Five of the Seven Stages Of Hell (aka Why My Eye Is Twitching)
Posted on July 14, 2011
My eye started twitching over the weekend. I’m not sure if it’s because work had been a bit stressful, because I had to break a personal rule and go to Wal-Mart to buy the latest Def Leppard, because my guy was moving rather far away for work, because my father had started telling me yet again that God doesn’t like gays or because he went home and told my mother he wanted to go to church and talk to the person in charge in hopes that they could help me because I was gay. Really, it could be anything. Anything at all.
First, I’m over the whole thing about dad telling me God doesn’t like gays. The Alzheimer’s has robbed him of his memory and the overwhelming majority of who he was. It’s almost like he’s functioning on social instinct and I realize this. I don’t take it personally. My mother, on the other hand, does, but that’s because she’s too close to the situation. It’s not an easy thing to live with for either of them. I imagine some part of him is terrified of what’s going on and I know deep down she has to be terrified at what the future holds for her without her husband. I can’t think of life without my guy. How can she think of life without hers?
I’ve also stopped beating myself up asking why I didn’t see the signs sooner than I did. Really, you can’t. There’s no way. And adding insult to injury, there’s seven stages of this hell:
Stage 1: You’re pretty much fucked. Why? Because you can’t even tell anything’s wrong and even an interview with a medical doctor won’t reveal anything. So, no medication is prescribed to slow down the progress.
Stage 2: You’re definitely fucked. This is also minimal and might be seen as nothing more than you or I when we misplace something and can’t find it. There are days certain words escape me or I can’t remember what album a certain song is on. It happens. Heck, my guy and I go through a scenario once a week where he wants me to look for something he swears is on one side of the room and it’s in an entirely different room on the opposite side. Who’d notice if your father was doing the same thing? So, still no medication is prescribed to slow down the progression.
Stage 3: People are noticing you’re kinda fucked. Yes, things are now apparent that not all is as it should be. Dad started overusing words like “absolutely” and “have a good one” like they were going out of style. He also started calling mom on his way home from work if he was going to get a haircut and asking to be reminded where the haircut place was. This raised a few eyebrows at home and that’s when we started to worry. Naturally, it was already way too late. That’s when the medical tests began.
Stage 4: You’re starting to realize just how fucked you really are. We were told dad was no longer allowed to cook or drive, which he didn’t take kindly to. I inherited his Jeep and mom took over every important facet of life at home. It’s also a waiting game to see if the combination of medication is having an effect. The problem with that, though, is wondering how in the hell to tell if it’s having any effect at all.
Stage 5: You no longer remember how fucked you really are. We’ve only hit the moderate level. My father has difficulty dialing home because when he keeps thinking he needs to dial the area code we had 30 years ago. He also has difficulty remembering what day of the week it is, who the neighbors are and what he ate five minutes earlier. Fortunately, he still knows who my mother and I are. There’s no question there. It’s everything else that’s a pretty big question.
There are two stages after this and the doctor this week indicated that my father is between Stage 5 and Stage 6. The medication isn’t working and what comes next is pretty much the beginning of the real crappy part of the disease. Oh, yes. Everything up until now is pretty much a cakewalk before the hard part kicks in.
But this is where we’re at; between a rock and a hard place. The doctor telling us what he did puts things a little more into perspective. It’s going to be hell on my mother and I, but it’s going to be even worse for dad.
One of the things that really galls me about this is that he’s consistently said he wishes he could have worked longer in order to provide more for mom. And that just reinforces to me that there’s more to life than work. There has to be a balance and one tipped more towards family. That’s what counts. They’re who count.
I just wish he was well enough to see my guy and I get married next year. Who knew it would ever even be a possibility? But then…if gays can get married, then there’s hope that they’ll one day find a cure for Alzheimer’s.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
5 Responses to “Five of the Seven Stages Of Hell (aka Why My Eye Is Twitching)”
July 14, 2011 at 9:45 am
There are no words to express how sorry that I am that your family is going through this, just know that you are loved and supported and that positive vibes are flowing your way.
July 14, 2011 at 12:01 pm
Great piece. I can relate in watching my dad slide the same way in his battle with cancer. I can so relate. Much love and support coming your way. If you ever need to talk, call me, darling.
Dorien Grey says:
July 15, 2011 at 9:30 am
May 19, 2012 at 9:31 am
Hang in there! My mum also suffers from dementia (and depression) and only recently got given memory related meds cos the psychiatrist kept saying her dementia was a side effect of the depression so for half a year he was not treating her dementia. And then my auntie tonight goes ahead and blames me for her delayed medication because the psychiatrist said I didn’t communicate with him that she wasn’t getting any better. People suck. Also, there’s no God (or else he’d better have a good excuse!!) so I wouldn’t mind about him not liking a certain minority.
May 21, 2012 at 9:02 am
People will always have an opinion of what they would have done and what you could have done. I’ve been tuning that crap out for a while. It’s always easier for someone outside the situation to offer their advice because they think they know. They have no idea. Unless someone lives it, then in this case they do NOT know.
Keep your chin up. 🙂