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 Post subject: For people with parents who don't take care of themselves
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:39 pm 
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So here I sit waiting for a call from my mom's doctor. She's in the hospital again for the . . . I don't know . . . 6th time in a few years. I'm in NC and she's in NH and I only figured out she was in the hospital because I called Meals on Wheels when I hadn't heard from my mom in about a week (she's sporadic with communication).

My mom has been an alcoholic for as long as I can remember, and definitely before then - her parents were alcoholics too. She doesn't eat well and all she drinks is diet pepsi or diet pepsi with booze, and she smokes a lot too. She retired early so she's been retired maybe 10 years or so - she's 69 - and she doesn't really do anything but watch TV, play solitaire on her computer, chat on the computer, and smoke and drink.

Since getting sent to the hospital a few years ago, she's had homemakers who hang out with her and help her clean, and she gets meals on wheels.

And here's the thing. While I'm sitting here crying because I don't know what's wrong with her (and the social worker I talked to at the hospital (ironically, my mom used to be a social worker) asked if I'd consent to being her medical power of attorney) I am also pissed, because she doesn't take care of herself, and how much of this could be avoided if she did anything healthy for herself? And what do I say to my daughter while I walk around crying?

eta: I love my mom, I do. She's screwed up a lot of things in my life, but she's my mom so I always forgave her. She's the one who listens to my whining about things and she's snarky and funny.

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:43 pm 
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I've been there and I'm feeling for you right now.

My dad died a few years ago after years of uncontrolled alcoholism. He had heart issues, high blood pressure, and type two diabetes. Even in the face of the worst that could happen, he couldn't quit drinking and he wasn't interested in changing his diet and being more active. He died of multiple organ failure and the end was really rough physically (for him) and emotionally (for his ex-wife and children).

I think sadness and anger are perfectly understandable reactions. I'm not sure exactly how old your daughter is, but she's pretty young right? Have you tried just telling her that your mom is sick and you're worried about her? As she gets old, she will be able to understand more.

Hugs.

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:44 pm 
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Hi Jane - I'm sorry about your dad :(

Livi is 4 1/2 and I told her that grammy's sick because she doesn't take care of herself.

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:50 pm 
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appifanie wrote:
Hi Jane - I'm sorry about your dad :(

Livi is 4 1/2 and I told her that grammy's sick because she doesn't take care of herself.


I actually think that is a really good answer. I have a sister who was young when my dad died and that is what we told her -- that he got sick and died and because he didn't take good care of his body. As she got older, she began asking why and my mom shared more of the circumstances with her.

It feels upsetting to cry in front of children -- I always feel like I'm going to traumatize them. I think, though, most children understand sadness a lot better than we give them credit for and they can understand being sad, crying, being worried.

It's so easy to look at a parent's life and think of what they could do to be healthier and what they could do to be happier (and the two are so entwined). But in cases like this, you can't do anything except let them know you are there if they want to change their life -- and that is what is so heartrending about it.

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:50 pm 
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That is a crappy situation! I'm sorry and big big hugs to you! ((((((HUGS))))))

1st, more power to you for always forgiving her and being the bigger person! That is hard to do.

2nd, there is only so much you can do. I know you are upset that she doesn't take care of herself and you are worried about her. But she is a grown women and nothing you do will change her. She will change on her own if and when she wants to.

I had to let my mom go because she was an addict and in the long run I'm glad I did. Not saying thats what you should do. But I didn't think it was worth it to constantly be in emotional pain because of another human being no matter who they are to me.

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:53 pm 
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appifanie wrote:
She retired early and she doesn't really do anything but watch TV, play solitaire on her computer, chat on the computer, and smoke.


This is my mom. You have my sympathies.

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:19 pm 
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So sorry you have to deal with this. Sending lots of hugs and happy, strong thoughts your way!
Also, take comfort that you are being the best mommy you can be to your daughter, so she won't have to deal with this someday!

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:20 pm 
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kdub wrote:
Also, take comfort that you are being the best mommy you can be to your daughter, so she won't have to deal with this someday!


Amen!

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:26 pm 
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Okay she's going for a biopsy after they transfer her to one of those senior rehab facilities, but the doc thinks she has bladder cancer.

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"It's because I'm judging them. Harshly. Judgey McJudgerson." - mel c


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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:41 pm 
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My dad just basically got kicked out of the nursing home he was in (he is in rehab - he had knee surgery last week) for being a crazy rude and scratching an employee. He got angry that they would not take him out to smoke whenever he wanted to and my mom (his ex wife) was called in. So today he left on his own before they could kick him out.

My mom is over at his house setting up his house with food and stuff (things he does not do well on his own). My dad is really difficult to deal with, he expects people to drop everything to do things for him. He lives in another city, I do not drive and have my boyfriend take me over, when my dad is tired of us visiting he runs us off.

My dad is addicted to pain medication and sleeping pills. When he cannot get sleeping pills he drinks and takes PM cough syrup. My dad is a ex drug addict, he says he has been clean since Dec. but I cleaned his office last month and found a straw and my mom found a empty packet in his room recently...

My dad helps us out financially, my boyfriend cannot catch a break after going to two schools recently and I have been unemployed for awhile due to anxiety/depression. I love my dad but he kills me and if it was not for the money I don't know if I would talk to him as much. I know that sounds horrible but my dad is not a nice person.

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:51 pm 
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Though not to the extent that you're experiencing, I understand your frustration. My mother has been smoking for like 45 yrs (she's 62). She had to have surgery a couple years ago to clean out her coronary artery, and she had mostly quit smoking before the surgery and then started right back up after!! Probably like, ten years ago, my Grandma had her leg amputated as a complication from diabetes, and my mom freaked out and cut a lot of sugar out of her diet, and yet has no qualms about smoking all the time. I understand she's addicted but it bothers the hell out of me, especially because I was the one who she kept calling freaking out about her surgery, and I was the one who took three weeks out of her life to stay with her after the surgery and help take care of her so it's not like it ONLY effects her, and I certainly don't want to see her die from lung cancer or anything.

Kind of makes you wonder when you became your parent's parent.

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:52 pm 
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I'm so sorry appifanie. Its a lot to have on your plate <3

My father had bladder cancer, but they caught it early and treated him non-invasively by giving him a weakened TB virus to strengthen his immune system that then eradicated the cancer with no ill-effects. I hope they have caught your mother's cancer early enough that this is an option. I know bladder cancer can be rough because even if they remove everything, patients may lose their ability to control their urine, which makes it a little harder to have a normal life.

You're a great mom to Livi <3 and I think your answer is perfect.

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:01 pm 
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So sorry you are having to deal with this. My thoughts are with you.

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:11 pm 
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Tofulish wrote:
I'm so sorry appifanie. Its a lot to have on your plate <3

My father had bladder cancer, but they caught it early and treated him non-invasively by giving him a weakened TB virus to strengthen his immune system that then eradicated the cancer with no ill-effects. I hope they have caught your mother's cancer early enough that this is an option. I know bladder cancer can be rough because even if they remove everything, patients may lose their ability to control their urine, which makes it a little harder to have a normal life.

You're a great mom to Livi <3 and I think your answer is perfect.


Glad your dad is okay!!

She's had urine in her blood for 3 years the doc tells me so I imagine it's probably not early - also, the doc basically said she'll probably never live on her own again.

Just yesterday I saw these ladies in their 80s who looked great for their age and it made me sad.

rabid - I TOTALLY understand - the doc even said there's no way she'll quit smoking or drinking (she was in rehab once and was doing well but her insurance kicked her out) and I know she won't either, and I think "why not for me or even for Livi?"

missmuff :( I'm so sorry!

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:27 pm 
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I'm sorry Appi. I can semi-relate. My father drank alcoholically for my entire childhood up until 6 years ago when he suffered some consequences. He supposedly doesn't drink anymore. He had emergency triple bypass surgery three years ago... I don't know why we were surprised- he is the oldest living male in his family, ever (they all died before age 55 of heart-related problems). Since then, he's not changed his diet, has not taken exercise, has put on weight, and has just generally declined physically. He flew in a few days ago and I'm really saddened to see the state he is in. The worst part is that he was forced into early retirement and has loads of time on his hands; it's not like he doesn't have the time to make good meals or exercise, and he has gotten into shape in the past... it's like he doesn't care. And he doesn't live close by, either, so when something happens, it's out of my control and all I do is worry.

I'm sorry you're going through this.


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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:43 pm 
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I'm so sorry for what you are going through. *hugs*

My dad was a massive alcoholic. He started drinking as soon as he got up in the morning, drove me to school, then slept and drank all day until it was time to pick me up from school. Then when my mom came home, he'd start a fight and proceed to pass out on the couch for the evening.

He died five years ago (the anniversary is on June 24th, actually!) from a combination of liver cancer, colorectal cancer, and acute peritonitis. He apparently had massive internal bleeding, which explains the funny color he was when we found him. I do not recall him ever going to the doctor in my life. The coroner said that the liver cancer metastasized into the colon. It's also extremely likely, due to his situation and the fact that I have haemochromatosis, that he also had haemochromatosis.

Most of the time, I'm fine, and I don't even think about him. But when I do, I am so angry that he didn't care about his family enough to take care of himself. What I take from the situation is that, if something feels wrong, go to the doctor. I could not imagine ever putting someone through what he put us through, simply because I didn't want to take care of myself.

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:50 pm 
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I'm sorry appifannie. My mom's an alcoholic too. I'm not really sure how bad she is because she hides and lies it about how much she drinks but she has admitted to keeping wine in the bathroom before and she had a dui a few years back. I worry about her health but there's so little you can do.

You're doing a great job with an awful situation. I wish you and your mom the best. <3

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:01 pm 
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appifanie wrote:
the doc even said there's no way she'll quit smoking or drinking (she was in rehab once and was doing well but her insurance kicked her out) and I know she won't either, and I think "why not for me or even for Livi?"


You might want to go to an Al-Anon meeting (even one online http://www.ola-is.org/olais/chat.htm), to get support around this. Alcoholics have a thousand reasons to stop drinking, but it is a disease and as you know, its hard to get sober without support.

An elderly friend of mine told me her brother got sober at 74. He fell and broke his hip and had to go "cold turkey" for the first time ever as his hip healed. He is in a nursing home and is now in his mid-80s having been sober for over 10 years. If your mother moves into a nursing home, I hope it is going to be much harder for her to get alcohol, and perhaps you and Livi can still have some good time with her.

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:08 pm 
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I am so sorry, appifanie.

Add my dad to the list. He just had open heart surgery 2 years ago for 5 blocked arteries and was back eating at Ruths' Chris Steakhouse a week later. Now he also has Type II diabetes while he continues to shovel in the meat and crams his face full of sugar like there's no tomorrow. The worst part is that he loves his 2 year old grandson dearly and keeps saying he wants to be around for him, yet his grandson has to witness him giving himself insulin injections and even imitates him, giving himself "shots in my belly". He's about to go on dialysis because of his uncontrolled diabetes and will likely need a kidney transplant in a year. And yet he keeps calling me and telling me about his poor health. I've tried telling him all he needs to do is change his diet, but he'd rather die young than watch his grandson grow old.


What a tough situation you're in. Sending you and Livi lots of hugs.


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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:33 pm 
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Do you want to be her durable power of attorney for health care? That can be a burden. Has your mother ever discussed end of life issues? Especially if cancer may be the case.

I work in the medical field and see this over and over. I see families struggle. I see dollars spent on care that does no good. I'm not saying your mother is at the end but you may want to bring it up. And you are not obligated to take on the roll as her decision maker. No one can tell you what to do but you did post.

I guess your mother did the best she could. I have a mother with severe emotional issues related to trauma.


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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:15 pm 
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Good point Teresa.

I had a POA for my mother when she was dying and was very glad that we had discussed options. I knew she wanted a DNR towards the end and so hospice just made her comfortable.

Also, if you think she is going to end up in an assisted living/nursing home situation, please start looking for a good one now. Get recommendations and go visit. My mother REFUSED to even discuss those, and when they transferred her from the hospital after a last surgery for her breast cancer they sent her to the first nursing home that had space. The administrators were great, the staff at night were horrible, and it was just a bad situation.

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:33 pm 
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Sending you hugs appifanie, and to everyone who have had to watch their parents self-destruct.

My dad was an alcoholic and he died when I was 15. The only memories I have of him were of him being drunk, and the few moments where he wasn't, he was mean. His nights after work were spent drinking, passing out on the couch or floor and my mom and I putting him to bed. It was hard to watch, but what made things worse was knowing that he didn't want to get help. Not even for me. My mom is 65, she's already had a heart attack, she has Type 1 diabetes and she's made very small changes in her lifestyle that won't make much of a difference, she really doesn't try to take care of herself. She's also stubborn, and it's sometimes like watching my dad all over again. I know that addiction is different, but my mom's attitude is the same.
I love my mom and I try not to let it get to me but my feelings go from accepting it, knowing there's no convincing, to feeling anger. I worry about my mom all the time, and I dread getting another phone call of her ending up in the hospital. It makes me sad to think I may not have either of my parents meet my children or see me graduate college or lots of other things most parents would want to be there for.
Frustrating. I can totally relate to all of you guys.


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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:37 pm 
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Wow, this sounds really familiar. My mother has been hospitalized every couple months for a few years now because she gets weak from drinking and not eating enough. The family has tried everything to help, but she always backslides and ends up in the hospital again. The 45 years of smoking is almost a low priority at this point. My mom was also a social worker, which makes things so much more difficult because she thinks she knows everything about addiction and mental illness. Her mother died from treating herself this way, and I know my mom feels bad for us kids watching this happen, but it's not enough to motivate her to take care of herself properly. I've realized by now that the only thing I can do (short of moving back home and laying down the law, which still might not work) is call her every week and be supportive of any positive behaviors. It does seem to help motivate her slightly....

So I can totally relate, and I'm sorry you have to go through this. It sounds like you're handling it really well, and I hope that if your mother ends up in assisted living it will mean improvements for her lifestyle and well-being (and yours).


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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:46 pm 
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I am sorry, appifanie. I go through this with both my parents (alcoholism, drugs and smoking - my mom's been a smoker since she was 6 years old! forked up). I am trying to work on letting go of any responsibility over their actions, and it sounds like you need to as well. The best you can do is continue being a great mama to Livi, and take care of your own. <3

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 Post subject: Re: For people with parents who don't take care of themselve
PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:08 pm 
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I'm sorry about your mom, and I'm sorry for your pain.

I'm watching the same thing happen to my parents, only they're just on the cusp of a downward spiral. I'm trying to intervene and warn them what's in store for them (because I see it at work every single day), and it's like talking to bricks. I tell them about every sad and frightening story I see. It's like all I can do is sit back at watch the car crash.

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