Friday, March 13, 2009

It is What it Is

The other day I was restless. It was around 3am and I was wide awake. I couldn't help but feel uneasy. Something was changing around me. It was on this day that I looked into the face of my Gram but her eyes were vacant. She’s 79 and is in the beginning stages of dementia. I know what’s happening but still I say to her “Grandmom, why are you staring like that?” She looks at me and, for the moment, she’s back. She says “I don’t know” and follows it up with “This is what happens when you get old.” We laugh, go about our visit but I was haunted by that look. I know the truth is that she’s slipping away and there is nothing I can do about it.


When someone you love that much becomes less and less themselves, everyday is a tiny loss. There is a certain sadness that comes with watching someone or something fall apart. There is a feeling of defeat when you are powerless to control the outcome. I live by the mantra “it is what it is” but secretly I wonder “why does it have to be this way?”

The resounding echo of that question does not escape my thoughts, even as I participate in what is supposed to be mindless entertainment. I have been amazed at how human nature plays out in the blogosphere and, frankly, appalled at some of the behavior I’ve seen adults engage in. Anger, blame, feuds, personal attacks…stick around for a month and you’ll see it all in the Gosselin blogosphere from both sides. The sides are quick to point out the flaws in the others. We as a collective group of bloggers (again on both sides) are quick to dismiss and discredit. Marian Wright Edelman said “whenever two good people argue over principals, they are both right.” Are we good people? Is our character intact?

I know in the past I’ve been guilty of disregarding the feelings of others. I’ve done things that I’m not proud of. On the other hand I don’t regret that there has been conflict. I’ve learned so much from ‘debate’ and argument. In my view, conflict can be the catalyst of thought and imagination. It’s just that sometimes things go too far. Why? Why does it have to be this way?

As more time passes, I view the Gosselin situation in the way I view my gram’s condition. I don’t like it, I don’t want a family to be torn apart. At the end of the day, though, there is nothing I can do about it. The only thing we have control over is how we treat others in our pursuit of entertainment (or whatever the motivation for blogging may be). For certain, people on the opposite side of your views may dislike you. That’s not always easy (especially for someone like me who isn’t used to being disliked)…but “it is what it is.” I just wonder, can it be any different ever?

36 comments:

Eileen said...

nomoredrama, I feel for you. This is the beginning of one of the hardest journeys you're family will go through. There's no way to pretty it up. But I promise you, there will be so many golden moments along the way. Moments that you will cherish lifelong. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

Linda said...

nmd -

I feel for you and Eileen is right. This marks the beginning of a very long road for your grandma, you, and your family.

We went through the same thing with my dad. It is so important to cherish the time that you have with her while she is "with" you.

Linda

MonicaW42 said...

NMD,

My Grandmother is 91 and has had dementia for the past 5 years. It's hard, so I understand. When I am there she tells me the same stories over and over again. I am the only grandchild who's name she remembers. I also feel guilty and didn't see her for a year as I didn't want to remember her that way. I am glad I got over that and can continue to see her.
Just know that they are still in there through the fog.

SamanthaNC said...

NMD,

My grandfather started going through this in the winter of 07. I live 6hours from my family and they kept it from me trying to "protect" me. Apparently it didnt occur to them that it would be shock for me when I came home. We talk almost daily on the phone and other than a few moments where I thought he was just tired, he had been able to fool me. When I came home mom told me that he had been having a few "memory problems".

A few memory problems was putting it lightly. It was very painful to see him so confused, it appeared that alzheimers was setting in. One dayhis breathing became very shallow and his pulse was frighteningly low. After several visits to 2 different doctors they determined that his memory loss was from lack of oxygen.

He sleeps with oxygen tubes and now, for the most part he is fine. We were very thankful. I'm sorry, I know it's painful and hard to witness. Hang in there.

Linda said...

I did want to pass on a couple of things that were pretty helpful to us.

Whenever we visited my dad at the nursing home, we always brought photo albums with us to look over with him. It was nice to look at the pictures and it was also a good way to keep stimulating his brain.

Another thing that we did was kind of put a journal/guestbook in his room. We encouraged family members who visited him to jot down a few notes about what they did with him. That way when we'd ask, "Who has stopped by lately?" and he'd look at us blankly we could say, "Let's see, Judy stopped by on Tuesday and trimmed your nails. Carol looked at photo albums with you yesterday. How was your walk with Bob?"

It was a good way to communicate with family members and a good way to keep orienting him.

Nina Bell said...

Nice post Nomoredrama,

Really good advice from the other posters here regarding your grandmother. My parents are in their 80s and although they are not experiencing dementia, they are becoming confused at times. Some of it has to do with the medications they are on. It is hard, really hard, to watch someone decline in health. I have no answers and in the end it truly "is what it is."

As far as the Gosselin blogosphere, it doesn't appear that it can be any different. It isn't about voicing an opinion anymore, is it? Things have gone too far. We don't even post about many of things that come our way.

One thing I have noticed is that as I get older I truly do not care what other people think about me. Nomo and I have had these discussions before. Especially in this Gosselin blogosphere. This is not real life. What matters is real life. In real life, I love many and am loved by many.

Tinkerbell said...

NMD,

Thanks for sharing, great post.

nomoredrama said...

The trolling comments that we're apparently getting now are exactly what I'm talking about.

When it gets to the point that sharing a human experience becomes fodder for fools to make ignorant statements, refer to the post...you cross a line.

You want to talk to me? Post something. Email me. Be an adult.

To everyone else: Thanks for the kind words and thoughts. I know it's going to be a long road.

I guess it's also going to be a long time before people can let go of their middle school ways.

Theresa said...

Linda said...

Another thing that we did was kind of put a journal/guestbook in his room. We encouraged family members who visited him to jot down a few notes about what they did with him. That way when we'd ask, "Who has stopped by lately?" and he'd look at us blankly we could say, "Let's see, Judy stopped by on Tuesday and trimmed your nails. Carol looked at photo albums with you yesterday. How was your walk with Bob?"


Excellent idea Linda! I wish our family would've done something like that with our grandmother. Gram had five kids and a ton of grankids. Something like that would've been extremely helpful. My mom and aunt were always at the nursing home, but God forbid we're in for another experience like that, I'll be sure to make a journal/guestbook for our family.

Nomoredrama, my prayers are with you on this difficult journey. My grandmother passed away from Alzheimer's. Cherish even these last days ahead.

nomoredrama said...

To be honest, it's hard to even see it written in print (even though I put it there). I'm still in a form of denial.

I feel kind of exposed....but it's good to feel supported.

Thanks again.

Denise said...

My mother is 78 and still very sharp but I know the time is coming. It is hard and my thoughts are with you.

Bunny said...

Nomoredrama,

I work in an Alzheimer's unit with 40 patient's. It is very sad that this happens to people and my heart goes out to you. I talk with family members who share pictures and stories from the past. I would like to say that there is plenty of information out there about Alzheimer's and dementia. There is always new information coming out.

Saint said...

My husband's grandmother was 98 when she died. Only a few months before, she and I were alone, and all of a sudden she rose up, reached for her walker, and started to cross the room. As she crept along, I watched, worried, wondering if I should just get her what she wanted, hoping she wouldn't fall. She looked over at me, smiled, and said, "Don't EVER turn 80!"

"Grandma," I said, "You're 98!"

"No wonder I feel so lousy," she laughed.

She was lucid all day, then the sun would set, and she'd make no sense, asking about her mother or when the train would be coming. I miss her.

Even though it's painful to think about, Nomoredrama, try to enjoy your time together. Ask her questions about her past. I learned a lot about my husband's family from his grandma...things he didn't know.

Saint said...

Nomoredrama,
How much of the Gosselin blog wars, that you mention here, is because of the anonymity? Another factor: sometimes a post is read as a personal attack, when it's just a disagreement. And I suspect that the "mindless entertainment" for some is not debate at all. It's actually saying something nasty or creating confusion or lying to discredit someone.

Can it be any different? I don't know. It's a big Internet, and this is a problem all throughout the web. It's not limited to Gosselin blog world.

Eileen said...

Sorry if you didn't get my last post. I'm out of town, using another computer, it wasn't automatically connected to my account. I went back and logged in now. If my previous post ever made it through, just disregard this.
I just said that I agreed with Nina and that you get to a point in life where you want to turn off the negative and concentrate on bringing the positive into your life. We need to uplift ourselves.

Also, nomoredrama, just stay strong, and it's times like these that surrounding yourself with the positive will help you along.
My new motto: Live the Blessings.

Nina Bell said...

My son tells me that the music forums he frequents are worse and are mostly not moderated.

I think there could be a civilized debate if one wanted one if people would quit socking and come out and use a screen name that they are known for. Honestly is always the best policy.

Also every blog that has anything to do with the Gosselins has either a strong fan base or strong non fan base mixed with some people that are middle of the road. You need to realize that going in and be prepared to deal with that when you post. Every blog.

I would enjoy hosting a debate on this site. Where you would have just a few people involved in the debate. There would be rules in place. A kind of point/counterpoint type thing. I think it could be interesting and fun and would be a way to possibly see both sides as human. I doubt we could ever get two sides to agree to it.

indianprincess said...

I'm sorry NMD, my grandfather died of Alzheimer's. I didn't see him when he was really bad because my mother kind of sheltered us kids from it. I wish I could have said goodbye. I didn't know until after he died what a great man my grandfather was.

I don't think the Gosselin Blog World will ever see the two sides agreeing with each other. There is bad blood with the regular posters and then you have to counter in all the socks and people who just want to stir the pot. The only thing you can do is be who you are and who cares what everyone else thinks.

Meaghan said...

nomoredrama:

Thank you for the very personal post. Many people are faced with this horrible disease in a loved one, and it is not easy. My thoughts are with you.

Nina Bell, I am curious as to your debate idea. I may be missing something, but I respectfully ask how such a thing could be limited to a chosen few? What would be the criteria for inclusion? And I guess, what would be the point of a debate among a few?

Liza Beth said...

Nomoredrama, Let me know if there is anything I can do to help-- besides supplying you with more nostalgic videos to enjoy :).

I really appreciate how you said "The only thing we have control over is how we treat others in our pursuit of entertainment (or whatever the motivation for blogging may be)." We've talked in the past about how there are only some things we have anything we can possibly control-- I have nothing I can do about how others choose to treat me, the information about me they want to post, or the way they want to twist my words. I can only control how I treat them. I think remembering that has helped me bite my tongue and keep my emotions in check.

At the end of the day, as I have said many times before, I think the show should end soon. I am thankful that Kate has career plans which will allow her to provide for her family away from the show. But this is not something I can do anything about. I do think that many people we may consider "haters" are not at all as crazy as they seem--- just like there are not as many absolute Gosselin wannabes as some believe. I think there are definite issues worth discussing, but when people start to pull personal information out of the blue from those of us who are really trying to make the situation more peaceful its just wrong.

It would really be great to have a way to honestly debate these issues without the personal attacks from both sides. Nina, I would love to do a point/counterpoint in a controlled setting where sock puppets and trolls are not allowed to get people angry. Like you said, Indianprincess, there are quite a few 'regular' posters from both sides then countless sock puppets which muddy the water. I put way more stock in those who are willing to have their locations and some background on who they are available.

Just my thoughts-- I'm sorry I did not post earlier! Its been crazy here so hopefully I'll be back around more in the near future :).

Nina Bell said...

Meaghan,

It wouldn't be a chosen few, it would be those who are willing to debate. Many people have no desire. Different subjects and different people each time.

A point/counterpoint might be the way to go so that it would not end up in an argument or hurt feelings or someone feeling ganged up on.

The point would be so that maybe each side of the debate would be able to sit back and really read and listen to what each person debating has to say without worrying what they would say in the comment section. Maybe to make some type of connection and realize that people on both sides of the fence are human.

It is said that intelligent debate can not happen on the internet. It would be nice to prove that wrong.

It is just a thought.

Meaghan said...

Liza Beth,

I must disagree with you about providing even more information, as you suggested. From your post, it appears that you have shared things that have been twisted or somehow used against you (? sorry, not privy to that). It isn't wise to put more than necessary out there. I've done that, and regret it, not because it has been used against me, but because who knows if it will in the future. I'm sure your mods or blog owner have all of the IP's tracked, and that is enough for me. I think it is asking a lot of people to be willing to disclose their exact location, or other info about themselves. Perhaps a wiser choice would be a strict adherance to a new terms of service? Civility being of the utmost importance.

Nina Bell said...

I don't believe anyone should give out personal information on the internet. I am all for using the same screen name on whatever blog you are posting on.

Sorry to disappoint you Meaghan but all of the mods work full time jobs and have a life outside the blog so we do not have all IP addresses tracked. Most of the mods do not even have access to the sitemeter. We usually do not look at our sitemeter unless it is someone who is repeatedly posting harassing comments.

Anya said...

Meaghan said... I must disagree with you about providing even more information, as you suggested. From your post, it appears that you have shared things that have been twisted or somehow used against you (? sorry, not privy to that). It isn't wise to put more than necessary out there. I've done that, and regret it, not because it has been used against me, but because who knows if it will in the future. I'm sure your mods or blog owner have all of the IP's tracked, and that is enough for me. I think it is asking a lot of people to be willing to disclose their exact location, or other info about themselves. Perhaps a wiser choice would be a strict adherance to a new terms of service? Civility being of the utmost importance.

Meaghan, I don't think Nina was suggesting that you provide any information that could allow others to track you outside of this blog. The information Liza Beth has shared is not enough to identify her, but she has shared information that a few (only a few) have then used to slam her.

Personally, I think it's more about establishing a presence here. Use a Google ID. Stick with it. You don't have to share your location. I only share very general information. If you have strong feelings about the Gosselins that might run contrary to some, perhaps start with a post or two on an off-topic thread. That's why I think the nostalgia thread was a good one. Hopefully, there are few people who don't "like us" who saw that and found some common (non Gosselin) ground.

Nina, I really like your idea. Even though there are no doubt weirdos on both sides of the aisle, I like to think that there are enough folks with common sense on both sides of the issue who could engage in some meaningful conversation.

Anya said...

NMD, not much to add to the wisdom already expressed here, but I thank you for sharing.

Linda's thoughts were particularly helpful. One thing that I have appreciated about caring for my relatives in the past that have been in declining health is the gift of being of service to another. It's a different dynamic than being a mom or any other role I have had. It is truly a privilege.

Nina Bell said...

Anya

I can't really take full credit for that idea. It is something that Nomoredrama and I have been talking about for the last couple of weeks and I know Liz and Guin have been discussing something similar.

Perhaps a wiser choice would be a strict adherence to a new terms of service? Civility being of the utmost importance.

Respect would be great also. These are standards that we should all strive for on all blogs.

I think what I find the most amazing about all of the back and forth on all of the blogs is the finger pointing. If you read or look at all the different blogs, you can find the exact same behavior exhibited on the very blog that is accusing another blog of bad behavior.

Liza Beth said...

Meaghan, sorry to have been unclear-- I was not at all suggesting that you published details of who you are on this blog :). As Nina and Anya said, its definitely about establishing a presence. Email with a moderator if you have post ideas, as well as having your google ID and sticking with it. No matter what information is shared, there are some that will always choose to twist and warp what is said. This is a forum where we can discuss, clarify, and at times agree to disagree.

At the end of the day, as Nina said, those of us moderating have full time jobs and lives away from this blog. I guess you could call this a hobby of some sort. It would not be the end of the world if the show was over-- at least for me I have made some very strong and wonderful friendships both from discussing the Gosselins as well as other threads. So really even when I disagree with someone it does not mean we do not have common ground elsewhere. That's what makes life so neat :).

Eileen said...

We all have heartaches we have to face in life. The world throws enough negativity at us. I would be very happy to visit a site each day that is more about empowering the positive. And that wouldn't mean that there can't be disagreements, discussions, and debates on any subject. No one wants to think that their opinion is inconsequential nor should they be made to feel that way. A forum that would allow the flow of ideas sounds wonderful.
And I see what you mean about consistent ID's, much less chance of those nonsense and hate posts. Let's face it, life is not a bed of roses all the time and it's nice to know there's support out there.

nomoredrama said...

I echo the "don't care about IP" sentiment. The idea of the controlled debate I just thought would be interesting because I've never seen a blog do that before. I mean, yes, I've seen bloggers debate in comments but not a point, counterpoint post.

Point, counterpoint--comments on the debate.

Anyway, if you were worried about your privacy and wanted a way to keep your ip out of it, you could always email. Use a fake email if you want. I don't use my real email. Gmail is a good source of private emailing.

If you're not interested (collective you), that's fine too. It was just a thought. Not a plot, LOL!

Saint said...

I like your idea NMD and Nina. It isn't anything I have seen on other blogs yet. Would you suggest a topic then ask for people to sort of "sign up" to debate it? Would you take topic suggestions?

Nina Bell said...

Saint

That is exactly what Nomo and I had in mind. Topics would not have to be related only to the Gosselin controversy. We have done off topic posts for about six months now and are very open to any topic.

Mom said...

*warning - long post, sorry*

NMD -

I'm sorry I haven't replied sooner to your post. Big hugs to you and yours. It's really difficult seeing the ones you love so much grow older.

My H's grandfather (who is currently recovering from surgery for colon cancer) thinks he's "Liberace" right now and is singing and flirting with all the nurses. Even though we know he's confused and forgetting things, we try to have fun with him. Today my H sang along with him and his Grandfather thought that was hilarious.

My Grandma passed away at the age of 96 a few years back. She was sharp as a tack, but became really confused when she was out of her surroundings. She would ask my H over and over again - "now, who are you?" We'd all just laugh and tell her she knew that was "so-n-so" and laugh. It was a way to lighten the mood without being too focused on her memory.

Hang in there - there are lots of wonders now with modern medicine and holistic treatment. Learn as much as you can from her - she's a wise one! ;-)

I'm glad you brought up the rest on your feelings related to the G blogs. To be honest, I'm a pretty sensitive person. My feelings get hurt - sometimes too easily.

In the past (here, I believe), I had mentioned finding "common ground" in the G blogosphere. I remember the first time I got called out on another G blog was in reference to the PM hoax. Some not-so-nice things were said about me, you and the other mods here about being heartless and non-caring when we weren't sending our prayers and sympathies to an imaginary person.

The trolling and hateful (yes, hateful) comments that have been directed towards the mods and some of the other posters here are awful.

The sockpuppeting is completely ridiculous. If people feel so strongly about someone - whether it be negative or positive - why change their screen name? Honestly, it doesn't make much sense to me.

Getting back to the "common ground" thing - I think many people sit atop the proverbial Gosselin fence. I think many people don't care for the way Kate acts (sometime or all the time). I also think many people worry about the children and how their lives will be affected in the future - many of our worries are the same and some are very different.

I'm not a "lover," nor am I a "hater." I have a mind of my own, so "sheeple" doesn't fit the bill either.

As far as the debate thing goes - I think it would be interesting, that's for sure. I'm not a very good debater. I might just sit in the stands and be an onlooker, so to speak.

merryway said...

NMD, thank you for your post. I hope the best for you and yours.





The debate thing sounds fun.

Jennifer said...

First, let me express my sympathy for your situation. My grandfather is 82 and is now in the mid-stages of Alzheimer's, so I know what it's like watching someone slowly leave you.
Second, let me give you some practical advice. Since your Gram is still relatively sharp mentally, if you (or someone else in your family) haven't already, get an lawyer and get both a medical and durable power of attorney. It will make things so much easier for you and your family down the road. My father got one for his father four years ago and it was the best thing the two of them did. My father can sign forms and make decisions. If we didn't have POA, we would have had to go to court and get guardianship of my grandfather. Also, make sure someone else is on her checking/savings account, on safe deposit boxes, and is authorized to speak to her doctor, broker, etc. Once again, it will make life easier as it gets harder in a few years. Finally, even though is hopefully a few years away, start checking into assisted living facilities and such, just to find out what is near you and how much it will cost - be prepared for sticker shock.

Anya said...

Mom said... I'm sorry I haven't replied sooner to your post. Big hugs to you and yours. It's really difficult seeing the ones you love so much grow older.

My H's grandfather (who is currently recovering from surgery for colon cancer) thinks he's "Liberace" right now and is singing and flirting with all the nurses. Even though we know he's confused and forgetting things, we try to have fun with him. Today my H sang along with him and his Grandfather thought that was hilarious.


I just wanted to respond to this and echo that I think your husband handled things wonderfully.

I haven't experienced a relative that has been diagnosed with dementia, but I have seen the toll various medications and hospitalizations can take on one's clarity of mind.

I don't speak with any clinical expertise, but the way we handled it was to just go along with the reality our loved one was at at that point in time. And I don't regret it.

nomoredrama said...

You guys have all offered some really good perspective. I really like Linda's suggestion about the photo albums. I also think what you said, Jennifer, is really the direction my parents need to go in.

Luckily, right now, my Gram has in-home services. She lives in Senior Independent Living, has a social worker and people who come in 24/7 to help her with medication (she's diabetic), bathing and what-not. So when I bring that up to my mom, I will tell her to ask the Social Worker about that process.

Thanks again for all of the thoughts and comments. I appreciate it.

Guinevere said...

NMD, thanks for this piece and I'm glad that it sounds like your grandmother has good care. I haven't had to deal with dementia, luckily, but went through something similar to Mom with my dad when he was sick - being in the hospital would confuse him, and unfortunately pain medication (which he needed) pretty much sent him out of his head entirely.

It can definitely be hard to deal with. I actually didn't mind the crazy stories and the claims that Joe Montana was just in the room visiting someone or stuff like that. It could be kind of funny, actually. It did make me feel bad, though, when we would visit and he would not understand that he couldn't leave with us, no matter how much we explained it.

I feel for you, because I know things don't get better with dementia. It's going to be a tough road for you and your family, and I wish the best for all of you.