Sunday, June 15, 2008

Oh, Dear God.

I have whiplash from dealing with my mother. Last night I was dealing with the poor, sick, weak, grateful little old lady who loved me, who had just taken a nasty fall. I was at the hospital until 10 last night, and left feeling sorry for her and thinking that something must be majorly wrong with her, and hoping it can be diagnosed.

Today I visited around dinnertime, after an exciting day of cleaning the pond filter and doing laundry and such. That version of my mother is gone, and in her place is a narcissistic shrew who chased away physical therapy and is driving the nursing staff nuts. She snapped at me for not getting there sooner. I snapped right back with "Jesus Christ Mom, I was here until ten last night and I have to get up and go to work tomorrow, when was I supposed to sleep and run my errands and do my goddamn laundry?" She harrumpfed. I sat there for most of an hour and she barely spoke to me, except to complain about her head hurting, and dramatically touching the sore spot. I said, You hit your head, it's going to hurt, it's bruised." "Harrumpf."

Before the hospital, I went to the ALF to get some of her stuff, just in case she is moved to a new placement while I am at the office during the week she needed nightgowns and housecoats and slippers. I stopped in to talk to the nurse, who told me stories that honestly made me sick and angry - my mother has been behaving badly for them, to put it mildly, extremely needy and dependent, treating the staff like her own personal slaves, doing things that I could not imagine her doing, even at her most difficult. Oh, and she's been refusing physical therapy and lying to me and Cousin C about it. This nurse questions the physical weakness, too - she's seen my mother going up and down the hall just fine, and thinks that there's a lot of attention seeking behavior going on here.

Basically they think she needs a higher level of care, for the more "challenging." They aren't kicking her out, they can do it there for a staggering sum, but I think my mother has earned herself a nursing home placement - one where she can't refuse PT and they stand over her to get her to eat, etc. She wants to be helpless, we will put her someplace where they can help her. She will either decide to help herself and earn her way back into independent living, or she won't. But either way, I have had two professionals who dealt with her tell me that I need to save myself and stop listening to her.

I am just boggled by the way she can turn it on and off. If you saw her in the ER last night you'd have adored her. She was so tiny, frail, weak, but charmed the staff, made jokes, and whispered to me that her nurse was so handsome, he reminded her of Denzel Washington. That woman is gone, and in her place is a nasty, mean-looking old lady, demanding, swearing, complaining. And let's remember, last night she was the one who moaned that she couldn't go back to her ALF because she was too weak to sit up, and begged to be admitted so they could help her. So the doctors agreed and made it so. Now she's bitching and refusing PT.

And the medical tests say she's perfectly healthy. Nobody can explain the dramatic change in her in the last month. I requested a psych evaluation.

Her hospital nurse strongly concurred, and also said that I should consider a support group or counseling for moral support in dealing with her. Yeah, she's that "challenging." Everyone who deals with her is more concerned with the stress on me than with her issues. That says a lot.

How was YOUR weekend?

P.S.: I forgot to add this tidbit. My mother insists that even watching TV is too much for her, she can't be bothered, the TV is off in her hospital room, it's as bleak and dull as it can be, worse than a prison cell (no reading material, no tv, no nothing, hour after hour.) ALF nurse reports this - the day of The Fall, my mother was up and dressed and in the living area thumbing through magazines, reading articles, relaxing, long before the kitchen opened. Another resident joined her, and she chatted with that woman. The dining room started serving breakfast, and my mother suddenly declared that she was too tired and had to go back to her room, and so weak, someone had to help her. Nurse told her to go eat breakfast, she was already there. She did she told me later that she had raisin bread toast and really good bacon, too. She reported this to me with pride, so I could praise her for eating. Now that I have the background, that "I was such a good girl, I ate toast and bacon!" (praise me, I'm so good, I am so weak I had to force myself to do this) was aimed at me. People observing her behavior firsthand have concluded that this is performance art.

I am not saying that my mother doesn't have psych issues, I think she does. But the frail, sick little old lady stuff is in her head, not her body.


jee said...

I strongly support the psych eval...not as "punishment," but for your own (and her) "sanity".

Anonymous said...

We only / eldest daughters should form a self-help organization along the lines of AA, shouldn't we?

Mind you, my problem is not my 88 yo father, but my step-mother. She is inclined to try some of these tricks for attention and to get out of work she is perfectly capable of doing. Dad does literally all their housework. SM's own son is wise enough to live on the other side of the continent.

Any takers for " 'Guilty' Daughters
Anonymous" - medication of choice: red or white wine.

Take good care of yourself, and all the support the professionals offer you,

Gae, in Callala Bay

Catherine said...

This evening I've chosen white, but I'm switching to herbal tea because after this lovely, relaxing weekend, I have to get up at 5.

The nurse assigned to my mother today was a gift from heaven - her own father is in his 80s and "difficult," and we swapped war stories. She is pushing for the psych evaluation. She said that my mother was so awful to the PT people they were shaken by it. My mother is 90 lbs. of frail little old lady, and when she turns from sweet and polite and starts ranting and cussing, it freaks people out. I know it takes me back to my dysfunctional childhood, a place I have tried to lock away in a deep, deep vault.

Anonymous said...

I am keeping my fingers crossed for you. She seems to be ramping it up now that she's closer by and has you for an audience.

Catherine said...

That's exactly it - she's playing for an audience of one - me. I'm supposed to buy this crap and, what? Last night she was all concerned about me, how tired I was, how I needed to go home and rest. Today she bitched because I wasn't there. This is a no-win situation, and I am not playing. I will see to it that she is comfortable and not in pain. God Almighty can't make her happy, or make her do for herself after 82 years of being a pain in the ass.

But this really is awful - we all want a mom. I don't have one, I have Her. My happiest moments are when people dealing with her validate that It's Not ME, It Really Is HER! I'd so much rather have a mother with one personality; I am so tired of being played like a fish. Even at 50, it's insanely hard to deal with this. You'd think after all the years of practice, I'd be used to it.

Donna said...

I wish I could think of something to say that would help. I'm thinking of you.

Janet said...

Having a parent in an ALF is stressful enough--but then to have one that turns into Jekyl and Hyde. Too much. I know medication is tough on elderly people, but I hope they put her on something that'll even her out.

Isn't your significant birthday imminent? Oh boy. I hope you get a break for that day, at the very least.

Anonymous said...

Prescribing a bit of Aussie slang, because I hope it will at least give you the giggles. Note - this saying is actually quite an old 'un, become amazingly topical.

If someone is trying to take advantage of you, mislead you, or give you the 'mushroom treatment' any Aussie will come back with:

"What do you think this is, Bush Week??

By the way 'mushroom treatment' means kept in the dark and covered with bullshit.

HTH, Gae in Callala Bay

ChelleC said...

Major hugs to you, C. If there's any consolation, it's in knowing that you've truly done ALL and more that you can do for your mother. True, she's a BIG pain in the ass (even if it's a tiny ass) . . . still. You have gone way over and above what many daughters would have done, and therefore, can always feel good about yourself and live with your conscience. On the other hand, it's obviously now at the point where you need to place some boundaries, i.e. screening your calls from her when you need rest, etc. Sounds like she's in good professional care, whether its in AL or full-on care center. Some psych drugs for the radical behavior changes might give everyone involved some relief so she doesn't get kicked out of whatever facility she is at. Sorry to give advice, you probably don't need that right now, but you're in my prayers. You need a frigg'n break right about now.

Amy in StL said...

My uncle played these games when he was in the hospital for prostate cancer. He survived, but not because he ate regularly or did his PT of his own volition. Only because my dad - his brother - went over daily and badgered him into behaving.