I realized that I don’t do posts about myself that often.
Sure, I talk about my cats (who wouldn’t?), the books I’ve read, and my sociological and political views.
But, I haven’t told you about my family dynamic, nor what’s going on. At least, not in a while!
I’ll try to keep the backstory to a minimum, but our history is what shapes our present.
First and foremost – My Dad has been an a$$hole. He always had a temper, but, for the first 11 years of my life, my Mom kept him in check.
When she died in 1996, he lost his ever-loving, blue-eyed MIND. He went to a very dark place, often misplacing his anger on myself and my sister (she’s 4 years older than I am) over small things.
He also sometimes flew off the handle in a rage to get out of going to events (specifically social).
He has said things to me and my sister* that most people wouldn’t say to their worst enemy. He also got physical with me a few times, mostly by grabbing my hair to scream at me.
*(I assume he said stuff to her. She’s another story. Very few of my friends even know I have a sister, as she’s removed herself from reality pretty well. She also moved out 2-3 years after Mom died, when she turned 18.)
Where my sister avoided people, I embraced public and social activities. My friends are my family. It also kept me away from my Dad.
That said, he’s now an 80-year-old-man and depressingly frail. He has no one, and, as my Aunt sadly put it, we’ve developed a co-dependence. I’ve tried to break it a few times, but… it’s not easy.
Ultimately, he’s a sad man who is used to taking his temper out on people. I think it might be a defense mechanism to avoid getting hurt when people leave/die/don’t agree with him. That doesn’t mean I like it, nor accept it.
Throughout the years, he’s had various surgeries, including a open-heart surgery to replace his aorta. I’ve devoted a significant amount of time, energy, and precious mental health to keeping him alive the past 10 years.
In return, he’s supported me financially. As such, no one can really leave. But the past year tested my good nature.
The week before Thanksgiving 2021, Dad caught an upper respiratory infection that caused congestive heart failure (VERY basically, fluid in the lungs crushing his heart).
He had a horrendous experience in the rehab he needed once he started recovering. I regret not reporting them for their neglect and abuse. I was so exhausted at that point, I just needed to focus on Dad’s health and my own self-care (not enough).
We worked really hard (my sister appeared, from time to time, but not much) and he was doing OK. He even had another one-day heart procedure recently, recovered, and was driving, shopping, living independently with some limitations.
Dad was out shopping on March 30th and collapsed at the checkout. Needless to say, he freaked out everyone at Shoprite. When they tried to help him move, he realized he’d really hurt his leg and wasn’t going anywhere without an ambulance.
At first, he wanted me to get my sister to drive me down there so I could pay for his groceries that the cashier had finished scanning. Luckily, he agreed it was better for me to get a ride and safely remove his car from the property.
My sister had just taken her medicine (I suspect daytime drinking, but I’m bitter), so I got a rideshare.
Turns out, his heart had “paused” for 4 seconds. His cardiologist had said all along that Dad would need a pacemaker “eventually.” When I spoke to him, the following day from Dad’s hospital room, I told his doctor, “Unfortunately, it seems the heart wanted to drive the immediate need home and broke his leg in the process.”
I have to say, Dad’s cardiologist has always been attentive and available. He spoke to the surgeons who had privileges where Dad ended up, had worked with them before, and found them extremely competent. It made me comfortable trusting Dad with them.
AND NOW –
Dad has been in a sub-acute rehab, again, since April 7th. Of course I didn’t choose the prison-ward-like neglect factory he was in last time.
But I still had the same information with which to make my decision – The Medicare reports and rating, most of it over a year old, and the facility’s website/advertising.
Of course, it had a 5-star rating. The previous one also had a 5-star rating with Medicare… only now it’s dropped to 2 stars, one year later.
It had all the usual amenities – Daily physical and occupational therapy, skilled nursing, activities. It was nearby and I’d seen its sign.
And the website boasts that “Subacute residents enjoy: […] Full-time Cardiologists and Pulmonolgists [sic].” I’ll admit, I missed the typo initially with how excited this made me. Why, that’s just what Dad needed!
Still, I never fully trusted the facility. Dad made a laundry list of complaints, a lot about his food, and his general anxiety about getting the heck out of there ASAP.
Most of them were minor, but he calls me up to 10x a day. It leaves me little time to think and a lot of anxiety. I’ve told them to please take care of my Dad, just let me trust you. Despite reassurances, they’ve failed repeatedly.
The failures now include, since Dad’s admission:
- Not having his meds available immediately (this was likely due to being admitted at 5pm on the Friday before Easter and the pharmacy/a doctor being unavailable to make up the required prescriptions)
- Not giving him food requested (he can’t get a non-coffee beverage with lunch and dinner, despite numerous requests, and sometimes sides like fries were missing; one instance includes an aide taking a detailed order for a Chef salad, on paper, and bringing Dad a salmon dish… Dad hates fish)
- Tried to stop giving him medication to raise his BP (he’s a big guy, most medical professionals assume he’s being treated for high BP; it’s frustratingly common)
- Left him soiled for 30+ minutes (it was dinner time, which is a common excuse for stuff slipping through the cracks)
- Tried to give him the wrong medication (antibiotics and aspirin, the latter of which they insisted he stop in their lecture on why I shouldn’t let him take his own medication; the former was just never prescribed, but someone tried to give it to him)
- Not handling pest infestations with any speed or concern (Dad saw a mouse on 4/24; supposedly an exterminator has been out already, but never went to Dad’s room while he was there, and we found this out today)
- Not following the director’s orders to get Dad in a wheelchair daily (they did it once so far after they nearly dropped him – or “he almost fell” – since April 7th; the daily order came 4/26)
- Not having a cardiologist and not trying to make an appointment until 4/25
The last one really burns my biscuits. I included it in my complaints to the Department of Health and the NJ ombudsman for senior care.
So… I’m exhausted. I’m sad. I’m lonely. I’m frustrated. I’m furious. I’m being shined on by everyone I talk to at the rehab.
The rehab has warned us, repeatedly, that Medicare will soon stop paying for Dad’s care. Then, we’ll have to foot the bill fully.
If Dad comes home, he’ll demand I wait on him hand and foot. He’ll say he doesn’t want to put it all on me, but he doesn’t want anyone else to do it because they’ll do it wrong and he’ll call them names.
He won’t be able to use the bathroom, nor walk until at least 6/1. He’d need at least 4 hours of an aide’s care in the morning and 4 hours in the evening (according to the rehab). He’ll need to replace his bed with a hospital style bed and get a commode.
It’s cheaper for him to stay at the rehab for $300 a day, but far less comfortable and more likely to kill him.
Unfortunately, I worry that if he comes home, it’ll kill me. I’m exhausted, my fibromyalgia is screwing with my sleep and the pain is out of control. Regardless, I’m resting up. There’s nothing I can do but find a silver lining.
So… Hopefully I’ll get to write a book review soon. Maybe one day I’ll write about what it was like living with Dad as a teenager.
For now… I leave you with a few thoughts that I’ve considered a lot this past month. We can make the most of what we have, or we can whine about what we don’t.
2 thoughts on “A personal post”
I really wish I had some encouraging words to say, but I can tell you you don’t deserve any of this. It’s such a tricky situation, which is legit what psychologists call these kind of family dynamics where parents are supporting in some ways and shit in others. I have a similar one myself with things going horrendously downhill after my mother died (though that relationship was tricky, too ugh).
You want to be a good daughter and you don’t see any other options because we’re so ingrained to think we owe our parents, and it’s relatively easy for me to say this from an intellectual level because I’m not in your situation, but if I were I’d feel the same way. Stuck. You know what you’ll get if he lives with you, but you don’t want him to have to deal with the current situation nor can you eventually afford it. It also sounds like your sister is coping my avoidance and “medicine,” leaving you with the responsibility.
I really hope you can find some solution that doesn’t cause you to have a complete breakdown ♥
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Haha. I love that you didn’t think you knew what to say, but said just what I needed to hear. I have a feeling that all people have issues with their parents, especially as they age and lose some of their independence. But, yeah. This is an extremely messed up family dynamic.
Talking to other people who have had … “tricky situations” with their parents is really helpful. I hope, if you’re comfortable, one day you’ll talk about yours and I’ll let you in on mine too? We need to realize that this isn’t normal and that we can do better. I think, in some situations, we can help our parents to do better too.
Sometimes, though, I know it’s necessary to walk away. I don’t think I’m at that point, though. There were times I was, in the past, and I wish I had walked away. Now I feel like Dad is at least trying to be less of a ball of negativity and anger.
My sister, I’m seeing, is so lacking in confidence that she struggles to take initiative and responsibility. That doesn’t necessarily mean I excuse selfish behavior when I see it, but I know she’s struggling too.
It’s def like a weight on my shoulders at all times. I kinda wish I had someone to cuddle with and vent to, but the dating scene is terrifying. LOL