I think that this post may be more for me than for anyone reading it but I have had a very frustrating week. So I apologize in advance if this is heavier than I would like. Who knows, I may just trash it in the end.
Ed’s mom is sick. The last few months have been filled with dealing with this and the process that is involved. I am fortunately a little more prepared to deal with these type of things than most other people because I am a Social Worker. I already deal with a lot of this process as a profession. The thing that I have learned is that, at least for me, it is a hell of a lot easier dealing with a client of mine, than dealing with family.
My MIL is a good person. I say this because I do not want to feel like I am bad mouthing the woman (and in my head it feels like that sometimes.) She gave this world an amazing man, and he chose me, so she can’t be all bad, right? She and I have not always seen eye to eye. And I assume that this may just be the mother-son dynamic. Not being a parent, I don’t fully understand this. I can only imagine that when your son chooses another woman (or man) to be the main focus of his life, that it is probably a blow to your ego. The one thing that I have ALWAYS said about her is that she loves her sons and her intentions are generally good. She has her share of issues, but hey doesn’t everyone. So we will leave it at that.
Initially, when she was diagnosed it was a bit of a blow. Ed is not a super outwardly emotional person nor is he a man of many words (unless you get him started on sports etc. and then he will not shut up.) I was worried about how he was dealing with the situation. He is my main concern. I imagine that he is doing as anyone can when they are given the realization that their parents may not be around as long as that thought they would be. Not to mention, that these type of situations tend to make you reflect on your own mortality. It is a sucky situation, but it is a part of life. I watched my dad deal with this when his parents died. I have tried to be supportive to him and make sure that he knows that our home is his safe space. Sometimes, this is all that I can do.
I make no secret that I am a bit disconnected with death. In my job, I deal with people who are sick, disabled and dying on a daily basis. It can be sad and at times difficult. But at the risk of sounding callous, it is a part of life. We are all dying, some of us faster than others. I have to look at death that way, or my job would have done me in a long, long time ago. Sorry guys, this is not a popular outlook. To be honest, I may have ruined an important friendship several years ago because of this outlook. I simply can’t view these things any other way.
So now that this subject has hit closer to home, I have been trying really hard to be supportive and a realist at the same time. These two worlds do not always coincide harmoniously. Anyway, back to the topic at hand…. So the last few months have caused a great deal of upheaval in our house. We have had to adjust our work schedules at times to make meetings or go to doctors appointments. Our weekends have included spending a few hours at her home going over schedules, filling pill boxes etc. It is not ideal, nor what most people would choose, but it is what needs to be done. Ed checks in with his mom almost daily to sometimes incoherent phone conversations. Other days she seems to be understanding things and accepting them. There is no predicting the events.
In the beginning she spent several weeks in the hospital, and was then transferred to a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) for several weeks. This was a good option, in our opinion. She was safe, someone was monitoring her medications and getting her the therapy that she needed. As time went on there, she became worried about her possessions and pushed to go home. You see, that once someone is in a SNF for an extended period of time, their Social Security income start going to the SNF to pay for their stay there. We had warned her of this and she was worried that we were going to get rid of her stuff. There would have been no other option but to pack up her apartment because she could not afford to continue paying rent.
This set things in motion, much to our dismay. She then pushed to be released from the SNF to go home. And, again dismay, the SNF obliged and released her. They were happy to send her home. The discharge was a nightmare! (Not the word that I have generally been using to describe this but we will keep it G-rated today.) Her meds were handed to her in a trash bag and they sent her on her way. I kid you not, this is all that happened. The be fair, they did order a walker for her and set her up with Home Health Care but that was it. The rest of this process was left for her to handle. Which means, it was left for us to handle.
To make a long story short (or shorter I guess), she was home about 6 weeks with few issues. We got her set up with a new general doctor through a Pallative care program (AKA the practitioner comes to the patient’s home. If you are ever in need of this and they have it in your area, I recommend it), and an in-home personal care program. She was still confused and in denial but it was okay. That is until she fell for the first time…
After two falls in two weeks, and a brief hospital stay, she is back in the SNF. And we are back to square one. Unfortunately, Ed and I are looking at what will keep her safest and this is not always what she feels is best for her. It is difficult to try to assist a person and keep what is in their best interest at heart, when you know that they are not making wise decisions. Ed’s brother is not in the same state and it is difficult for him to assist. This ordeal has left me tired, and stressed. It has been a bit of a strain on our marriage, but we manage.
I think that my thoughts on this are that we sometimes have to take a step back. I have been frustrated this week because I do a lot of behind the scenes work, making sure medications are refilled, bills are paid, doctors are scheduled & confirmed (or canceled). And most people don’t see that, including my MIL. And I have been angry at times not necessarily with her but more so at the situation. She hasn’t chosen this turn of events and does not always realize that she is ungrateful. I try to remind myself this. And to remind myself that there are rules for adults, they do have a say in their lives and their care; they have rights. These rights to make decisions are tough to deal with, particularly for family members that can see the bigger picture. So here I am, biting my lip at times, taking deep breaths and saying my thanks that Ed & I have our health. And even though, I am not a terribly religious person, I say a prayer; that my MIL will have strength to make the most of her time here, and to deal with every day. Just for strength.
This situation will likely become worse, I am fully aware of this. There will be more doctors, or agencies and more decisions to be made. I ultimately know that all I can do is be strong for my husband, and have some solace knowing that I helped someone deal with things with some dignity.
So, the moral of my very convoluted story is: Count your blessings! Be appreciative! Show love to those you love! Give yourself a break! The world is not always completely against you, even though some days it feels like the Universe is kicking you in the kidneys.
Sorry that my frustration took a turn to sappy. Maybe this was the therapy that I needed today. And I thank you all for the time that you took reading this. Please do not send me your therapy bills.
On a lighter note. My deskmate, Kara and I have begun writing things on our desk white boards to give our co-workers a little compliment or just something fun to think about.
Kara wrote “You are cooler than a ninja and a pirate combined.”
I wrote “Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy assassins & cupcakes!”
I thought they were wise words, but I don’t think that my co-workers get me.
Okay folks. Hope that you are having a good week. Love & light friends!