I Am Having A Bad Daughter Moment

Confession: I feel like such a bad daughter. Last night Dad called and he was so excited because Mom was able to stand for a few minutes holding on to these bars at her rehab facility. I was on the phone and for whatever reason I just didn’t want to hear it. It is a mix between struggling to care and struggling to hope. I think my exact response in my head (not out loud) was thinking that’s great, is she going to stand tomorrow? My exact response out loud was “that’s so great Dad. Wow. That is amazing.”

I mean I feel awful that I had this thought. That I continue to have thoughts like this. Sister K said, we have to let Dad just be Dad with all this because maybe he needs this so he can get a better idea of where Mom is at and how she will or will not improve. She is probably right. But I just feel like I have really limited patience or ability to “fake” excitement right now. So instead I have kind of pulled back from checking in on Mom’s progress or getting updates as often.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not struggling with my relationship with my family…I am just feeling off about everything going on right now.

I feel bad about it. I continue to feel bad about it. I don’t know why I am feeling this way right now but I am. I just needed to come here and say it. I needed to tell someone.

Thank you for being my someones. 

A Different Kind of New Year’s

New Year’s Day is usually synonymous with optimism for the new year, resolutions, relaxing, organizing, and enjoying a well deserved day off. This was my plan heading into 2014 but I soon realized that was not how I was going to spend the first day of 2014.

Husband and I traveled home to be with my parents for New Year’s Eve because we had a wedding for a family friend to attend. We were running late as usual because it takes Mom a long time to get ready. It then takes a long time to get in the car. And as I watch Dad do this I fear every time he is going to hurt himself. We missed the ceremony but showed up in time for the reception. I watched Mom as she repeated herself several times about a group picture she wanted to take. Not repeating to make sure it got done but repeating to because she thought it was the first time she said it. I started to cringe a little bit. We then had to maneuver her around across cobblestone rocks that hurt her legs. We then had to find a good spot inside for her to sit. And the list went on and on. I sat there at the table just kind of tired and mentally out of it. Thinking these used to be fun and care free events for my family and now they just aren’t.

But we rang in the New Year at home with Mom and Dad. We had champagne and chips and queso. Husband and I opened belated Christmas gifts. It was a nice ending to the year.

New Year’s Day was frustrating though. It was frustrating because Husband and I had planned to get up and leave early. I quickly realized after waking up that wasn’t going to happen. It wasn’t going to happen because Mom had invited Papa over for a big spaghetti lunch. She kept saying Dad could take care of getting everything ready but there was no way Dad could take care of everything because he was busy taking care of Mom. A whole separate issue going on right now too. I realized I had to stay. I had to stay to get lunch fixed. Mom had envisioned this lunch in her head and even though I felt it was unrealistic, it was too late and I needed to execute it. So I did. Husband and I stayed around and didn’t leave to drive back to our home until around 4 getting home around 7pm.

I felt happy I could step in for my parents and help them out. I also felt frustrated I had to step in to help them out. I also just felt defeated. I feel defeated by MS right now. I feel angry it is in our lives. I feel helpless about what to do. I feel sad for Dad and everything he is going through as Mom’s caregiver. I feel clueless about where it is going. I feel hopeless and then I feel guilty for feeling hopeless. I feel selfish for saying I miss Mom and I miss the way things used to be. I am feeling a lot right now. I don’t understand what 2014 holds. I know where we were a year ago and I know where we are today. I don’t know where we will be tomorrow. I am trying to take one day at a time but it’s hard. It’s hard when you can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. You just see another day in the tunnel. And I am worried that 2014 is going to be a year of tunnel-filled days.

Wishing you health and happiness in the New Year! Thanks for sticking with me through 2013! 

I Can’t Fix This. (and I am slowly becoming okay with that)

There are two sides to MS in my life- there is what Mom is going through and there is what Dad is going through. I see both sides. Or I should say I hear both sides. More specifically I heard both sides on the phone yesterday.

Mom is in pain. A lot of pain. She is also pretty much bedridden right now. It’s the first time I have said it that way but that is what it is- Mom is pretty much confined to her bed. Her physical therapist has recommended she possibly go back to the rehab facility she was in post-hospital in May 2012. She thinks it will do more for Mom than she can do with just a couple hour visits a couple times a week. Mom feels helpless. Mom feels bad for the burden she is placing on Dad. She feels sad that this is happening. And I get it.

Dad is overwhelmed. Rightfully so. He is going nonstop these days. He does have someone in our house both during the day and at night to help Mom. But on the weekends he is on his own. He’s also just mentally going nonstop. Running his company. Running our house. Also managing Papa’s life. It’s a lot. I have known this for awhile and unfortunately instead of getting better with the addition of help in our house it kind of seems to just be a small band-aid.

But for the first time I really didn’t get overwhelmed/depressed/stressed by this. I listened to Mom and talked to her. I listened to Dad and talked to him. Then I got off the phone and just sort of let it all just settle into the back of my mind. I am not avoiding the issues but I am also not focusing on them. I am beginning to believe we are reaching a cross roads with all of this. A cross roads which I am not sure what the result is going to be because for once I am finally admitting I not only don’t have control but I also can’t fix it. The two biggest things I struggle with I am slowly realizing to let go of them. Call it growth. Call it faith. Whatever it is, I need to trust it to guide my family and me through the challenges we continue to face.

Thanks to this place for listening. And thank you for being a place for me to share my struggles. I think I have experienced this little thing called growth thanks to this other little thing called my MSRecess.

Have you ever had a challenge or struggle that you finally just let go of? Have you ever experienced issues with trying to control or fix things in life and finally realized you just can’t? I’m not an expert yet but I hope I am slowly getting there. I’d love to hear your tips when you feel challenged by life.

Moving Forward..Like It or Not

This whole “My Mom has MS thing” is not easy. I know nobody ever said it would be but it is seriously not easy. It’s not easy to think about. It’s not easy to talk about. It’s not easy.

I have hesitated to come here and write these thoughts down. I think I have mentioned this before but many times the act of writing down my thoughts about Mom’s MS makes it more real. It was one thing when her MS was secured in a tight neat little box that I felt we as a family had some control over. It is very different now that I feel we have no control over and sometimes I feel like we can’t even get a grip on it.

First Mom couldn’t walk. Now Mom can’t stand. Her handwriting seems to be slipping. I know this because I always loved her handwriting. She sent me a package in the mail and just getting the package out of my mailbox was emotional upon seeing the handwriting that had addressed it to me. I didn’t recognize it. Much like I am having trouble recognizing Mom.

It all goes back to writing things down. In this case receiving this package was a written statement to me that Mom is different. Our conversations on the phone…the lunchtime chats I have been having with her practically everyday on my lunch hour for the past five years are different. They are full of lots of the same conversations we have already had, simple thoughts, simple topics, nothing too complex and they are quick. They too make me sad.

None of this is easy and coming here to share it isn’t easy either. But I am because I think it’s important. This is part of my journey in dealing with Mom’s MS and unfortunately a lot of that involves the path Mom’s MS is taking compared to others. So I can’t promise I can talk openly about this everyday like I used to because part of my coping involves talking about it and the other part involves not talking about these changes and the evolution of our family with it. Sister K told me the other day on the phone: “I think we just have to accept Mom the way she is now and realize we are never going back.” It was profound and a simple thought but it was true. We are never going back- we are only going forward and that forward is into a place of unknown.

Thanks for reading as always. It means so much to have my space that is mine where I can come and share my thoughts.

The “Special Needs Family”

Mom has been having some issues this week with what the home health doctor thinks is her sciatic nerve. Dad had to practically commit an “act of God” to get someone from her doctor’s office to call him back with some pain medicine on Monday and Tuesday. I am learning that you literally have to take the motto “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” when it comes to dealing with neurologists. Maybe the ones where we live just are not that great or maybe it is the field of neurology- I’d be curious what your experiences have been? We are already on our second one and I don’t think there are very many others to choose from unfortunately. The doctor is good, it’s just the process involved if you have an issue outside of your appointment and the lack of communication follow through.

But I bring all of this up because this coming weekend Mom and Dad were supposed to come visit because we have a family wedding to attend. With Mom not doing so well, Dad has discussed with me several times the likely decision of not going to it. This is difficult because it involves Mom’s friends from college and one of their daughters. Going to the wedding is in many ways more for her than for us.

Aside from just the logistics of getting her here right now, I know Mom is not in the best shape and I don’t want her friends to see her like this right now. I was talking to Dad about how after awhile you just get tired of being seen as the “special needs family.” You get tired of the extra effort involved in getting Mom to these things, get tired of everyone treating us differently, the stares, people telling you how they think Mom is getting worse, wanting to get into your business about what you could be doing better….it goes on and on…

I know Mom has MS and I know this is just the card our family has been dealt. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get tired of dealing with the extra issues that come with the territory- the struggle to get easily in and out of places; the stares that come with this struggle; the comments that follow. It’s just frustrating, especially while I get to stand by and watch all of her other friends get around just fine. I have heard before it takes a special family to deal with everything we have going on and I know we are truly one of a kind to be able to handle it- but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get tired of it and wish it would all just go away. That’s how I am feeling lately as MS seems to be throwing more curve balls and I am struggling to keep up.

Do you think I am awful for admitting I get tired of being a “special needs family”? Do you ever struggle with how others treat you because of a disability either to you or to a loved one? Have you had issues with doctors being responsive outside of a scheduled appointment?

The Reality of Needing Help

“When it gets bad enough he will ask for help.”

Those words were told to me awhile ago by a friend when I shared my concerns with Dad being spread too thin between working and caring for Mom full-time. But sometimes I believe God forces you to make a decision you have been putting off by making other parts of your life begin to spin and that is exactly what has happened to Dad the past few weeks.

Dad was recently promoted which is really exciting but it also means more demands at work. At the same time, Mom seems to be digressing. She is having a harder time moving around lately and her MS is demanding more from Dad. I have been worried about Dad for some time but like I said above, I realized at some point I had to stop voicing my concerns and realize it was not my place to demand Dad get help with caring for Mom. The relationship between Mom and me verses Mom and Dad is different. They are married. They are husband and wife and I believe Dad is trying to do everything he can to fulfill his vow to be there for Mom in sickness and in health. I can’t get in the middle and force him into making decisions he isn’t ready to make.

But Sunday Mom seemed to be struggling and Monday she woke up with excruciating pain in her leg. Dad needed to be at work. This has happened before but this time his work demands are greater and he realized it was the beginning of being unable to be in two places at once. He was stuck. He called the nurse who had come to our house to administer Mom’s steroid infusion. She had spoken with Dad awhile back about staff she has that will come out and assist around the house. The nurse came out to meet with him and she and Dad began to move forward with making arrangements for someone to come out to be with Mom during the day.

So when I spoke with Mom during lunch yesterday, her new home helper/nurse/assistant…for blog purposes I’ll call her Nurse B…Nurse B was at our house with Dad getting acquainted with everything. I tried to talk to Mom like everything was normal but she was tired and explaining she was frustrated because she preferred to be by herself.

Even after all the time I have spent trying to get Dad to make this decision, I have to admit it was strange to think Nurse B was there. She was there to take care of Mom. My mom who has always taken care of us needed someone to take care of her. This is reality now and it made me sad and full of a mix of emotions…a big one being acceptance that this is my family now. It’s just strange. It feels strange. And even though Mom needs this, I feel sorry for her. I can’t help but struggle that her independence has been taken away and I played a part in that. Even though Dad ultimately made the decision I agreed with him. I don’t know why but I’m struggling with that realization because secretly I never thought it would happen- I never really thought we’d need to bring someone in to help Dad; I thought Mom would get better; Dad would figure out some magical way to manage it better. I just didn’t think it would happen and it has now.

Have you ever dealt with getting help for a family member that maybe impacted their independence? Have you ever felt the guilt of feeling responsible for taking it away? Do you believe sometimes life may force you to make a difficult decision?

The Family We Were/The Family We Are

MS has changed my family in a lot of ways and it is continuing to change my family in a lot of ways. My family that I have always been fiercely proud of and very protective over is changing in ways I cannot control. It is changing Mom, Dad, Sister K and me. Changing the way we interact, changing our dynamic at home, changing our activities- it is changing us.

This past weekend really shed a light on those changes as Sister K brought her boyfriend home for the weekend to celebrate Easter. All weekend I tried hard to fill in the holes that Mom should’ve been responsible for with a guest at our house. I didn’t mind but it made me realize even more that this is my role now and I needed to step into it for Sister K. I feel like I am doing that a lot in many capacities in my family- filling in the holes of where Mom cannot anymore.

But as the weekend ended and we were heading back in the car I was talking to Husband and I got upset. I felt uneasy after the weekend and couldn’t figure out why- and then it hit me…I was mourning in many ways the loss of my family as we were and realizing what we have become. I was sad because Sister K’s boyfriend will never know us without Mom’s MS. Because Husband and I started dating in college, he knew Mom before her MS and knew our family dynamic without all the extra added stress. At this point in my life I can define all relationships into two categories- those who knew my family before MS and those who knew us after MS. There are pros and cons to being on both sides of the line but I know that those who knew us before knew who were were- knew how we operated- they knew our true family. Those who know us now I am not so confident of the picture they get. I don’t know what they take away after meeting all of us in our current dynamic.

I still love my family very much and I am still obsessed with the people I am blessed to call parents, grandparents and of course Sister K…I would not change them for a minute. But I still feel like I am mourning the loss of my family as we were and realizing with both eyes open the family we are becoming.

Have you ever experienced changes in your family that make you aware your family dynamic is changing? Are there people in your life who know your family in the past as opposed to who they are in the present? Does what I am talking about even make any sense?