Monday, June 06, 2005

the beginning of the end

I guess we all get to that point in our lives when we can no longer ignore the fact that our parents are getting older and when that time comes, I guess it's normal to think about how we will feel when they are no longer with us. unfortunately, there are some people in my family who I do not care about at all and some people who I know I should care more about, but can't. my grandmother (and a few others) falls into that first category. it makes me sad to admit that my mother is in the second.

my stepdad is not well. and hasn't been for quite a few years. he has rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, he is a long-time smoker and has heart problems that are inoperable due to his other health problems. at age 58, he looks like he's at least 70. this isn't really anything new. he's been sick for quite a while. lately though, I've noticed that he seems to be more frail and tired. he is completely dependent on his pain medications just to get through the day and the medications take a heavy toll on his body. factor in his uncontrollable cigarette addiction (at least two packs a day) and you can imagine how sick he really is.

my mother is his only caregiver. my mother, who I would never consider a proper caregiver for anyone. she does a fairly good job of it, I guess, driving him around, making sure he has his medicine and taking care of the house. she's not very emotionally supportive though, she never has been. and she doesn't deal with reality very well, she'd rather just pretend that problems don't exist. so it's hard to find out exactly what is going on with him at home, even harder to find out what's going on with her. and apparently there's something going on with her.

she's always been pretty flighty and thoughtless and unconcerned with anyone else's problems. she's inconsiderate and childish and forgetful. it's gotten a lot worse recently, especially the forgetfulness. to the point where you find yourself having the same conversations with her two or three times over the course of one meal. it's been out of control for more than a year but she has refused to see a doctor about it. and since she tends to ignore the things she doesn't want to deal with, no amount of nagging on my part could convince her that there might be something wrong.

my stepdad tended to take her side whenever I would bring it up. and say that he thought it was just an act or that it wasn't as bad as I was making it out to be. I think he was scared to admit that there might be something wrong with her. part of that was the normal denial any of us would have if we thought a loved one might be ill but I think the larger part of it was fear of what would become of him if she wasn't able to take care of him anymore. whatever it was, unless I had him on my side, I knew I would never get her to do anything about it. so I quit trying.

I don't know what happened that made her see the doctor earlier this month but it doesn't matter. I do know that she is being tested for Dementia and Alzheimer's this week. I didn't hear about it from her, of course. my stepdad told me yesterday at a family graduation party. he looked terrified when he told me. I didn't know what to say. I still don't know what to say. and I don't know how I feel about any of it.

it seems almost certain that the doctor will find something and I have no idea what that will mean for any of us. I do know that our lives will change pretty drastically some time in the future. I hate that.


ginger said...

Bless your heart. You've had such sadness in your life. I went back and read your post about your mom too. We've all seen people who don't seem to care, but when we know them personally, it is almost unbelievable. I hope everything works out for the best, and just know that you are a wonderful mother AND wife. It takes courage to post such personal stories; good for you, sweetie.

Pryncess Kat said...

I'm stopping by for a quick thanks! Thanks for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment!

I'll be back to catch up on your posts....wish I had the time now.....

Raehan said...

I'm so sorry. Good luck. It is very hard to watch parents struggle.

Last Girl On Earth said...

Wow, this is a seriously tough. I'm with Ginger on this one. I think that you are amazing for posting with such honesty. It's hard enough dealing with againg parents, but it's extra hard to have to deal with all of the mixed feeling you are having. I hope for your sake that the doctors don't fins anything seriously wrong. Consider yourself "hugged".

Stacy said...

Hi Michelle. Your dropped into my site through the complimenting commentor. Thanks so much for your comments. If you can email me your address, I like to email my new friends when I post something more meaningful to me.

annie said...

Oh dear, that sounds like Alzheimer's.
My Grandma had it. I have recently heard of some people getting it in their 50's. Well, if they catch it, there are new treatments to help.

Take care

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