I’m still the child

Today I am forcing myself to write. I’ve been so overly consumed by my fathers condition that my inspiration and motivation for anything else are lost. The following are the consuming thoughts, the worry and the stress I can’t get rid of.

Now that he is going to begin home dialysis his level of care is going to increase significantly. They are still in the learning process of home dialysis so currently they have to go once a week to a training for the next month. The plan, according to my father and his girlfriend, is once the machine is set up in their room he will be hooked up at night and basically receive the treatment while he sleeps. Sounds easy right? Except this equipment and his body must be kept sterile during this process. This requires numerous steps that includes ensuring all fans and air conditioning is off. If these steps are not adhered to properly he is at risk of infection which could lead to death. Upon hearing this warning my father said to me, “Eh, I could see us being really good for a little while, but like when you tell the dentist you are going to floss everyday, eventually you begin to slack.” Alarmed I said, “This isn’t something you have the luxury of slacking on. Loosing your teeth isn’t going to cause you to die, this could! Why would you opt to do this at home if you know you won’t maintain it properly.” At this point he got irritated at me and snapped, “We will.” Oooook, it would seem I took his little threat about slacking off more seriously than he wanted.

While still in the hospital recovering from having the port implanted (please read about that here) he decides to share that his girlfriend plans to leave for a couple of weeks next month. It’s her mother’s 100th birthday. On a good day he is able to sponge bathe himself and maneuver around his home with the assistance of the stair lift, a walker and strategically placed furniture. This is a man who falls, even when he thinks he is stronger, and ends up in emergency. They live in a two-story home and he refuses to get Life Alert because he can carry his phone. I asked him if he’s going to have an in home nurse come out and stay with him during that time. “I don’t know” he responds. “What do you mean you don’t know? You have good days and bad days, who is going to bathe and feed you when she is gone?” “I don’t feel comfortable with some stranger.” “Dad, do you expect me or (my boyfriend) to come bathe and feed you while she is gone??” At this point I’m freaked. I’m a mental health worker not a medical worker and even if I was, this is my father. Perhaps for some this will seem extremely selfish and wrong, but I cannot bathe my father knowing full well he can afford proper professional care. There are aspects of the father, daughter relationship that I don’t want to lose with him, and if he tries to put me in the roll of care provider e.g. nurse, I cannot do it.

At this point he said he will ask his sister to help him. They talk on the phone often and he feels close enough to her to ask. She has not seen him in years. I’m hoping she comes out and sees what I see. That she recognizes a man in denial about the severity of his condition and tells him he needs to get a higher level of care. And perhaps sell the big ass house and move to a one story. If she feels comfortable playing nurse then good for her, but in my mind that is not a fair request of him either. She is not a medical professional and even if she were she is family.

I know that some people believe that it is the family’s “job” to take care of each other in these types of situations. I’ve had many clients give up careers to care for ailing family members and I’ve seen the hell their lives became as a result. The depression, guilt, the loss of the relationship, e.g. child to parent, the resentment, and anger that develops is heart breaking. I will not let this happen with my father. With my depression, I know that no matter how much I love him, I would resent and hate my life more than I already do. So I will continue to remind him of one of the first things he told me when he found out he had Polymyositis, “I will never have false pride and become a burden to you. I will ensure I have proper care when things get worse.” Things are worse dad…

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The Selfish Child

I’m always sadden by peoples reaction to children they deem ungrateful or spoiled. It’s even worse when it comes from their own parents. I worked with a supervisor that was angry his daughter didn’t thank him for the amazing birthday gift he bought her. My question to him was why should she? This is a child that has never had to struggle or work for anything. She is only 12 and has been golfing at the county club, has an iPad, iPhone and goes to a very expensive private school. She has been taught to expect nice things. I asked him if she gives to charity, if she has had to do manual labor to earn a privilege, has she ever been told ‘NO’ when she wanted a luxury item. He shook his head and said, “I did this.” YES, YOU did. Children are born selfish. They have to be to survive. It has to be about their needs and wants because instinct dictates survival of the fittest. If they are not taught any different as they get older that selfishness becomes all they know.

To expect a child to figure out on their own what it is to be grateful for something is completely unreasonable. The pattern I see so often are these babies lavished with presents. The children couldn’t care less about the stuff; they just want and need their parent’s attention. But for parents, friends, and family members they show their love by buying every toy under the sun. At that age it’s socially acceptable for the child to have everything and want more because they cannot speak and they are just adorable. Then the child begins to take possession of the toys, they are theirs and they have a purpose of creating fun. The child then throws a fit when they don’t get what they want, crying and screaming. The frustrated and busy parent caves and buys it for them just to make the tantrum end thereby rewarding and encouraging the selfish behavior. What kind of teenager is going to be the result?

There was a video posted that showed a little boy opening a present. Inside was a cutting board. The little boy was polite and grateful to his mother for the very practical and inexpensive gift. Right after that he is given another present. Inside is an iPad his mother had spent several months saving up for. The child was surprised, began crying and thanked his mother again and again. The comments about the video ranged from, “What an amazing child” to “Children these days are so self-entitled. You would never see them this grateful for anything.” The reason it’s so rare to see a child so grateful is because we as a society are not teaching them to be. This is not an amazing child that is better than all the selfish ones. This is a child that has had to be without. This is a child that was taught manners and to appreciate what he is given.

Adults love to say, “Well, when I was younger I never had nice things, therefore, children should appreciate what they have.” Once again, my question is, why? It’s not their fault they were born into a time that is more advanced and those advances are available to them. Why should they care what you went through or what you suffered? That was your time this is theirs. This is their reality and you cannot in anyway take that away from them unless you don’t provide it to them. How can they be grateful for something they have never had to be without? They can’t. All we can do is teach them the fundamental values of giving, charity, humility, and gratefulness as it applies to today’s standards.

So when a child gets upset their iPhone isn’t the right color, or they didn’t get that car for their sweet 16, for as annoying as they are, try and see it from their point of view. And place the blame where it belongs.

My Dad

I feel like I should start this out by saying I truly love my father. I know what he is going through is horrible and I will do most anything in my power to help him through this. That being said, he is driving me crazy!

As my dad’s physical health continues to decline he has been relying more and more on my boyfriend to help him get to medical appointments. This requires a lot of time and lifting as he doesn’t have enough muscle strength to get out of bed or even a chair. This weakness was worsened due to two falls he had in one week, injuring his back. Since my BF is currently not working he has been available anytime day or night to assist him.

Now, having lost his job last month, the plan was BF would go back to school. He’s already applied to a local junior college and will be taking the assessment tests to determine which math and English classes he needs to hopefully begin the winter semester.

My dad called me last night with an update on how he’s doing and to let me know the doctor approved him for physical therapy as he may be able to regain some mobility. After the small take and updates he said there was something he had to tell me before we hung up. He began by saying my BF is a “GEM”! He doesn’t know what he would do without him. He is so kind and willing to do everything and anything to help him. He is amazingly “Strong, with a capital S!” (His exact words). “I never fear he is going to drop me”, which my father has never been dropped but he didn’t feel safe once when being lifted by paramedics. He has eased so much of the burden off of his own significant other “A” and she no longer worries or stresses as much knowing she can count of my BF for help. “Just knowing I can count on him gives me hope!”

The outpour of compliments, dependency, neediness and praise was intense. I’ve no idea where that came from and it was a bit scary. I had told my dad only a week ago of our plans of BF going back to school. So I tried to be as tactful as possible by saying I was really glad he appreciated the assistance, but he does know this 24hr availability isn’t going to last forever…right? I emphasized that I have been encourage him to find a home care provider that could do exactly what my BF is doing for months now.

After all those words of praise, going on and on, all it took was for my little snippet of reality for him to say, “I know.” I asked if he was angry and he said, “No.” He was so quiet I finally asked if he was going to interview care providers and he said he would. I back peddled a bit stating that of course BF wouldn’t be in school 24-7 so he could probably help out when not in class or needing to do homework. He stated he knew that and had already discussed it with him. Clearly the conversation was over. Oooook.

I’ve no idea what type of response he wanted from me. I don’t know if he wanted me to offer BF up full time or what. I asked my BF about this and he said my dad had joked about him living with them full time to help out, but it was a joke. I’m thinking maybe not. Right now I’m trying very hard not to read more into it. I can’t feel guilty for us trying to move forward with life. Then why do I feel so…wrong?