Saturday, February 25, 2006

No Clever Title Today

(I rarely post personal stuff on this blog because it's my fun, safe, happy place. But I feel like I need to write about today. So feel free to skip this whole post, cuz it's got nothin' to do with running.)

Some of you know that my 83-year-old mother is now in a nursing home in Charlottesville, 2 1/2 hours away, where she's been since New Year's, (well, after three weeks in the hospital), trying to recover from a fall, along with a lot of other things.

Last Friday her husband (I never call him my stepfather, I guess because they got married long after I was grown, and they lived in California, and I lived in Virginia then, and I never knew him because they never visited, and I didn't have the money to visit them) ... they moved from sunny California to the backwoods of West Virginia two years ago for no particular reason other than they are both insane.

Anyway ... he went into UVA last Friday for removal of a polyp from his intestine, which he was supposed to have had removed FIVE years ago, but didn't, and (oh this is gross) just let grow. He refused a heart stress test before the surgery, and the hospital made him sign a release acknowledging his refusal and outlining the possible outcomes. Day four after surgery, like clockwork, the doctor said, he had a heart attack. He is now non-responsive, with an ostomy bag, 'cuz the surgery didn't go so well either.

I went first to the nursing home today, bundled up mother and her oxygen tank, and got her on the bus for handicapped people to get her to the hospital so that she would have a chance to see him, because things ain't looking so good. She's still in tremendous pain from shingles, can't walk, and has congestive heart failure, but I kind of forced her to go see her husband, because she doesn't understand that he is near death. And I thought she might really regret not seeing him.

I don't really know what to say, except it's all very overwhelming. I'm the only sibling on my side of the family (of the three kids that are still living) who can deal with any of this (the visiting, the banking, the mail, the doctors, the wills, the million and one decisions). My mother's husband has four kids: they all flew/drove in today from the four corners of the country. Today was the first time I have ever met them (mum has been married to this guy for 23 years; I guess you could say we're not exactly the Waltons.

Before I drove down this morning, I went to week two of my 10k running group. That sounds selfish, huh. But people keep telling me—and I believe them—that I need to take care of myself and do what makes me happy as much as possible, so that's what I'm doing.

And I drove back tonight, because tomorrow is my big debut as a bell ringer. And I don't want to miss it, or let my group down.

Today was a hard, very hard day. And there's absolutely nothing I can do about anything, except show up and listen. So that's what I'm trying to do.

Back to our usual programming tomorrow.


susie said...

Jeanne, you do need to take care of yourself first, so I am glad to hear you are doing that. You are also doing the absolute best you can, so don't even try to second guess yourself. So many of us are facing or beginning to face these parent-care situations. It *is* exhausting (and emotional, as there is always the realization that you are now the adult, and they are the children).I'm glad you have a built in support system there. Let your friends take care of you while you take care of your mom and her husband. We will be thinking of you and sending RBF thoughts your way.

nancytoby said...

This must be exhausting. Just the driving alone would be a drain, let alone the emotional toll this must take. Definitely good to keep going to your running group!

You're amazing. Yes, take good care of yourself. Your family sounds a lot like mine in some ways!

Anne said...

Keep listening to those people who remind you to take care of yourself first. They're right. It's not being selfish to want to maintain some semblence of your regular life and physical/mental health while dealing with a dire situation. You are a very strong person just to be doing all this without sibling help. And non-running news or not, please keep us posted. I wish your family all the best.

Jon (was) in Michigan said...

Sorry there's so much sad news there. Sorry about your Mom's husband, and sorry your Mom is in a nursing home. :(

What you hear is correct. Take care of yourself and you will be better off to help your family. Do what you need to do.

**cyber-hug for you**

Lara said...

It does sound exhausting and overwhelming. I'm so glad you decided to go to the running group and follow through with the bell ringing (which, I'm sure you were wonderful at). We're here with you in any ways we can be.

a.maria said...

well, ditto what everyone else said. especially the part about parents going from care-givers to care-takers... i can't even imagine the heartache of seeing your mom in that condition.

hopefully all will take a turn for the better here soon!

GLAD to hear you went to your running group though, its always good to have a way to get out that stress. we dont need jeanne with any pent up aggression!! ;)

how'd bells go. did i tell you my parents do that at my church? i can't help but laugh. love it.

keep us posted and give'em hell!

(i dunno who them is. but.. ya know...?!?!!!)

(ugh. at work on a sunday. blow.)

Dori said...

You have two siblings and you're the only one who does the visiting, banking, mail, doctors, wills, million and one decisions, and you call yourself selfish?

I'm sorry you're having to deal with this. Especially by yourself. It's good that you're still running and doing things that make you happy, because you do need the balance. I'm sending good thoughts your way.

21st Century Mom said...

Count me in as another person who is sorry you are having to deal with this.

I'm pretty sure we were separated at birth or created from the same cloth or something because we have too many similarities to assume it is just a matter of coincidence. I have 3 former "step siblings" I never saw once in the 20+ years my Mom was married to their Dad. I did know them when they were younger and lived next door and no - that story isn't half as juicy as it sounds.

Anyhow - I'm glad you are taking care of you and I just wish that the other sibs, step or blood, would step up to the plate a little! You deserve a break.

Rae said...

You are such an awesome daughter and daughter in law. This has to be incredibly tough on you, and it's not the least bit selfish of you to try to keep some pieces of your life normal (the running and bells). Your mom is very lucky to have you!

Susan said...

Yeah, good daughter you are! Just take deep breaths and take care of yourself!

Bex said...

Why would taking care of yourself be selfish?! Right now, you're one of the most giving people I know. And the others are right, your sibling should step up to the plate and help shoulder the responsibility. I am getting mad just thinking about it.

tallgirl said...

I love you, Jeanne. You make me laugh like no one else.

Keep being yourself. And taking care of yourself.

Let me know if you need anything.

tallgirl said...

Oh, and when do I get to see you ring them bells?

jeanne said...

Tallgirl: I love you too!! Stop making me CRY. and: WHEN YOU COME TO CHURCH, that's when!

jeanne said...

Bex: Speaking of giving, there's this cool journalist I know, who a) works her ass off, b) is busy training for a marathon, but c) finds time to volunteer to coach a 10K intermediate group; plus, 4) on the side, she's coaching this old lady. I don't know how she does it. You should meet her!!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

Good for you for taking care of yourself; you can't take care of others unless you first take care of yourself. It may feel selfish, but it's the least selfish thing of all. ((hugs))

KT said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KT said...

You have to take those few hours of "me time" to relieve the pressure and stay sane. No regrets or guilt allowed.

Having watched my mom, an only child, care for her parents, I can begin to relate to what you are going through. I will be thinking of you and your family.

Thomas said...

Oh my God, jeanne, I'm so sorry to read that. These must be really hard times for you. I wish I could say something, but I have never been in such a situation before. I'm glad you went running though - it's not the slightest bit selfish.

And I can asure you I was not the slightest bit offended by the advice you left on my previous post. Be asured I do appreciate your thoughts.

All the best.

Jack said...

Yes, definetely take care of yourself first, it's a good way to regroup and find strength to handle the rest that comes along. You are in the RBF's hearts and prayers.

Lora said...

I'm sorry to hear of all you're going through.

May God give you the strength you'll need to get through it all.

Deep breaths---relax your body--you're doing the right thing.

Elle said...

We're twins...I played the bells...shhhh don't tell.

I don't believe in God but I believe things eventually level out. Take the shittiness for the moment...and breathe when you can.

Conversely email me and rant using a series of hard core feels good. I often wonder how long it's going to be before I have to start making these decisions for my folks. The fact is...getting old sucks. Life proves not to be so fancy in the end...

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