Saturday, March 26, 2016

It's not over til it's over

A fairly big aspect of our lives over the past decade has been my mom's declining health. Every time there's an incident or a decline, we need to adjust to a new normal. Some are harder than others. depending on how much we're affected. The last two years have been tough but the last few months have been more stressful than ever before. So terrible that despite her nephrologist telling me that she's still doing fairly well and he doesn't think these are her last six months, my gut has been telling me otherwise. Mostly in the form of nausea and anxiety. To preserve some kind of sanity, something had to give so I've taken a leave of absence from work. I've been off for about a month now.

It's kind of funny. I thought I would be less stressed out to be away from work but I think shit has just gotten more real. And it's a roller coaster kind of experience. Good days and bad ones, constant fluxuation. But the bad days keep getting worse and getting used to each new normal is getting harder and harder. A few weeks ago, my mom could have a conversation. Today she can't string together any words that make sense. Before she could walk with help – I took her out with her walker at the beginning of the month, now she needs two people to practically carry her to the bathroom. She struggles to open her eyes or stay awake for a minute or two. She's not eating.

We've always had a hard relationship. Always. We've just never been on the same page. A lot of the time we really don't even like each other. When I was young I remember finding our family photo with me torn out. That sums up a lot. And I've really resented the fact that somehow, by default, taking care of her has always fallen on me (and Chris). I am definitely the reluctant caregiver, on the verge of a panic attack every time I am in a medical setting.

Based on my symptoms, I am currently experiencing anticipatory grief. Usually it's just sadness and despair. Right now I'm in the anger stage. I send out email updates on my mom every couple weeks to her siblings and mine. I usually do this when I feel things have significantly changed and I feel it's important to keep her family informed. But no one responds to me – or they don't respond as much as I want them to – and they sure as shit don't reach out to her. Well, Jean always responds to me and I have been regularly in touch with Carolyn and Auntie Sharon. My mom wonders aloud why no one is there for her. And most of the time, so do I. It's a burden that I am shouldering entirely on my own. It's not fair, but we all know life isn't fair.

I went for coffee with my boss a couple weeks ago. Knowing the tumultuous relationship my mom and I have, he asked why I'm doing this. And it's something I've thought a lot about. It's because if I'm not there, she's all alone. She's dying all alone. I wouldn't want that to happen to me so I'm doing this so it won't happen to her. It's all I can do.

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