Has My Invitation to Old Age Been Bought?

I feel as though I’ve sold my soul to an assisted living facility.

Posted May 12, 2019

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who are reading this post.

Mother’s Day 2015, I wrote a post titled “I Still Miss My Mother,” which has amassed over 59,000 views. I continue to receive e-mails from readers who are grieving the loss of their mothers. Memorial Day weekend will be the first anniversary of my stroke and there are times I’m acutely aware of my mother’s absence.

I’m sinking into a depression and I’m terrified.  I have a lousy history with depression and I can plunge fast and furiously into a bottomless abyss. I increased the Abilify, which I’m using as an adjunct to my antidepressant, from 2 mg to 5 mg to 7 mg, but it’s not helping. I contacted my psychiatrist, whom I seeing tomorrow.  Her response was that she has a couple of ideas regarding medication and that we have a lot to talk about. I know I do. It’s coming up on a year since I had my stroke and my company is pushing back on continuing to give me the accommodations I need to work. They think I should be cured and back to my old self. If only it worked that way.

My last post which was Part I of a 3-part series, " I Want My Mind and Body to Be Healthy at the Same Time,” left off after I was hospitalized the first week in April, having passed out in my bathroom, hitting my head on the tile floor. I’m on two blood thinners so that could have resulted in a brain bleed, but thank goodness the CT scan was clear. I was admitted to the hospital to find out why I passed out and the doctors discovered I was anemic.

As I live alone, this event of passing out and hitting my head scared me. It frightened me more than the stroke. When I had the stroke almost a year ago, I was able to get into a cab and go to the hospital on my own power. I was fortunate I realize, and I remain grateful every day because the effects of the stroke could have been much worse. Last month, if the fall had resulted in a brain bleed, I could have died or ended up in a vegetative state.

Fear is a powerful motivator and I acted on the fear that was haunting me. I’d been thinking about writing a will, not because I have anything of great value, but because I’d heard that if one dies intestate then whatever is in one’s apartment becomes a mess as the state gets involved. I went to one of the legal websites because my directive is very simple (everything to my brother) and I did it! Not only did I complete my will, I decided to bundle (because I chose to purchase all three) and write my living will and advance directive as well. 

©gerriluce
Source: ©gerriluce

The second action I took was harder. I spoke to my psychiatrist, my PCP, and several friends. I made the decision to purchase a medical alert device, the kind one wears around the neck, and if I fell (and was conscious), I could press and request emergency help.

This felt like admitting I am old and helpless and although everyone I spoke to thought it was a great idea for obvious reasons, I felt as though I am giving up my independence. Which is ridiculous.

I went on the Internet and told myself I was “just looking.” My criteria was a small device that I could wear around my neck, reasonably priced and waterproof so I could wear it into the shower. I wanted basic services, not all the expensive extras such as notifying relatives and fall alert (from what I read this is not perfected). I only wanted to wear it when home alone, not when I went out. I read industry reviews and customer reviews. I went back to the website every day for almost a week. I’m not sure what I was expecting to find.

©gerriluce
Source: ©gerriluce

I stopped at Best Buy to “just look” at the device in person. It was embedded in the packaging, but the clever design allowed me to see and touch the actual device. I stared at it and put the package back on the shelf. It was the only one left  I turned to leave and turned around, picked it up and checked it out again.  

“F*ck.” Every step toward the cash register felt as though my feet were encased in cement. I got there, paid for it, and headed for my car. Did I mention it was raining that day?

At home, the device sat on the desk in my bedroom for a couple of days before I hefted its weight. Once I finally opened it, I realized I could have been safer all this time.

Now I wear it on a string around my neck at home and in the shower. 

It’s heavier than I thought it would be. When I used to commute to an office I wore a different necklace every day. I have a nice collection of funky costume necklaces, some of which I purchased at flea markets in Paris when I was there in 2005. That was a different life and oh my god, I want that life back.

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