Cage the radicals and dial back the crazy

Free radicals have already taken their toll on Grandma's brain. But I need to find help before she takes an irrevocable toll on my sanity.

Free radicals have already taken their toll on Grandma’s brain. And I need to find help before she irrevocably impairs my sanity.

My mother committed my father when I was two. She took her life when I was 22. So when I made it to my 40s with a mere case of manageable depression, I thought I’d dodged the bullet.

But seven years down the caregiving road, I’m not so sure.

Lately I’ve been agitated a lot. I’ve been thinking illogically. Maybe even deteriorating intellectually. If I were one of those people who reads a series of symptoms then self diagnoses, I’d say I’m schizophrenic. But I know I’m not. My grandma is figuratively driving me crazy.

Over the weekend she announced she needed to go to the doctor for reasons I won’t elaborate on. (Let’s just say they are in no way life threatening.) So yesterday morning I dutifully called and made an appointment. When the receptionist told me they could see her at 1:30, my teeth clenched. I couldn’t get a driver that fast, and I was buried in work. But Grandma was downstairs throwing herself a pity party so I made the appointment. As I hung up the rest of the day flashed before my eyes. I took a deep breath then headed down to get her moving. I was agitated before I made it to the bottom stair.

The doctor visit kicked off with a shower, which Grandma had refused all weekend. Part of me said “it’s only 10:00 — this is not going to take three hours.” But the other part said “give yourself a break in between.” Once the ordeal was over and she was dried off and half-dressed, I told her I’d be back down when it was time to go. Then I rushed back upstairs to get as much work done as I could before phase two.

Of course Grandma called me an hour and a half before we left asking if it was time to go yet. And to tell me she’d have to have help getting her walker upstairs. And to ask me how far away the doctor was. I might as well have answered “we’ll leave for the pumpkin patch at Halloween o’ clock with the wheelbarrow.” But I still tried to make her understand. Finally I said, “I’ll come get you when it’s time to go” and hung up.

I tried to refocus on work, but before I could I’d jumped up and grabbed the blueberries out of the fridge. “Take that free radicals. Don’t have time for lunch. Are blueberries really going to keep me from turning into her? How late will I have to work to make up for this appointment?” Anybody listening would seriously doubt my ability to think coherently.

Guess what happened at the doctor’s office …