Sunday, April 15, 2012

Brain Dead

My father, with whom I've had a rather stormy relationship, called me from the Emergency Room Friday morning.

He'd called for an ambulance when he awoke and couldn't stand without experiencing severe vertigo and nausea. He told me there wasn't much cause for alarm he didn't think but as his daughter, regardless of our personal dynamics that leave me agitated, infuriated, and drained whenever I talk to or see him, I left my office and drove over to the hospital.

After 4 1/2 hours of sitting there listening to him alternately pick at me and describe all his latest medical ailments, we were told it wasn't serious. After several tests including an MRI revealed nothing alarming, the doctor determined he was suffering from inner ear stones or "rocks in his head". Certainly not life threatening on its own. But the vertigo could prove to be extremely dangerous for a 74-year-old man who is barely mobile as it is. 

The doctor wasn't sure what to do with him. While medically there was little to be done and a hospital stay really not necessary, he wasn't willing to send my dad home without assurance he would have around-the-clock supervision and assistance. 

I am so fortunate my brother and his family made the move a few months ago to a town about an hour away. My brother arrived just as Dad was signing his discharge paperwork and I was off the hook for the night.

Because really, just 4 1/2 hours was enough to do me in emotionally. 

The thought of having to provide 24-hour care while he recovers makes me want to throw up and then bury myself under my bed covers until it's safe to come out. But it's a moot point anyway. I literally can't be there 24 hours. None of us can.

So...what are we supposed to do?

We know what needs to be done. Assisted living. So now begins the campaign to convince an extremely contrary old man to do what is best for him. And I am filled with dread knowing how he operates, how he thinks, how selfish and unaware he is, how he won't do anything he doesn't believe was his idea.

Convincing him is only the first - albeit hardest - hurdle. 

If he will agree, then we're faced with the logistics - terminating his apartment lease, packing, moving, storing his property, dealing with the auto dealership from which he just leased a new car (even though he swore he was just going to get rid of his car altogether), going through his paperwork, ensuring his power of attorney and living will get updated, figuring out what bills he has and when to pay them, understanding his income, working with insurance companies and Medicare and doctors.

After thinking and talking about it over the last 48 hours, I'm brain dead.

I can't seem to get motivated to do anything. I didn't get out of my pajamas at all which is probably just as well given I've slept most of the day. I'm tired, weepy, anxious.

And I just realized I still haven't done my taxes. Poop.

14 comments:

sebtown294 said...

Oh, honey, I am with you there -- Although I had a decent but cool relationship with my dad (his style of relating, not mine) he died unexpectedly at age 74. My mother is now 89 and we are dealing with all those issues you outlined. She is stubborn and self centered and wants it HER way. ANd it can't be her way b/c she is not safe living alone anymore. Ugh. And I know I do not want my life to end this way. No way. No how.

Gaelyn said...

I totally sympathize after going through this with my Mom a year ago. Lots of work and disagreements along the way. I looked for support groups in TX and all I could find online was adult children who'd given up their lives to caretake full-time. NO WAY! I moved her to AZ into a private assisted living home and two months later she died. Thank goodness for a Trust and Living Will. If you need to talk let me know.

simplyred said...

I'm so sorry, Jane, that this is happening. I wish I could offer you some helpful words of wisdom but I don't have any. I do know that giving up our independence is one of the hardest things we face as we get older. Imagine being told where you are going to live, that you can't drive any more, that someone else will be making your decisions for you from now on. I'm probably going to be mean as a snake when my time comes. I am fiercely independent. And it's so wonderful to know that Medicare gives you absolutely no help with assisted living (though it is pretty good with in-home help). I'm just glad my mother and I had a good relationship, otherwise the last 3-1/2 years would have been worse than they were. But you will be in my thoughts and prayers.

(Ms) Ernie

ElizabethSheryl said...

I'm sorry you have to deal with this. :( It is hard for even the most passive and agreeable person to give up their independence. Good thoughts coming your way.

Masked Mom said...

This is such a rough spot to be in. You and your family will be in my thoughts.

nakedjen said...

I am sending you mad love and light and the best of me that I can possibly muster. We are currently living this life with my professor's father (and, surprise, Emily Gilmore) so, well, I just want to share the love with you and hand you whatever I possibly can that will allow you to smile and know that you'll laugh through this and handle it with grace. I just know that you will. xox

Word Nerd said...

This stuff is hard enough when the relationship is one of pure mutual adoration, but when the history is fraught with complications, it's exponentially worse. Add an uncooperative parents who needs to be coddled and exhaustion and anxiety seem perfectly appropriate.

I'm so sorry it's a mess for you right now. If you need an ear or a shoulder, I have two of each that are all yours. ♥

Lucy said...

Oh, I can't imagine your hell and do understand your need to stay in pajamas and sleep. I am lucky my parents are both in their 80's and living on their own and I have a wonderful relationship with both of them, not trying to rub it in, only knowing that both would be huge pains in the ass if they lost their independence and we get along, my Dad would suck, I mean the guy still works, he is 82, so I couldn't imagine him not driving or hell, I totally feel for you.

Melanie said...

Aw, Jane. Feeling for you. Parents, even when the relationship is stellar (not many of those!) are hard to watch and try to help when in failing health. I don't have much to add to the kind chorus of comments, except that I understand. It is hard to navigate these situations.

I tell myself sometimes to put the oxygen mask on myself first, otherwise we're all going to black out!
Love ya, darlin'.

alienbody said...

I told my husband a couple of years ago that he was damn lucky that we only had to worry about his parents causing us any grief (mine did cause a bit, but that is the plus side estranged relationships...the infrequent contact). I'm sorry you have to deal with this, parent stuff can be so frustrating. I wish you luck. Hugs!

Jenn and Casey said...

Oh gosh, this part of life is so hard. So so so so hard. Sending your family strength, and lots of love.

Michael said...

You hadn't done your taxes by the 15th?!? What in the world were you... Sorry, that was the obsessive in me and I couldn't hold him back. I hope you got them done and I also hope your dad gets to feeling better. Dealing with aging parents can be very difficult and stressful.

a.eye said...

Wow! I feel for you! I wish you and your fam well on this next leg of being children.

Nikki said...

I am very sorry to hear this, Dealing with aged parents very difficult.

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