Saturday, May 17, 2008

Day Three. Forget Days One and Two.

Official Meltdown has begun. She woke me at 7 with the first call, and then was sobbing on the phone a little while ago. (I did not jump up and rush to the rescue, because her complaints were either things I can't fix, or are crazy, or both.) Yes, the bed is now higher, "someone must have raised it" (while she was sleeping in it?) and the edge is too soft - the same bed that was perfect yesterday at 5 p.m. is now a deathtrap. My response: It's a bed. A good quality bed, with a lowered box spring to make it easier for you to get in and out. I can't do any more than that. It was fine the last two days, it hasn't changed. Her answer: Hmmmpf.

Oh, and her room is too far from the dining room. "Other people's" rooms are closer! This is a good one - she has one of the closest rooms in the entire building. Most of the rooms between her and the dining room are actually offices and mechanical rooms, and there can't be a half dozen of them. "Other people" have to travel from two other wings and/or the second floor to the dining room. Half of them do it dragging oxygen tanks and shit. The Victim of the Universe is sure she has been given a room that is farther than anyone else's. The last two days were a fluke, this is how she really is.

Nobody understands how she suffers. That's a direct quote. That's right, nobody does. Yes, she does have health problems. She's 82. Her complaints of stomach issues that landed her in the hospital appear to have been helped with medication, she never mentions them now. Her blood pressure is better than mine, she's not on any other significant medications other than bp and cholesterol and such, like the average 60 year old, and she is 82. Her last blood work was very good, no problems. Yes, she's 82 and I do believe her when she says she has aches and pains and tires easily, I am not ignoring her, which is why I turned myself inside out for the last three weeks to get her into this expensive and lovely assisted living apartment, so she can see other doctors and get proper medical attention.

I flat told her she was out of options, I had no other answers for her if she doesn't make this work out. I've done my best and I'm done. I will take ONE (1) phone call a day. The rest can go to voicemail.

It's hard, because I was raised with a lot of crazy parental messages, but the primary was that my mother's happiness was somehow my job. I know it isn't. I know how awful that is to do to a kid, and I feel sorry for the kid I was, and also sorry for me now. I also know she is unnaturally fixated on me and identifies with me in a really creepy way. When my haircut didn't turn out the other day, my mother's response was "He's probably mad at you because you are moving away." Um, she's the one who was moving. Ahem. You have no idea how creepy it is to me when I get these flashes of her confusing her life with mine.

I moved her closer to me so I could help out with genuine issues and not lose my job or my sanity or end up in the hospital myself, because the two hour commute was not reasonable. It sucks to be her next of kin, but that's the hand I've been dealt. But I am not going to let her crawl up my ass and consume my life. She will see the new doctor on Wednesday, she has a nurse to talk to in between, there is staff to help her, even she has to admit that they are nice. I can't fix the workings of her brain. The period of Tough Love has begun.


Anonymous said...

You are right - it's time for Tough Love. You have put in an amazing marathon effort in her best interests. Let Voicemail take the strain.

My 88 yo step-mum tries similar tricks with me, starting with a listing of all my father's perceived failings (how is that supposed to win my vote?). Took me a while to work out why her only child lives on the other side of Australia - in Darwin.

Time for you to put your own well-being higher on the agenda.

Gae in Callala Bay (two hours drive south of Sydney on NSW coast)

Catherine said...

Thanks Gae!

I am putting my own well being on the agenda. And I totally understand moving to the other side of the country. I've been fantasizing about it all day. :-)

rho said...

I don't know if it will help but you can try telling her the reason they put offices etc between her room and the dining room is so the noise from the dining room won't bother her -

I don't know---but I sure feel for you

Anonymous said...

I am an only child, too. While my parents are both 77 and doing okay now, I dread having to take care of my mom after my dad is gone---he is the referee. I see allot of my mom in what you write about your mother---and yes, my mom has been controlling and manipulative all of my life. It's not something brought on by age. Keep fighting the good fight, walking that fine line between duty/caring and letting her rule you. Congrats on your new job. I hope it works out for you. I will be laid off at the end of June, and I'm hoping that this is a blessing in disguise. I've worked for the same place for 28 years, and maybe this is *someone's* way of telling me it's time to move on.

Brenda in Iowa

Bess said...

Thank heavens for caller i.d.

You've met the objective. She's safe. Time for you to have fun - with wine, feet up, chocolates and a savor of this last day before the New Job.

zippiknits said...

Yes, she's a whiner, and you have done your best. Not only that you have done the ULTIMATE best. Let it go to voice mail, and I'm sure the nurses will call you if it is needed. That's one thing your mother's paying for, assessment of reality!

Hugs Catherine. Go have fun on your time off. Play tug of war with Murphy. :)

Janet said...

Catherine--Rachael left a comment on my blog suggesting that "your blog and my blog should talk." I have been struggling with many of the same Mother issues. You and I have a lot in common, including a serious illness (breast cancer 2003) that isn't factored in by the Mother. At any rate, I've been reading a long time (but not commenting, sorry) and want to offer my support and admiration for what you are doing. So difficult.

Catherine said...

I think my mother does factor in my illness, sort of - she "worries about me," and my stress level - but is utterly oblivious about her own contribution to it. Even though I've explicitly told her that she is the single most stressful thing I deal with, she still interprets that as "I am distraught with worry about her," instead of thinking that perhaps she's a stabbing pain in my ass. :-)

ChelleC said...

I was once told that as people age, they stay the same . . . only become MORE SO of what they always were. This seems to be true from what I've seen. You're gotten her in a good place - now it's time for YOU.