During this time of year, being thankful for family is a central tenet of the holiday season, but I have to say, I can’t buy into that tenet for a variety of reasons.
This is my platform to discuss whatever I want and I’m tired of holding it in. It’s about time to release these feelings whether this is the right platform or not.
Dealing with my mom’s health issues has been a chronic situation I’ve dealt with for several years now as she has heart problems, diabetes and at one time, her lungs indicated that she had asthma and COPD even though she’s never been a smoker. I oftentimes accompanied her to doctor’s appointments, helped her keep track of the next test she needed to schedule or report for and I tried my best to be a support system for her even though privately, I felt she brought a lot of this on herself due to her resistance to change.
Every medical person she’d come in contact would advise her to lose weight as it would alleviate many of the health problems she endured. From my observations, she wasn’t even interested in trying to lose weight. Her condition deteriorated.
On May 9, 2014, every intensified and became transitioned to an acute status when we got the news that the worst had happened. She was diagnosed with CANCER.
I know cancer is no one’s fault, but we’ve done all the testing that was advised and found out that no, it wasn’t heredity even though several of her first degree relatives had cancer, and they’d had it very recently-as in the last 10 years. We’re talking brothers and sisters, which is as first degree as you can get.
I’m embarassed to say I’ve struggled with blaming her for “letting” this happen to her and wanting to do everything in my power to help her.
Cut to January 30, 2015. The worst thing that could have happened…well, it happened.
Mom went through many complications dealing with the side effects of chemo, which was aggravated by her other health issues. We could never get to the next stage of her treatment, which would have been removing the tumors that had been shrunk with the chemo because her system was so depleted, she kept having to be admitted to the hospital.
Mind you, while we are going through all of this, her brothers and sisters were no where to be found. It was just the two of us going through all of this. We had no one except each other. She had me for support, but I had no one except the friends I still had. They were/are good friends, but no body wants to be a burden with all of that they’re going through, so I limited what I shared in an effort to, if I’m being honest, maintain the friendships. If they really knew everything, they probably would have dropped me a long time ago.
Back to January 30.
Mom was admitted to the hospital on January 20, 2015 with shortness of breath on this night, the night before it would have been the fifth attempt to remove the tumor that had been shrunk with chemo.
She stayed in the hospital because all of her systems began to fail. Kidneys, heart and lungs. Doctors did nothing except “watch” her until the worst happened 10 days after she was admitted. She coded. She stopped breathing. If I hadn’t been with her, she’d be physically dead today. Instead, her body remains. She can walk and talk on her own, but because her brain went without oxygen for 15 minutes (or more, we still aren’t sure), her frontal lobe was damaged, and she has suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Now, instead of being able to drive herself around, cook her own food, bathe herself and generally be a functioning adult, she has, what the doctors are calling early onset dementia and her life is really no longer her own. She can’t fix her own food. She can’t wipe her own butt, she can’t do anything without some sort of assistance and she’s medicated- I feel- to within an inch of her life. She’s developed aggression issues, she can’t remember the last 40 years, she thinks I’m five years old, and she refers to me by the name of her youngest sister mostt days.
Being an only child of a divorcee’ means I’m left with the largest part of the responsibility, which I readily accept. What has taken me to a different place, mentally, during this whole experience is how alone I feel when she grew up with 11 brothers and sisters plus a set of parents who were married for 50 plus years.
Of course the parents are deceased and some of her brothers are deceased, but the family she does still have living could give less than a damn. Her sisters do call regularly, but I guess, if I’m honest, it really hurts that while they display a bit of affection for her, no one seems to have any regard for what I’m going through. Never do I get the offer of relief, the offer of assistance, the slightest offer of help and while I know that everyone is going through their own issues; everyone has their own set of problems to deal with, it really confounds me to think that the people who have known me since before I was born don’t have an ounce of empathy for me-their niece, their cousin, or just a human being in need of breathing space.
I bathe (when she lets me), change her diapers, cook, clean, feed her, do my best to manage her aggression when the meds don’t work and still have to figure out how to make a living to keep this roof over our heads. In reality, it’s like I’ve become a parent overnight when I never planned to have children.
All I can say is thank God for charity as that has been the only way I’ve been able to get an ounce of relief at any given moment. Charity feels a whole lot more like family than I’ve ever really known, so if charity organizations that have no clue who I am are more willing to recognize the fact that I need some relief and provide it, then I guess charity is what I will consider family.
I’m going to keep my attitude of gratitude and just pray for whatever relief God decides to send me.