So my last session with T was spent talking about my mom and her illness…and how I’ve been handling it.
There are a few good things that have come out of my mother’s illness, which is a pretty difficult statement for me to make. I know that I have been able to say that about my history with physical and mental illness, but to say that about my mother’s illness makes me very uncomfortable. I would never ever want someone to be ill so that something good came out of it, if that makes sense. But since the illness happened, at least something positive has come out of it. A few things, I guess.
I can handle it. Years ago, my grandmother got sick. She was pretty old by this time…in her late 80s I think. She started falling into dementia, and then had a stroke and went deep into the illness. She had caregivers 24/7 taking care of her in her home. She didn’t communicate anymore, which made it difficult to spend time with her. God bless the amazing women who cared for her. And God bless my mom, who went to my grandmother’s house every single evening to spend time with my grandmother. She would work a full-time job all day, come home and cook for my brothers and my father, then go spend several hours with my grandmother, who lived about fifteen minutes away. This went on for years as my grandmother’s health declined. My mother told me she wanted to have no regrets, so she did what she felt she needed to in order to live that way. I was sick during a lot of this time, but I tried to see my grandmother as often as possible considering I didn’t drive and lived over thirty minutes away. I struggled to be with my grandmother…which is a terrible and difficult thing to admit. I loved that woman deeply, but the person huddled in the wheelchair all day was not my grandmother anymore. Anyway, all this made me wonder how I would be able to handle my mother as she aged. Fortunately for me, she lives very close so I can walk to her house, so driving isn’t an issue, nor is weather. And with this illness–which is much less severe than what my grandmother lived with–I have been okay. I’ve been able to step up and go with her to doctor appointments. I’ve bought groceries for her. I have spent time taking care of her at home and outside the house. I have been able to handle seeing her laying in bed or on the couch, and being with her at an ER/urgent care facility while she was prone on a gurney. I was even able to handle seeing vital statistics on a monitor and not get obsessed with the numbers in the urgent care facility.
I can handle illness without obsessing over it. I can handle numbers without obsessing over them. More good news for me. I also didn’t Google anything while my mother was sick (except she ASKED me to once, and I spent about two minutes attempting it, then suggested that she contact her doctor instead). I was so proud of myself because although I wanted to turn the monitor away in the urgent care so I didn’t have to see her pulse or blood pressure or heart rhythm, I didn’t because I knew my father was watching it. And I handled it. I was able to turn it off (figuratively) and allow the fantastic doctors and nurses to care for my mother in that way. And I cared for her mental health. I kept her in a good space as best I could. I changed her physiology by changing her brain chemistry, by keeping her in a good mental space. I have been able to keep her on an even keel when it comes to what food she can and won’t eat. I’ve been able to keep her grounded when it comes to food and her stomach issues. I told T, I almost feel like I went through all those food and mental health issues in order to be prepared for this very moment. The moment when it would allow me to help my mother through her health struggle. A silver lining.
I told T how pleased and proud I was to be able to handle so much that directly attacks my anxiety levels. Especially when the doctors thought my mom was having heart issues…which is a huge trigger for me. But I handled it without a single moment of anxiety or panic. I gave over all the control for my mother’s physical health to the amazing doctors and nurses who were caring for her. They were attentive and confident, and I did not give one thought to second-guessing them.
Then it happened. My uncle, who is a vet, had been attempting to contact my mother because he knew she had a cough. And when he continued to get the run-around from my parents, he contacted me by email. He and his wife are very much into health issues. They have many health issues and they feel they have the best doctors and the most knowledge on this earth. It’s like health and physical issues are a hobby for them, you know? It’s what they want to talk about, it’s what they harp on…they love it. So the day we take my mom to urgent care (the 2nd time), I was with them for several hours…four or five. Then I came home with my dad while my brother and SIL went to stay with my mother. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon keeping up communication between my parents and my siblings. So I didn’t check my email until 11pm, and there was the email from my uncle. And in that email, he basically vomited some of my worst fears all over my computer screen. If I had been prepared (which I will be now), it wouldn’t have been so bad, but I wasn’t. The email was titled with my mother’s name, so I figured he was emailing to ask how she was REALLY doing and could he offer any help. Instead, I got a long dissertation on how she wasn’t being treated properly (which there’s no way he could know this) and how dangerous her potential illness could be and did I know that SHE COULD DIE?
AAAAaaaiiiiieeeeee. FUCK ME. I had spent so much time NOT googling her symptoms and allowing the doctors to do their jobs. I was taking notes for my parents during the time Mom was in urgent care and listening to what the doctors were saying so we had a record of what had happened. I asked questions where I felt it was needed, too. But I was keeping myself in check and not going panicky or nutsy. And I wasn’t looking ahead, I wasn’t thinking of the worst scenario. And along comes my uncle and just pukes all over me, so to speak. It actually took me quite some time to respond to him. I understood how frightened he was and that he was responding the only way he knew how (and with what little information he had), but it was really difficult for me to deal with.
Luckily, I was able to restrain myself from obsessing over the email (I skimmed it first because I was really tired, and boy am I glad!), but I was angry with him. I answered him very briefly, basically telling him that Mom was being properly cared for but that it wasn’t my place to share her medical information with him. That was her choice and so he had to talk to her directly.
T reassured me that I handled things well, and that she was proud of my success. I am proud, too. I’m also glad that my mom is on the mend, albeit slowly.