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Distress, can I de-stress?

Mar 23, 2009 - 11 comments

I'm not looking for answers or sympathy right now. I'm just needing a quiet place to put my raging thoughts, maybe put them in perspective. I find I'm getting tired of talking and thinking about my goofy life and I'm sure my friends are tired of hearing about it as well.

No way to explain everything without writing a novel and that's not the point. I just need to see things in print, get it out of my brain.

The past 2+ years have been overwhelming. My Dad was told he had end stage heart failure and had a few weeks to months to live (Nov. 2006). So he was on hospice care, we were on edge wondering if he would survive the holidays. He stabilized and continued to live although was very weak and sick. They took him off hospice care.

My Mom, who has always been critical and negative, became even more so. I tried to see it as fear or denial but her behavior bordered on cruelty at times. My husband and I would go over every week to give them a break from each other, a little peace for my Dad while I take my Mom out to get her away from him. And that's the way it went till he died last August from cancer.

Through all this I've had my own little fun and games with my stupid heart, surgery for a large ovarian cyst, friends being ill and dying and my trip to ER recently with abdominal pain and fever.

To say I'm tired may be a bit of an understatement. Since my Dad died we've been there for my Mom daily at first, then a few times a week and now down to twice a week with daily phone calls. Since I'm an only child, all the funeral details and paperwork has been left up to me. I couldn't have done it without my husband. My folks didn't like each other and hid so many things from each other. That made finances and insurance affairs a real treasure hunt. But we finally got her things in order, simplified and everything working for her so she won't have any money problems.

What's getting to me now is still her anger and negativity. She still bad mouths my Dad, tells me what a terrible person he was, that I never really knew him and how mean he was. Well, maybe he did get nasty at times. But I know for a fact she has a sharp tongue and isn't afraid to use it. The other week we went out to lunch and a sweet little boy held open the door for us. He was about 7 years old. She walked in, we followed, told him thank you and then he and his Mom came in. My Mom got real snotty and said she didn't want to sit near any bratty little kid, they're too noisy. The whole day was going along like that. At one point I leaned over to my husband and whispered "Kill me now!" LOL

One last thing: last night she called us around midnight, said she couldn't breathe, her chest hurt and she thought she was going to die. She just wanted to let us know so if we found her dead on the floor, we wouldn't be surprised. Gosh, thanks. She's done this before and there have been too many times of drama for me to get shaken up. So I talked to her, gave some suggestions, called her every 10 minutes. Finally she just wasn't going to calm down. So we got dressed and drove over to her place (30 mins. from us). We spent the night there. She did calm down of course. This morning she was ready to go get her hair done as scheduled and then go out to lunch. That was our plan for today. And that's what we did.

It's a tough line I'm walking between being sensitive to her loneliness and fears but keeping my boundaries up and keeping my sanity. She has done so many odd things over the years to get attention. It's sad really. But it's a huge responsibility to try to decide what's real with her health and what's just attention grabbing. I have to go by what I can see and measure. Last night I checked her: BP was fine, pulse and temp fine, lungs and heart sounded perfect. I chose to sit it out. Then I think, "What if there was something really wrong?" I've done the trip to ER with her before. As soon as she gets settled in the bed, she's all chatty and laughing. But then we're stuck there for hours as they have to run the tests.

OK, so much for not writing a novel. Perhaps now that I've started this rant, I can just add things on the very bad days to cleanse my mind and emotions. I can't stand to talk or think about this too much or I get even more stressed. I just figured this is a neutral place to throw up.

And for those that wonder why she doesn't socialize more, we've tried to get her involved with people so many times but she just won't go for it. She'll go to her church. . . . if we take her. She'll visit with someone she knows. . . if we're there. But she won't take any initiative on her own. Again, I'm walking that fine line between taking care of an elderly woman (she's 80) and being used or an enabler. Aaaaggghh.

Theoretically, I should feel better now. Maybe a little. Perhaps a piece of chocolate will finish the job. Yep, laugh or cry - those are my options.

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267401 tn?1251852496
by Wisconsin2007, Mar 23, 2009
You've always been good about posting helpful insights for me, but I'm not sure I can for this.  One part of me wants to say that the answer is obvious, explain the situation from your side and lay down the law, and if she doesn't go along, then she goes alone.  No midnight phonecalls, no nothing.

But another part of me knows it's not that easy.

So you do what you can and hope that's enough.

390388 tn?1279636213
by Me967, Mar 23, 2009
I feel for you and I can totally relate.  It was the same with me and my grandparents sort of.  (Though there were others in the family.)  It was I that was always there.  Mainly because that's what my grandparents wanted and partly because the others just would not be.  
I spent every night in a chair (no matter how many) next to them anytime they were in the hospital and on a drop of a dime if they called I was there within 45 minutes of travel time.  Sometimes it was just because they were scared and lonely and other times it was because they really needed help.  
I had health issues of my own and my husband did too.  There is so very much I could tell you.  Maybe I'll send you a PM.  I felt so much love, yet at times I felt like the whipping boy.
I have some family members that I truly believe are bi polar big time.  It is very hard at times!  One minute your great and the next minute you can't do nothing right and are just plain dirt.  Sorry I don't know if this helps.  I'm supposed to maybe not say all this.  I can relate though big time.  I hate to hear that you are down and frustrated my dear friend.  I really do understand the frustration though.  I think that's why I have so many changes in my BP and HR.  LOL

Take care my friend.  ((((Sending cyber hugs your way.))))

Amy.

187666 tn?1331173345
by ireneo, Mar 24, 2009
Thank you both for your patience, being willing to wade through my ramble. It's good to know that I'm not the only one with cranky relatives. I try to put myself in her place, being alone for the first time and at her age. I only hope and pray I'll never be that mean and cranky. It's nothing new for her since she's been pretty critical all her life. But I wasn't the only person listening to it before. My brain swims and tries to float away when I'm there. But I'll continue to do what I can (physically and emotionally) yet still keep some boundaries up for my own sake. The guilt creeps in when I want some time to myself or ask my husband to talk to her. He's such a champ and does all he can to help. What would I do without him?

Anyway, no need to ramble today. I slept for 11 hours and I should get some things done around my own home. I'd love to hear from you Amy. We can trade "war stories"   LOL  Some of the things I can laugh about now but they were sure hurtful years ago.

Irene

483733 tn?1326798446
by TrudieC, Mar 24, 2009
Irene, I'm glad that I can return the favor and listen to you when you need it.  You've always been such a calm, practical, and caring friend when I've been in need.  Your descriptions take me back to my Mom taking care of my Grandparents.  My Grandfather had Alzheimer's and it wasn't until after he passed away that she realized my Grandmother was in worse condition with Porfuria.  

I can't imagine how hard it must be for you without siblings to take some of the load.  Thank God your husband is there to help - mine would never do anything like that for my family or his.  I hope you can stay strong and sane through this tough time.  Sometimes it would almost be better if she could be in a senior citizen's home where there is on site nursing care so that you would have someone else keeping an eye on her.  

Vent any time you want.  Big hugs, Trudie

Avatar universal
by Davidindc, Mar 28, 2009
Irene,
    I think my mom and your Dad would have been a great pair.  We lost my Dad when he was 56, and my Mom lived - alone - her choice - for the next 35 years and we lost her at age 87.  She was an absolute angel, never imposing on any of us, and did nothing but spread joy and happiness to everyone she touched.  I will pray that your Mom can become more like mine was.
Hang in there...
Dave

523728 tn?1264621521
by bohan54, Mar 28, 2009
Irene,
You cannot do this alone, even with spousal support.  Mom is at the point of requiring round the clock support.  Have you looked into assisted living?  Perhaps speak to her and her doctor about anti depressant meds?  
This subject is so difficult for me as the eldest daughter in my family.  The fact that I will very likely die before my mom hurts so bad.  She has been alone since 1984 and considers herself to be a "tough old bird."  My sisters are both too self centered to think about her, why the F*#@ did I have to get sick??  
OK enough about me.  Maybe you guys could make a schedule and inform her that you will check in at regular times unless there is a "true" emergency?  Man, I wish I had some better answers for you!
Love,
Sharon


329994 tn?1301663248
by lvfrogs, Mar 29, 2009
Irene,
I am sorry to read this. It is so hard on us when our parents get older and in your case, you are an only child, so it does seem as if all the responbility falls on you. That is extremely hard. I wish I had some answers for you. I am in a similar position with my mom and so, not sure what to tell you.  What about getting her one of the medical alert bracelets/necklace? That way, if she is truly having a medical emergency, you know she will get immediate help and she will know too.I have tried to convince my mom of this also because she lives alone and truly, if something happened, she might lie there for days.  I rely on the computer with my mom because she gets on daily, so if she doesn't get on, I call her right away to make sure she is alright. We have had a few scares, but nothing happened.

You have been through so much in your own life and thank God you have a supportive husband. Try (try being the optimum word lol) not to let her get to you so much. You keep your own memories of your dad for yourself and maybe when she starts talking bad about him, tell her she either stops or you leave. No matter what the truth, you should have your own memories of him and she should not be talking bad about him to you.

I don't know if she goes to church or not, but if she does, call her church and see if they have some kind of ministry where someone could visit with her, maybe even get her involved? Just suggestions.

Just know that I am here for you and I think it is good to put stuff down in journals. It seems to relieve some of the stress, so you just keep doing it!
Hugs,
Colleen

187666 tn?1331173345
by ireneo, Mar 29, 2009
Trudi: people at work say that I'm calm and relaxing to be around. Reading my journal you can see what a jumbled mess I am inside. Guess I hide it well. LOL  I mention assisted living to my Mom now and then but she hates the idea. She's convinced they rape old ladies in those places. It does happen but rarely. Still, it's enough to scare her. And we can't just sell her house out from under her and move her. I figure I'm learning patience and how to grow old gracefully as my time comes.

David: sounds like your Mom was a sweet angel. That's my goal, to leave only good memories for my kids. My Mom is who she is and isn't likely to change after all these years. I can't change her so I'll try to go with the flow even if I do hit a few rocks now and then. Thanks for your sweet thoughts.

Bohan: As you can see, we have mentioned assisted living to her but it's a no-go for now. She is on anti-D's for fibromyalgia. Not sure if they help depression and attitude though. If they are helping, can you imagine how she's be without them? LOL I'm sorry about your situation with you and your Mom. It has to be worrisome for you, wondering if your Mom will be OK if/when something happens to you. Have you talked to her about the future? It's not too soon to make some plan of action. Hugs to you.

lvfrogs: My Mom has mentioned getting one of those emergency bracelets or necklaces. The thing is, she doesn't want anyone breaking down her door. Even that night we had to go over there, I mentioned calling 911 and she didn't want to. We'll do our 2 days a week with her and call the other days. That seems to be working for now. I'm hoping something will happen that will give us clear direction on what to do next and when. I don't wish her harm but this is difficult (guess I'm whining a bit now).

She does belong to a church, won't go unless we take her. It's a big church and they aren't very personal. Even the few people they did interact with never call to see how she's doing. I can't blame them completely. Part of the responsibility lies with my Mom to reach out as well.

Thank you all. I'll try not to **** and moan too much. This week will be busy again between work, meetings and my Mom but the bright side? I'll be so tired I'll sleep well at night. :-)  Have a good week all.   Irene

Avatar universal
by Shari4444, Apr 04, 2009
Dear Irene,

I'm sorry about the rough time you are going through with your Mom. I had a mother-in-law who was a lot alike your Mother. After crying "wolf" so many times she never had the chance to cry a thing when it actually happened and she died alone. We thought we were getting a respite from her, but in reality, she laid dead at home. I, sincerely, hope this never happens to your mom.

No matter how hard we try...we can not be there constantly for our parents,,,just like they couldn't constantly be there for us, their children. Many people, here, have given you some suggestions. I think they are all valid and viable. How fortunate you are to have such wonderful support, here. Give the ideas a thoght and encourage Mom to "pick up" another "call option" than you.....especially, in the middle of the night.

I think of you often, Irene....Hang in there!!!!!

Hugs,
Shari

Avatar universal
by helenl89, Apr 05, 2009
I too are going through the same thing with my parents. I have mentioned asst living to the both of them,and All I do is get ostercized by my mother for the idea. I really think that woman hates me. I do everything for them and get brash comments all the time from her. My oldest brother says. we should just let them crash and burn. but he's a man and most men are idiots, not all, but a good majority. When I was laid up for most of 2008 with oc and then for last 3 months with the hip surgery, my mom would ***** that  I haven't come to visit her. Well there was over 3 feet of snow and ice outside and was in a walker. How did she expect toget out let alone try to drive. I would send my daughter over to help, when she could,but she was away at school, after xmas break. All she would do  was complain about why I didn;'t come Finally I got my youngest brother to step up and help them abit. The same scenario would go on with him also.  We do love our parents and would do anything for them. but there is only so much we can do when we are ill. I know the hurt and guilt you must feel. but we can only try to be there for them as much as we can. They are getting older and sometimes very lonely. It must be very hard to realize that one can't do the things they used to anymore, let alone being ill and all alone. I sent my parents back to fl. almost two months ago, and every time the phone rings I get very nervouse about if anything is wrong now. My brothers don't seem to understand, and it makes me feel like I'm the only one carrying the burden. So try to hang in ther and take each day with your mom as a precious gift, whatever the backlsh is like. There is a old saying someone told me, I know it doesn't help much but here goes. A sons a son, till he takes a wife, a daughter is a daughter all her life. take care

187666 tn?1331173345
by ireneo, Apr 13, 2009
Interesting times. My Mom gets so lonely and upset at times, is convinced she's going to die. She even went so far as to write us a note the other day because she thought the end was near. And this is all going on even with us spending 2 days a week with her and calling all the other days.

Today was one of our days with her. I was looking forward to it because she was meeting with a new PCP. He was so patient, soft-spoken and yet kept the conversation on track. He went over all her tests from the last year, did an exam, talked about some things she wanted to know. All in all, she's in excellent health. No anemia, blood work is excellent, cholesterol is better than mine and mine is good. Her heart and lungs sound great. Talked about the "fall" she had several weeks ago but no problems from that. The sporadic headaches she has is not a brain tumor but allergies (she won't take meds as she should). Her aching back is not a botched surgery (he went over the notes); it's most likely some arthritis.

It gave me a tremendous peace of mind because up to now I could only go by all the wild stories she's told me. Now I know scientifically that she's doing just fine. That's not to say something couldn't pop up but I don't have to fret every time she says something hurts. And I can use his report to remind her and encourage her that she's doing well.

We'll see how it goes. We're trying to talk her into going to a class at the hospital about "Aging Well." It's only 1.5 hours and we'll take her. If that happens, we'll try another class. Perhaps she'll eventually connect with some people, make friends. We talked about it today but she says she doesn't make friends easily, doesn't trust just any old body. That's good to a point. But she needs some social contacts besides us.

Enough rambling. It was a good day.

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