Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Is There a Doctor in the House?

The colonoscopy went well, though it was delayed for three hours. My mother has diverticulosis. Apparently, most of us over 45 have diverticulosis. Having seen what it looks like, I hope to God I don't have diverticulosis.

Why is it that doctors are looking so young these days? Are they graduating from med school earlier? Actually, the surgeon was probably around my age (anyone over 35 is around my age, I decided), with some very nice biceps, I noticed. Not that I was looking.

My stepsister was to look after her father while my mother and I were at the hospital. I called her when they finally wheeled my mother in to tell her about the delay. "But I have a plumber coming to my house in half an hour!" she whined. I suggested she bring her dad back with her to her house. No, that wouldn't do. She abruptly ended the conversation and said she had to get off.

My mother has been complaining about this woman. She is single, 59, has a physically and emotionally demanding job, and obviously doesn't want to look after two old people, one of whom is her father. I was seething when I got off the phone. She has a way of sounding like it's my or my mother's fault for putting her out. And you know what? She still hasn't called to see how my mother is. How selfish is that? When we got home finally, my stepfather was sitting in his chair, by himself. She hadn't cooked him dinner (they like to eat at 5 p.m. sharp around here). So I set about cooking dinner for the two of them. I don't mind doing it, but why couldn't she have done something?

The truth is my mother's health has been broken by looking after her husband. He is frail physically and sometimes mentally too. She cannot go on looking after him by herself. I looked up the number for the Home Health people and got my mother to call them this morning. Someone is coming tomorrow. I will sit in and put in my two cents' worth (or more). We are going to see my mother's doctor (not the surgeon) on Thursday to go over her meds and see if he can prescribe something else for her tremor. By the time I leave on Monday, I am going to have something in place for these two people.

I spoke to their next-door neighbor, who offered some help. But she herself is recovering from ovarian cancer. She told me something I didn't know. The day after my stepfather's other daughter left to go home, my mother spent the day in bed crying. She was grieving for her brother who died last year, she said. My mother hasn't told me about this episode. Later, I suggested perhaps she wants the doctor to prescribe some anti-depressants for her. She said she doesn't need them. She said she just needs to get better and get some help.

I'm doing what I can. Tomorrow I'm going to write about tips for all of us to stave off the ravages of time.


Shania said...

It must be so hard for you to have to leave. Your mother and stepfather are very lucky to have you help them. And I welcome any and all help to stave off the ravages of time!

Expatmum said...

I read not long ago that a lot of seniors do suffer from depression because of this type of situation. Perhaps you could ask your mother's doctor for help in getting her to take something? There's a lot of shame with the older generation in anti-depressants, so she may take some winning over.
As for the step-sister - you need an all-out shouting match although it probably won't win you any points. I really think assertive behaviour is needed - (come on, you're an American, you can do it.) It's shameful that she's leaving it to your poor mother.
What do they say - whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger? I have just had a whine about a domestic situation at my place, but at the same time realised it's nothing and your post confirms this.

Flowerpot said...

I have friends going through teh same sort of thing and I think depressionis very commmon - and not surprising. Hang on in there and any tips to halt ravages of time much welcomed!

Mean Mom said...

Your mother must be worn out, partly from the effort of looking after your stepfather, and partly from worrying about their situation. Then, on top of that, she has diverticulosis! You also have more than your fair share of troubles. I do hope that everything works out for all of you.

ChrisB said...

You must feel relieved to have a diagnosis. It's good you have the ball rolling about getting your mother some extra help;however, it's an awful lot of pressure on you when you have so little time. I feel for you, and regardless of your stepsister's job she should be contributing to the care of her father. After all~how long does it take to cook some dinner!!

Pixie said...

It's such a vicious circle, loving and caring and getting worn out, and round again and again. You must be exhausted, and you will walk away with a heavy heart at not doing enough. Your poor mum no wonder she's ill with all the caring she has to do.
Just remember to take care of yourself here as well.

Candy said...

I've had diverticulitis since I was 30, and since I was kinda young it has been a bit debilitating. But older people get it all the time, and it's a little less so. frigging hurts when it flairs up. Hope she's ok!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Shania: I'm starting to panic thinking about all that I couldn't do while I was here.

expatmum: I want to have a full and frank discussion with these women, but have to consider my mother's position as well. I go home and don't have to see them. My mother is still here.

flowerpot: Yes, I know depression in the elderly is quite common. But hers is due to the situation she's found herself in.

mean mom: Thanks very much.

chrisb: This stepsister has never had children and has lived alone a very long time. She just doesn't know how to care for other people.

pixie: I'm doing yoga every morning and running two miles every other day. I think I'll go back fitter than when I got here.

candy: Ow! The doctor said most people my mother's age have some form of diverticulosis. Hers decided to flare up while she was in the hospital with pneumonia.

DogLover said...

It seems obvious to me that your step-father should be in a nursing home. Or his blood relatives should look after him. From what you say, your mother can't.

It is easy to put these things off - we want to be kind, but tough love has to come in at some stage.

I was a 24-hour carer for 17 years, but by immense good fortune I was fit and strong and my wife weighed almost nothing. If it had been the other way round, I wouldn't have wanted her to have to look after me.

With much sympathy -


DogLover said...

The above comment was meant to attach to "Falling down" - I don't know why it has appeared here!


DogLover said...

Me, again! Diverticulosis isn't hard to live with if you take Fibogel (over the counter or on prescription). It keeps you amazingly "regular" and the fibre in it can help prevent bowel cancer. When diverticulitis flares up, a quick course of anti-biotic usually cures it.

A good tip: mixing it in Ribena makes it quite a pleasant drink!

Now I'll shut up!


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