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Overwhelm Overtime and Time Out

“Pick one thing, Laurel.  Just one task to take care of this morning,” I said when listening to my friend.

Laurel had just finished telling me about the mental and physical state of her Aunt Jenna.  The list was grim, and extensive, and had been going on for almost a year at this point.  Reality had finally taken its toll putting Laurel into a constant state of high anxiety, overwhelm, and worry.  She was having trouble knowing what to do next.

Laurel couldn’t get her aunt to go for a 200 ft. walk, or eat a decent meal, or eat on time so she could at least keep up her strength to give her body and brain a fighting chance against the on slot of the dementia.

Along with this disease, Laurel thought she might be witnessing symptoms of severe depression which, she felt, could be caused from a negative mixture of various medications her aunt was taking.  Aunt Jenna was devolving into not showering, or dressing, for the day.  Her home was becoming more unkempt, and she was saying “No” more often to walks, invitations to go shopping, or to going out for breakfast, which she always loved to do.  She was isolating herself more and more each day, and her depression was like a snowball going downhill gaining in speed and size.

Anything and everything Laurel tried to fix, suggest, or make better, was not working.  By the time Laurel called me, she was at her wit’s end, wanting to, “Run away with no trail of bread crumbs and never be found.”

We all can relate to that feeling.

When we are alone in our hell, our ideas and solutions are subjective and foggy, made worse because we are overwhelmed and exhausted.  We can’t see the forest for the trees.  Objectivity comes from talking to someone on the outside. I was able to help, having been there myself so many times. The two of us talking about her dilemma, helped Laurel pinpoint what needed to be done for that day: find her aunt a new primary physician immediately.

Laurel called me back within an hour and was even more frustrated than before.  Aunt Jenna’s insurance coverage had changed with the New Year, and the physicians that were recommended to Laurel previously were either not taking new patients, didn’t take Aunt Jenna’s new insurance, or both.  No surprise the 5 doctors she called ended up being brick walls.

From my own experience, I suggested she go directly to Aunt Jenna’s insurance company to get their current physician’s list, then run the names by her own trusted doctor before “Dialing for Doctor’s” again.

“Be concise and direct with The Big Insurance Company,” I told Laurel.  “Let them know you feel your aunt’s depression is at a critical point and they are your only source of help in getting your aunt into their approved doctor’s office immediately.  If the first insurance agent cannot help you, do NOT let them transfer you a second time. You ask for their manager.  Avoid getting transferred into the ‘forgotten oblivion’.  Be a sweet Pit Bull with lipstick and do the same when talking to the new, potential doctor’s office.”

It took Laurel over 4 hours to accomplish a confirmed doctor’s appointment for Aunt Jenna within the next three days.  That’s lightening speed in my book.

Brava, Laurel.  Brava!

What Is True For Me It took me 3 tries to find the right neurologist for Mom, two tries to find the right primary physician, 3 tries to find the right physical therapist,a half-a-dozen tries to find the right, certified Caregiving Agency with qualified in-home caregivers that Mom liked.  The Agency also had to be approved by her Long-Term Care Insurance Company.  It took me 13 tries to find 3 Assisted Living Residences for Mom and me to look at together when that time came.  Sometimes the criteria for resolving a matter feels like a game of pee-wee golf. There is always something in the way of making the goal difficult.

I learned that it takes a few strikes before a home-run is hit.  I eventually learned to have no expectations at all, to really watch and listen to the physician to see if they are listening to us, and to be sure their prescriptions and dosages are appropriate.

I don’t lose faith or lose hope.  I learned it’s a process.  It can be laborious and frustrating, with anxiety and overwhelm at the ready to take me down each and every time.  I learned to be aware of it and know the process will most likely have bumps.  Sometimes though, I get a surprise hole-in-one with a task that only takes a speedy 93 minutes flat to actually get accomplished!  Again, lightening speed.

Just breathe.  Always breathe.  The process can be at a snail’s pace, but at least it’s a pace.

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