Home at last! But first to update on the mother/stepfather situation.
He was admitted to the hospital on the day I left. His responsible daughter came to visit for the weekend and saw what I was concerned about. Her husband tried to blame my mom in a way for the condition my stepfather is in by saying she leads such a sedentery lifestyle. That is true, but they should be dealing with the situation as it is, not as it could or should be. My mother is 82 and is not going to suddenly become very active.
Anyway, at the hospital they did an MRI scan on my stepfather and found that he has had a stroke at some time in the past (which my sister and I have been suspecting for a long time). He also has a shadow on his lung, which could be either pneumonia or cancer. As of yesterday my mother didn't know the results of a further scan which could confirm the presence of cancer. He is to be admitted to the hospital's rehab center at some point.
After I got to my hotel room in Salt Lake City on Monday, I ordered room service and a bottle of wine. I drank that bottle alone, watched Dancing with the Stars, and cried my eyes out for my stepfather. What if I hadn't stepped in and done something? I'm sure the responsible stepsister would have done something at some point, but why did the poor man and my mother have to wait so long for someone to do something? I think the stepsisters have decided that my mother's physical problems are all to do with her negative mental attitude. In fact I know that because they told me so. I pointed out that she has had an awful lot happen to her in a very short time: lump found in the breast, pneumonia, blood found in stool, atrial fibrillation diagnosed, colonoscopy (which isn't a walk in the park), severe case of sinusitis. I don't want to have a fight with the stepsisters because I don't think it would be helpful for my mother or anyone else. So I tried to pile on the guilt in a subtle way. While they were busy chatting to each other, I helped their father get up out of a chair. I undressed him in front of the responsible stepsister. I saw her jaw drop open. They have been in denial for a long time and the flaky one continues to be. Denial does not mean he's going to get better.
My mother does have a negative mental attitude. I asked her if she thought she should have anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs. She doesn't think so, but I do wonder. She feels that now with me gone, there is no one to look after her. I have the Home Health case worker's number in addition to a bunch of other numbers. I will have to keep a watch on my mother from afar. What is alarming is my mother and stepfather don't seem capable of managing their medications. My stepfather takes an anti-depressant called imipramine for control of his sphincter muscle. However, he seems to have confused that with another drug he takes for blood pressure. In the night he says he gets up with leg cramps and takes the imipramine, which could mean he's be overdosing on it. But does he really get up? I doubt it. He has to have help getting into bed, can't turn over by himself. Could he get up and get back into bed without waking up my mother or falling?
Don't think I got a word of thanks for instigating this either. I always knew that if it went wrong, I would get blamed, but if it went right, I would get no credit. And really that doesn't matter. What does matter is that my stepfather's health issues are at long last being addressed.
I didn't think I was going to get home. An hour into my flight from Newark, the stewardess came on the PA and said there was something wrong with the plane and the pilot was going to try to fix it. Next thing we knew, we dropped altitude quite quickly and banked to the left. The woman next to me started crying. I clutched the arm rests and prayed like crazy and said to myself, "They can't do this to my mother." I turned on the flight map and saw that we were turning around. We didn't appear to be that far from Boston, and about 20-30 minutes later, we landed there -- rather messily, I might add. The back-up hydraulic system for the flaps wasn't working apparently. They repaired it, and two hours later we were back up in the air. Midway through the flight, I started to feel very uncomfortable, like I was going to be sick. I walked back to the lavatory and waited, but suddenly felt faint. The attentive steward noticed something was wrong and had me sit down in the galley and got me some water. I cooled down and felt better. I managed about 20 minutes of sleep.
So I'm recuperating today. I took Jakey for a long walk. He is healing nicely now, but seems afraid of his food bowl so I'm feeding him by hand for the time being. The house is filthy (men just don't see things that we do), but I can clean it. My kids missed me like crazy and are very happy to have me home.
I have mixed feelings. Of course I'm happy to be back with my husband and family. But I worry about my mother and stepfather. If I could, I would move in with them and take care of them, because that is what they need. But I can't. I'm just doing what I can do. And preparing myself emotionally for a funeral in the not-too-distant future.