Friday, August 20, 2010
Life has a way of throwing us curve balls and catching us totally off guard. I haven't been on here once in the last 13 days and just wanted to post an update. As many of my friends know, my MIL has been fighting cancer and went into total remission recently. Her behavior however was pushing my husband and myself to our limits. We both were having stress related health issues during the last four months.
What happened on August 8th blind-sided us. We got a phone call just after 9AM on Sunday morning from one of the caregivers we hired. She was in a total panic and difficult to understand, but told my husband that she just arrived at his mother's house and thought that she had died. We rushed to her house to find the paramedics in the kitchen, waiting for us. Apparently she went into the bathroom in the middle of the night and took her oxygen off and threw the hose on the bathroom floor. She then went back to bed without her oxygen and passed away in her sleep. The paramedics told us that they thought that she died of heart failure as the lack of oxygen put a severe strain on her heart. We were shocked.
To be told the previous week that she was in remission and then to pass away from something SO preventable left us questioning WHY. We had to wait at her house for the police and then the people to transport her, which took about three hours total, which seemed so surreal - with her in the bedroom. Shock is probably the best way to describe it.
In the days that followed we had to make the necessary arrangements, still feeling like we were on automatic pilot. My SIL flew in two days before the funeral, as well as a great aunt. The service was very nice, as well as the luncheon that followed. It was the final gesture that my husband and I made for her, and we both thought that she would have been pleased with everything from the outfit I chose to the flowers that we ordered. I even shocked myself AND my husband by taking the microphone at the end of the service and standing up to thank the congregation for their friendship towards her, and their kindness to us.
In the days that followed I could see the difference in my husband, his sister, and myself - as the stress that had been constant, was fading away. After knowing my MIL for 27 years and tolerating plenty - I wish her peace. I REALLY do! I'm not a phoney, so I can't say things that I don't feel. I DO feel sad for the relationship that the three of us 'could' have had with her, but never happened, despite our trying.
My husband, my SIL, and myself have learned a few lessons from all of this. When you're given a second chance - don't squander it, recognize it for the blessing that it is!
Enjoy each day we're given and cherish it as the gift that it is, because you never know what's next.
Tell those that you love what they mean to you.
Live fully and never hold back.
Now is a time of healing for us and the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. Hopefully the three of us will find the peace that's been just out of our reach for so long. So goodbye Sally, I wish you peace as well.
Friday, August 06, 2010
To say that I'm mad would be an under-statement - I'm so angry, I could spit fire! The last two days have seemed like a bad dream. For those of you that haven't read my previous blogs, I'll give you the condensed version. My MIL was diagnosed with aggressive stage 4 lymphoma, with a gloomy prognosis. She appointed me both her general and medical power of attorney, probably because my husband doesn't have the time and his sister lives in California. Since she knows that I've handled the medical needs of my entire family in the past, she knew that I could handle it. I call her the toxic vampire because she gets pleasure in hurting people and she can suck the joy out of anyone she has contact with. In the last three months I've handled all of her medical needs.
I hired caregivers through a home health agency and lined up a separate company for a Medicare nurse to check on her twice a week. The stress of dealing with her over the last few months was harming my health, causing my blood pressure to soar, triggering migraines, and causing chronic diarrhea. Her lack of appreciation was one thing, but when I started to hear how she was bad-mouthing me behind my back, I pulled back. I told her to her face that I would 'manage' her medical needs from my home, by phone, but would NO longer subject myself to her abuse.
Once a week when we went to the local farmstand for fresh produce, we would call her and offer to pick up things for her - paying separately. I wouldn't buy a single grape with her money! We also pick up her prescriptions, groceries, and any personal care items that she needs. On Saturdays we take all of this to her house and I do her paperwork and pay her bills. I manage her care by speaking to the doctors, nurses, and caregivers by phone. When she has chemo scheduled, I call the doc and ask how many hours she'll be there each day, then I call the home health agency to schedule the caregivers to take her and pick her up. I do this knowing that it's a thankless job, but felt that it was the right thing to do. Despite everything I've done to try and help her, she complains about me to anyone that will listen. As a result of hearing the terrible things that she's said, I've stepped back in what I'm willing to do for her, which has dumped it into my husband's lap. I know, it's HIS mother, but he and I are a team.
What happened two days ago has left me dumbfounded. I was out and my MIL called twice, leaving messages. She was upset that she was feeling nauseous, the caregiver wouldn't be there for two hours, and I wasn't available. She called the home health agency and spoke with Debbie, the woman that runs things. But she did NOT call for help or for someone to come then, as Debbie offered. No, she called to complain about ME!!! Since I'm the one that hired Debbie's agency, and we get along very well - she called me to warn me, and also told me that my MIL also called the company with the Medicare nurse.
Since I've had a good deal of contact with the nurse also, I called her and left a message. However the nurse didn't call me back, the manager of the agency did. She told me that they were NOT allowed to speak to me. What??? Apparently my MIL complained about me to the nurse also, and the woman wouldn't tell me anything further except that she was going to meet with my MIL today. That feeling of 'something is off' took hold of me. I called Debbie back from the other agency and told her what happened. She was shocked. She said that when the manager from an agency goes to a client's home - something is up. Debbie was so upset by this that she called the manager of the nursing agency. The woman told her that she was going to meet with my MIL in an attempt to 'straighten this out'. When Debbie asked if Social Services was going to get involved, the woman replied 'I don't know if it will come to that'. Debbie told her that I've done everything right and by the book in managing her care and that my MIL is a VERY difficult woman.
To make a long story shorter - that WITCH made complaints about me to two agencies and possibly set an investigation in motion, which may involve Social Services! Debbie told me that if it comes to that, she will back me. I was also advised to line up character witnesses.
Last week I called her doc to get the results of her PET scan. Well, nothing short of a miracle - she's cancer free after ONLY 3 rounds of chemo! I don't know how she went from stage 4 with cancer in her neck, right lung, adrenal glands, and throughout her ENTIRE liver - to NO evidence of cancer! He also said that because it's such an aggressive cancer, that it's likely that it will come back. When I called to give her the news that she's in remission, she did NOT seem happy. She's been thriving on all of the attention since her diagnosis, and now that she's in remission, she seemed almost disappointed. I would think that she would have been thrilled - she wasn't. I called her closest friends and the pastor, since they all asked me to let them know the results. When she found out that I told people the 'good news', she was aggravated with me. The pastor then mentioned her news to the congregation on Sunday. When my MIL found out he did that, instead of being pleased, she started making calls to people from church. She actually told them that 'what 'I' told the pastor was NOT true and that she still has cancer in her lung and is NOT cancer free'. Well, I have a copy of the PET scan results and have read it, and it states that there is NO evidence of cancer. My husband met with the doctor on Monday, WITH his mother, and he DID say that she's in remission and cancer free. By Wednesday's bible study people were approaching one of her friends asking 'what's wrong with her DIL'? They wanted to know WHY 'I' would tell the pastor something that was NOT true. They went on with 'it's such a shame that her DIL doesn't even take her phone calls and does NOTHING for her'. UGH!!! Her friend told me that she's come to my defense more times than she can count!
Last night I spoke with the wife of my husband's half brother, on his father's side. She has her doctorate in psychology and has experience is situations like this, and has known my MIL for over 30 years, and wants nothing to do with her. She said that she might have been diagnosed with mild dementia, but this behavior is NOT associated with it. She said that it's deliberate and calculated, and meant to hurt me. She felt that her lack of guilt and remorse for any of her actions, through out her entire life, makes her dangerous, and she strongly advised me to cut ALL ties with her. She thinks that she's trying to break me and push me to leave my DH, so that she could finally have him to herself. I found that interesting since my MIL recently told my husband 'I hope that I don't harm your marriage and come between you and Doreen'. Ah ha, there it is - that is her intention!
Well, honey, that's NOT going to happen! Bring it on Bitch, I won't be victimized by you! I can take a lot of crap, but she's crossed a line, and I'M DONE!!! I wish her no ill will, I just want the pain and drama that she creates out of my life. The strange thing is, that I'm not afraid if Social Services contacts me, because I know that I'm honest and that I've done nothing wrong. Instead of letting the stress of this get to me, it's had the opposite result - it has set me free! Instead of being thankful and appreciative for how I've helped her, she's done this terrible thing - but it's on HER, not me! I went out for a bike ride this morning and felt a strange sense of relief. I'm focusing on myself and my husband, our health, and our future together - in peace. I guess I should stock up on some fresh garlic - I hear that it helps keep vampires at bay!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Do I have WELCOME stamped on my forehead? That's one of the questions I've been asking myself recently. I may not have been here on Spark that much lately, but I am still working on myself. I feel as if I've been peeling back the layers of an onion and discovering new things about myself. I have also been trying to get into my head and find some answers to my WHY questions. Such as WHY do I repeat certain behaviors and WHY do I feel like a doormat? And the biggest one of them all - WHY did I decide that I was no longer worth the effort???
Sometimes when you dig deep, you might not like what you discover. Honesty is very important to me, as is getting to the root of my weight issue. When the truth hurts it must be acknowledged before you can move forward. I've had days of clarity in the last few weeks, but it's been a struggle to hold on to. Since my MIL's cancer diagnosis 3 months back, constant daily stress has taken hold of our lives and it feels consuming. The fact is that no matter how much my DH and I do for his mother - it's NEVER enough. Her demands, constant complaining, and total lack of appreciation have left us drained. And how have I handled the stress???..... By scarfing down those 100 calorie bags of popcorn! At first I thought that it wasn't a big deal, it's ONLY 100 calories. But it's not about the calories - it's about the behavior! I turned to food in an attempt to comfort myself. Not an easy thing to admit, but the truth. It also made me feel guilty, out of control, and weak! I am NOT a weak woman, and it's d@mn time I stopped acting like one!!!
Searching for answers is vital, otherwise I'll have a lifetime of repeating the same behaviors, and I do NOT want that. The recent situation with her health crisis has made me take a deeper look at myself. WHY did I put her needs before my own? WHY was her health more important that mine? Everything I was doing on my journey here to improve my health and my life went right out the window with her diagnosis. Because so much of my time was dedicated to her needs - my exercise plan bit the dust, as well as my food plan, and even my sleep. I even stopped writing in my journal because I just couldn't concentrate. WHY?.... Old patterns of being the 'caregiver' resurfaced. It's a trait that I learned as a teenager after my mom got sick. Unfortunately It's something I've carried with me for the last 33 plus years - putting everything before me! It's called being a DOORMAT, and it's a huge mistake!
In an attempt to work on myself I've been reading old journals as well as a couple of good books. This has helped me find some answers to my WHY questions. I know that until I get a handle on the inner issues, the outside package will never really change for good, and I'll keep repeating this lesson over and over again!
You CAN teach an old dog new tricks, and realizing it is the first step in changing it. And I DO want to change it. I don't want to be doomed to repeat the same mistakes and feel like a doormat any longer! Feeling like I'm trapped in an overweight body is a HUGE sigh that my life has been out of balance! I've always been the 'good girl' and the 'dependable one', but I haven't been good to myself. I put my own health at risk by trying to handle all of my MIL's demands - a BIG mistake! The last 3 months I've dealt with high blood pressure, migraine headaches, and chronic diarrhea. My body was screaming at me, but I wasn't really listening.
Well, I'm listening now! Maybe the stress of the last few months has been a gift. A rather crappy one, but a gift... of clarity. I AM worth the time and effort that it takes to be healthy, to have the balanced life I want, to not feel limited by my weight, and trapped in an overweight body! I've made mistakes for which 'I' am responsible. I'm the one that put my needs and health after someone else's. It's time for me to be the caregiver for myself, to kick my inner doormat to the curb, and put myself FIRST!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
I never really understood that notion - until now. Sometimes things happen in life that throw us off course. The most important thing is to deal with what's going on in your life, stop floundering, and get on with it. That's where I'm at right now - between the stop floundering and getting on with it part. When life threw me off course and I found myself detoured down a road I did NOT want to be on, I found myself wondering how the heck I got there. I was adrift and lost, looking for my way back.
The last two months no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get unstuck and locate my missing motivation. I needed direction! I thought that if I focused on my plan here at Spark, that it might 'light my fire' again. I figured 'fake it till you make it' just might do the trick. It did! Taking those steps again and focusing on my goals and health worked. I didn't expect it to work so quickly, but I certainly am grateful!
When life throws us off course, realize that we're not always perfect, and life isn't perfect. Whether we are floundering, fall off of the wagon, or if the wagon rolls over us a few times - don't stop believing in yourself! But the MOST important thing is to get back up and take that first step, and move forward on your journey. Spark helped me regain my focus, and gave me direction and structure. My friends here, both old and new, gave me support when I needed it most - THANK YOU! You could say that Spark is my GPS!
G: Goal setting / Guidance
P: Positive reinforcement / Personal growth
S: Support / Structure
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Losing control of your life doesn't happen all at once, but slowly - over time. It's a process that happens bit by bit, until suddenly you look at your life and wonder what happened. This is where I am NOW! I'm not happy with the detour my life has recently taken and I want my life back! It's no secret that I've been struggling the last 2-3 months. My feelings of happiness and feeling good about myself have felt like a distant memory. To put it simply - I've been STUCK!
This is not another blog in which I vent over my MIL's behavior, but dealing with her health crisis and her demands is THE source of my stress and of my husband's. Trying to handle the medical needs of a family member is hard enough, but when that person complains constantly, tries to manipulate you, and is abusive with her behavior - it makes a difficult situation almost unbearable. Since there isn't anyone but us - we're stuck. My SIL informed us that she and her boyfriend are quitting their jobs and taking off from California in October, cruising on his sailboat for up to TWO YEARS!!! When I asked her if they will have a satellite phone so that we can contact her if something happened to her mother - the answer was NO. We would have to email her and wait for her to be in a port to contact us in return. At first I felt very burdened by her news as she has no responsibility regarding her mother's care, but after the way she was treated by her mother, I can't blame or judge her.
I put my business skills to work and have managed my MIL's medical needs by phone - from my home. It took awhile to get things organized, but her care is now running like a well-oiled machine - for the most part. Despite my doing all of this from an arms length, I still feel like I've lost myself along the way. I've been on automatic pilot for about two months now, just doing what needs to be done. Even though I said that I was going to make my own health a priority - I didn't. I meant to, but was overwhelmed with taking care of everything else. I wrote in a previous blog that 'no one else's health is more important than my own' - they were only words that I did NOT back up with actions.
I feel like we've been living under a dark cloud, and judging by what the doctors say - this will get progressively worse, and can on like this for 'possibly' a year or more. My husband recently commented that we're starting to look like we feel - exhausted! He's right. We wake up feeling tired and emotionally drained. My blood pressure has been too high and I've been getting migraines, not to mention the 'digestive issues' that won't let me stray too far from the bathroom. I know that it's all stress related. There have been many days that I've skipped meals and we've had dinner at 9:30 at night. Then because we ate so late, we didn't sleep well. My daily exercise routine bit the dust too, and I was lucky to get in a couple of bike rides a week. Not good!
No matter how hard I've tried, I couldn't shake off how I was feeling and move forward. I took a long hard look at the direction my life has taken, and I wasn't happy. So unless I want to have a stroke, live on migraine medication, or stick a cork in my butt to stop the diarrhea - I need to gain back control. Since all of my MIL's needs are met, it's time to focus on my health and the health of my husband. I'm sick and tired of feeling frustrated, consumed by someone else's demands, and yes - resentful. There, I said it! I don't want to feel like I've lost control over my own life and filled with negative emotions any longer!!!! The days of feeling like HER needs and demands are consuming our lives is OVER. Somewhere along the way we've lost sight that we have a RIGHT to live our own lives. So, today is day one of taking my life back and moving forward on MY journey! This is the most 'at peace' I've felt in almost two months. I feel calm, with glimpses of my old self. WooHoo, the clouds have parted and I can finally see the sun! Thanks for listening-
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