Friday, March 18, 2011

My parents & I have role-reversed

My parents didn't have me until my mom was 36 and my dad was 40.  I am now almost 36.  Sometimes I feel like we all got jipped.  My parents wanted kids about ten years before they actually had me.  By the time they had me, my mom really didn't want kids anymore.  I'm not sure if it was because of the death of her mother or if something else triggered something but somewhere along the line, my mother became one of those very pessimistic people that could switch emotions faster than you can blink.  I remember my father never admitting that anything was wrong, but telling me (at age 5) that my mother can't take stress, so I need to not stress her out.  Since any little thing could stress her out, we were doomed.  I remember coming home from school on a day when she was home alone all day to find our TV remote at the bottom of the stairs in pieces, pillows & blankets thrown on the stairs, and the newspaper scattered from the bottom of the stairs to the top.  I think I was 12.  I didn't know what to do; surely she would have heard me come in.  Would she be crying or angry?  What the heck happened with no one else around?  I also don't know when she started drinking, but I don't remember a time that she wasn't a drinker.  She kept it at home; she didn't hang out at bars or drive drunk.  She stayed home and made us miserable.  She was bad enough that I knew by 7 that she needed serious help, and by 14 that she would probably die from some liver disease or another.  (She's why I don't drink.)  Somehow, despite all of this, she was one of my best friends from about age 15 on.

After my sister & I moved out, she chilled out a bit.  She started drinking less, & she did seem to become a little happier.  She still never really achieved true happiness, & never wanted to live.  No, she never really attempted suicide but she threatened us all the time when we were kids.  "One day you kids will come home and find me dead in the car or with my head stuck in the oven".  The oven one sounds so ridiculous now, but it wasn't very funny back then.  She has been amazing with my kids!  I wondered where that mom was when I was little?  However, she absolutely refuses to see a doctor.  She had no prenatal care when she was pregnant with me, and I was delivered by nurse midwife.  She saw a dermatologist once a few years ago, but that's it.  She has suffered stubbornly through all sorts of infections & lived to tell the tale without ever having to go to the hospital.  Maybe she thinks she's made of steel, invincible.  She doesn't care about herself.  This puts me in a huge bind.

For the past few months I've been trying to figure out what was going on with her. I thought she looked yellow, but maybe it was just the light?  And then she tells me on Tuesday that she's dropping weight like crazy and she's sure that something is wrong.  Then she changes the subject & won't go back.  Grrr!  It took me a few days, pondering, talking to people, reading.  Then it hit me:  she has something going on with her liver.  Maybe cirrohis of the liver from years of alcohol use, maybe liver cancer (dropping weight), maybe some other liver disease.  At first I was a little ticked at myself for not thinking of it months ago.  But, it's my mom.  Who wants to see their mom as sick?  Or think about their mom being sick?  Since we were dealing with Kevin's thyroid cancer and Emily's various conditions, I guess it makes sense that I missed it but wow.  This is huge.

True to form, my dad knows that she won't go to a doctor so he's trying to get her to eat at Sweet Tomatoes (salad bar) for every meal.  There, all better now.  I asked him if he wanted me to take him to Sweet Tomatoes next time he has a heart attack.  He says "sure, why not?"  GRRR!!!  I begged her, pleaded with her, tried to rationalize this with her tonight.  I explained my theory, what tests would likely be done, how "simple" it would be to correct if caught early enough.  She tells me no, she doesn't want to deal with it.  I was on the ball, I had an answer for everything.  I know... she's not going to change her mind based off of 2 conversations.  I got her angry enough to hang up on me.  That's fine.  I just want her to think.  I asked her what she'd do if I did this?  "That's different".  She doesn't want to prolong her life.  So, now what?

I know that I couldn't live with myself if I did nothing.  I want to keep her around another 20 years.  Is that being selfish?  Would I be selfish if I made her an appointment & took her myself without telling her?  The whole situation is just very frustrating.  My father tells me that it's because she wants to die before he does.  She's afraid that she will be poor, so she just wants to die before him.  I can't get through to her.  I'm not done trying!  I'm just at a point where they are both being completely unreasonable and it makes me crazy.   I have been praying for the right words, for guidance, maybe a little divine intervention.  I guess I'll just take it day by day.

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