Monday, June 28, 2010
I've been thinking of that question a great deal recently and yesterday I asked my SIL what her answer would be. What happens when your aging parent is facing the end? I was faced with that question when I was 18 years old and my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. Over a seven month period of time, I watched her handle her declining health with dignity and grace...right up to her last day. She never complained, even once, and thanked everyone for every act of compassion. I couldn't do enough for her and I NEVER felt burdened by the responsibility of being her caregiver - I wanted to help her. She appreciated every gesture of kindness and showed her thanks and love.
But, what happens when it's an abusive parent? This is what my husband, my SIL, and myself are facing with regards to my MIL's health. She yells, speaks to us in a nasty, sarcastic tone of voice, complains constantly about everyone, and says THE most hurtful things. It's probably very hard for people that have 'normal' loving parents to understand, but she tries to inflict hurt - on purpose. She's been verbally and emotionally abusive to my DH and SIL for 50 years, and 27 years to me. I've recently witnessed her verbally rip my SIL to shreds, leaving her sobbing - without ANY emotion!
My SIL lives in California and came in for a visit, and stayed with my MIL for 10 days. Despite the fact that the apple didn't fall far from the tree, and my SIL is SO similar to my MIL, nobody deserves to be treated the way she was! I watched my SIL TRY to please her - only to have my MIL complain daily about her. I tried to play peace-maker by telling my MIL that this could be the last time she sees her daughter. I also told her that I can't listen to ONE more complaint and that she should try to make the most of this visit. I suggested she tell my SIL what she means to her. What did this toxic woman do? She told her daughter that 'she doesn't even care about her' and she called her a whore!
Friday morning I had to meet the man that was installing the 'life line' that I ordered for her. It's one of those 'I've fallen and can't get up' things. She was nasty to me from the moment I got there, and was even worse with my SIL. The caregiver was there as well as a nurse doing labwork on her. I could see it in their faces every time she raised her voice - that look of shock. My SIL walked out with me when I left. She stood in the driveway crying over the fights her mother had with her while she was there. This 50 year old woman cried like a baby while I hugged her. I could feel her pain. She told me that she'll never forget what her mother said to her - for the rest of her life. She also told me that she felt NO love from her mother, only anger. THIS is her legacy!
My MIL's behavior is NOT new - she's always been toxic and mean. Even the nurses and case managers from both the hospital AND the rehab facility referred to her as 'mean and nasty'. However my DH and I think that she's getting worse - if that's possible! This is not a woman that's going to show love and appreciation to those around her. She looks at us and shakes her head from side to side, while giving us dirty looks. We picked up my SIL yesterday morning to take her to the airport, to catch her flight home. We watched in disbelief as my SIL had to ASK her to stand up so she could hug her. My SIL got choked up as she hugged her, however my MIL barely hugged her back. There wasn't a speck of emotion or even one 'I love you'!!! I was stunned as I watched this. This woman, consumed with anger and resentment, acted like an iceberg - cold!
I do understand the 'honor thy mother and father' concept. I think that it's up to each person to answer 'that' question. My SIL really did try during her visit. I told her to know in her heart that she did her best, regardless if her mother appreciated it. She told me that her mother was NEVER there for her - even as a child.
My husband and I have the same answer to my question. We both feel like handling her medical needs is the right thing to do, and since there isn't anyone else to do it - we feel responsible. We are trying to do this without feeling suffocated. Yes, I know that it's HIS mother, but we are a team and face things together. I had many talks with him about my feelings and what I am "willing" to do for her. I can 'manage' her medical needs by hiring people, scheduling appointments, etc. But It will NOT be me doing the hands on care! In order to save my own sanity, this must be done from a distance. I also had two talks with her. I told her that I will NOT tolerate her yelling, nastiness, and disrespectful behavior!! This is what I'm willing to do, the rest is up to my DH. We expect NO thanks or love in return.
When I look at her face, I search her eyes for some speck of kindness or goodness. You can actually feel the misery ooze from her and see it in her eyes! The time she has left could have been her chance to tell people what they mean to her and to make amends. I can see that it's not going to happen. I feel great sadness for my husband and my SIL. Their memories will not be like the ones I have of my mother. My mom told me every day that she loved me - and I felt it! Sadly they won't have that, and it hurts my heart for them.
Life is a gift and a blessing, and I believe in telling people what they mean to me - and not just with words, but with my actions as well. Watching all of this unfold has been a great lesson. Life is NOT to be wasted, make the most of every day! Love those around you with an open heart. Kindness is LONG remembered, as are hurtful words - choose carefully. Never neglect your own health because this isn't a dress rehearsal. Do what you think is right, without having regret. Live a life filled with love and joy - that's the best legacy!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Ah, clarity! Lessons some times come when you least expect. The past 4 weeks have been stressful and draining, as I've tried to handle my MIL's medical needs. To say that the woman is THE most ungrateful person I've EVER encountered - would be an under-statement. Nothing, and I do mean nothing is EVER enough! Not only doesn't she show a shred of appreciation, but she's getting nastier by the day and raising her voice and yelling. Instead of being appreciative to her family and friends for what we're all doing for her, she doesn't think that it's enough. and demands more and is abusive! How can she face the end of her life being SO mean and nasty?
Since I have her medical AND general power of attorney, I've been busy making sure that her medical needs are met. She was in the hospital for 2 weeks, followed by a 2 week stay at a rehab facility in an attempt to get her moving more and doing more for herself. However some things will NEVER change, as she demands to be waited on and catered to constantly, without doing ONE thing for herself. My SIL came in for a visit and is staying with my MIL for 10 days since last Thursday, when we brought her home from rehab. I lined up some home health care, SOME being the operative word, because despite the fact that the woman can afford anything she needs or wants - she won't spend the money and expects us to take care of her 24/7. I had to push her to agree to 4 hours a day, plus the social service director wouldn't release her from rehab unless I had home health lined up. She fought me tooth and nail, but after an hour of both myself and the director from the home health company pushing her, she VERY reluctantly agreed. I went to a medical supply store with my DH to pick up what she needed for home, as well as orchestrate the rental of a wheel chair and the delivery of oxygen, with the help of her case manager. All of which she fought us over!
I kept telling myself that I was doing the right thing - for a VERY nasty person. My SIL and I went to pick her up from rehab after a morning of non-stop running around. We went to the farmstand for fresh produce and the grocery store, and stocked her fridge. I also put dinner in the crockpot and met with the medical supply person that delivered the oxygen. She didn't even pack ONE thing when we arrived at rehab, she expected us to do it. After getting her settled back at her house, she didn't even appreciate how good her house looked after my DH and I, along with a woman that I hired - cleaned her disgustingly dirty house! Not ONE word of thanks!
I headed home for a few hours leaving her with my SIL, with the understanding that my husband and I would be back later for dinner - which I cooked. Two of her friends planned on stopping over for coffee and dessert later that evening. She gave me her credit card one month ago when she was admitted into the hospital, which I used to purchase items needed for her house and groceries - which I told her FIRST, 'before' I used the card! The MOMENT that I walked back into her house, with food that I prepared AND paid for, she was nasty. My DH carried a large plastic tote into the house for me. AS I started to unload a salad, dessert, homemade soup for them for another meal, and cut up fruit - she started on me! In a VERY nasty tone - she demanded her card back! Not ONE word of thanks for the meal we just brought in or anything we did to get her house ready. My DH didn't hear the conversation up to that point, but came in to see me toss her card onto the table and say "fine". I then told her that I asked her BEFORE I used the card, to purchase items for HER! Her reply - she demanded to see the receipts! So much for gratitude!!!
Despite the fact that I asked her about 6 times BEFORE I went shopping, what she wanted to eat - she complained to my SIL and ALL of her friends that I bought what 'I' wanted - NOT what she wanted! I watched her drink cranberry juice DAILY while in rehab, so I bought cranberry juice...only to hear her complain that she doesn't like it and that I NEVER asked her what she wanted! Liar!!!!!!!!!!!!
Everyone has a breaking point - and I reached mine that night at her house when I made dinner. As we sat at the table with her friends and had dessert, she was acting like a nasty bitch. I cut the cake and made coffee - only to hear her complain that 'nobody asked me how much cake I wanted' in a pissy-@ss tone! With that comment, I walked over to the table and picked up her plate...and literally dumped the cake back into the box - and picked up a smaller piece of cake, and slapped it onto her plate, and put it back in front of her and said "there you go"! She glared at me - TOO bad, you nasty, toxic witch! She started yelling at my SIL and my DH and I stood up to leave. She asked me 'have you had enough'? I replied "yes I have, and I'm NOT sitting here listening to you raise your voice for another minute". My SIL later told me that my MIL was embarrassed by MY behavior!! Are you freaking kidding me???
In the car with my DH, I told him that I'm DONE as I sat there and cried out of frustration. He told me that he doesn't want me to do another thing for her, that he will handle her. My attitude was 'well about time'! He HAS put his foot down with her regarding how she's treated me, more times than I can count - and he HAS done it firmly, but it doesn't change her behavior. From the time he was a child he tried to tune out to her screaming and nastiness, in an attempt to save his sanity. As for my SIL, who happens to be a lot like her mother, she takes ALL of the verbal abuse and screaming my MIL dishes out - in silence! My MIL's friend witnessed her toxic behavior that night and said that 'her abuse is a terrible thing to see'.
The next morning my MIL called and tried to start on me again. I NEVER raised my voice, but I let loose on her and told her that I was DONE!!! I said that other people may put up with her nasty, sarcastic tone of voice, and her raising her voice and yelling at them - but I won't tolerate it! I continued despite her screaming on the other end of the phone and told her to be quiet or she won't hear what I am saying to her. I then said that she is the MOST ungrateful person I've ever met, despite everything I've done for her - she doesn't appreciate a thing! I told her that she treats me in a disrespectful manner, as if I'm some kind of slave girl without a life of my own. I told her that there's no pleasing her, that it's never enough. I also asked her WHY she appointed me her general power of attorney if it's SO obvious that she doesn't trust me or anyone else. I found out that she had the husband of one of her friends read over the admissions paperwork that I signed for her - behind my back! She denied it and I found it to be extremely insulting, as I wouldn't do anything dishonest!
My DH told her that I'm done as well. Since I stepped back my DH has stepped forward regarding her needs. And I can see the stress on his face, along with the hurt of how she's abused me. It's not an easy situation and I worry about how the stress of dealing with her has harmed my health and the health of my husband. Since there isn't any other family, just my DH and myself here, I know that we're in for a bumpy ride before the end of the road. She has a very aggressive type of lymphoma, which has spread to multiple organs. Chemo may buy her some time, but she's not the type to handle things with grace - she's going to make sure that everyone else's life is miserable. She also has SOME dementia, which can NOT excuse the 27 years of toxic behavior directed at me, or the 50 years of abuse dumped on my DH and SIL. Her case manager has told me that both of these conditions will get progressively worse. Since I have more time than my DH, I can still manage her care, but from a distance. I can hire people to care for her, but it will NOT be me at her house caring for her.
Enough is enough! I will not give in. By 2:00 this afternoon there were SEVEN phone calls from both my MIL and my SIL - so far! My blood pressure is through the roof and my DH is going to tell her yet AGAIN to back off, or we won't EVEN handle her care! To see this sweet man, with the kindest disposition stressed to the max, hurts my heart! We feel that we can't walk away totally because there isn't anyone else. My SIL complained after ONE day, yes I did say ONE day - that SHE wants her life back! Maybe the silicone from her over-sized breast implants traveled up to her brain! She goes back to California on Sunday and has no plans on coming back anytime soon. We need to find a way of taking care of our health FIRST, setting boundaries with that insane, toxic lunatic, and getting control of our lives back!
PS: I'm sorry that this was SO long, but once I started typing - I couldn't stop! Thanks for letting me vent, I'll keep you posted.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
I keep thinking of that line in the movie 'The Godfather' - 'just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in'. As my spark friends know, and others that have read some of my previous blogs, my MIL is toxic to say the least! She has taken emotional abuse to a whole new level, and finds pleasure in doing so. Over a month ago I decided that enough was enough and limited my contact with her, out of self preservation. It was going well until a few weeks back.
She called to tell me that she found a lump in her neck. Since she's been like the boy that's cried wolf for YEARS, most people don't believe her because she's fabricated similar stories for YEARS! I told her to call her doctor and have him check it out. Shortly after she was scheduled for a needle biopsy. Since my SIL is in California and my DH couldn't get off from work - I took her.
My DH and I had a vacation coming up, our first in THREE years. We were going to Hilton Head for a week and my MIL was telling her friends that she didn't want us to go because if she needed us for anything we would be 6 1/2 hours away. Selfish woman!!! I KNEW that she would pull something and I was so certain, that I waited to pack. I've been down this road with her for 27 years, so when I say that I knew it - I could have bet money that she'd pull something!
While I waited with her for the biopsy the nurse checked her vitals. When the head nurse came in, I knew that something was up. She is supposed to take Lasix EVERY day to help get rid of excess fluid, but just like the FOUR previous times - she didn't take it for OVER a week!! As she was told that she was in congestive heart failure - yet again, she wasn't upset by the news at all. Her biopsy was cancelled and she was admitted into the hospital. Being the master manipulator that she is - she asked me what I'm going to do about our vacation NOW!!! She then said 'see, that's why you can't make plans'. Instead of being upset about them cancelling her biopsy, she sat there and looked VERY pleased with herself. I felt both angry and numb at the same time. When I called one of her closest friends she said 'I knew that she would pull something to ruin your vacation'.
However she didn't count on what happened next, which surprised us both. They ordered a chest x-ray, followed by a CT scan. When the head nurse wanted to see me in the hallway, I knew that it wasn't good news. There was a mass that showed up on her x-ray and CT scan in her right lung. The needle biopsy was eventually done on the mass on her neck and proved to be large cell lymphoma - a very aggressive cancer. Upon speaking with various doctors, I was told that it's also in her adrenal glands and in multiple spots in her liver. Her prognosis isn't good. One doctor said that it's late stage cancer and suggested hospice. However her Oncologist suggested chemo. He told me that it won't cure her, but it MAY buy her some time. She decided to try chemo.
I knew that she appointed me her medical power of attorney about five years ago. Despite how she's treated me, she knew that I would do the right thing regarding her medical care. I've been down this road since I was 18 and my own mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. So I became well versed on the subject, out of necessity and have learned what questions to ask. She knew that I would be better able to handle this over my DH, and she probably thought that my SIL would tell them to pull the plug if she thought her mother even had a cavity!
She was in the hospital for exactly two weeks and received her first chemo treatment. I suggested an after care facility to her case manager at the hospital, with physical therapy, in an attempt to get her back up on her feet. I then got her docs on board with the idea, and got the ball rolling. I spent two weeks talking to case managers, meeting with various doctors almost daily, spending hours on the phone dealing with all of this, touring rehab places, and visiting her. My compassion did kick in, and I tried to do the best thing - for her. She tried to fight me on the after care facility with physical therapy, but since I had the docs with me - she was going to go.
You would probably think that after all of the verbal and emotional abuse this woman dished out, that I would place her in the nastiest place I could find - I didn't. I chose a nice rehab facility that was clean, beautiful, and with a very caring staff. However nothing is ever easy, and I was told that they wouldn't accept her because she was on chemo. I spent an entire afternoon on the phone fighting to get her in there. The case manager from the hospital was not helpful, so I went over her head and called the administrator of the rehab directly and gave it my best shot. They had some misinformation regarding her chemo schedule and the medications given to her for the first five days after her treatment. Numerous phone calls later, the administrator called me back and told me that I got her in. When I got to the hospital the case manager told me that one of the hospital docs wanted her to go to a different facility because he was on staff there. By this point my patience was pushed and I told her that I really don't care where HE wants her to go! Followed by 'I toured that other place and it's disgusting - I wouldn't even let my cats go there'. She didn't seem to appreciate my honesty. When we went to visit my MIL, my DH told her that she should thank me because I spent HOURS fighting to get her in there. She said...nothing!
She was transferred there last week and is getting physical therapy, and NOT very happy about it. The initial shock of her diagnosis has worn off, and she's back to her nasty self. My SIL is coming in for 13 days to see her mother, and then going back to California - leaving us to deal with this, despite the fact that she's NOT working all summer! Some things NEVER change! This is only PART of the story, and to be honest, I feel burnt out and DONE with this mess for today. I'll get into the rest in a day or two - I just don't have it in me now. I'm trying to figure out the best way for my husband and myself to deal with all of this, without it consuming our lives! I'm going to approach this like I'm managing her care - from a slight distance, since I'm hearing that she's complaining about us - yet again. I'm working on managing her care without neglecting myself! I'll keep you posted.
Thursday, June 03, 2010
This is the first I've been on Spark in about 2 weeks and thoughts of diving into a vat of chocolate are swimming through my head! I AM only kidding - kind of. The last two weeks have been pretty terrible and I will write a more detailed blog in a day or so and really explain everything, but for now here is the condensed version. As my friends know, my MIL has been a thorn in my side for almost 27 years and I recently limited my contact with her out of self preservation. However something happened exactly 2 weeks ago that caught my DH and myself off-guard. She was diagnosed with a VERY aggressive type of cancer and her prognosis is not good. Despite the abusive way she's treated me, she knows me well enough to be certain that I will do the right thing regarding her medical care, so she appointed me her medical power of attorney. And since there seems to be something 'off' with her mental clarity recently, I did step in and take charge of her care. For those of you that know how she's treated me, you're probably thinking that I would be tempted to pull the plug if she had an ingrown toenail - but I'm a do the right thing kind of girl.
I've spent the last two weeks meeting with various doctors and case managers, making numerous phone calls daily, touring after-care facilities, as well as being at the hospital almost every day to see her and talk to her Oncologist. I've felt as if I've been on automatic pilot for two weeks now and I feel totally drained. My reminder to take care of myself came in the form of a migraine early yesterday morning. I have a tendency to put my own needs NOT at the top of my priority list when something like this happens, and I need to change that NOW! So tomorrow morning I WILL be back on my bike for an early morning ride, followed by my usual healthy breakfast. I will jump back into Spark with both feet once I can get a handle on of all of these balls I'm trying to juggle. So as temping as that vat of chocolate seems when I'm feeling stressed, it's not worth ruining all of the hard work I've done so far!
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
I'm sitting here feeling hurt, stung, and ticked off! I will NEVER understand how someone can hurt another person on purpose! Writing this blog is my way of blowing off steam and getting this out of my head... or at least trying to. My SIL just called me and gave me what can only be described as a drive-by bitch-slap! She is just like my toxic MIL, only a younger version. Her manner of attack is to catch me off guard by having a normal conversation for a few minutes, and when my guard is down - insult me and quickly get off of the phone before I can even wrap my head around what she just said to me.
Two of her last 'zingers' were: That I'm lucky that I don't have the desire to be perfect! And after changing my hair style she told me that her boyfriend says that's how all overweight middle aged women wear their hair!
The first couple of minutes today were fine, just normal chit chat, but as soon as I relaxed...WHAM! This is how it went:
SIL: My mom actually said that you looked good.
Me: Well that's surprising.
SIL: Yeah, but I know that she REALLY didn't mean it because of the way she said it and her tone of voice. I asked her WHY she thought that you looked good. If you were wearing a cute top or something?
Me: I really don't care what your mother thinks of how I look!
WHY did she feel SO compelled to call me and repeat that conversation? WHY say such a mean-spirited thing? Before I could gather my thoughts any further, she quickly got off of the phone. I stood there holding the phone, feeling dumbfounded! She was here last month for a 6 day visit. She never once acknowledged that I lost weight or had one positive thing to say to me.
My DH calls the two of them RAPTORS because they always tag-team me with their insults. She refers to herself as 'smokin' hot'! Every time we got together with her, she had to tell us how 'men stare at her constantly everywhere she goes.' Maybe it's because she inflated her boobs to match her inflated ego. She had 960cc implants put in and she looks like she's trying to smuggle a watermelon under her shirt!! They are SO big, that if she ever tripped and fell - her face would never hit the ground!
My first thoughts were to call her back and tell her that what she did was very mean-spirited, but I haven't done it.. yet. Do I want to give her the satisfaction of knowing that she 'zinged' me? On the other hand, do I want to let her get away with bitch-slapping me - yet AGAIN?? Any suggestions on how to deal with this would be appreciated.
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