Gerri Luce

Gerri Luce
Westchester, New York, USA
February 13
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." By Harold Thurman Whitman. What lights me up is my work as a psychotherapist, and my passion for writing. Thank you to my family and friends, those within shouting distance and those who are virtual for sticking by me through the highs and the lows. A shout out to all of you - a simple thank you is all I have - and it is not nearly enough. Please check out my other blog at and visit my website at


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AUGUST 7, 2011 2:11PM

Hope is the Cruelest Emotion of All

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I don’t know where to start.  After my last post of things going so well, everything has fallen apart.  I got my hand on a bottle of Klonpin the other day and I said to my therapist if I killed myself now I wouldn’t have to see myself, my life self destruct little by little in front of my eyes. She looked at me with a question in her eyes.  “You don’t understand,” I sobbed.  “If I died instantly, I wouldn’t have to watch myself take down with me everything I have worked so hard for up until now.”  Sobbing harder.  “I have so much to lose.”

It began one session when we were talking about my mother who has now been gone for over nine years.  I can’t get past the fact that every time I see her friend Nadia she tells me something else about the relationship between her and me; the most recent conversation focusing on the day my mother received her terminal diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. “More than anyone, more than herself, more than your brother, she was worried about how you were going to manage without her.”

I had gathered from Nadia in previous statements that since my first serious suicide attempt, my mother lived in constant fear that I was going to kill myself.  So much so that she purchased a plot next to the one she had bought for herself.  I found out from my aunt that at one point my mother attempted suicide by mixing Klonopin (the Klonpin that I gave her!) and alcohol.  When I tried to figure out the timing, the best guess I could come up with was after a visit in 1995 to see me in the hospital in an eating disorder unit.  I was emaciated, refusing to eat, and the doctors and inserted nao-gastric tube up my nose into my stomach.  I was being force-fed.  I remember my mother coming onto the unit, looking me up and down carefully; her only reaction was “Nice.”  What a myriad of emotions that one word must have been hiding.

It was then in my session that I realized I could never forgive myself for causing my mother so much pain, for torturing her every day, for, never giving her a days rest from the torment in her psyche. I killed any chance at happiness, pleasure and joy at which she might have had a chance after she left to make a life for herself away from my father.  I killed her; I gave her the cancer. 

I hate myself and I will never forgive myself.

I want to join her and talk with her and apologize.  I know she will never forgive me but I want to the chance to explain and cry and hold her hand and hug her.

“I’m sorry Mom, I’m so sorry for taking your life.”


            *                                 *                                            *


I am so depressed.  My brother calls me at work and he tells me he has been trying to get a hold of our father for three days with no answer.  If I can’t reach him today, will I go over and check on him?  (I work only 20 minutes from where I grew up and where my father still lives.)  It’s not like my father has not done this before.  He refuses to have voicemail, sometimes he goes two or three says without answering his phone because of his depression.

By the end of that Thursday, which is my late day at work, I make my way to his apartment and let myself in.  He is lying on a filthy floor; the tiles were once white but now they are black with years of grime.  He is naked. 

“Dad, it’s me,” I say as I let myself in. “What happened? Are you okay?”

 “I fell and I couldn’t get up.”

“How long have you been lying here?

“I don’t know. What day is it?”

“Jesus Christ.  I’m calling 911.”

“No,” he protests weekly.

I called my brother and told him what I found.  “Yeah,” he said.  “I had a bad feeling about this one.  Keep me posted.”

The EMT drivers were terrific.  They got him onto a stretcher, took his vitals (which they said weren’t bad considering he had been lying without food or water for around three days).  I followed them to Jamaica Hospital in Queens.  What a fucking zoo.  Patients lying on stretchers in the middle of one giant room.   People, presumably patients, running around half-gowned fighting with the nurses.  Every time I took out a bottle of water, my father motioned for me to give it to him. Once he had drunk from it, I didn’t want it back.

We had gotten to the hospital around 8PM and he had been through triage.  He was lying on a stretcher for over an hour. Only his head with his long, thick gray beard and half-closed eyes stuck out from the top of the blanket and his feet with his uncut toenails stuck out from the bottom.  I was sitting on a bench about ten feet away. He kept looking at me. I looked away. Finally about an hour later the doctor came over to examine him.  I spoke to him afterwards.

“We’ll give him IV fluids, do some x-rays to make sure he didn’t break any bones, and do some bloodwork.” 

I asked the doctor if there was a chance he would be discharged tonight. He said there might be.  “How would he get home?  I mean, I can’t take him in my car.

            He would go in an ambulette.

Distraught I went outside to talk to my brother. (We weren’t allowed to use cell phones in the ER.)  It was now 9:30 PM and they hadn’t started anything on him.  Soon I would be too tired to make the hour drive home from Queens to Westchester.

My brother urged me to go home, “He’s made his fucking bed, let him lie in it.  Your health and safety is more important.  Whatever happens will happen.

I went back to tell the Dr. I was leaving.  I got their numbers – they would be there all night and I gave them my father’s key.  I told my father I was leaving which made me feel terribly guilty and disloyal.  He made a puckering sound with his lips and weakly moved his head toward me.  I grasped his hand and let go.  “Good night Dad.  Feel better.”

I woke up at 1:30 AM and called the hospital.  I actually spoke to the Dr. and they were admitting him for increased renal function due to the dehydration.  All I heard was the word “admitting.”  I was so relieved.  I wouldn’t have to deal with him being discharged that night.

My brother and I are now in the process of trying to find him  a long-term skilled nursing care facility.  He cannot go back home.  I took photographs of his apartment to show to people at the hospital just why he cannot go home.  It is a fire, health, and safety hazard.  There are roaches and other vermin running rampant.  There is garbage all over the apartment because he can’t make it out to the incinerator.  He was diagnosed with “limited cognitive impairment” – the beginnings of dementia? – as evidenced from the letter from the lawyers hired by the landlord because his is in arrears for over four months rent.

It is a long, difficult process.  We are looking for nursing homes in Westchester because I live up here and my brother lives in southern Ct.  Either there are waiting lists, or they don’t want him, or they want more information.  We live in fear that the hospital is going to decide to discharge him because he has been medically stable for some time.

            He can’t go back to that apartment and he can’t live with me or my brother.  He has never shown any interest in meeting his almost 4 year old granddaughter.

We have a list of elder attorneys if it comes down to that but I hope it doesn’t.

Oh – and the best yet – we still haven’t told my father that he is going to a nursing home which he will resist with all his might because he sees nothing wrong with the way he chooses to live.


                                *                                          *                                                   *


            I haven’t been feeling well for a while, but haven’t been able to do much about it because there was a problem with my insurance.  I had that relapse of anorexia during the first three months of the year, gained the weight back and everything seemed to be okay.  My internist had wanted me to go to an endocrinologist for a while and I finally got coverage.  She did a lot of blood work and my coritsol level came back low.

Some of the common symptoms of low cortisol are:


                                    Muscle pain and weakness

                                    Joint pain

                                    Loss of appetite

                                    Weight loss

                                    Craving for salt


                                    Low blood sugar

                                    Low blood pressure



                                    Mood Swings


I’ve been having a lot of those things but I had been chalking them up to peri-menopause, osteopenia and anorexia – I wasn’t really hungry, but with anorexia I was usually hungry – but my therapist was telling me it was all in my head because I was angry with her.

            I would get so dizzy I would have to close the door to my office and put my head down on my desk and not be able to function for an hour or so.  After the worst had passed I would have to make my way to the store and get some Gatorade and down a couple of bottles.  Now I always carry some with me.

            Friday was one of those days.  I got home from work late, I was nauseous and had a bad headache and I went to the ER.  At some time during the night my blood pressure dropped to 89 over 50-something.  They gave me a lot of fluids.  I got home at 2 AM.

            I am having an ACTH stimulation test tomorrow which measures how well the adrenal glands respond to the hormone ACTH. ACTH is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland that stimulates the adrenal glands to release cortisol.


Las year I had an Interstim implant in my back to deal with incontinence.  I can’t have an MRI with that inside me because it is metal.  The initial test results were concerning enough for my endocrinologist to want the implant to come out.  So that surgery is set for August 18th.  Then I can have an MRI to see if there is a pituitary tumor.

            With such a tumor there often vision changes like double vision and loss of peripheral vision.  I have been sitting in my office with patients recently and all of a sudden there are two heads.  Or I’m driving and instead of two lane markers on either side of me there are four.  Scary.

            I was coming up the circular ramp in my garage Thursday morning when a SUV was coming down.  Something happened with my vision and I couldn’t see him so I ended up moving too far over and scraping the paint off the drivers’ side door of my fairly new red Toyota Corolla.  But that’s not my main concern right now.\


Is it that I hate myself?

Should I be getting my Dad into a nursing home?

Should I be going to work each day barely able to function?


Should I watch myself fall apart bit by bit, day by day, watching all I have worked so hard for just slip out of my grasp?


Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.
Friedrich Nietzsche


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I don't know what to say Gerri, I didn't want to read this. But, the one thing I can say is that you certainly weren't responsible for either your mother's death or your father's condition right now. You need to take care of you. Your father's made his own choices "made his own bed" as your brother says.
You HAVE made strides in your life, so there always is Hope! There is not one of us who is perfect and does not slide back. So keep that hope, my friend, there are those who DO care about you.