Sunday, January 29, 2012

What to do.....what to do........

2 a.m. Saturday morning. I have a headache and I am tired.
I am not in bed, which is where I thought I would be some hours ago, when the call came.
Yet again I am stood next to a gurney in A+E where my ma is lying in her nightie, waiting for a doctor to come and look at her. My pa is sitting on the chair next to us looking anxious and tired and yet relieved. I am there now, he won't need to mop her brow or listen to the staff or ask/answer any questions.
The mister is out in the waiting room trying to get some sleep on a hard plastic chair.
Ma is looking sad and sorry for herself and apologising to me for being a nuisance.
The lights are shining on the patches of pink skin that can be seen through her thinning silver hair.
I hold her hand and tell her not to worry.
We live just over an hour away from ma and pa.
We visit every week.
The fact that I wrote 'yet again' a sentence or so ago, explains perhaps why I am struggling with such mixed emotions at the moment. Why it is a struggle to not be angry and frustrated at the old woman looking so pathetic in front of me, and to remember that she is ill, in a way.
Ma thinks she has had a heart attack, or has a broken rib, as she has a pain in her chest.......'it's just here' she keeps saying as she moves her hand across her ribcage, all the while burping and saying she feels sick.
Pa rang me at 9pm last night to say that they had called an ambulance..........but we were 'not to worry' and that he would get a taxi home from the hospital....'she's bad...I don't know what to do..' he says in his quavery scared voice.........the voice that says without saying, as the mister points out, 'come and help us'.
Wearily, we drive to the hospital and spend hours until the early morning in A and E until some kind medic tells us what I had known before we even got into the car for the journey. That ma has not had a heart attack or broken a rib, that acid reflux and GAD are the reason for us all being there until 4 in the morning. The ECG, the examinations, the blood tests, the x-rays, are all normal. Not news that gives any succour to my ma. 'My leg hurts so bad sometimes..', she says almost hopefully, and a kind young doctor tells her that the pulse in both legs is great and there is no  circulation problem there.
The circulation problem is in my ma's head.
Weeks ago she had been discharged from the heart clinic. She was fine said the lovely lady consultant. The lovely lady consultant that my ma liked and never wanted to stop seeing. Ma was not happy with being discharged and if I were honest I could have put money on mom 'having a heart attack' in the weeks following this discharge.
I have lost count of the number of times we have had this journey, and the number of times that I have hated myself for being so angry with her and yet so sad for her at the same time. Her GP is losing or may even have lost patience with her now.
She is 81, partially sighted, with an irregular heart beat and a lifetime of being unhappy, self absorbed and to my mind a hypochondriac. If a medic suggests a test for diabetes or kidney problems or heart problems, then she will tell all and sundry that she HAS diabetes/kidney problems and has had heart attacks......she doesn't seem to hear the 'all tests were negative' bit that follows, and if we gently re-inforce that it is good news, she is well, then she is perplexed and says 'what is wrong with me then?' and gets angry.
Now she is home, in bed, and I am scared that one day the call will come and I will not go and she will die.

17 comments:

Marcheline said...

The way you feel is completely understandable... both your annoyance and your caring enough to keep showing up.

I don't think you need to be scared that you won't go when you are called. The comfort you give to your dad just by being there makes it worth going, even if your mom doesn't have anything direly wrong with her.

You will always go if you are able to, I know it. And you will have nothing to reproach yourself with when she moves on.

Is there any possibility of moving your parents closer to where you live?

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I appreciate your anxiety and the mixed feelings that surround your mother's needless calls for help. Perhaps she needs some professional counselling to allay her fears. It can't be easy being 81, knowing that death is waiting just round the corner. Till then you must keep responding with the dutiful love of a daughter. It must all be especially trying for your father.

Kelloggsville said...

For a couple of years my father was extremely ill and was rushed to hospital a number of times. My mother used to call and say 'he's dying come now' and I would rush there and yes he was I'll but he was always ill. But I got increasingly vexed by it all. Almost blasé. Always annoyed. And one day I said 'look I'm at work I'll come when my shift finishes' and I went in my own time etc. he died 2 hours after I got there. I am so glad I was there. It is natural to feel angry at our parents weaknesses. After all, they are letting us down by not being our pillars of support. I'm sure your mother has many ingrained reasons for being the way she is and I feel your frustration. Even though she's coming up as ok medically right now, my experience tells me that you have to just keep on keeping on and turning up. Xxx

Trish @ Mums Gone To... said...

Such a worry for you, so frustrating, and yet, because you are her daughter and you love her, you do what you can to support her and your father. I have no advice really, but just wanted you to know I had read your words and am thinking of you xx

Working Mum said...

It's precisely your last sentence that shows why you have to go. However many times she cries wolf, she is your mum and one day it may be something. Frustrating for you, though. I often wonder why we end our lives behaving like the children we were at the beginning. So hard for those around us. And so sad.

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

You are not alone in feeling angry at your elderly parent. Your mother is around the same age as mine, who although she shuns medical care also expects everything of her middle-aged children, who have families and lives and jobs and health problems of their own to manage. At this age they are not going to change, and we feel guilty for our anger at them. And if it was a real emergency you would feel even guiltier if you didn't turn up. Families bind us whether we like it or not and it's part of the human condition. One thing I take from all this is as long as I have my wits about me I will make an effort to be thoughtful to my children and the other things going on in their lives.

auntiegwen said...

Sending you the love xxxx

libby said...

Marcheline....moving isn't an option for any of us really....but thanks for the comment.
YP...on and off over the years we have tried the counselling route and yet still here we are..thank you for taking the time to comment.
K...I hear what you say, I really do...thank you x
Trish....that is so very very kind of you x
WM...very true, the elderly are children again, thank you for commenting.
LMSG...oh gosh yes...me and the mister have made promises like that..but then some years ago so did ma...thank you for commenting.
AG...hugs xxxxxxx


Thank you so much everyone for commenting. I do feel a little ashamed of my 'poor me' rant, and ma is home now and I am going to up my 'patience with the patients'dose. I truly appreciate all of you taking the time to call by and comment.

Andy said...

I know that feeling - it's incredibly tough to deal with feeling angry at your parents when they're old, but I think it's part of the gig. Don't beat yourself up too much about it....

libby said...

Andy....thanks x

Curry Queen said...

I really feel for you. My mum is also very elderly and can be needy and demanding and delightful and loving all at the same time! Her memory is failing but she is still coping alone 27 years after my dad died.

It's so hard trying to look after her, visit often and work full time and I really do know how you feel (if it helps in the slightest!)

libby said...

CQ.....it does help to know that I don't have these feelings in isolation...that other people understand..so thanks.

sensibilia said...

A rant does help, I think, even if you feel ashamed afterwards. Your description of your dad called out to my heartstrings - he really must appreciate the support you are giving so much. It's sad that your mum has had a less happy life, but you are doing all the right things.

libby said...

Sensibilia.....a rant or letting the fizz out of the bottle now and again is necessary and keeps us all sane I think....thanks for commenting.

About Last Weekend said...

You write so well about the incredible mix of emotions that come with caring with a parent who is aging. Sounds like you're such a great daughter to your Ma. I like 12 hours away (flight) and see my parents say twice a year. They are both hale and hearty but it seems it only take one thing to push them into another stage when suddenly they are old.

Macy said...

Libby, if it helps, I regularly rant about my mother. To be honest, she's sulky, selfish and completely irrational - and that's on a good day.

Macy said...

PS I can say that, nobody else can.