July 27, 2022

A riddle: how many people does it take to get Mom to go to the hospital?

WEDNESDAY:  I accompanied my folks to get their drivers licenses renewed. That's a long story for another day, but Mom was very anxious about passing her test. 

No amount of: 

BUT YOU'VE NEVER HAD A TICKET (how are we related?), 




would ease her mind. 

As I mentioned, I'm trying to get over and visit my folks more frequently. When my sisters aren't present, we are able to visit and converse easily. We had my folks over for dinner the day after Ed flew home from Budapest. This was largely because I didn't see Mom for Mother's Day. We had a delightful meal and we were all here. Lots of laughs. My kids were like, we should do that more often. 

FRIDAY NIGHT:  As I headed out the door to Reg's travel game, I asked Curly to ride her bike over and spend some time with my folks. She did that and Lad walked over with Finnegan. 

Later Culry shared that when Nana went outside to pet Finn, Dad told her he'd only eaten a peanut butter sandwich for dinner because Nana didn't feel well. That might be the first sandwich Dad has ever prepared for himself. He doesn't make meals. Ever. 

SATURDAY:  Before I raced off to Reg's next set of games, Curly and I went to Costco. I got my folks a rotisserie chicken, a pulled pork meal to make in the microwave, and a bag of chicken strips for the freezer. Coach ran to the grocery store and bought them some easy potatoes and veggies. 

When we dropped it off, I told Mom THIS COOKS RIGHT IN THE MICROWAVE.

Mom:  Microwave?

Curly pointed to the world's greatest appliance and Mom sort of nodded. I marched into the family room and showed Dad the bag of breaded chicken strips and told him that he COULD make these himself if needed. "The directions are right here. You put them on a cookie sheet." I also told him that if they had no dinner to CALL ME, I'm a 2 minute drive away and I always have mountains of dinner food ready to go. 

SUNDAY:  I saw Dad at mass and I asked how Mom was feeling. He said she isn't any better, but when asked he said he wasn't sure what her issue was. 

Me:  Dad, on the way home from the DMV I begged Mom to go to the doctor. She said if she ever didn't feel well that she'd go. Remind her of that. 

Dad:  I'm trying. 

In other medical updates: 
Reg was prepped
 for his extended EEG on
 Monday. More about that soon.

MONDAY:  I was leaving for my writing group. Mini decided to come and meet my writing friends and listen to their comments about my writing. I asked Curly to go visit my folks again and Coach agreed to go with her. 

Right after Mini and I arrived, Coach called to tell me that Dad needed to talk to me right away. Coach and Curly were still at our house when Dad called our landline. 


I wasn't close to home, but Coach was. I told him I'd send Coach - besides, if Mom needed to be lifted into the car, he's the guy- he's stronger than me. (not by much, mind you, promise not to tell him that I admitted his superior strength). I think she'd already agreed to go by the time Coach arrived, but she kept stalling/arguing. 

Coach:  We can do this the easy way, with you walking to the car, or we can call 911 and all the neighbors will come running. 

Coach later imitated Mom when she FINALLY walked to the car. She followed Dad and Ann. Coach walked behind her with his arms outstretched because she was unsteady. He said she stuck her tongue out at Dad and Ann like a little kid. Goodness. 

Ann and my youngest brother, Mike, were at the hospital (2 visitor limit), so Mini and Tank and I went and hung out with Dad back at his house. One of my nieces was there too. Dad was watching Better Off Dead, finding it hilarious. 

Dad told me when he thought something was wrong he called Pat. In Ireland. Pat and Aunt Leprechaun are in Ireland visiting her family for most of July. Aunt Leprechaun is a doctor, but I LIVE A FEW MINUTES AWAY. He admitted that Mom told him a few days before that her hand and her foot felt heavy. I was like DAD, THIS WOULD'VE BEEN GOOD INFORMATION TO HAVE.

Dad's brother is a neurologist in Texas and he told Dad to have her outstretch her arms. If one hand curled up a little, she'd had a stroke. The hand curled. Dad called Ann, a nurse next. I do appreciate that I was called, not for my medical know-how, but for my heavy persuasion or heavy lifting skills, perhaps. 

Honestly, I believe this is a blessing in disguise. Mom is doing well and now she's being assessed. All the tests and blood work imaginable. The doctors asked her if she'd take a pill for things like cholesterol, if that was needed. She said no. Sigh. 

In the meantime, I must say that navigating a sick parent is a challenge, but I feel like navigating a sick parent with our family dynamics is really difficult. Whatever issues are present are magnified. 

There's a group text with my siblings. Marie insisted on coming in town from Milwaukee. This wasn't really necessary as any of us who are local could spend the day sitting bed-side watching Mom have tests done. When I texted to say that I had planned to go the hospital, Marie asked me to adjust the time when I was going to go. I went for a little while this morning, and left shortly after Marie got there. 

Marie's texts have included things like THE SOCIAL WORKER WAS HERE. I GAVE HER MY NUMBER, AND ANN'S, SINCE SHE'S LOCAL. Of course. 

I called Dad this afternoon to see if he needed help with dinner. He said Marie was picking up Culver's. I reminded him that I just bought them meals and that they are in the fridge. 

I continue to feel boxed out, but I'm trying to focus on my feeling of overall gratitude  -  that Mom is getting assessed and that this was not a massive stroke. 


Debbie said...

Oh man, it's hard isn't it? I'm in the zone too, falls, broken hips and ministrokes. You're right too that whatever the cracks are in the family dynamics they will reveal themselves now. All you can do is what you're doing, staying close, trying to feel grateful, but also taking time for yourself, for whatever helps. Great your mother is feeling better.
Did you really write this at 2.30am? You must be so tired! 😩

Colleen said...

So much going on! I'm glad your mom is getting you think maybe this could help with a dementia/alzheimer's diagnosis? Prayers for everyone involved :)

Ernie said...

Debbie - With our family dynamics, I've dreaded the challenges of facing ill parents. Heck, if my parents' landline goes out (they don't have a cell, because my stubborn mom refuses) the number of texts and the level of distress from my siblings (mostly Marie who needs to be in constant contact with them) is overwhelming. I can't help but feel out of place. I don't want to sit in a hospital room all day with my sister. We aren't both needed there. Not to mention I still have lots going on at home, whereas my sisters are both practically empty nesters.

I draft my posts and then schedule them to post at the same time Mondays and Wednesdays. I stayed up later than I should've last night - but I was asleep at 2:30. ;)

Ernie said...

Colleen - It is a relief that this issue resulted in her going into the hospital. I do think with all of the tests they are doing, we will get some answers. I know they saw shadows on the MRI of the brain and that explains her confusion. I assume we will learn if it is dementia, etc. Thanks for the prayers. I appreciate that.

Nance said...

What a mixed blessing. Now you'll have answers, but you'll have to deal with them, too. Perhaps your siblings' behaviour is the same--a mixed blessing. You have a great deal to manage with your family; let them take the lead with your parents and tag you in when necessary.

I wish I had that option.

Kari said...

I'm glad she's being cared for, but I understand how you must feel about the family dynamic. I'm praying for you and your mother.

Aside from that, how did your father find Better Off Dead? I'm envious. :)

Anonymous said...

While my situation was different (siblings absent, physically, emotionally, and financially), I did a 23 year journey with a self-defined stubborn mother.

My self talk mantra: one cannot have a rational conversation with an irrational person. Repeated oh, so many times.

Positive thoughts for you and yours. Also? Remember the air travel oxygen mask directive. Take care of YOU first or you are no help to anyone else.

Waiting for Tank for sapling cutting! The situation may have escalated beyond loppers into chainsaw territory.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Oh goodness. So much here to unpack. But the best news is she is getting medical attention. Finally.

Of course, your sisters are Mom-Hogging. That's what they do. *sigh*

Praying for her health and your strength to not strangle someone.

mbmom11 said...

I hope your mom allows herself to be taken care of and takes her meds. Now you know how to get her to the doctor - threaten her with an ambulance! (Props to Coach!) And your kids are awesome to go over and visit - you raised some winners!
My dad was one who wouldn't even take an aspirin - when he fell and broke his hip, he was trying to convince my mom he was fine and just needed to crawl over to the couch to get up. She called the ambulance anyway. Don't argue with stubborn people - it's not worth the time!

Suzanne said...

I'm very glad to hear that your mom is being assessed and getting medical treatment. Such a frustrating and scary time.

ccr in MA said...

Oh, goodness, Ernie! I'm glad your mom is getting some help at last, but this is a tough situation and won't be easy to face. Let Coach and the kids help you have the strength to get through it. Good luck.

Gigi said...

I'm glad to hear she is getting assessed but that doctor needs to be a little more forceful about meds; instead of asking he needs to be telling.

Sending hugs...I know all of this is hard; particularly with the dynamics.

joymariecooks said...

So sorry it took this to get her to a doctor! Will keep her in my prayers.

Ernie said...

Nance- Yes, we will have to deal with the information. I think it will mostly be medications. If we can convince her to take them. It is probably a blessing to have my siblings who choose to be over the top in there involvement. Never looked at it that way.

Ernie said...

Kari - Thank you. I immediately thought of you when he was watching that movie. He found it on some random station. I have the DVD and he was bummed he missed the first half, so I told him I would bring it over.

Ernie said...

Anonymous - great to hear from you. I know you always by your landscaping needs.

You have a point . . . rational conversation with an irrational person. I will remember that.

Ernie said...

Suz- It never occurred to me that a medical situation like this might crop up . . . it really has been a Godsend. She can get checked out and we can get info. I think we have her convinced to take the aspirin and another pill or two.

Yes, mom hoggers- for sure. While in Wisconsin, we nicknamed them THE FLANKSTERS.

Thanks. I appreciate it. Thankfully I can vent here and to my people who live with me who know the deal.

Ernie said...

Mbmom- oh goodness, your dad crawling to the couch with a broken hip. He was cut from the same cloth as my mom.

Curly was at their house chatting with my dad for a few hours today. My dad keeps telling everyone he's been having babysitters.

I appreciate your kind words.

Ernie said...

Suzanne- I agree. This is a blessing. We are all relieved. Thanks.

Ernie said...

Ccr- It has been a challenge but honestly a welcome challenge. She came home tonight and seems to be cooperate to take meds. Coach and the kids have been very supportive.

Ernie said...

Gigi- The doctors have been very good about getting her to understand the necessity of meds.

The dynamics have made this interesting.

Ernie said...

Joymarie- It is nuts that it took this to get her to the doc, but it has been a wake up call.

Thank you for the prayers.

Pat Birnie said...

Well yes this is a blessing in disguise. Thankful that she is being assessed and maybe greeting to take a pill or two. Your sisters though....I’m not a violent person but I just want to punch them both in the face. They are unique for sure. Good luck with all of this.

Jenny in WV said...

Sorry to hear your Mom has been having health issues. It seems very stressful, so remember to be kind to yourself too.

I just spent a week visiting family, it was nice to get away,, but also nice to be back home again too. I've got a ton of blogs to catch up on this week and less excitingly over a 100 work emails to read.

Ernie said...

Pat - Mom came home with pills and she woke up and took them. Thanks to Drisella and Anastasia I know that she slept until 10 am and that she took her pills. My sisters need to get a hobby.

I went over there this afternoon to pick up Curly who was babysitting for Nana while Dad ran errands. I asked them if I could help them set up Mom's PT appointments. They have no idea where Mom's Medicare care is, so I helped them call to get it. That took awhile. Coach scheduled her for tomorrow and is working on appointments for next week. Imagine, if you can, that I did NOT update everyone on the group text to say that I'd located her Medicare # and that she has an appointment tomorrow. Over-the-top. Mini and I got a good chuckle at you wanting to punch my sisters in the face. Amen.

Ernie said...

Jenny - Thank you. I tend to turn to ice cream to be kind to myself, but I'm working hard to watch what I eat. I will be sure to find any other ways to be good to myself.

I know that feeling, happy to be home. Good luck with the emails. That makes my head spin just thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like it might not work with your extended family, but I thought I'd mention it just in case--

My sister is my mom's primary caregiver, and she had the idea of putting together a Trello board of things that need to be done to help mom. It's basically a group project web tool and it's made getting things done a lot more straightforward. There's a set of cards with need-to-dos of things related to mom's care-- both the overtly medical and the generally helpful. Some examples: chasing down missing bloodwork, getting her handicap placard renewed, setting up a hair appointment, pruning trees in her yard, being present at her house for specific times when my sister can't be there. I review the list for things I can do and pull what I'm taking under my to-do list. I do it and put it under the Completed list once it's done. If I hit a roadblock I can't get past-- usually because I'm not an authorized account person-- I record what I did and ping my sister to either get me authorized or do it herself.

What's nice about it is that it makes it easy to communicate what needs doing, plus who's taken ownership of what. The stuff on the list doesn't have to be a big deal to do-- some of it is just random stuff that needs to be done, but my sister doesn't have to have it on her plate. It makes it easy for more distant family members-- like me-- to take over the paperwork-and-phone-calls tasks, while those who are physically closer can do the things that can only be done in person.

It sounds like this isn't a thing your parents would do from a tech standpoint, but it might be a good way for you and your siblings to coordinate your efforts if they were willing. It definitely works better than texts, at least for us.

Ernie said...

Anonymous - That does sound like a great tool. The problem is that my sister Marie won't let anyone else do anything. She needed to drive back to Milwaukee b/c her daughter was having wisdom teeth pulled. She wouldn't leave until so late the night before. She insisted on doing the grocery shopping for my folks even though I live around the corner and needed to go to the store myself. Our brother Mike also offered to do the grocery shopping telling her to get on the road. I don't think tools like this help control-types, but good to know it exists.

Beth Cotell said...

Sorry I'm late to the game on this post. I'm glad she's getting the help she needs.

Charlie said...

Oh Ernie I’m sorry to read this. But also pleased your mum is getting the medical attention she needs. It’s great she has such a large support system around her. Her health needs now will be a marathon not a sprint, so you may find family dynamics shift over time…. You’re so right that this is difficult, made even more difficult by fractious relationships. Having just been through a time like this, I would echo Jenny’s point about being kind to yourself and also letting go of any guilt about what you can or can’t do. You are there for both parents, but you’re also a ‘sandwich carer’ with the younger as well as the older generation to look after. Take care x