Ever have a UTI?
Yeah, this is a great way to kick off a post, I know. Bear with me.
I used to get them a lot in my twenties. They’re horrible. They’re painful, and they can absolutely ruin your day, for days.
I also have to accept that as I get older, they’re going to make a return. They’re common in the elderly.
And when an elderly person with Alzheimer’s gets a UTI, it’s a whole other level of awful.
My mother-in-law is back in the hospital recovering from a UTI. We’d dealt with this before, when she was living with us, but we’d never seen her this wiped out from it. On Sunday, we honestly thought this was the end. As of today, she’s doing remarkably better.
This is yet another layer of the reality that is Alzheimer’s. And this is, yet again, why I’ve come to have ZERO patience with people making jokes about it (“Lost my keys again! Damn Alzheimer’s! Eh heh heh heh HEH…”). You don’t just forget where you put stuff. You don’t just blank out on names. You forget people entirely. You forget how to use utensils. You forget how to speak. You no longer have the means to communicate when something is wrong. And once all the cognitive stuff is wiped out, the disease attacks the rest of the brain, the parts that regulate things like swallowing, breathing, and fending off illness. I could break it down further, and paint quite a vivid picture of just how fucking horrible this disease is, but I’ll spare you. Just – THINK before you make an Alzheimer’s joke. Please.
And so while my mother-in-law is bouncing back from this infection, these emergencies will become more and more a part of our reality. Eventually, Aviv is not going to be able to accommodate her. Eventually, she is going to require around-the-clock nursing care. Thus, we start our next round of plans and provisions. She no longer lives with us, but the caregiving continues.
I’m tired. I’m sad. I know in my heart that this is not the life she would have wanted for herself, even as I still struggle to remember who she was before the diagnosis. The IV fluids and antibiotics have roused her. She’s sitting up, she’s cheerful, she even ate a little pasta last night. In all probability, she’ll be back at Aviv by the end of the week, having her nails done and watching Family Feud in the dayroom. I’m relieved that this wasn’t more serious, and yet I know I have to gird myself for the battles which most certainly lay ahead. Because “more serious” IS coming. Maybe not tomorrow, or next month. But it’s coming, boy howdy.
Natch, this isn’t exactly helping with my depression. But I’m managing. Trying to give myself a break here and there, by not clobbering myself over my weight gain, my periodically wanting to retreat into hours of crap television, my not being at Aviv 24/7 to make sure Marcia doesn’t get another UTI. I’m wired to feel guilty for just about everything. I can still rattle off an Act Of Contrition like nobody’s business. Your candidate doesn’t make the ballot? Hell, that’s my fault, too. Working on that.
More than ever, I’ve got to lean on that “one day at a time” thing. Because while drinking is not anywhere on the agenda today, I’ve got to do the thing that I’m constantly telling other people in recovery to do, and that’s to look down and see where my feet are. Because when I don’t do that, I’m mentally living in moments that haven’t even happened, and they’re mostly pretty grim. And they FEEL 100% real. I’m not sure that people who don’t experience anxiety like this entirely understand that last point. I can be utterly convinced the horror show in my head is totally going to happen.
In the meantime, I’m staying hydrated. *I* don’t need a UTI on top of all of this.