Thursday, August 30, 2012

Parental Guidance, Part II

First up, thank you so much for your comments on yesterday's post!!!! Difficult news is never easy to receive, but sometimes it is good to have an initial freak-out, then blog about it, and then wait to receive useful/helpful/insightful/informative comments from fellow bloggers! So thank you for helping me!!!! AGAIN!!!!

Here's the latest:

I emailed my Mom and asked if it was okay to call her to discuss my Dad's health concerns. She said that was fine, so we spoke last night. Basically Mom wanted to discuss ANYTHING but my Dad. SHOCKER. She kept saying EVERYTHING IS FINE and that we just needed to wait and see what would happen next.

I also spoke with my Dad. He sounded pretty freaking happy and pretty freaking chipper to me, so add that to the mix. We did not discuss his health, as I wasn't sure how much my I was "supposed to know" about his health concerns. LAME. My family is notorious for keeping secrets and "protecting" others from bad news, but this is stupid, counterproductive, S-H-A-D-Y, and needs to end.  I/we must work on having clear communication if we want to get anything done.

Side note: I spent a few days with my parents in July. They both looked pretty good to me, and they both seemed to be pretty WITH IT. Sure they are both older and slower and rather scary to drive with (but I think it is scary when anyone but ME is driving), but I didn't really see anything amiss. Humph.

So...I am trying to organize my thoughts (both for my sake and for the reader's sake). Here is what I have come up with:

1) My parents are taking proactive steps to possible/perceived health issues by visiting the DMV to see if Dad is still safe to drive, and by mentioning all health concerns and fears to a doctor. This is good.

2) My parents are getting older. Health problems are inevitable. I think we just have to do the best we can and HOPE my parents' health situations are never as bad as what happened with my Grandpa M. Grandpa M had dementia and Alzheimer's and his decline/demise was A-W-F-U-L.

3) I have to be sympathetic to my Mom and her perspective. Grandpa M's horrendous deterioration and death is still very fresh in her mind. She went through hell dealing with Grandpa M. Mom is also still dealing with my 93-year old Grandma M's terrible health, which has been B-A-D for about 10 years (Grandma M can't walk or talk, she is bedridden, and it doesn't seem that she recognizes anyone). Grandma M has round-the-clock care (which costs $5,000 a month!!!!). Grandma M's body keeps ticking even though not much else is. Mom visits her daily. I am sure Mom must be thinking first she had to take care of her Dad, she is still taking care of her Mom, and now her husband is falling apart, too. This has to be incredibly stressful.

4) Gotta keep Dad's perspective in mind too. He freely admits he is slower and can't do all that he used to, but he still seems like he is pretty mobile, pretty happy, and very busy with all of his projects. He also says Mom is RIDDLED WITH ANXIETY and LOOKING FOR PROBLEMS, and I am sure there is some truth to this. However, Mom's concerns have to be addressed as some, if not all of them, are probably legitimate.

5) A family meeting is in order. How ominous does that sound?! It is rare that we are all together, but this Thanksgiving or this Christmas we should take the opportunity to discuss ALL of my parents' health issues and concerns, as well as assistance/care they will need in the future. This HAS to happen. I sensed a little RELUCTANCE from my Mom when I floated this idea, so we'll see how it all shakes out.

6) Like most families, our family is busy. And spread out. My brother and his wife and three young kids live about a mile from my parents. They are overworked, underpaid, in debt and stressed to the max. My sister, her husband and her two little kids live six hours away from my parents. I live six hours away from my parents, and I don't have a spouse or kids, although I am in a committed relationship to a man with kids. My other sister lives the furthest away -- in Texas. She is single without kids. So...it is tricky. I don't think any of us would jump up and down at the notion of living with the parents when they need full-time assistance (ACK!), but I guess we all need to talk and figure out what to do. This stuff is not easy, but most of us end up facing elder care issues if we are lucky enough to keep our parents into their golden years.

7) I am trying to keep perspective on all of this. My first reaction was bawling, quickly followed by WAILING that life just seems to be a S E R I E S    O F    P R O B L E M S -- you knock one problem out and two more follow. UGH. Such is life. I think all we can do is try to get the most out of life and deal with problems as they come along. Not exactly a great working plan for life, but that's all I've got.

So. We'll see what happens.

P.S. I mentioned to my Mom that she must be stressed, and that there are medications available for stress and anxiety. She was angry when I mentioned this and she curtly replied that she "KNOWS HOW TO MANAGE THE STRESSES OF LIFE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH". !!!!!! Well, alrighty then. !!!!!!!

17 comments:

Dancing Branflake said...

So sorry life keeps handing you lemons so rotten you can't even make sour leomade with them. I love that you're the proactive one on the family. Definitely have your head on right, even if you don't think you do.
PS... your man has kids?! What?! Oh, let's discuss this soon!

Regina said...

I am so sorry you are going through all of this right now, I am thinking of you...

Cheryl Ann said...

family meetings are definitely not the most fun thing in the world, but are necessary at times. good luck!!

more hugs your way. thinking of ya ;)

Lynn said...

I know, I know...Here's the thing. The nicest thing my father did for us was to die quickly of a heart attack. The nicest thing my mom is doing for us right now is she is taking good care of herself. She's 87 and still kicking. Of course a lot of this is genetics. I have told my children to put a mattress on my chest and sit on it if the day comes when I don't know who or where I am.
You probably shouldn't mention this at the family meeting. Bottom line; We get what we get.

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

sorry to hear all this- it sounds like it was good for you to talk to your parents even though they didn't talk about your dad's health!

anita said...

right?? life is kinda like that whack-a-mole game.

you're handling this so well. you really are -- i'm not just saying that.

GFS said...

I love that you were able to process this by making list. Sometimes we deal with things better if thoughts compartmentalized. It sounds like you are going to have to be the one to put the pink elephant in the room on blast! Getting older isn't all that! Lol! Blegh. Definitely talk about things, maybe sooner than thanksgiving. Good luck and I really did pray for you to cope well w this , for your moms strength and your dads health:)

GFS said...

Sorry for the typos! Blasted IPad!

sporkgasm said...

Our mothers sound pretty eerily similar with regards to avoiding the subject, and then rejecting any advice to help cope with the stress. When my dad was hospitalized a few months back she was the one I was worried about. She is a stress cadet to the core.

I hope you get to have the family meeting and get a few things cleared up. I find that it's the NOT knowing that is the worst. My positive thoughts are with you and your family.

ana b. said...

Just read this and the post before. How scary. And wow, I mean, your mom's reply to your suggestion about medications appears to suggest that perhaps she's already stressed and already not managing it? Anyway, thinking of you!

MarlaD said...

I empathize completely with you on this topic, and had to comment when you mentioned how your family keeps secrets and it's stupid, counterproductive and shady. I know exactly how you feel, because my family is the same way and I have never understood WTF is up with that. I was living out of state about 15 years ago when my dad became ill and my mom tortured me with many phone calls with conflicting information, half truths and hysterical over reacting alternating with complete denial. I'm pulling for you on establishing clear communication, because it never happened with my mom...I ended up moving back to CA (partly because I only have one sibling and he was/is an out of control alcoholic who never left home and was terrorizing my poor sick dad) because the stress of my mom's inability to communicate honestly was driving me crazy. Talking directly to my dad before I moved back helped a lot...I was able to gauge how he was doing, even if he might have whitewashed things a bit, so keep talking to your dad when you can. My advice to you (which is easier said then done and I can only say it in hindsight) is to try not to react to everything your mom says because I learned that my mom said things that might have been true for her in the moment, but were not representative of the true or ongoing situation, but being remote I didn't know that and so I suffered for it quite a bit. Being able to be there to assess the situation for yourself once in awhile will help you a lot, as will having someone with rational eyes and ears that can report to you (I didn't have the luxury of that). The fact that you saw them in July and things looked ok (dealing with our parents aging is scary as hell) as well as they seem to be dealing with things appropriately doctor wise is good. This stuff is inevitable. My mom is now 82 and her stupid, counterproductive and shady way of communicating hasn't changed, and now the star of her life is my alcoholic brother...and I recently made another stab at relocating to where I really wanted to live all along. Sending all good thoughts and energy your way, strap yourself in for the long haul and all you can do is roll with it the best you can.

NellieVaughn said...

If you do visit your parents, you mentioned them driving to Berkeley, I would love to meet up with you for some coffee and a hug. And if that seems a bit too strange for you, hey, it's okay. I will be sending positive energy over your way, and you family is in my prayers.

Trissta said...

Oh my lawdy. Seems like you have a bit of a situation on your hands. I've been going through something similar with my mom and her boyfriend of 10 years. After he had a falling out with me (I didn't really have a choice in that matter), she came to me a couple months ago and told me that he was really sick and had pneumonia so badly that he might not make it back. He's always been a big, strong guy, so I didn't think anything of it and didn't really want to get emotionally involved. He had always caused all sorts of drama and problems within our family, that I knew he didn't really want to be a part of it and that it was bound to happen. Thus, my mom was all stressed out and I didn't know what to do to help. It's definitely stressful, and I'm not sure what to tell you, but I can understand where you're at. Family meeting would be good. My family has never been very good at communication either, so I understand how hard it is to get everyone together and make those hard decisions. I wish you the best of luck, lady! Feel free to email me any time you need to talk or let those frustrations out!

Much Love,

Trissta

Kristine said...

It is a testament to you that you are open and try to communicate after the weird non communication you have dealt with in your family.It always helps to feel that we are taking action of some sort when facing stressful, painful situations.I hope you are doing okay and things go okay with your family. Those family gatherings can be stressful enough even when things are rosy, yikes! I will be keeping my fingers crossed!

Kristine said...

Wow. I just wrote my web address as my sweet CHAP life. What kind of Freudian slip is that? Am I thinking of a sweet chap? Am I fixated on my lip balm because I am addicted and I am always scared I will get chapped lips?

Lorena said...

I have not read your previous post but there seems to be a lot going on - now, i have to say that whenever you do get together and discuss your parents health with your siblings, you are not an only child and it does not matter who has kids, who is employed, rich or poor -so the responsability should lie on all equally.
I am going to read the previous post...

Kitty Stampede said...

Sounds like you have a great & super reasonable approach to the issue at hand. I have to commend you. That is sort of how my mother is. I can get a little bit more franctic and emotional so somebody needs to step back and tell everyone to chill.

Hope everything smoothes out for you...but alas c'est la vie with challenges behind many a door. I know I can certainly relate. xoxoxo