Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ada, separate the emotion!!

It has been a while since I've written.  Mostly due to being incredibly busy and not knowing how to portray properly some of the events due to the detail required to make the story understandable.  It is exhausting....the events and the writing.

In the last week, I have have discovered one thing to be most important for my performance at work and personally.  I have to stay neutral and not get caught up in Gary's erratic emotions.  When I become affected by his emotions, mine get out of control and things go wrong.  The following events are examples of that.....while funny, they are precursors for larger "mess ups" if I don't get a handle on this inability to separate my two worlds emotionally.

Last Wednesday evening, I made the decision to not attend the monthly Chamber of Commerce meeting on Thursday due to my college's Orientation for new students was at the same time and much more important during this period of time in our company sale.  I have always gotten there by 10:00am to do my part, but extra support may be needed so I emailed the appropriate person at the Chamber and slept better.

The plan was to be at the college at 8:00 rather than at City Hall at 8:00 am.  If I played it correctly, I could arise at 6:00, get ready, hit heavy traffic and still be at work on time. Gary's CLUB is closed on Thursday so I did not need to involve that stop.

Gary awoke at 5:30 am and was again staring at me. "Good morning, dear."
"Hi, Garball.  Did you sleep well?" 

"Yes, but I really need to start planning the Yosemite trip.  Can you help me?"

Okay, up it is.  The conversation turned into a full-on argument that lasted until it was time for me to leave.  As I drove up Highway 5, I was trying to stop the intermittent crying and then looked in the mirror.  That was motivation enough....red, puffy eyes and all the make-up was either gone or down on my chin.  Need to plan this out. 

I can stop by CVS pharmacy next to the college and get some fix it makeup and then get quick breakfast and get there by 8:00.  There was an accident on the freeway that slowed things.  (I still have the crying heaves every few minutes.  Stop it Ada, you have to speak this morning.) Then, I realized I had something in my eye that without stopping, was not coming out.   I reached CVS and realized my suit jacket was incredibly snug and uncomfortable but I went in the store and realized I would just have to wear it anyway.   As I entered the door, the security alarm sounded.  I froze because I was trying to remember where the eye drops were in the store, not because of the alarm.  The clerk pointed me in the right direction after explaining the alarm was a system test.  I was so numb that I truly didn't think of it but the adrenaline still hit my system. 

As I walked through the store, there was an elderly, slow-moving man in the aisle ahead of me.  He collapsed over a large water display.  "Are you OK, sir?"
"Yes, sweetie, my back just goes out.  I'll be OK in a few minutes, just leave me here."  Is this day really happening?

Eye drops retrieved, along with eye shadow, mascara and eye liner. I went to the car, washed my eye and proceeded to drop the mascara down the front of my light pink blouse and the too-small-anyway jacket.  Really?  Do I drive 45 minutes back home? No, go buy something.  Off to Target which is the only store open at 8:15. 

The escapades in there were unbelievable.  After several tries, I found a blouse and sweater (way too casual) that did not need ironing and made my way to the cashier.  The fitting room lady freaked when I told her I wanted to wear my purchases.  People just don't do that....you must buy them first.  I reassured her that I was not stealing and convinced her to cut off the tags and walk with me to the register.  Dropping a blouse on the floor in electronics and retrieving it came before the money. 

OK, hey, there is a Starbucks in the front.  Maybe I should get some tea.  I was late for the 8:00 shift where no one was expecting me, so maybe the tea will calm me.

I stood in line.  Who has ever been to a Starbucks with one employee?  There was a man in front of me leaning on the counter. He fell asleep and almost fell.  We chuckled and proceeded to tell me that he had Crohn's disease and that his Mom had died from it.  I heard the family story that ended with "so, I don't know how long I will live, but I get my coffee everyday.  That is all I can enjoy."

Wow.  My heart went from pissed off, angry, upset and feeling sorry for myself to "God bless you."  He blessed me and I decided the day was mine to control and that I needed to control what I was attracting into my day. Thank you, LORD for sending angels.  There, fixed.

On to Orientation.  It was a smooth morning.  I checked in with Gary and shared the whole incident.  He laughed but did not remember the argument or why I was crying in the first place. 

Later in the afternoon, I tried to call Gary on three numbers and the GPS.  No answer.  Repeat.  Repeat.  The GPS software showed the GPS to be at home so if he went walking, he didn't take it. 

After two hours, I decided to drive home.  I had time before the next Orientation to go there and get back.  For forty five minutes home, I hoped he would answer but he didn't.  (I decided to plan not to get upset if he was home, just be happy.) When the garage door opened, he came out of the house and asked why I was home in the middle of the afternoon.  Upon exploration, I found his cell phone turned off, the GPS on the counter and the main home telephone moved to his office.  He could not hear the GPS from upstairs and the home phone he had moved was not plugged into the hard phone line.  It never would ring. 

I moved the phone back to where it belonged, kissed him goodbye and went back to work.  After getting home late, we both slept well.

Now Heather is here.  It is going well and she is a great relief for us. Gary got very stressed, tired and overwhelmed last night.  He had earplugs in while taking a bath so we ended up yelling at each other over whether or not I had told him I would bring him tea.  To make a long story longer, he got very angry and told me that he needed to divorce me and marry someone else.  I will spare you the details of the argument but by the time he went downstairs to let Diva out and came back, he was back to normal.  Meanwhile, I have emotional devastation. 

He awoke this morning apologizing for what he said and telling me how much he loves me.  He remembered! 

Like I said when I started this post, I need to separate my emotions from his.  That talent is hard after 28 years.  I still love him.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Commencement, Fried Chicken, Waffles, a CISCO router and flies (alot of flies)

On Friday, we had a commencement ceremony for our April and July Graduates. I had told Gary several times earlier in the week, yesterday morning and at lunch time that I would be gone until at least 9:00pm....just like every other twice a year graduation for the last 7 years. He knows this.  Well, he used to know this. 

I left for the downtown auditorium around 3:30 and while on the road, attempted to call Gary.  Home line, no response.  Business line, no response.  Cell phone, no response.  GPS, no response.  OK, now I'm irritated. Obviously, he had gone on a walk and forgotten his "electronics".

I parked at the auditorium and proceeded to haul my load of stuff in to the dressing room.  Extra robes, shoes, makeup, flat iron, purse, cell phone, tablet and one of my employees suit jacket. I forgot about rechecking on Gary.

My role in the day is to be at the auditorium, help with setup, rehearse the graduates, put on a robe and serve as Mistress of Ceremonies, including shaking about 200 hands while smiling for posed diploma-giving pictures. I am not able to take phone calls from about 6:00 to the end. 

About 5:30, my phone rang from an unknown number.  I answered to hear Gary's usual, "Hi honey, this is your husband."  "Gary, where are you?" "Honey, Diva and I went for a walk and I'm lost.  Here, talk to this man."  He handed the phone to a man who said that Gary had knocked on his door and asked for directions.  I asked the man if he was wearing a necklace GPS as I could use it to find his location and give better directions. No, he was not.  The man said that he was on the phone with the IRS (it was important to him) and said he could not give directions.  He asked if I could pick up Gary and the cute little dog. I explained that I was in downtown Sacramento.  He was very nice and suggested that I text him our home address and when he got off the phone with the IRS that he would take Gary home.  He said that he would call me after Gary was home.  I sent the address right away and proceeded to finish rehearsal. 

About 6:20, Gary called me from home and said that he was home.  I promptly lectured him about going on a walk with no water and no electronics.  I realized that my words were wasted but I felt better.  I told him that I need to get dressed and that I would be turning off my phone.  He said he understood that he needed to eat dinner and that I would call him when I was on the highway around 9:00.

When the ceremony was over, I glanced at my phone and saw that he had called three times.  On the freeway, I called him to discover he had not had dinner.  Burgers and fries for dinner.

I was exhausted emotionally and physically. To say that I was looking forward to sleeping late would be an understatement. 

7:30 am.  Gary was in the bed next to me, staring at me.  I knew instantly that sleeping late would be a lost "dream".  He said, "I have a big responsibility, what do you think?"  As the fog cleared from my head, I said, "What are you talking about?"

Then he blew me away and set me into an advanced state of anxiety unlike any I've felt in a long time.  He said that he had talked to our friend of 28 years with whom he has made several lengthy and grueling backpacking trips.  Gary said that he was in charge of planning a trip for the group to Yosemite.  He indicated that because he had so many good ideas when they talked that he would be doing all the planning.  I couldn't believe it.  First I thought that he had imagined that the guys wanted him to plan it.  Secondly, could it be true that he really had been put in charge of the trip and Michael did not really grasp the depth of Gary's decline.  A thousand other things went through my mind while I continued to get stressed.

I told him there was no way he could plan that extensive a trip.  I reminded him that he had gotten lost just yesterday in our own neighborhood.  I reminded him of many, many reasons and gave him extensive examples of why he could not do this.  He got overwhelmed and upset and said that I was being cruel.  I don't remember the rest of the conversation nor how it ended.  I was so stressed at that point that I went to the shower and just soaked my head.  Once a person reaches that level of stress (both of us) it is hard to come down.  The adrenaline keeps the muscles tense for hours.

Since I had a team working at the school and we were going to COSTCO, I thought it might be relaxing to got to breakfast at one of our local breakfast joints for chicken and waffles.  Gary seemed to have temporarily forgotten the Yosemite trip so perhaps we had a chance for a peaceful meal. Right.

The only table available at the restaurant was on their outside patio.  It was only 75 degrees so we agreed to sit out.  We sat down and were given menus.  When the hostess left, we realized that the overhead fans were way too strong and they would make our food cold when received.  I would have stayed but Gary was starting his griping which heads to more overwhelm....We asked a second waitress if we could move inside, at least to the bar if no table was available.  We picked up our water and coffee and started to follow her to the inside.  The girl seemed a little irritated and said, "I can turn off the fans if you like." "Really, ok, then we'll stay."

I looked down and saw a text from an employee at the school that the phone system was down.  Stress level eight.....Normally not so stressful but we have been fighting this issue for weeks and thought it had been fixed.  The CISCO router had been replaced and things went back to normal.  I texted and called the employee who is in charge of such outages.  No answer.  I then saw an email from a VP where she had sent an email to the woman who is in charge of the phone system.  She was meaning well and asking why  this keeps happening and that it was not acceptable.  The irony was, the employee she sent the email to is on medical leave and would never receive the message. 

Meanwhile, we had ordered our Chicken and Waffles.While I was trying to reach someone to get the school back online, the food arrived....along with what seemed like a swarm of black flies.  I guess we didn't really hear the waitress say that the fans were to prevent flies from annoying the customers.  Gary started with the waving of hands and complaining.  I was stressed enough.  He then said that we need to move inside.  We asked the girl who was pouring the coffee if we could move inside.  She said that she would check.

Perhaps we did not express to this young woman the irritation we were experiencing with the flies.  She did not come back.  I was on the phone with a friend who is also the go-to guy for our network.  He was on the road and could not write down phone numbers and I couldn't find a pen.  My stress was increasing because of both situations and Gary's whining and reactions.  He very nice and said that he would get it fixed.

I asked Gary to go to the head waitress and ask if a table was available inside.  I was still on the phone trying to reach the school because the employee who called me did not answer his cell phone. Really? I had the helper trying to reboot the system and I needed to tell them but he wasn't answering his phone?   Really? Stress level nine.

I saw Gary coming back with the waitress and now she seemed irritated.  She said, "I don't care if you move back and forth all day.  Come inside and I'm sorry about the flies.  Here is the plate you asked for..."  I was listening to the man on the phone and following Gary into the restuarant while carrying the Chicken and Waffles.

He sat down at the counter, so I did, too.  The waitress said, "What are you doing?  I have a table for you."  We moved five feet and sat down at a table for six.  She obviously wanted us to be quiet.  I walked outside and talked to my employee and asked him to tell all employees to save their work as they were taking the system down.  All I could do was wait.

The chicken and waffles were cold.  Gary said that he wanted his chicken heated.  I told him that he would be lucky if they did anything for us after how we have been acting and all the hoops we asked them to jump through since we got there.  The girl poured Gary four more cups of coffee.  I was fuming and just could not calm down.  I ate the cold waffle while Gary asked for hot chicken.

The head waitress asked if she could do anything for us.  I told her that I was having a work emergency and that I just wanted to eat my breakfast.  Being a free spirit, she said, "Then why did you bring your phone?"  Wow.....at first that upset me.  Then, I realized she was right.  How insightful.  That did not reduce the stress much.  I received an email that the system was working.  Problem solved for now.

I ate quickly and was ready to leave.  Of course, Gary wanted another cup of coffee. I waited and then we went to Costco.  The distraction was good and we made a few more stops and then came home.

We laid down to take a nap before I went to my hair appointment.  Right before I went to sleep he said, "We need to call Mike to discuss Yosemite." 

The story continues.....

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!!

Happy Fourth of July! 

We got up extra early to get ready for our day celebrating our Country's Independence!  It started particularly abruptly when my new phone vibrated like crazy in the middle of the night....well, about 3:30.  It awoke me and I tried to ignore it to go back to sleep.  However, the brain said, "Ada, get up and check your mail. Perhaps the operating agreement that determines the future of your college has been signed."

Sure enough, it was FABULOUS news on a Google Alert.  So, I closed the bedroom door and turned on Gary's computer in the office to log onto the company email to see if I could read the press release.  After reading the entire press release, Gary woke up and joined me.  I knew it was going to be a long day with little sleep so Gary heated us some "downer tea" that I keep in the refrigerator.  I think I fell back to sleep at around 5:45.  6:15 - alarm goes off and restarts the excitement.

We went to the CLUB dressed in our red, white and blue ready to walk the mile or so parade route.  Complete with face painting ..... we got ready with the others.

We walked, cheered and handed out brochures.  Gary didn't realize that he could not stop and talk to every person to whom he handed a brochure.  He slowed the whole parade at least twice but overall, we did fine and ended up walking the entire route back to the car.  It was about 95 degrees so we were pretty hot. 

After a trip to Chilis, we went home for a nap before we left for a neighborhood barbeque.  The people at the party were neighbors we have known since we moved back to California in 2007.  Since I am around Gary all the time, I don't always realize his decline.  When I am around folks who aren't around him all the time, I realize more.  Some seem shocked and don't say much.  It is wonderful to have such great friends who support us and love us no matter what. 

We are now home trying to calm our beagle, Diva Gerl. She hates fireworks.  Gary could not understand why she shakes so much when he is petting her.  I explained that Diva is just like him when he gets OVERwhelmed.  Once he gets to that point, it is really hard to bring him down.  Then he understood. 

Wow, what a life.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"Honey, honey, wake up!"

4:10 am...it is completely silent in our home.  I am sleeping SOUNDLY.

"Honey, honey, wake up!"

Gary was cold and confused.  We had gone to bed early and since it was so hot outside, I had turned on one of the two air conditioners that cools the second floor.  It was set on 74 degrees.  When I awoke, the air conditioner was off and the fan over our bed was on high.

He seemed confused and said, "Wake up.  This is stupid.  I don't want to go back to the CLUB.  I am COLD!"  (I knew he had been cold at the CLUB the other day as he had a towel across his legs when I went to get him. So, I have encouraged long pants since, rather than shorts).  He wasn't making since and was confusing topics.  I did not acknowledge the comment about the CLUB but I did address the temperature.  The fan was silenced and stilled.  I had hoped he would go back to sleep.  Not any time soon.  He continued to talk and was so frustrated that Diva wanted to leave the room.  He took her to go outside.  I knew they would not come soon, as when she gets freaky over Gary getting freaky, she goes outside and does not want to come back to the house.

After a few minutes, I went downstairs to check on them.  She was lying about 20 feet from the back door on the patio looking at him standing there in his P.J.s looking pitiful.  I went out and encouraged her to come in and go to bed with us.  He cuddled her and stroked her for about an hour.  We did breathing exercises, prayed, talked and eventually we went back to sleep.  He never complained of the temperature again. 

After not enough sleep, it was a tough day for me.  He seemed to have a good day at the CLUB and did not mention his discontent again.  They made birdfeeders and he brought his home....it resides in the garden.  It is magnificent.  His bus driver was inspirational to Gary.  He has been married 30+ years and is a devout Christian.  Gary remembered the conversation and knows that he enjoyed it.  Progress. 

He has been having a lot of neck pain lately and is now in the Relaxation bath.  I sure hope he can sleep tonight.