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sea-16883_640They always say that "No news is good news." Well, I wish that was the case. I'll give a brief overview of where things stand now, but I could really use some advice from those of you who have been there.

My mom is a stroke survivor of about 18 months. She lived on the other side of the country, but she wasn't receiving proper care so I brought her to live with me three months ago. She is physically disabled, has no use of her left side, and suffers from cognitive impairment. She requires continual care- assistance with all hygiene, transfers, absolutely everything. I am a single mom of three, working a zillion hours a week. When this started, she was not receiving social security and I was not receiving support from my ex- that left me sole caretaker and breadwinner for five. In the last month, the SS and support started, but I'm so far behind it's ridiculous. So, I work, I take care of people, and sometimes I sleep a couple hours at a time. That's it.

My mom does not qualify for state disability until she's divorced. I tried to get that squared away on my own, but wound up sucking it up and paying someone to do the paperwork about a month ago. I still have not received it. It is essential she get on disability because I cannot keep up with her needs. Disability will cover her physical therapy, but most importantly, it will provide for in-home help or give her the option to move into assisted living. At this point, that's what she wants. I am in favor of it.

I pay out of pocket for a woman to come help me on Sundays, just so I can nap a couple of hours and work undisturbed for a while. My mother hates this. She has said I don't love her because I have "all these other people" taking care of her. She's nasty to the lady, and intentionally puts her needs on hold until after the lady leaves so I will be the one to assist. There's nothing wrong with her- she's great, but my mom hates the idea of help.

My mom's attitude has been getting worse and worse. She says nasty things about everyone. She's become very difficult to be around.

Early on, my daughter (age 6) accidentally backed a chair into my mom's wheel chair, and my mom retaliated by shoving the chair back at my daughter. I had words with her about this, and she agreed to stop. Then, my youngest (then 3, now 4) became her target. She'd pick on him and say things to irritate him. I'd deal with the issues as they happened and they were non-events. He has a habit of leaving toys out, which irritates her to no end. All I have to do is ask him to move them and he does. He's even a happy camper about it. It's always a "sure thing mom" or an "oops" and he goes right to it. A couple of weeks ago he built a block tower and left it up. It wasn't even in my mom's way, but it bothered her. So, without warning as she passed it, she stuck out her arm and knocked it to the ground- laughing while she did it. My son fell to the ground in tears and I was shocked. "I got out a "why'd you do that?" She ignored me and started belittling him, calling him a cry baby and such. I ripped into her a bit- told her to act like a grownup and that behavior like that would not be tolerated by anyone in my home. I soothed my son and life went on. Just a few mild  verbal misdeeds from her.

Tonight, she was in the kitchen with me and it's narrow. My son tried to pass behind her and she started moving. I alerted her- I thought it was an accident. She never knows what's happening behind her. She laughed and continued backing towards him. I grabbed the wheel chair to stop it and my son leapt out, she barely grazed him, but she continued laughing. I said "Why are you laughing? You could have seriously hurt him!" I don't remember what words she used, but she indicated that he had it coming for trying to pass by so closely. Yes, she was retaliating again, against some false perception that somebody had wronged her.

I just about lost my mind. I'm very mild mannered. I don't curse. I'm pretty much a modern day June Cleaver. At that moment, I became a sailor. I really, really ripped into her, so much that my teen came running from the other end of the house. He said he'd never heard me yell like that. (He's 17, by the way.) I yelled "What the f is wrong with you?" "You need to stop this BS now!" And a bunch of other choice phrases. I'm not proud of it, but I think it's important that it be known what happened in order to receive the best advice.

Afterwards, I went through my mom's normal bedtime routine with her- assistance with the potty, getting ready for bed, getting into bed, and we only spoke as necessary. I think at one point she said she was sorry, but I was still too mad to hear it. I said " I can't understand how you could do something like that," and she responded "me neither."

The more I care for her, the more I remember what a difficult person she has always been. I honestly can't tell if this is her being herself, or if this is "stroke her," where she really doesn't get it. I still have empathy for her and her care has not suffered. From her standpoint, I can only imagine what it's like to have her sole caregiver rip into her like that. It wasn't fair of me to do. Here I am, mad that she picked on a child, and that's sort of what I did to her. I was just so terrified for my son and the fact that she delighted in the prospect of hurting him... Ugh. My heart absolutely aches.

There is nobody else who can step forward and care for her and I have no chance of government help with care or moving her out for at least a month, I think. I'm really at a loss for what to do. If this is the stroke behavior, is there hope for correcting it? Could I have scared her straight? I know she's moody and lonely. I got her a cell phone, but nobody calls, and they usually don't answer when she calls them. The next stroke survivor support group doesn't meet for two weeks. I am hopeful that will help. Her next doctor visit isn't for three weeks. I'm not sure if medication will help. She's on nothing for mood now.

Is there something else I should be doing? She can't behave like this and it seems we're stuck with each other. I feel like I'm on an island with no help in sight.

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Jen

Just giving an update here. This morning my mom decided she was moving back to Wisconsin. The problem is there is nothing there for her. She then said the only thing left for her to do was to kill herself then. I talked to her and thought she was feeling better about things, but then I left her for a few minutes to shower and when I came back I found out that she had been looking up how to slit her wrists online. I called her doctor about getting on meds and they won't do it without an appointment. They told me just to call 911. Well, that doesn't make sense to me. She's dependent on me for mobility, so the only way she could get something dangerous is if I give it to her or leave her next to it. I called a crisis hotline and a couple people came out to talk to her. She denied feeling suicidal. So, we're back to square one. The councelors said that she seemed more upbeat the more they talked and that she was talking about the future. They also said they didn't know of any resources beyond what I was already working on. \r\n\r\nHer divorce paperwork has been completed and was mailed, so maybe I will be able to have it filed by end of week or the start of next week. Fingers crossed it happens quickly so I can reapply for disability and get her into assisted living.

jan

Hi, Jen. I read your story thru twice, and all the responses, and there isn't anything better I can say than has been said. I mutter under my breath daily and curse at my mother quite frequently and don't feel good about it. Mostly I carry the guilt trip over it and she doesn't remember it anyway. I'm just saying I support you in your struggle, support you in your choices, hold you up in my thoughts, and hope you have some kind of good resolution soon for any of the many concerns you carry.

MovieGoer

Jen, my heart aches for you. Please accept my advice with not just a grain of salt, but with an entire salt shaker. I have NOT walked in your shoes. So what I think may not apply at all. These are just my intuitive thoughts as I read your posting.\r\n\r\n1. Your children come first. Before your mom. Yes, yes, yes, I know. Easier said than done. However, I've heard it from very wise people that it is so important to remember the natural order of priorities. Your children only get one childhood. You do not want to mess with that much. It can have long-range impacts on them to have such a mean-hearted person living with them. (I hope you don't think I'm heartless towards your mom. I know she deserves care; but not necessarily from you, and definitely not at the expense of your children.)\r\n2. You need to sleep. Not sleeping will take its toll in the long run, in ways you may not expect. Find a way to get some sleep on a regular basis. Even if that means doing into debt to get someone in to care for her during the night. Take as much off your plate as you can. Get down to the basics. \r\n3. Every time you talk to someone about this, such as the leader of your support group, ask the person to tell you about possibly available resources. Tell the doctor about the chaos, the lack of sleep, the mean things she does, and ask for meds for your mom that can help with that. If it means she's half-asleep all day, so be it. Better that than her causing such chaos. \r\n4. Never apologize to yourself for losing your temper with her. Just let it go and move on. Blowing up at her at those times may be the only way she'll stop acting that way at the time. \r\n\r\nAgain, take my words and toss them if they don't apply. Hang in there, and don't despair!\r\n\r\nAll the best....

EllysGdaughter

Hi Jen, I was thinking about what I would do if my Grandma acted this way. I totally agree with the boundaries, that was my first thought, even a child gate that would prevent the wheelchair bound mom to crash into the \"safe\" space for your kids. I very much agree with Denise about how you used language to get through to your mom's hard-headedness! It's definitely something I wouldn't be proud of either but knowing that you have to get through somehow is vital in the moment! My Grandma does have loneliness also, she's bullied her siblings (she's the oldest) and they just don't call her much anymore and hearing her side of the conversation just makes me want to apologize for what she says and how she says it. Recognizing that your mom may just have a mean streak that you weren't aware of because of your long distance relationship may be a key! You are in such a tough spot and I am sure the doctor will be able to help when you relate what is happening in your home. I am glad you have shared this with us and hoping you feel better, a little bit anyway! Keep us posted!

Terry

My husband who also had a stroke that left him paralyzed went through the same behavior when I brought him home from the hospital. It broke my heart to hear such a kind person prior to the stroke act this way afterwards. I held it in for a while and tried to be understanding and make up excuses to myself as to why he was being this way. Eventually it came down to me letting him know that it would no longer be tolerated in this house and that I demanded the same respect that I was giving him. Looking back, there were a couple more times when he would test me with his harsh words and/or bad behavior and I would just walk out of the room and not come back until I received an apology from him. Prior to the stroke, my husband would have never said such mean words or acted so badly towards anybody. It's been 2.5 yrs now since the stroke and life is much better. My best advise is to get your house and your life back to \"Normal\" as much as possible. It won't be perfect, but it will make you feel good so that you can deal with everything else a little bit easier.

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