Thursday, January 04, 2024

Las Vegas Trip on January 4-8, 2024: A New Year Trip to Clear My Head

After taking a five month break (July to December) in trips to Las Vegas in the second half of 2023, I am now turning around and taking this weekend's trip only three weeks after coming home from my last one. Why? Largely, it is due to something that has, quite frankly, been screwing up my mind for the past few months.

A little bit of an explanation ... Back last July, I started volunteering for a local non-profit organization. Although I have helped with some respite care for caregivers who are taking care of Alzheimer's family, most of my help has been to drive local elderly people to non-emergency medical appointments. One particular rider has gotten to me in a very personal way.

I began driving Eva right from the start. The drive didn't seem too bad -- to a local dialysis center. Eva is at end stage renal failure. I guess I should have known that we'd connect as, on our first trip, she told me that I drive like a lunatic! I started picking her up after her Monday and Friday treatments were completed, and she usually looked terrible. She continually ranted about how dialysis was just a scam because one never really gets better from it (she pretty much rejected my common sense response that at least it keeps her alive), and we sparred back and forth about our choice of candidates in the upcoming Republican presidential primaries. Eva is a huge Trump supporter who could not believe that my main man is Chris Christie. Eva was a successful  businesswoman and is very firm in her beliefs. She can take as well as she gives, so we have had quite a lot of fun jousting together.

A few months ago, she stopped returning my phone calls. I knew that she either had to be in the hospital or was dead in her house. I went over to her house and considered calling the police first, in case somebody might think that I was breaking in. I decided instead to just go inside and search every room, expecting that I might find her lifeless body. The house was empty, except for her frightened dog. Apparently, Eva or a neighbor called 911 and had her transported to a local hospital. After a few days there, she came home. In early December, she was actually booted out of the dialysis center as she was starting to lose it mentally. She decided not to continue dialysis.

I looked up information about her choice and knew that she could go at any time. As I understood, 4-6 weeks was the usual maximum time patients could go without before passing. She had no family and essentially no or few friends, so I invested lots of time, effort and heart in helping her through what I thought were her final days. After her last trip to the hospital, she could no longer walk and was very depressed. One night my wife and I brought her food from her favorite Mexican restaurant and a take away quart of frozen margaritas. Eva drank over half the margaritas and proclaimed "I'm STONED! She despises most of the meals she gets delivered by the non-profit agency, but she has liked some home cooked meals my wife has made.

After almost four weeks without dialysis, Eva decided to go back on it. She had done this same thing once or twice in the past. The conundrum I found myself in was that I had become a very important part of her life -- perhaps being her only real friend. However, her demands/requests for my time greatly increased. There were even a couple of times where I was stripping her bed and washing her sheets while she was receiving dialysis -- and I don't even wash clothes at my own home! She is very strong willed and stubborn. There are other complicating factors which I can not get into here. She desperately needs a caregiver staying with her or visiting frequently, but she is unwilling to do so. In a sense, I and a few other people have been enabling her to avoid getting help she really now needs, but some of us have finally taken a stand not to do this anymore.

Frankly, the whole process has sucked a lot of energy from me. Over the past week, I have screwed up making travel arrangements for this Las Vegas trip, losing half a day of good poker time, misplaced a car fob, misplaced two pairs of reading glasses ... Either my wife is doing an excellent job of gaslighting me or I am very frazzled. I'm taking this Las Vegas trip not so much to obsess with poker as to get away and hopefully clear my mind and recharge my batteries.

I know that some of my poker friends are struggling with family who have Alzheimer's or other health issues, and as Bill Clinton said, I feel their pain. I assisted in dealing with multiple issues my mom had, and I saw first-hand the physical and emotional toll it took on my brother, thundering36, who was caregiver to our mother. Sometimes life is really challenging.

My travel screw up (reserving a seat on an 11pm flight, thinking it was at 11am) has me getting into Las Vegas close to midnight tonight. It still should give me plenty of time to get in some quality poker cash game time over the next three days before heading home Monday afternoon.

As always, hit me up if you want to fling some cards together or grab a meal. I will be playing at the Poker Oasis tournament on Sunday. I'm looking forward to it.

Thanks for reading. 😀