Sibling Stew

Denise

Sibling Stew

Denise
paprika-445024_640So, I last left off on my story of Sibling about three weeks ago, after her visit and her scene at the nursing home. The next day, Sibling left for a 10-day vacation, her second in as many months.

Last week was another tough week. (Read, "Hello Ladies, I'm Checking In.") On Friday, our sewer started backing up into our finished family room which, thankfully, is tiled and not carpeted. I found a local plumber who fixed the problem on Saturday.

I'm trying to carve out some rest while my dad remains in the nursing home. But you know how hard that is to do. I'm monitoring my mom's health because there's concern she may have another internal bleed. I'm also managing my mom's Medicare coverage, filing an appeal and a reconsideration hoping to have Medicare continue to cover her time at the nursing home. I'm taking phone calls from the nursing home staff, who have an endless supply of paperwork for me to complete. I've organized longer stays for my parents. Although my mom's Medicare coverage has ended, she will remain another two weeks to work on "getting out of" the wheelchair, as she says, and into using a walker. My dad will remain for another two weeks, too, and move into a small apartment in the assisted living section. I'm bringing them clothes, bills, supplies. I'm listening to each parent complain about the other; my dad calls my mom crabby while my mom is appalled by my dad's self-involvement. I'm visiting as much and as often as I can because I feel better knowing how they're doing.

I'm also sending out regular updates to all the siblings, including Sibling. I've continued to ignore her upsetting behavior, trying not to add fuel to the fire. I've tried to remain focused on what's most important to me: My parents, my three other siblings, my work, my down time. I decided Sibling doesn't deserve my energy or attention, which has helped me remain silent when I want to scream at how she acts out. But my other three siblings and my father have had it with Sibling. She's no longer someone I consider to be a member of my family.

Last night, I had a chance to relax. I poured a glass of cheap red wine and turned on a reality television show. And, then Sibling's spouse (my brother-in-law of 35 years) sent me this text at 9:36 p.m.:

Saw your parents today. It reminded me how important it is to stay together during challenging times. I'm saddened by the treatment Marianne has received, how she has been hurt and how it's impacting the family.


He sent the same note to my younger sister, who immediately replied that Sibling is the problem.

I decided to take time to think about my response. I last stood up for myself to Sibling 15 years ago. "Take off the martyr suit," I said. "It doesn't fit anymore." Sibling responded by making it next to impossible for us to see my nieces. I wanted to take my time with my reply. But, reply I would.

Before going to bed, I jotted down a draft to my brother-in-law. But, I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned, getting madder and madder and adding more content to my note, which feels more like a manifesto.

Just a few moments ago, I sent this message to my brother-in-law, calling out my Sibling for who she is:

This is a message best sent to Sibling. We've asked for her help--she's either declined or simply bailed on us. And when she's been a no show, she's never offered an apology. We're all appalled at how she treats Mom, at the scene she created at the nursing home and her bold-faced lies. God knows what imaginary thing Dad did to her that makes it okay to neither call him on his birthday or send him a card. (My dad's birthday was August 17.) Sibling has berated me, undermined me and bullied me. She doesn't participate in discussions--she just barks out directives. She hung up on Dad because he wouldn't do what she told him to do, even when what she told him to do was wrong. I think our treatment toward her has been very generous. I'd be happy to forward you all the text and email messages we've sent her. And, when was the last time you went to see Mom and Dad? A month ago? Given all that we've been through while Sibling has been gone for 20 vacation days in 2 months, you have a lot of gall sending anything other than "Thank you." I went through hell last week and just starting sleeping. I don't appreciate a text like this at that time of night. I'm up to my eye balls helping our parents. I did ask Sibling for help last week--a 20-minute errand. She declined. But she's such a coward, she texted our brother she wouldn't help, leaving Dad just hanging. Nice way to pull together, huh? So, honestly, I don't have time for Sibling's narcissism, her drama and her pettiness. I say a prayer of thanks every day for my other three siblings. They are amazing with their incredible love and support. They take time off from work, they regularly call and visit Mom and Dad. And when a crisis hits, they are right there doing everything they can to make it better. They're not like Sibling, crying that someone looked at her the wrong way or that no one checked in to see how she's doing. I pray Sibling gets the help she needs. She is sick. She is this family's cancer. Bottom line: Help me or leave me alone. Anything else is just bullshit.


So, our fracture seems more like a break that can't be repaired. I'm okay with that. I need a break from all this nonsense.

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Ladyleo

Hello dearest Denise... I had a bit of a rough night with Mom. Her 'sundowning' normally starts between 4 to 5 in the evening but it just did not happen. Woo-hoo - I was super happy! But when the clock reached 8 - it was as if her brain went into overdrive and I had to put up with her 'sundowning' until the sun literally came up this morning. It was hectic.\nSo no sleep for me meant I did a lot of thinking, especially this question of 'Is life fair?' I sat with a note book and jotted down one thought after another- just trying to make sense of it all in my mind.......\nUltimately I came to the conclusion that indeed, to many of us - life might not seem fair but when I asked myself the question if I would have wanted to have been the person who made themselves scarce, who quit when the need was greatest, who felt angry, hurt and resentful while having to take care of a parent with ALZ - after a *lot* of thought I have to admit that I want to change my opinion some what. \n\nAnd then my thoughts also turned to you. And if we were sitting down and chatting I wonder - were I to ask you - would you have been happy to have left the 'CARE' of your parents in your sisters care - would you have been happy and that you could then have simply gone happily on with your life? I pretty much doubt it, Denise. Your sister and BIL have shown just how totally self absorbed they are and in all truth - would you have wanted to leave your frail parents with people who are so incredible with their 'could not care less either way' attitude? Have you thought of it that way? I also put this question to myself. Had my brother still been alive, as much as I adored him, he was simply not a 'carer' by nature and as much as he loved my Mom - to be honest, I really don't think I would have found peace in my life knowing that my brother and SIL to have been responsible for my Mom's care. \n\nAnd then my thoughts (zillions of them!) also came down to the fact that as much as what we would desperately want family members to step in - if they have STILL not stepped in - of what worth are they actually for our loved ones who have ALZ? I was just trying to imagine that if I told my daughter I just could not cope with taking care of my Mom any longer - I know for a fact that she would put my Mom into a cheap/economy home which is VERY below par and that would mean that my Mom's last days would have been incredibly sad and miserable even though she did not really know what was happening to her. \n\nDitto when it comes to the care of your own dear parents. If your sister and BIL up till now have shown such total and long lasting dis-interest in the care of your parents, though the burden on your shoulders is HUGE - would you have been able to get complete mental/emotional peace knowing that your parents were now in the hands of your uncaring sister and BIL? I doubt it. \n\nSo then we come down to the nitty gritty of this situation. For *many* of us, being solely responsible for the care of our parent/parents - we often feel as if we will total implode with the severity of this HUGE task we are now attempting to handle on our own. Not because we want to but simply because everyone else in the family simply wash their hands of the situation.\n\nHell no! It's totally not fair! And yes, in many ways it is HIGHLY unfair towards us - the sole care takers! No question about it. But at the end of the day - when my Mom dies one day I can at least stand next to her grave knowing that no matter how incredibly difficult it was for me - at times running at a 99% difficulty level, perhaps a greater 'power' out there has known just who he.she would put in charge of taking care of these incredibly vulnerable people. As I lay in bed, just hoping for half an hour of sleep last night - it flashed through my mind if I would want my daughter and son-in-law to be my sole care takers one day if I too were to develop ALZ. It took NO TIME for me to say \"NO WAY, NO HOW - JUST NOT HAPPENING.\"\n\nI know first hand that being a sole care taker is a *huge* responsibility and we often feel SO resentful either towards siblings or children but at the end of the day, the day they lift my Mom's coffin into the ground - I will be SO happy that I WAS the sole caretaker even though it was not a role I had wanted.\n\nMy personal life has made a 380 degree change since Mom came to live with me. (Against my wishes but there was simply no one else to take her in.) But when the day comes that she finally passes away - though I have suffered. I have had a hell of a time with insomnia and depression and INCREDIBLY high feelings of total isolation. My social life dwindled down to zero and beyond. I was called every name of Mom's 11 sisters which was painful. She did not know since years ago how many sacrifices I had made in my young life to take care of her and my father regardless.\n\nBut heaven only knows, Denise. Perhaps a far greater Universal God/Buddah - what-ever anyone is most comfortable with - it is children like you, like me, who often have badly damaged nervous systems, who have done nothing in our lives but give, give and then give some more but perhaps the HE/SHE out there in the universe especially chose people like you and me to take care of incredibly vulnerable people to take care of folks who are going through one of the most appalling, cruel and un-fathonamble illnesses known to mankind. \n\nPerhaps someone of major significance out there knows who you and I (and dozens of members on this site) - they just knew that we DON'T quit on sick family members, we are prepared to pay the HIGH price it takes to take care of who ever becomes our patients and though we would NEVER have voted to get this job - we took it on and God only knows, we have done it to the very best of our capabilities, the many disappointments we had to put up with as one after another family member quit from offering their help (HUGELY PAINFUL!) but that is what it is. \n\nI am still trying to 'find my feet' in this site, Denise but I just needed to write to you to let you know what my opinion was after I read your post. Hell no! IT IS NOT FAIR! But someone, somewhere chose us due to the quality people we are to take on this task and I will do my level best to continue to carry out this task until the day that my Mom passes\n\nMany warm hugs and emotionally understanding levels of what is now being asked of you.\n\nColette xoxo

MovieGoer

Denise...your reply to your BIL was, in my experience, perfectly in alignment with the principles of the book, \"Boundaries.\"\n\nIt was a concise summary of a complex situation. Your choice of examples was very good.\n\nYou avoidance of manipulation, and your response to his manipulation, was exemplary.\n\nI urge you to avoid replying in more detail to anything they respond with. Merely repeat the exact same thing, like a mantra. Don't fall for any attempts on their part to \"explain.\"\n\nYou're right. This part of your life is now gone. It has broken beyond a point where she will repair it. \n\nLet it remain broken, because any attempt on your part to heal it will fail.\n\nI admire you very much.

Ladyleo

Am I some kind of monster? - Sorry folks I just don't know how to post up a new blog....\nMy question is if there is someone out there who can be totally honest and admit that they too have actually prayed that their loved one would go in their sleep?\nI feel monstrous to say this but from time to time I go into Mom's room and I hope that I will no longer see the duvet lifting and falling with her breath. I feel like a total monster to say this but I am being totally honest here. I cannot afford to put her into a care home but at the same time it is her or rather my late fathers pension which is keeping us 'alive' but I just feel so totally exhausted. Beyond explanation!\nI have taken care for 7, going on 8 years of my mother who's most loved child was my late brother and I often feel that I JUST HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE.\nPerhaps I really am just a total loser and there was a reason why in my mother's eyes my brother was always her hero and she just barely 'put up with me.' I just don't know anymore. I am in so much emotional pain. I just can't make sense of any of this anymore........\n\nHugs to everyone\n\nColette xoxo

Ladyleo

I can totally relate to how hurt you feel, Denise! While I no longer have a sibling, I feel so let down by my children. (My mother spoilt them rotten while they were growing up) and now when I could use some help - they have simply disappeared. \"You know how things are Mom - life is just SO busy.\"\nYeh. I know. I worked my butt off to give all 3 of you the best possible future. Today daughter goes on holiday overseas with hubby and my grand daughter and when it was my birthday recently - not a phone call, not a card - nothing.\nBoth of my sons did not even bother to phone and also, not so much as a card. :-( \nMy Mom, due to the ALZ. obviously had no clue that it was my birthday recently so I did not expect her to remember. (I am only too happy that she still remembers my name most of the time.)\nI always seem to remember *everyone's* birthday - even during this high stress period of taking care of mom. I send either flowers or a card or a phone card. (All depending on how long and close we have been as friends.)\nI did a LOT of crying on my birthday. It was so sad. Not one single person remembered.\nI adored my brother Denise, I would have walked through fire for him but to be honest? I was that child in the family who took our parents with me on vacations... I was the one who my parents phoned if they needed something from the supermarket, Dr's visits of whatever. I was the one who twice a week did a thorough clean up of their flat. I took their car in when it needed servicing. I cooked *loads* of meals for them through the years which I froze and each day they simply had to put it in the micro and they had a meal. There was not one single thing more I could have done. When Mom had to lose a breast due to cancer - I was the one sitting next to her bed all day long. I would rush home to take care of my father and then rush back to the clinic to sit with her. At that time my sons still lived locally. They did not pay her one visit. They were 'busy.' My daughter made one whistle stop visit which was for less than 10 minutes and after that we never saw her again. (She said it was just too painful to see her Granny in a hospital bed!) \nI took Mom twice weekly for radiation therapy for 9 weeks. I was mentally and physically exhausted as I also had my Dad to take care of. No one showed. No one called. No one offered to help. (My brother had already passed away at that stage....)\n\nI was about to run out about an hour ago to buy some bread and milk. We have run out. I saw that my car had a flat tyre. I know how to change tyres in my sleep but due to my severe arthritis - I can no longer bend down and do the physical part of changing a tyre. I thought I would knock on the door of a chap in my flat building who I offered over 3 years ago that he was welcome to use my internet once a week for up to an hour or so in order for him to be able chat to some of this family/friends overseas on Skype. Those chats ended up being up to 3 hours at a time often and the 'once a week' offer seemed to disappear as he would often come knocking at odd hours of the evening when it really was not convenient. But I did not want to seem mean so I let him do his 'skype' thing every time. \n\nI knocked on his door to ask if he could please just change my tyre for me so that I could get to the store. He had two visitors and he told me \"Sorry, I just can't help you now because I have visitors.\" I came home and I bawled my eyes out. I have ALWAYS been there to help him, even dropping off some home cooked meals for him from time to time when he had the flu as I felt sorry for him. \n\nAs much as I adored my late brother - we got on wonderfully well but in the end, getting down to practical matters - it was always me who stepped in when my parents needed care or help with something and he simply just carried on to live his life.\n\nAnd now, as I sat here, this year for the 7th birthday of mine - it struck me just how alone I truly am in this world! It's always around my birthday that my daughter and son-in-law take their overseas vacations but it would be SO easy for her to order to have flowers dropped off on my birthdate at any florist but I am sure she just does not even think about that.....\n\nLast week I took a bad fall in the kitchen. My knee cap was sitting on the side of my right leg and I was in agony! And then it struck me. Who can I call? Literally no one. You are on your own with this one, Colette. (Daughter and son-in-law were on a mini vacation in Namibia...)\nI ended up driving myself plus Mom to the nearest Government Hospital. Things work VERY slowly there and eventually I was seen at about 5 a.m. If they would have injected numbing and painkilling med's into my knee but then I would have had to stay there for the night. I could not do that. I had woken up a 94 year old lady with AD because I had to try to find help for myself. So the ortho doctor pulled and tugged on my lower leg over and over again until my knee cap slipped back into it's place. I was physically sick from the tremendous pain. Then a syringe was stuck in below my knee cap to try to pull off as much fluid as possible. I cried like a baby. But I knew I had to drive home again with Mom so I declined the pain and numbing meds.(While there I could smell that Mom had soiled her diaper with a number 2 and when I asked the nurse if there was any chance that someone could just take Mom to the bathroom to clean her up and put a new diaper on her - I was told that I was the only patient on the file and they did not have the time to also take care of family members. :-(\n\nAnd then daughter and son-in-law come back from their vacation and invite us over to see all the wonderful photo's of their trip and in an almost robotic mode (full of pain medication now) I go - I see the photo's, we have our tea and I drive home again. I did not even bother to tell them what had happened nor did they ask when they saw me limping into their home and once into their bathroom.\n\nI was SO sad - I just did not know what to do with all that emotional pain! I was in total agony on the drive back home and when we got home - I could luckily warm up a meal for Mom in the micro, get her into her Pj's and put her into bed. I collapsed into my own bed, had another really good cry and yes, I asked myself then as I have done in the past - why on earth do I not deserve to have kind, loving and caring family and friends in my life? I just don't get it, Denise!\nI am ALWAYS available for everyone and even if it means having to lug Mom along - any distress calls by anyone and I am there to help.\n\nRight now I am just SO sad...... I think I just need a bit of time to get my head and my emotions back onto a 'normal' setting again. \n\nWarmest hugs to you, Denise. I know what it feels like to be a sole caretaker even though there are others around who could, easily help out..... It's all pretty sad...... :-(\n\nColette xoxo\n

Jean

Oh wow, <a href='http://www.caregiving.com/members/denise/' rel=\"nofollow\">@denise</a>. Cheers to you for thinking through and writing out your thoughts about Sibling to your BIL. I hope you got some sleep then. Your sibling and mine would probably be fast friends, whoops, no they wouldn't. They couldn't provide the other with the attention they demand or want to share the \"drama spotlight\". OK, enough of the snarky comments_mysql. If you'd like a coffee break to bend my ear let me know. Maybe I could come meet for somewhere.

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