There Are Changes, And No Changes


licking salt off the plate at the thai curry i...

licking salt off the plate at the thai curry in a hurry restaurant – _MG_8072 (Photo credit: sean dreilinger)

How do I do it? Get over myself? Get used to this is the way it is, and there is nothing I can do about it. It is not his fault, it is not my fault, it is the disease’s fault. I tell myself that I am being stupid, that people aren’t really looking at him, but I know they are, I have seen it many times. It bothers me very little when we are at home, because I realize that he can’t help it nor fix it, but when out in public, I want to sit somewhere else. I have to change myself, and quit thinking on me. Parkinson’s has helped my brother, Al, to stick his nose to the plate when eating. I have questioned Al here at home as to why he does this, and he tells me so he doesn’t drop his food, or miss his mouth. I understood immediately, so why aren’t I understanding out in open view? Is it my upbringing of good table manners? I sometimes think it is. My mom was very strict about table manners. No swinging of feet under the table while eating. Sit up straight, raise the fork and spoon to the mouth. Don’t lean-to the silver ware,lift, lift, lift. I have even been poked with my mom’s fork, for having my elbows on the table before. It used to make me mad when she did this, but I learned quickly in order not to get poked again. You can not leave the table until your plate is emptied. If I didn’t care for a food she served that day, I could just sit there until I did learn to like it and eat it. Don’t get up from the table until you ask permission. May I be excused please? Today, if I was placed at a table, where you had many pieces of silver ware, I would know which to use first, but I eat at my computer table, while Al eats at the kitchen table, because it is uncomfortable to be stared at the entire meal, plus the silence kills me. Al watches me like a hawk looking for prey. It is instilled in him from the unkind remarks our dad used to make to him. Dad never said a kind word to Al, he always cut him down. Al didn’t do anything wrong, it was his mentally challenged brain that dad would not learn to accept, therefore taking it out on Al constantly. Now that I am his caregiver, he has just transferred all his feelings of dad over to me. I used to ask Al to quit staring, and stop being so quiet. It didn’t work. He would get angry with me, because I was putting him on the defense again, and I got so nervous, that I would get up from the table and not eat supper. The solution was, separate us. Now, I have less table manners than before. I remember them, I just don’t use them. My elbows are on the table, and no one is poking them.  He watches the news, and I listen to the news, and eat, and try to read blog stories. It doesn’t feel very friendly, but it works. I also don’t like watching the news any longer. Not for the reason, that you think, that the news sucks, or that all is negative and bad things, but because Al doesn’t understand a lot of things. He picks up what the newscaster is saying, but he doesn’t go deep enough in his mind, to analyze the reasons behind what is being said. An example is yesterday evening, the weather man was telling the weather. When he commented that the next three days were going to be exceptionally warm for spring, with very little rain, my brother got pretty upset. He was talking not to the weatherman, but to the weather itself. He told the weather that it knew better. That it knew that it was supposed to be not so hot for spring, and then he answered the weather sitting on the opposite chair, as if the weather could talk and there was a two-way conversation, although it was only Al. He told the weather, that it knew better and that it would be sorry, and then he said, I thought you would see it my way, you bad thing! Al does this two-party conversation alone all the time with the complete news. I have asked Al if he would like me to change the TV, or maybe we could just turn it off during meal times, but he said no. He explained to me that he always watches the news during his meals, and that I should know this by now. We don’t change Al’s routines, unless it is a dire emergency. He gets very confused and can become quite agitated over the slightest changes. I am the one who has made all of the changes in our lives. I do not get out and walk any longer. I no longer sleep in because he could get up before me. I can no longer pick up and go to anyplace in the afternoons, because he has to nap between three thirty and five thirty daily. I have to change his bedding each Thursday whether I feel like it or not. His room and bathroom has to be cleaned and swept on Fridays, because this is the way he has always done it. Suppers have to be served at six because this is when he has always eaten, so sometimes I don’t even eat my own until seven or seven-thirty, because I am not hungry. We may eat a late lunch, and he is not hungry either at six, but he has to eat. After his birthday party, there was left over ice-cream, so Al started having a dish of it at bed time. Now I have to make sure there is ice-cream here each night, because he has formed a new routine. So I am always going around here checking my mental list of what day is it, are the right foods  here, planning my activities according to what I am serving for dinner. I never lived like this before. I was much calmer, a happy-go-lucky gal, that played my free time from work as I saw fit. Now, I am trying to figure out how to get myself to accept and be calmer about his nose in the plate out in public. Although, I do understand, I still get embarrassed. What can I do?