hospital determined with my mother, because he saw her before and after what I still suspect was the second mini-stroke. I explain that I'm rushing out to school, but he has appointments he has to make, so we agree on a time for Friday morning.

I sprint downstairs because now it's 8:29 am and the bell will ring any second. My daughter is fuming in the front hall because she wanted to be early. We hurry to the car, which my husband has thoughtfully cleared of snow for me, head to school and pull into the drive-through. The school yard is empty. Parenting fail.

I drove to Walmart after choir last night, and joined a bunch of other last-minute shoppers pawing through Valentine presents. While I had remembered the card for my husband, mom and daughter, I forgot that for my daughter, the present had to be there before school. 2330 hrs is not the time to be indecisive, so I headed for the Barbie aisle and came home with another Barbie and some clothes. My daughter was thrilled this morning, but it was thanks to my husband that I made the trip after he asked if I had anything for our daughter for Valentines Day as I was heading out the door last night. I always take care of that kind of thing.

And therein lies the problem. I always take care of things. I take care of the schedules, the cards, the birthday presents, the dinners, and now, my mother, her appointments, her meds, her hygiene. I always take care of things...

How am I going to do this every day?

Monday, February 13, 2012


What a useless emotion guilt is. My mind gets busy in the wee small hours, spinning like a hamster on the wheel about things in my life, my daughter's life, my husband's life, my mother's life-things that are what they are, and yet the guilt creeps in.

Did I miss the signs of my mother's dementia? Sure she was confused sometimes, hunting for a baseball player's name (my mom should coach the Toronto Blue Jays), a politician's name (her other passion), struggling to remember a date-but was I subconsciously enabling her? Was I so used to feeding her the names, information that I missed the signs? I don't know, and it's eating me inside.

One thing I know for certain: even though it didn't show on the MRI, something significant happened to my mom on January 14. Whether the whack on the head triggered the something, or the something triggered the collapse that caused the whack on the head, something critical changed. My mom spiralled down in two weeks, going from managing pretty well on her own to forgetting to eat, forgetting to take her pills and wishing that death would put an end to it all.

After 2 weeks in hospital, she's more stable and alert, but the confusion comes and goes. She was pretty mad at me yesterday morning because she didn't have her pills. I had hidden them when I left the night before because I was afraid she would forget and take them. Turns out, I made the right call because she was looking for her "night time pills." Since hospitalization, there isn't a night time pill any more.  I told her where the pills for the morning were, and I have to get the prescriptions filled when the pharmacy opens this morning.

When mom was in the hospital, I didn't have to worry about her falling, forgetting to eat, forgetting to take her meds...it was off my shoulders for awhile. I didn't have to rush right over after dropping my daughter at school. All bets are off now, and home care is supposed to be coming in, but they haven't started yet.

I have articles due, edits due. I have to take care of my daughter, my work, my family...and now my mom again. Somewhere, I also have to squeeze time for me if I want to keep going. I'm going to try to go back to choir tonight. I need something just for me again.

When we were doing daily radiation, we had a couple of days when we didn't go, and it was such a blessed relief not to have to run. Did it make me a bad person to be thankful for a morning when I could sit rather than sprint? Probably not, but I felt like one.

Guilt is such a waste of energy, and yet it creeps in. Maybe it's the Catholic in me, maybe the Irish. At any event, it's another dragon to slay, but later. The kid has to get to school first.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Observations from the ER

Since January 14, I've spent 33 hours sitting in ER with my mother. I've learned a few things along the way.

  • Our health care system is broken.  Spend even a few minutes in ER and you know Ontario has a big problem. People with possible broken bones, wounds requiring stitches and coughs and colds share space with people who might be having a heart attack, pneumonia or a stroke. When doctors' offices close for the day, patients are instructed to "go to the nearest ER." instead of using a walk-in clinic. Doctors are penalized if their patients use an after-hours or walk in clinic instead of the ER. This is just wrong.
  • People don't seem to understand the "emergency" part It's been my observation that the people who complain the loudest are often the ones who probably shouldn't be there in the first place. And once you've already invested 4-5 hours, you might as well just suck it up and wait it out. If you don't want to wait, then maybe you shouldn't have been there in the first place. I sat next to a guy on the 27 hour day with my mother who gave up and went home after 6 hours. 10 minutes later, they called his name. Dude, you should have waited or not come in the first place.
 When my mother was having daily radiation, I paid $35 a month for a  parking pass that allowed unlimited entry and exit. That was much cheaper than the $10/day average. When my mother was hospitalized at a different hospital this time (often thought to be the more "caring" one for patients in town) I nearly joined my mother in a hospital bed when I found out that the "preferred rate" was $60 a week. A WEEK. It allowed for unlimited in and out. Since I was going twice a day for the first few days, I sucked it up, but $120 for 2 weeks of parking? That's obscene, especially when there is no other option.

  • Medical emergencies go in waves  The night my mother and I sat in ER after she hit her head, she was one of 4 with head injuries-2 old women, a very busy 18 month old baby and a hockey player. The night we waited 27 hours, it was "try to cut off your hand" night. I counted four people with bloody digits, including a chef at the Bauer Kitchen who discovered that the slicing blade was quite sharp enough, thank you.
  • Medical staff are amazing. Admin staff, not so much. The care that my mother has received has been exemplary. Once we managed to run the gauntlet to see a doctor, we received undivided attention, care and concern. The medical staff are overworked, understaffed and run off their feet, yet they do little things like bring heated blankets. My experiences with the administrative side, however is not positive, with a couple of exceptions. It took me 3 tries to have my parking permit renewed when my mother was having radiation, because it wasn't entered properly in the system. Both the cashier and the security guard treated me like a miscreant trying to rip off the hospital when I was just a caregiver trying to get out of the garage. My bad for being efficient and renewing early. I stepped in and helped an elderly gentleman a couple of days ago who was confounded by the parking ticket machine. He was just trying to pay his ticket and leave, but the machine wasn't taking coins or credit card, he didn't have any paper money...and he didn't speak English. The security guard's attitude was "tough luck, buddy, can't help you." although we were standing within inches of an ER full of humanity. I poked my head in, asked if anyone spoke the language in question, got help for the old man, and then went on my way. Security guard could have done the same thing, but chose not to. May he never be in a similar position in a foreign country.
  • Ratios The amount of time you wait is directly proportional to how long since your last meal. Both times I sat for extended periods with my mom, I did so without dinner and lunch had been a long time before that. Tim Horton's would make a fortune with a rolling coffee cart in ER. Both times, I couldn't leave my mother to go get provisions.
  • Television  While television may be a distraction, watching the same damn show for 8 hours repeated over and over is just annoying.
  • Full moon  Anyone who has worked with the public will tell you this-the lunar cycle has an influence on people. I've sat in the ER on a full moon, and let me tell you, the loonies get sick on a full moon. They may also provide quality entertainment. I know when I worked in Customs we didn't even have to look outside to know when it was a full moon. If the loonies aren't in the ER, they've taken to the airways. And if said loony is brought in by ambulance, is pacing back and forth and muttering, leaving him in a waiting room full of people with a door that opens to the outside might not be the best plan of action. And if said loony then vacates the premises, it shouldn't be a surprise.
  • Dating  Note to the young man who brought his buddy with the half-amputated finger into the ER who kept "chatting" with the two young women waiting for medical treatment. The ER is not a good place to try to pick up women. They weren't interestedl; they were trapped. They were not that into you, they just didn't want to move and lose their chairs.
The ER is no place for sick people. Note to self: always charge the e-reader.

Call me Chicken Salad

The Sandwich Generation is such an odd term. While I am sandwiched between a child in grade 1 and an elderly mother who has just been diagnosed with dementia, "sandwich" isn't quite the word I'd use. Lately, I've felt more like a boob in the middle of a mammogram than a sandwich filling. A filling has room to spread to accommodate the bread on either side; the boob, not so much.

My mother and I are rapidly becoming frequent fliers in the Ontario health care system. In the last year, my mom has had several treatments, including 6 weeks of radiation for Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and is currently growing two new lumps in the same general vicinity. We spent 12 hours in ER a couple of years ago because mom fell getting out of bed and peeled the skin off the back of her hand like a banana. 28 stitches to fix that one. We spent another 4 hours because she had whacked her leg and developed a giant blood blister that had to be surgically drained. And in the last 3 weeks, we've spent 33 hours in ER because she fell and whacked her head, which caused a series of events that resulted in a 27 hour wait in hospital, and a 2 week hospitalization, most of which mom only has a hazy recollection of.

And on the other side of the coin, my daughter is in grade 1. Thanks to her birth mother, she has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder that we know of. She has symptoms of ADHD, but isn't "bad" enough for a clinical diagnosis, and she may or may not have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Some of her OCD manifests in hoarding and repetition. She also fixates, usually on people. Her Anxiety manifests in maniacal laughter that tends to escalate. She also screams alot when she's stressed-I mean full on, multi-octave, rattle the ear screams which is often reserved for when she's in the back seat of the car. If it's at rush hour, or in the middle of a round-about so much the better.

My daughter and my mom are tight. My super-strict mother who still tries to tell her 49 year old daughter what to wear, and still feels she needs to remind me to get my work done folds like a deck chair when it comes to my daughter. I once came back from a meeting to find my daughter eating ice cream out of a crystal ashtray. My mother only recently gave up playing hide and seek with her granddaughter. On January 14, my mother collapsed as she was walking up to the door of her apartment building after church. She hit her head on the pavement, and she was conscious but not cognizant. And my daughter witnessed the whole thing. Mom and I spent 6 hours in ER that night, and that event triggered a chain reaction downward spiral that led to the 2 week hospitalization.

My daughter already knows that sometimes when grandmas go into hospital, they don't come out again. We lost my husband's mother to cancer a year ago, and my daughter went to the hospice every night to hang with grandma. So when my mother went into hospital, her anxiety kicked into overdrive. We took her up to see my mom one night, and she was right off the charts at school for the next two days. My mom needed a granddaughter fix; my daughter couldn't handle another grandma in hospital. Parenting fail.

So I juggle. I juggle the needs of a young special needs child with an elderly parent trying to cope and come to terms with her worst nightmare. I juggle the roles of writer, editor, wife, mother, friend and try not to lose myself in the process. Sometimes the balls slip, and sometimes I choose to put one down. I make the best decision I can with the information I have at the time. Sometimes I make the wrong one. My husband helps as he can and my friends keep me sane. But then, as we're finding out with mom, sanity is a relative concept.

Prelude to a blog.

Welcome to my new blog "The Sandwich Chronicles." I am the poster child for Sandwich Generation. My daughter is currently in Grade 1. My mother is 85. I am the only child and my mother's family live 6 hours away. Just call me chicken salad.

I work from home as a freelance writer. This means that I have the flexible schedule necessary to deal with a young child and an elderly mother. This also means that sometimes my "work" day starts at 7pm when my husband can tag off with my daughter.

My daughter has special needs. So far, we know she has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. She may or may not have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, all of these courtesy of her birth mother. My mother has just been diagnosed with vascular dementia, a fancy medical term for "yep, she's losing her marbles but we can't find the hole in the bag."

WARNING: I have a dark, warped sense of humour. I find humour in strange situations, and I often use that to cope. I'd rather laugh than cry, because mascara burns when you cry it off. Just because I find it funny does not mean I do not take it seriously. It's just if I don't laugh about it, I might just give in the inclination to curl up and rock in the fetal position for a few weeks, and if mama goes down, the whole circus goes down with it. You have been warned. Click away or read on.