I’m Back…and Maybe Just a Little Bit Angry

For those of you who checked up on me these last few weeks, thank you. It’s crazy (and kinda flattering) that you missed me.

I’ve been supporting someone who is going through the toughest time of her life–and a tougher time than anyone should ever have to go through, really. And that is more important than my blog. Sometimes in life you have to prioritize.

It’s not my story to tell, so I’ll leave it at that, but allow me to say that I’m learning a lot about resilience and love.

As much as I’m learning, I’m doing a poor job applying those messages. I’m sorry. I’m just angry.

I’m angry someone I care about is going through something awful. I’m angry that COVID is making her challenge even more challenging. Angry that it’ll be a while before I can hop on a plane to go back to Atlanta to see her because airlines aren’t sticking to their promise of keeping the middle seats open.

Oh, I’m angry about COVID in general. Angry that nursing home residents can’t leave their rooms. Angry that no one seems to care when old people die–it’s their time anyway, right?

Angry that people are mocking the pandemic and intentionally planning events that violate social distancing policies. Angry that last week I saw a bouncy house birthday party when I was out for a walk–and there were about a dozen kids in that bouncy house with about 20 adults surrounding it. Angry that our country is torn into two groups: the “masks” and the “no masks.”

I’m angry that people are dying alone.

I’m angry that all of this seems to have been turned into a political issue that’s pulling us apart.

Maybe COVID is on the decline in your area of your country, but I live in a state that has a later peak. Nursing homes, in particular, are reporting new cases.

There are nursing homes that are doing a great job managing the challenges of COVID. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have any COVID cases. It means their employees have heart, and they are doing the best they can to serve the needs of residents who may be scared and lonely without the presence of family.

Many of my college students work in nursing homes. They come to work early and leave late so that they can help residents Facetime and Zoom their families. They sit and visit with residents who are frightened by staff in masks and personal protective equipment. They make me proud.

They understand that many residents watch the news religiously and are aware of the risks involved in living in a nursing home. They understand that other residents (with dementia) have little understanding of COVID and do not get why no one visits them, why everyone is wearing a mask, and why they can’t leave eat in the dining center. Why is bingo cancelled?

I hear of situations in nursing homes that anger me. (I guess anger is my word of the day, right?) There was a nursing home out east that didn’t report resident COVID deaths…in fact they just stored the bodies and didn’t notify families. I was stunned to read about this–and I wish more people had been stunned along with me.

 

People haven’t been as appalled as they should be. Imagine if this were a school or daycare. I’m not convinced this country cares about old people unless they happen to be related to us.

Old people don’t matter….except for my grandma.

Sometimes I wake up at night in the midst of a bad dream that I can’t really remember. I have a sense of anger about something that happened in my dream that I can’t remember.

I am overwhelmed at the cruelty the universe can inflict on good people.

Sometime after 9/11, I saw the following quote:

“When I was a boy, I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find the people who are helping.’ ” –Fred Rogers

That’s stuck with me, and it helps me find a bit of peace when the world is upside down, but it’s not enough lately. There are so many COVID helpers and so much positive news of amazing people making a difference. I see that and I appreciate it. But my appreciation doesn’t decrease my anger.

I’ve been struggling to find meaning. I know they say everything happens for a reason. How do you tell a young woman who can’t visit her husband in the ICU that everything happens for a reason? What about the lady I saw on the news talking about losing her husband and then both of her parents to COVID within a month? Are you able to look her in the eye and say everything happens for a reason?

My anger isn’t productive. I’m not proud of it. It needs to hit the road. I know that. And I’m working on it.

In fact, tomorrow I plan to go buy some hanging baskets of flowers to make my yard a more pleasant setting. In my mind, this will take my anger down a notch. Maybe even two.

I want to be one of those helpers. I can’t do it if I’m angry. My anger doesn’t serve myself, and it doesn’t serve others. I need to get past it and get a good night’s sleep.

But it’s not that easy.

I want to know that we care about old people and those who have health problems. I want to know that we all grieve with families who have lost a loved one–even if we are eager to get back to our everyday lives. I want to know that we are willing to make small sacrifices moving forward if it means looking out for people who might be immunocompromised.

I just want to know that we care.

I’m angry so many people just don’t care.

 

 

If you are looking for an article summarizing how the pandemic is impacting those with dementia and their loved ones, here’s a good one:

https://abcnews.go.com/US/covid-19s-hidden-victims-alzheimers-patients-nursing-homes/story?id=70686559

16 Comments

  1. I hear you! When I get enraged, I feel like my belly has fire in it, and it blazes through my heart and head. It’s not sustainable, and it makes me feel really bad. So I try to keep my anger around the edges, clearing out the belly fire and just let that go, but the anger around the edges is still cooking and serves its purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s been a tough time these last few months. Since early February my mom has gone from assisted living, to the hospital, to a nursing home short term memory unit, back to assisted living. I know God was looking after her the entire time. The staff at the assisted living is wonderful. I have had peace of mind and I know she’s in good hands. Even so, it’s been hard not being able to visit. I don’t know what she’s feeling or what she’s thinking. Does she even know who I am anymore?? I have “talked” to her briefly a few times and facetimed once, but I don’t think she understands the concept. When and if I can visit, will I be hesitant to visit because of Covid19? I pray every day that God keeps her safe and healthy along with the other residents and staff. That’s all I can do at this point.
    Thank you for your new blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another angry person. We senior citizens are not disposable and we need to take care of people like me.

    People who live in nursing homes are not disposable as it seems some people seem to think.

    I have heard it’s survival of the fittest. What does that say about how we think of our fellow human beings?

    It makes me both sad and angry.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for this post! My daughter works in an assisted living facility here in town and I don’t think enough attention has been given to what these residents and their staff have been going through. People are suffering and dying and yet others are concerned about not being able to hold a party or go to their favorite restaurant. When did everyone get to be so self-centered?!?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sorry you are so angry, but assuming there is no care for others seems like your angry has over powered your excellent good judgement. When you are angry about others going about their lives to preserve their own mental health, and yet you plan to go out and shop for yourself seems unfair. I am immune suppressed and I wear a mask when I’m in a situation where distance may not be possible. I assume others who wear a mask also have underlying issues. I make no assumptions about those who do not wear masks. Throughout the process, I’ve worked on my own tendency to judge… I can tell you that life is far better without it. Our world is filled with caring people… you are one of those. Your usual posts have been a lifeline to me as I’ve struggled to be at peace with my mom in memory care… she’ll be 95 next week and we’ll visit with her through her window… because the people who care for her DO care. Praying for you to find some peace and recognition that outward appearances and actions often do not reflect a caring heart. Perhaps the group on the bouncy house had just finished collecting and delivering food to a local food pantry… the truth is, none if us can know someone elses truth unless we are walking in their shoes. Take care.

    On Mon, May 18, 2020, 4:26 AM When Dementia Knocks wrote:

    > Elaine M. Eshbaugh, PhD posted: “For those of you who checked up on me > these last few weeks, thank you. It’s crazy (and kinda flattering) that you > missed me. I’ve been supporting someone who is going through the toughest > time of her life–and a tougher time than anyone should ever have ” >

    Like

  6. I know exactly how you are feeling, Elaine. My mother is in a care home in England, COVID free, thank goodness. It will be her 99th birthday next month but my international flight is cancelled and, of course, the home is closed to visitors. The province in which I live has had more than its fair share of tragedy these past few weeks; my anger has been diluted somewhat with absolute horror and sadness – not a good combination with which to face each day. But the sun is shining this morning: I WILL enjoy.

    Like

  7. Although I understand the fear of dying a difficult death alone because of a virus, I also know that the fear pandemic has become unendurable for others. These people are saying no to fear, which also can result in dying a difficult death alone.

    Like

  8. I’m angry too, Elaine. I don’t understand the comments I read about “mask shaming.” What is that? Are we supposed to understand why the people who want the “freedom” not to wear a mask in public, don’t, and bring their whole families shopping, maskless?
    Should I feel that it’s their “right” to expose the rest of us to the Coronavirus they might be carrying? When I observed that some of the caregivers in my mom’s care home were not wearing masks, and I freaked out, and called the owners, not once, but on two separate occasions, should I feel somehow bad about that? How can I understand when someone taking care of my mom chooses not to wear a mask, doesn’t see the importance of it? None of the ladies in my mom’s care home have gotten COVID, as far as i know, but why should I even have to worry about that, now, after all that’s been on the news about COVID deaths in nursing homes? Not all of the time, but enough, I feel both angry and helpless. I am forced to trust that my mom won’t get COVID. I have to trust that she is being taken care of well, because I can’t go in where she lives and check for myself. All I can do is talk to her via Google Duo on my phone from home, or through her living room window, with us both on phones. She seems fine. I know I’m not alone with these feelings of anger, frustration, and helplessness. Thank you, Elaine, for bring so honest with your feelings, and for the opportunity to vent here, where I know someone understands. Your blog is such a support for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you. I share your anger. I find it hard to understand the behavior of others. However, my overriding emotion is sadness. Your blog post this morning was really helpful . Again, thank you.

    Like

  10. Aww. I love this. Thank you.

    On Mon, May 18, 2020, 5:26 AM When Dementia Knocks wrote:

    > Elaine M. Eshbaugh, PhD posted: “For those of you who checked up on me > these last few weeks, thank you. It’s crazy (and kinda flattering) that you > missed me. I’ve been supporting someone who is going through the toughest > time of her life–and a tougher time than anyone should ever have ” >

    Like

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