Skip to main content

I've made a few calls. I'm giving people straight talk when I hear Romney bots speak their bullshit, but the sad fact is my mother-in-law is dying in super slo mo. It's heartbreaking to watch. I know this is taking a year, which is slow; but it feels like I just heard she had a "suspicious spot" on a scan last week.

Like so many smokers, it isn't the cancer that will kill you. It's the complications of poor circulation that comes with smoking packs upon packs, cartons after cartons of cigarettes over the course of 50+ years. Like many diabetics it's not the high or low blood sugar that kills you, but the complications of uncontrolled blood sugar blowing out the kidneys, eyesight and more compounded by a serious lack of exercise over the last 50 years. The time for recriminations, blame and emotional BS is over. Now we are dealing with the consequences of a lifetime of smoking, poor diet and no exercise.

It's not pretty. It's stressful. She's 3 1/2 hours away. It's breaking her older sister's heart. It's making my brothers-in-law and their wives say stupid things. I'm saying stupid things. The grandkids are torn between spending time with Grandma and wanting to stay away because they can't bear to see Grandma like this. I'm not sure where my MIL got the idea that her death would be swift. The reality of her health predicament is more than she can bear. She's majorly depressed, cries a lot and so is everyone else who spends any serious amount of time with her.

Grandma is a mess. She has had 3 major surgeries since the first of August. She's coming up on her maximum 150 days of inpatient care all too quickly. She can't get out of bed by herself. She can't get to a chair by herself. She can't stand for more than 10 minutes at a time. She can barely walk 50 feet. She can't go home because she lives by herself. Her sister can't lift her in and out of chairs or bed. She can't walk up steps. She has the start of a bedsore and her current facility isn't getting her to stay off her back side long enough for it to do her any good. Years and years of a lack of exercise has left her with too little muscle mass to come to her aid now. She wants to go home, but there's no way. She'll be dead in a week. We can only go up every couple of weeks to spend a few days with her, then we have to comeback to S. Florida.

My MIL thinks her sons should drop their jobs and take turns living with her until she ....until she's gone. I finally got the right paperwork signed and given to her doctors, so now I can have frank, HIPAA compliant conversations with them. Her health is far worse than what she understands it to be, but she could easily live anywhere from a few weeks to a couple years in her current state. Due to her really poor blood circulation, she could have a stoke any minute. Her kidneys could fail at any minute. She thinks she has the money to pay someone to care for her in her home, but she doesn't.  

I'm. so. angry.

I'm. so. sad.

But this isn't about me, it's about her. So, I'm making do.

I'd rather be doing GOTV and getting out the vote. Instead, I'm calling doctors, hospitals and diagnostic centers out for billing for services that Medicare and her supplemental insurance already paid for in full. It's like talking to wood. I'd rather talk to a right wing-nut.

I'd like to offer rides to get people to polling places, but I'm running around like crazy taking care of our own stuff so we can get up there every other week end. The emotional toll is horrible and I'm also trying to stick to an elusive diet and work out schedule between my job and drop everything and rush to Leesburg trips. At least I'm not gaining weight.

The only thing I've been able to do is engage some elderly voters in the Leesburg area in why I think President Obama, Bill Nelson and Val Demings are the better choices for them. I've defended the ACA. Pointed out that Benghazi is not what they think it is. I've insisted a few anti-abortion single issue voters reread Exodus 22 (among a few other selections) with me. (Thank you dkos for giving me the words to say.) I've pointed out that Medicare has always been the target of Republicans and a Democratic majority will preserve the benefits they earned. I showed them Romney in his own words contradicting himself. Have I swayed anyone? Yes. Have I done enough for this campaign? Sadly, no.

We have three days to go. 3 days left. My plans for this weekend are to try and fit in some GOTV. I spent most of yesterday on the phone trying to keep a bed sore from getting worse and getting better care for my MIL. Today, I'm going to finish this diary, go work out and then do some GOTV in the late afternoon. Then I'll call my MIL and her sister, and try to be encouraging.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (16+ / 0-)

    If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never has and never will be. Thomas Jefferson

    by JDWolverton on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 10:57:53 AM PDT

  •  I'm so sorry. But you are doing what you're (9+ / 0-)

    supposed to be doing.  Family comes first and the rest of us pick up your share for awhile.  It all works out in the end.  And it sounds as if you are doing more than enough.  Take care of yourself, too.  I've been in you place with my mother and it's sad, difficult and real.  I am thinking of you and yours.

    "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill

    by Catkin on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 11:04:48 AM PDT

  •  Sorry. I know some of what you're... (6+ / 0-)

    ...dealing with, having seen it firsthand with a mother who smoked for 65 years (from age 14) and blamed her smoking-related health problems on everybody but herself. You're dealing with the situation in what seems to me the best way possible, as frustrating and infuriating and saddening as it is for you. I'm sorry that her own flesh and blood don't seem to be being a bigger help. That surely must be a part of the source of your anger.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 11:07:46 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for your kind words. (4+ / 0-)

      My husband cares, but he sees her situation like a guy would. He talks to her like a man and she cries after every conversation because he doesn't talk to her in the way she thinks he should. It's killing him that he doesn't say the right things to her and he pushes me to talk to her. His two brothers aren't all that helpful in this regard either.

      She is a product of teenage girls of the 1950's and she projects in her mind the things she wants her sons to say, but they never get the script right.

      We'll get through this.

      If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never has and never will be. Thomas Jefferson

      by JDWolverton on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 11:48:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  3 years of watching my Mom slowly die (8+ / 0-)

    Trying to get a place for her to live/die.  The long 2.5 hour one way drives to Washington to see her and her right wing family.  

    I watched my Mom slowly die while being Becked, Rushed and Palined by her family.

    I was a mess.  Thought I'd lose my job.  I, too, couldn't think.

    People said to me, "it'll be a relief once she's gone"....

    It hasn't been.  I knew she was going.  She's been gone a few years and I'm just now dealing with the feelings.  I still am sorting through her boxes and boxes and boxes.  

    I'm supposed to be "relieved".  She's "in a better place".  

    Bullshit.

    It's all pain.  

    I hear, "let em die".  but the Rapepublicans don't realize that death usually is a slow, lingering process.

    My Mom died slowly.  I was there and held her as she struggled at the very end.  It wasn't "peaceful" it wasn't "supportive family".  It was ugly.  It was horrible.  I wasn't able to do anything but hold her hand as her family insulted us so much that the Hospice Angels kicked them out.  

    Relief?  I know she isn't struggling for air.  She's not in pain.  But I still feel a sense of shock.  My Mom is gone.  The last few months were the worst.  Dementia.  Even looking at the word "dementia".... it looks evil and dirty.  A jagged knife through all worlds.  I can't even tell you the last few phone calls with my Mom just about sliced up my soul.  I would give anything to not remember those final words.

    I am so sorry you and your loved ones and your mother in law are going through this.  I have no advice.  I have no magical words.  Other than "I know."  

    I know.

    Peace and Strength to you.  I am so sorry.  

    "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

    by Damnit Janet on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 11:11:40 AM PDT

    •  Una mas (6+ / 0-)

      My Mom was on some sort of a machine.  It wasn't exactly breathing for her anymore, merely keeping the black tar from rising up.  The final day, Hospice had me and my brother sign some papers.  I couldn't even read them.  I just signed.  The machine was to be turned off.  It wasn't "pulling the plug".  It was just prolonging.  

      My mom had been unconscious for a few days.  But at the very end her eyes blinked open.  I will live forever with what I saw.  Terror.  Pain.  Struggle.

      I share this because I was the one, lone person in that last Hospice meeting to ask, "is there anything that can be done to help her end this?"

      Not in this country.

      All they could give her was some fucking anxiety medicine.  

      Instead of helping her fall away... I had to hold her hand as she struggled for air.  As the black tar rolled out of her lifeless lungs.

      "Let em die"... but don't allow them die easily.  It's so uncivilized.

      If I am to have cancer, I've decided that I don't want my daughter holding on to my hand as I struggle.  

      I will end it on my terms.  Without the suffering or seeing my family suffer.  

      I will not give up, I will fight cancer or disease but at some point while I still have strength and untouched by dementia or pain meds... I will provide peace, serenity and love to all those I will leave behind.  

      Morbid?  Not trying to be.  I just had to find some better way after going through it with my Mom.  

      My best to you.  I wish I could reach through this all and hug you or at least hold your hand.  xoxo

      "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

      by Damnit Janet on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 11:22:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Don't forget hospice. (9+ / 0-)

    And local hospital cancer centers may have other ideas on how you can get her some help locally.

    So sorry. We went through this in the summer. Gods bless. Let the rest of us take up the slack for you.

  •  This is rough (6+ / 0-)
    The grandkids are torn between spending time with Grandma and wanting to stay away because they can't bear to see Grandma like this.
    Gods but I know what that's like.  It rips your heart out.  Yesterday was the 12 anniversary of my grandfather's death from Alzheimer's, and the 2nd anniversary of my grandmother's death, also from Alzheimer's.  Granny was living with my Aunt & Uncle, and I would go over once a week to have dinner with her and make sure she took her evening medicine, and just to be with her for a while and to give my Aunt a respite.  She was a shell of the woman I'd known and loved, and while it tore me up inside, I also treasured those moments.  But the horrifying times were the one or two moments of lucidity, where she would talk to me and where she realized that her brain wasn't working right.  

    Take care of yourself.  Do what you need to make sure your health and sanity stay intact while you deal with this, because that will make it easier to cope.  Best wishes to you and your family.

    The Girl Who Loved Stories
    I’m a feminist because the message is still "don’t get raped" not "don’t rape"

    by Avilyn on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 11:31:27 AM PDT

  •  I can so relate as I remember all too well knowing (5+ / 0-)

    my mother would die of a rare cancer and there was little I could do help. I spent so much time doing research, calling doctors, calling nurses, calling hospitals and helping my mother anyway I could.

    Mom died of complications of cancer and not the cancer itself which is often the case.

    But in Mom's case, she never smoked, did not drink, she exercised and she ate a healthy diet.  She lived a relatively stress free life until the cancer and losing my dad just 2 years earlier. Mom died of a silent and rare cancer where from diagnosis till death was just a little over a year.

    Dad suffered with another rare cancer for a decade, had multiple surgeries and long hospital stays .  His quality of life was not good for years.  He had Mom taking care of him which was so good but it was so tough on her. But when Mom was diagnosed and the same day they found cancer, they told us there was no hope at all...that was really difficult as neither of us lived anywhere close to her but we did what we could when we could.  

    Fortunately Mom could live alone and have visiting health nurses and a wonderfujl friend who stopped in daily to see her...and she was able to drive and be independent up until the last couple weeks of her life where she was hospitalized.

    Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

    by wishingwell on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 11:31:34 AM PDT

  •  As I read this, my own elderly, sick and getting (4+ / 0-)

    sicker every month, mother is again in a hospital.

    She, too, is delusional about the actual state of her health.

    She, too, spent 35 years smoking (and drinking) and is now paying the price - but me and my sisters, we're the ones picking up 'the bill', so to speak - and I am not talking about money.

    So know that you are not alone in your private hell, I am right there with you.

    My mom lives with my youngest sister, who converted her middle-management banking job into a 'work from home' position, so that my mother would not be left alone at home any more, at all. The last time she was alone? She had another bout of explosive diarrhea, made a disaster zone of the living room, and then, squeezed blue dish-soap into the carpet to "try and clean the mess up". Imagine coming home to bright blue, foamy, soapy, mess embedded into deep pile, cream-colored carpet...

    I am Mom's taxi service, shopping aide and 'relief pitcher' for my youngest sister; so that she doesn't spend all day, every day with Mom anymore. I was so worried about her mental health this past six months, I was relieved to hear that she had started mental health counseling a few weeks ago.

    Each visit to yet another medical specialist (internist, gastroenterology, radiology) in the past four weeks is another game of "hurry up and wait". Five ER visits since late August. 1 Urgent care visit. Numerous Lab visits, for blood draws for the interminable testing.

    All of that, and no real answer for her multiple symptoms and issues. Because the medical field does not train, nor allow, physicians to have the discussion with elderly patients (and their caregivers) about the fact that they are getting to the end of their life, and nothing more can help them stop this process. They are dying, slowly, by bits and pieces, and it's time to accept it and make plans for the end of the their life.

    Instead, they only talk about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment. Every time my mother has another visit with another doctor, the first thing she cannot wait to tell me is that this new doctor has told her that "her health is great, everything is normal". What she never seems to hear in these visits is that her health is 'great, for a person with her multiple conditions'.

    Which really means that her Congestive Heart Failure, COPD (congestive obstructive pulmonary disease), Insulin-dependent Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and whatever else she may have been officially diagnosed with this weekend has not killed her, yet.

    I am angry at the healthcare workers who continue to give my ailing mother false hope for a healthy future;  whose increasing lack of mental acuity makes her open to suggestions from even strangers, but especially strangers in White Coats in a hospital. This is the cruelest part of it all.

    Every time my mother looks at me and asks, "I'm getting better, that's what they said, right?" I have the decision to lie to her or be honest. It is heart-breaking, because I have to keep on doing it, every damned time I take her to see another doctor.

    So take into your hands my very best wishes and thoughts for healing for yourself and your family members. Take care of yourself, so that when the end does come, you are not all used up and can give your spouse the emotional help that will truly be needed at that time. Be prepared, as much as you can, with end of life paperwork now, while your MIL still has the ability to make some decisions.

    My heart goes out to you - and to everyone in the same situation, with a dying parent who is unable or unwilling to face the end of their life.


    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization" -- me

    by Angie in WA State on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 02:04:51 PM PDT

    •  (((Angie in WA State))) (3+ / 0-)

      I a so sorry.

      PS Let me know when you're ever in wonderful Portland, OR. Maybe we could hook up.  :)

      "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

      by Damnit Janet on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 04:29:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hey Janet, I am "in PDX" on a regular basis lately (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raincrow, Damnit Janet

        as my oldest, now attending PSU, got a DUI in Aug and cannot drive until January. Great that she's getting due justice for a foolish choice, except that mostly, it's me who's bearing the 'punishment' of her not driving. Ah, modern life, isn't it grand!

        Anyhoo, I drop off and pick her up from the Delta Park Light Rail station five days a week. Send me a KosMail message and maybe we can meet before ThanksGiving arrives...


        "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization" -- me

        by Angie in WA State on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 05:55:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you for sharing. Sometimes just hearing that (3+ / 0-)

      someone else has gone through the same thing makes it easier to handle.

      Right now this is pretty all consuming because she is very ill and it's quite possible she won't make it to Christmas. I just figured it out and talked to my husband about it. We don't know how to approach it. Be positive or be real. I'm striving for realistically positive. If she doesn't get physically better enough to get out of bed or a chair it's only going to get worse.

      If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never has and never will be. Thomas Jefferson

      by JDWolverton on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 04:49:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  {{{{{{{JDW, MIL & family}}}}}}} (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDWolverton, Damnit Janet

    My mom suffered from COPD for almost 10 years, and at one point asked me to contact Jack Kevorkian (who, I had to tell her, was in prison). We lived in a corner of hell I wouldn't wish on anyone, but we were very, very lucky, blessed-by-God lucky: her lines of credit held out until the last month of her life.  

    It gave us a very long time to process our relationship (during which we had some hideous times) and grieve together. It felt sad but good to let her go, and then came the smaller hell of disposing of her house and effects, then my years of recovery from the trauma of being with her suffering and the exhaustion of caring for her, and finally a day when I could remember her apart from the agony of her slow death.

    I wish you days of strength; nights of deep, healing sleep; and friends and loved ones to sustain you with whatever love they can give.

    !! Four more years !!

    by raincrow on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 06:23:19 PM PDT

    •  Dear RainCrow (0+ / 0-)

      What you posted here game me some hope for the future.

      I forgot that their will come a time that I will remember my Mom and not my Mom's Death.

      I'm on my way out the door to run to my grocery store to get stuff to make a new recipe.  Chai Snickerdoodles.

      Before I went, I sifted through my old cookie cookbooks (I have so many cookbooks.... LOL) as I wanted to use my Mom's recipe for the Snickerdoodles and just use the Chai and Spice rub from the article and I was hit with the recollections of baking with my Mom.  I have cookbooks with my mom's notes written in her perfect penmanship along the edges.

      I couldn't quite ride the happy memory too long as the grief overtook me and now I will run to the store with no make up on due to my bawling...

      But thanks to you... I now have to remember that one day, damnit one day I will bake cookies that she passed on down to me and not have a heavy heart.  

      I had forgotten that there would be happy memories...

      Thank you ((((((RainCrow))))))

      "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

      by Damnit Janet on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 10:59:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site