Dec. 17th, 2008 10:00 am
arguchik: (wonderful life)
Here goes.

So the news about my parents is this:

1. Dad. A few nights ago my dad was apparently up wandering in the middle of the night. If you'll remember (I believe I blogged about this), we had to move him into the locked memory disorders ward a couple of months ago. Well...within the context of this locked ward, the facility does not close and/or lock individual patients' rooms at night. So when my dad went wandering the other night, which he is prone to lately because of the drugs he's on, he (not surprisingly, for a man in late-stage Alzheimer's disease) got confused and went into another patient's room--a woman patient. She (also not surprisingly) was startled and told my father to leave. He got combative and hit her. Then a staff person (possibly more than one) got involved, and my dad hit that person. They were finally able to calm him down and get him back to his room, but the upshot is that the facility director said he's concerned about the violence and if it keeps up, my dad will have to leave. Well...I can understand that. Violent patients are a danger to the other residents, and to the staff. But. This place has something called a "memory disorders unit." My dad is on that unit. Combativeness and hitting are very common Alzheimer's symptoms, especially when the person is in the later stages of the disease. Why are they so unprepared to deal with it when it happens? The director of the facility is asking for another psych evaluation (we just had one in October--what's going to change??), or for my dad to spend time on a psych ward. His doctor, a dementia specialist, says "No!" The psych ward will simply pump my dad full of haldol and probably thorazine or something similar, just to keep him subdued. They are not going to spend time trying to find that "perfect balance" of drugs, which is a moving target with an Alzheimer's patient anyway. Guh. I'm worried that Dad may be moving to a nursing home soon, something none of us wants.

2. Mom. My mom has been doing somewhat worse, cognitively, so my sisters decided to have her fully evaluated by the same dementia specialist my dad sees, Dr. Foley. (He practices in Grand Rapids, MI--I believe at St. Mary's Hospital, and is apparently pretty awesome, so if you're in that area and need such a specialist, check him out.) This evaluation included an MRI. My sister emailed all of us with the MRI results yesterday. It shows atrophy in the hippocampus, which is a known marker for early Alzheimer's. So Mom's got it too. Which is not surprising. She has gone pretty dotty over the last few years.

So after the requisite worrying about them, feeling sad, and wondering what I should do, naturally my first thought is about my own future. There are genetic components to Alzheimer's disease; they recently identified some genes associated with the condition. Both of my parents have it. Am I fucked? Then again, several studies suggest that lifestyle plays a large role in the incidence of Alzhiemer's. My lifestyle is pretty significantly different from my parents'. Am I potentially not fucked? Then again, who isn't fucked in this life? Everybody poops. And everybody dies. Noone gets out alive. You have to die of something, so why not that?

Sometimes I just with I hadn't confronted these facts at quite such a young age, or had a life so peppered by the deaths, both timely and untimely, of family members and friends. Sometimes it really weighs on me, makes me feel like all this crap we do every day is just...pointless. It also makes me very, very angry that our society is configured to use people up and spit them out, that we don't take better care of our elderly and infirm, that we bankrupt them as they struggle with conditions that are not their fault, and that dignity in such conditions is not simply guaranteed as a basic human right--throughout the world.

OK. Now I'm going to go listen to a This American Life podcast and knit, and try to find my optimism again. Because that's the irony: despite all this grim sarcasm and gloom of late, I am, at base, an optimist. I love to laugh. I appreciate the little pockets of beauty and peace and fun that the world gives to me every day, though I think I may see these qualities in places where others don't. Sometimes I have to nurture that part of myself more diligently than I realize, and to remind myself that the best that anyone can do in this life is to grab onto it and ride it for all it's worth. The first step, I guess, is acknowledging that I am afraid of a few things--bone terrified, if you must know--but so is everyone else, I'm sure. Anyone who's not, isn't paying attention.
i'm back from michigan. it was an exhausting week--physically and emotionally. this week will be just as bad, as i try to catch up on the work i couldn't do last week. i'm all out of whack, geographically and temporally as well as mentally and emotionally.

my parents are all moved into their new place. so far they seem to be doing pretty well at the assisted living facility. for the rest of us...the week pretty much consisted of prepping and packing at my parents' house, moving stuff (using a major arterial road that is under construction--fun fun fun), buying stuff, and setting stuff up in their new place. then we started to clean out their house. that's going to be a huge job, and we have barely dented it. it's going to take months.

both of my parents have lost a lot of function over the last several months since i was last there (which was in late september). it is heartbreaking. it's like....yeah, i understand that they have both lived good, long lives, but they're still my mom and dad. it's not possible for me to be "philosophical" about this right now. it hurts too much.

i can't write anymore today; i'm too...just worn out.


Aug. 8th, 2007 11:21 am
arguchik: (Default)
my niece is here! we're going to the UW campus and maybe also downtown today. it looks like friday will be the clearest, sunniest day during her visit, so i think we'll head down to mt st helen's then.

what else would an 18 year old enjoy? ideas, please!
so the seattle opera is going to do a production of wagner's the flying dutchman this summer. here is a link to the seattle times article about it. the name resonated, for obvious reasons (being the name of davy jones' ship in pirates of the caribbean), so i got myself into a wiki-web of references on the subject. the entries on davy jones and the flying dutchman, as well as the various pirates of the caribbean entries, lead to a fascinating series of legends that the pirates writers borrowed from various sources and cobbled together in their narrative. it's all very postmodern.

well...the wiki entry on davy jones' locker lists out a few cultural references to davy jones. one is the navy hymn, "anchors aweigh."

family ramblings behind cut )


Jul. 3rd, 2007 11:39 pm
arguchik: (Default)
i just got some potentially excellent news today. my niece--who turns 18 tomorrow (born on the 4th of july) and who just graduated from high school--wants to use some of her graduation dough to come visit me! (she lives in grand rapids, mi.) i hope everything works out. i'll have to come up with some fun, under-21 stuff for her to do, though. but what am i thinking? there's a ton of stuff to do around here, especially compared with grand rapids. i'm just nervous because i don't want her to get bored. right now she still seems to think i'm relatively cool, and i have to make sure she never learns the truth! ;-)

completely unrelated content: tonight i was talking with [livejournal.com profile] glaucon about willie nelson--can't stand him, so i'm not attending his 4th of july BBQ at the gorge tomorrow, in case you were wondering; and neil young--not crazy about him, either, but i like a few songs, and if he were having a 4th of july BBQ at the gorge i would probably go, unless it were cost-prohibitive. now i have "southern man" running through my head and i can't get rid of it. which is interesting, because i saw a southern-themed t-shirt today. it was being worn by a barista at cafe solstice on the ave. he's african-american (a fact which is relevant to the shirt's meaning). the t-shirt itself is gold, and it has a confederate flag on the front of it, reconfigured to have a green background, black bars, and red stars. i remarked to the guy--and it's true--that i had never before seen anyone creatively, critically reconfigure the confederate flag. he was delighted that i noticed, and that i got it. turns out it's his design. he said that he's had a lot of people completely miss the shirt's subversive meaning.

which reminds me of this t-shirt i have--it's not exactly subversive, but it is satirical. it's black, with a pink silkscreened design on it. the design has the outline of a handgun, framed by the words, "guns don't kill people...people with mustaches kill people." a couple of years ago i wore this shirt to the public library downtown, and this guy came up to me and was like..."yeah, sister! we 2nd amendment supporters have to stick together!" and i had to set him straight. since then i've been reluctant to wear the shirt; perhaps the humor is too subtle for a general audience. (please tell me, gentle reader, that you get it...)

birthday meme

Jun. 14th, 2007 12:38 pm
arguchik: (pretty girl)
i'm having a productive day so far. i'm doing laundry and working on my dissertation. i decided to take a short break for this (ganked from [livejournal.com profile] maeveh) because it seemed kinda cool...

Your Birthdate: February 9

You are a born idealist, with more pet causes than you can count.
You prefer be around others, both when working and while relaxing.
Generous and giving, you believe you can change the world one person at a time.
You're open minded and tolerant. People feel like they can tell you anything.

Your strength: Your go-with-the-flow flexibility

Your weakness: Your flair for the over dramatic

Your power color: Pine green

Your power symbol: Circle

Your power month: September

hmmm. ok.

added later: i fooled around with the generator on that site, and it comes up with the same blurb for any birthday that falls on the 9th of any month. i discovered this because i started plugging in birthdays for my family members.* when my mother's birthday (november 9) returned the idential profile to mine, i got suspicious and started testing it because, while my mother and i share some similarities, we aren't that much alike.

*interestingly, all of my family members' birthdays fall on or within a day of a date ending in 9. my sister jan pointed this out to me when i was a little kid. here is the pattern, from the beginning of the year to the end:

february 9 (me); april 10 (my sister anne); april 19 (my brother pat); june 28 (my sister jan); august 29 (my sister barb); september 19 (my father); and november 9 (my mother). of course we weren't actually born in this order (i'm the youngest, M&D the oldest, but otherwise my siblings' birthdays actually do occur in descending age order over the course of a year). i've always thought this was weird...the annual pattern rises and falls: 9-10-19-28-29-19-9.

another oddity: jan and my cousin jim are the only two left-handed people in my extended family. they both have the same birthday (june 28); and their initials are JMC (jan) and JCM (jim).

seattle slew

May. 4th, 2007 07:56 am
arguchik: (deptford pink)
today's seattle times has an article about seattle slew, one of the last triple crown winners. (affirmed was the last--slew won all 3 races in 1977, affirmed in 1978; according to this article, though, slew beat affirmed in several races. and there hasn't been a triple crown winner since 1978.)

the article basically says "he was quite a horse" and "his humans still love him." i got to meet seattle slew--and affirmed--at spendthrift farms in kentucky. it was 1985. my sister anne was a sportswriter for the associated press, and was living in lexington where her beat was horse racing, and particularly the kentucky derby and other churchill downs events (she also covered queen elizabeth's visit in 1984, and the college basketball final four, which was held in lexington in 1984). during my senior year spring break, rather than going on the senior trip to florida with my classmates, i drove down to kentucky with my brother pat. anne used her connections to get us a visit to spendthrift farms (it's not open to the public), where we got to meet all the horses. i have pictures of myself standing next to both seattle slew and affirmed, and a couple of other horses at the farm. i also have pictures of seattle slew jogging around the exercise track, being ridden by the only person who was allowed to ride him (a former jockey turned groom). apparently spendthrift farm went bankrupt in the late 1980's (shortly after i visited)...i don't know what it's like there now, but at the time it was very quiet and i just remember feeling uncomfortable in the presence of that degree of wealth. it was also the first time i ever saw a fully extended horse penis. (spendthrift is--was--a breeding farm, and we were there at a time when they were actively breeding. the stallion in question was being led to the breeding shed, and no doubt already smelled a mare in season.)

i'm not a big fan of horse breeding or horse racing, but i love horses. that day i was just excited to meet the animals (i was equally excited to meet a wagon horse at shakertown, a day or two later). they weren't too happy about meeting us, though--the grooms kept warning us to keep our hands away from the horses' faces, and not to stand forward of their shoulders, because they all bite. (thoroughbred horses are high strung, especially the stallions. by comparison, the wagon horse at shakertown was very sweet, and i was able to give him a handful of grass.)

as things turned out, i only saw my sister anne alive one other time after that trip (unless you count seeing her in a deep coma as seeing her "alive")--she came up to michigan for my high school graduation a few months later. she died at the end of november, that same year.

when i heard, a few years ago (2002), that seattle slew had died, i cried. my sister had been dead nearly 20 years, and it was just one more thing that had touched her life, gone.
i turned 40 on friday. i don't have to worry about that anymore--it's done, i survived, and no, i don't feel any different. i had a nice, small-ish gathering of friends for dinner friday evening. my friend L generously offered the use of her house for the occasion, and it was very nice. low-key.

i spent the rest of the weekend essentially incommunicado, holed up with [livejournal.com profile] glaucon watching babylon 5 (season 4) on DVD. i came up for air once or twice, but not for long.

tomorrow normal time begins again.

i've also been contemplating deep and sad topics this weekend, unfortunately. sad stuff and family history behind cut )


Dec. 4th, 2006 07:34 am
arguchik: (jupiter)
for some reason this morning i'm really missing my family, particularly my parents. i woke up already thinking about them.

contemplative stuff behind cut )


arguchik: (Default)

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