Sunday, August 19, 2007

Two Weeks Later and Mom is Still Nuts

I have hestitated writing much about my mother over the past week. I really didn't want to turn my blog into a site about my Mom which would probably be a most depressing piece of drivel. That said, I will provide a brief update: My sister has been there two weekends in a row and we are no further along in trying to help my mother. It certainly isn't from a lack of trying. We are trying to set up home healthcare (currently it is a minimum 3 month wait), but we can't because they need financial information and my mother hasn't done her taxes in seven years and is in fear of the IRS auditing her. We even offered to fill out the tax forms and just not send them--as long as we have the factual amounts on a 1040 EZ, I am reasonably sure that a home healthcare agency will not check in with the IRS to see if a refund was actually granted her in 2006 (there is no way she owes taxes as she makes NO MONEY.) My mother claims that is dishonest and she won't do it. I told her that it was dishonest to choose to NOT do her taxes for 7 years, but that sailed right over her head.

Mom also doesn't want to tell us how much money she has currently. Mind you, she called me a couple of months ago and told me that she had lived way longer than she expected and is very worried about running out of money. At that time, I told her that if that was the case, we needed to make some arrangements for her care. When I asked her how much she had, she refused to tell me. I told my sister to try to find out what is in her accounts this weekend because the sooner she is out of money, the sooner we can get her on Medicaid. I also asked her to find out the balance of her car and we would work on getting it paid off and sell it. When I looked into Medicaid a few years ago, one of the requirements was that one couldn't have a car worth over a certain amount of month (basically you have do drive a shit car to qualify for Medicaid.) Even though her Lincoln Town Car is old, it isn't a shit car--therefore, no Medicaid.

About an hour ago, my phone rang and it was my sister, telling me to talk to Mom because Mom is mad that she is going through her things. I explained to Mom why Sis is trying to get this information. Mom accused us of only being interested in a potential inheritance. That is when I laughed and laughed, making her angrier.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mama Drama--Chapter 2

After my mother told me that she has lung cancer and has only 8-10 weeks left to live, I left a message for her doctor to get details. Something she had said made me suspicious--she told me she found out about the diagnosis from an X-ray and that the growth was the size of a golf ball. I told her that, while I wasn't a doctor, I didn't think that a golf ball-sized growth constituted such a quick end. I also asked her why there was no biopsy, but she started to cry and went on about how she didn't want treatment and I moved on.

Dr. Chuck didn't call me on Monday, but my mom's old friend Sharry did. Up until a few months ago, Sharry had been a savior to my sister and me because she lived in town and helped us tremendously with Mom's care by taking her to appointments, stopping by, etc. When Mom dropped her bombshell, I asked her if she had told Sharry. She told me that things had not been well between the two of the lately and she couldn't bring herself to tell her. I told her that she might want to make the effort to work things out before she is gone. I happened to know that Sharry had become quite upset with her when she found out Mom had been drinking again.

After exchanging pleasantries, I asked Sharry what I could do for her. She asked me if I had spoken to Mom lately. I decided to go for broke and told her everything. After I explained the recent events, she said that Mom had called her on Saturday (Keep in mind--that is one of the days that she lost) and told her that her car had been stolen and that she was angry with me for calling the maintenance office. Then she told Sharry that she has THYROID cancer and has 6 months to live. At this point, I started to laugh. I knew then and there that she had been self-diagnosing.

Dr. Chuck called me yesterday and we spent nearly an hour talking about Mom. I told him everything, including Sharry's information. When I was finished, he told me that he hadn't seen Mom in 4 months and that the last chest x-ray she had was in February and it was clear of cancer. She does have advanced lung disease from her smoking, but no cancer. He also indicated that her thyroid has been a mess (which I knew) because he was certain that she wasn't taking her medication properly. He then informed me that based on what I have told him, he is certain that Mom has Korsakoff's syndrome, which is essentially a dementia brought on by alcoholism. Dr. Chuck said he became an expert in the illness because his father had it. She confabulates, meaning she makes up stories and in her heart believes them to be true. He mentioned that he worries about her a lot because she has missed a few appointments of late. He very much would like for us to get her in to see him to get a blood test, a ct scan to make sure there isn't a brain tumor, etc. I asked him how we were going to get her in there when he also told me that we should NOT confront her about knowing the truth. He didn't really have an answer.

Later last night, we talked to our friend Chris, who is a Psychiatrist. Before I even told him what Dr. Chuck's diagnosis had been, he said, "Your Mom has Korsakoff's syndrome." Chris was a wealth of information because he actually treats people with this condition. He also gave us an idea of what our priorities should be right now, like getting rid of her car. Since she is blacking out, the car is a weapon. While it seems easy enough to take the car, it isn't. At that point, she would be homebound, and we have to make arrangements for someone to deliver food, meds, etc. I am sure that we would have to provide state agencies with proof of income (taxes, etc.) Too bad she hasn't filed taxes in SEVEN YEARS and has refused to allow us to do them for her. Chris also mentioned that it isn't that simple to put her into a nursing home. By having her go cold turkey and not drink at this stage of the game could kill her. As a result, we would need to admit her to a hospital and have them wean her off the booze. Chris also mentioned that we need to find out what the laws are like in Indiana with regard to people being committed. In New York, where he used to practice, he had the ability to make a simple call to get someone committed if he felt that they were incapable of caring for themselves. He also has that ability in Canada. In Indiana, it might not be so simple.

Being 12 hours away sucks. What really sucks is that my Mom's brother lives 3 miles away and will never help. He would laugh and hang up on me if I called and asked. Can't say I blame him--she wasn't too kind to him over the past few years. While I felt better that Chris was able to help me, I was sleepless trying to sort out what I needed to do.

I finally spoke to my sister this morning and explained what was going on. I repeated almost everything Chris said, including the fact that we need to now take the emotion out of the equation. At this point, it is clear that she is not 100% of the Mom who raised us. She is not going to get better, she is going to lash out at us, and we need to work through it without being angry AT her. That will be hard.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Mama Drama--There is No Short Version

It all started on Friday when my sister called me from her car.

"Hey Hausfrau, Mom called and told me that her car was stolen."

I laughed. Rude, right?

"Is she SURE? Did she call the police?"

"Well," said sister "Mom said that she hasn't called the police yet because she's tired and hasn't had a bath."

"Of course. Did she speak to the management office of her apartment complex?" I asked.

"She said she did, but she also mentioned something about the fact that the maintenance crew is paving the parking lots."

"Oh, maybe they towed it--wouldn't they have told her that if she called the office?" I said.

My sister was obviously frustrated with the whole thing and busy and, well, DRIVING. I told her that something wasn't right and that I would call the office.

I spoke to Jennifer the office manager and asked her if they had started to tow cars due to the paving. She said that they wouldn't tow cars--they would simply go to the residents and get their keys and move the cars for them if they weren't moved by a certain time. At that point I asked her if my mom had called her to report a stolen car. Jennifer said that she had not spoken to my mom at all, but she would call the two maintenance guys to confirm and call me right back. Ten minutes later, she called to say that they had found her car in the next parking lot over and that they had stopped by Mom's apartment to tell her and that she was happy.

I knew THAT wasn't true. I knew my mom would be pissed that I had called the office to have them look for her car because that would mean that I caught her in a lie about calling them to begin with.

I called my sister back to tell her that they had found the car. She said she knew because Mom was on the other line and she sounded angry. A few minutes later, my sister called me back to say that Mom had walked around and had found her car and felt really stupid because she didn't remember moving it on Thursday night. She had just gotten back to her apartment when the two maintenance guys knocked on her door to tell her that they, too, found her car. She had yelled at my sister for having me call the maintenance guys. I told my sister that Mom had lied a second time to her because she is physically unable to walk out of her apartment, go down the stairs, walk outside and look for her car, go back up the stairs and get into her apartment in the 10 minutes this all went down.

My sister and I spoke for awhile about our concerns that she has now lost track of Thursday, apparently drove her car and doesn't remember any of it. We weren't sure if she had been drunk or perhaps had a stroke. Sis said she would be heading to LaPorte after her vacation in the Adirondacks next week and would try to get her in to see her doctor. I tried calling Mom all weekend, but she wouldn't answer the phone because that is what all mature mothers do when they are mad at their daughters.

My cell phone rang at work this morning and it was my sister again, starting off a conversation with, "I think we have a MAJOR problem with Mom."

"What now?"

At this point, I only heard about every third word of the conversation because my sister is in the mountains. From what I could glean was that my mom had asked that she call every night to let her know that she was safe on her trip (my sister has never driven this far by herself before and she is going to be camping in the woods with her boys, etc.) Apparently my sister called Saturday and spoke to my Mom. On Sunday, my sister got to our relative's house rather late in the evening. Our cousin said that Mom had called there three times FRANTIC because she hadn't heard from Michelle AT ALL on her trip. Michelle called her and basically said, "WTF?" I guess Mom started to hysterically cry.

By this point, I couldn't hear much more of what my sister was saying so I told her I would try to call Mom and try to find out what is wrong. I called Mom once and left a long message, hoping she would pick up but she didn't. I called a second time and left a longer, rambling message:

"Hi Mom, it's Hausfrau. Look, Sis and I are very worried about you, and I need you to pick up the phone. She said that you called her and were crying, you don't remember driving in your car on Thursday--we're just really worried. Here is my office is my cell number...please call me--we are very worried about the fact that you have lost track of a couple of days--"

Mom got on the phone and in a voice that sounded like a low growl, she said, "It was ONE day that I don't remember!"

"But Mom, Sis said you don't remember talking to her on Saturday and you don't remember driving your car on Thursday-that's two days."

"IT WAS ONE DAY--Saturday that I don't remember--not two days! My car WAS stolen!"

"But Mom, listen to me--"

"Fuck you. I don't want you to call me anymore."

And she hung up on me.

After recovering from the shock of my mother telling me to fuck off and hanging up on me, I decided to call my friend Nicole who is quite logical and would be able to honestly tell me if I had that coming. She was also aware of the car episode from Friday.

"Hey Nicole, if you called your mom today and told her that you were a crack whore, would she tell you to, 'Fuck off' and hang up on you?"

"Uh, nope."

OK--what if you called her and told her that you were going to start dealing meth--would she tell you to 'fuck off' then?"

"No, I can't imagine too many things that would make my mom say those words to me."

"What if you killed someone?"

"No, no she wouldn't."

While part of me was heartbroken that my mother said those words to me, a part of me was relieved. My sister and I have dealt with her depression, her illnesses, her bitterness, her lies, her wrath, her anger, her drunkenness, and her despair for seven long years. I have been so tempted to walk away--my sister even did so for several months a few years ago. I was angry when she did it, but I didn't blame her. It is incredibly sad to deal with a person who has pushed every friend and relative away. She has burned so many bridges--the only two left standing are my sister and me. And while I would love to do nothing more than walk away from this mess that she has created, I know that my mother raised me right. She raised us to finish the job and take care of family. I was also raised to not drop the F-Bomb, but that's neither here nor there.

Later in the day I was on a conference call and saw that my Mom was calling in on my cell phone. I didn't play the message right away because I figured that either A) She was going to yell at me some more or B) She was going to start the call off with, "Hi Honey--it's been forever since we talked. What have you been up to?" Instead, the message was a very tearful apology. She asked me to "please, please, please forgive" her and that she is in "trouble." She also mentioned that she will have my sister help her with the "trouble" when she comes to visit this weekend. I called her right back and she started to cry. She insisted that the car was stolen and returned and that she wasn't crazy, but that she knows that not remembering Saturday was a problem. She also said that she is ready to go into a nursing home. That's what she wants my sister to help her with. I told her that while I agree that an assisted living situation is probably a good idea, we would need to talk to her doctor. I asked her if she had seen Dr. Chuck lately.

It was at that moment that Mom told me that she has lung cancer and she has 8-10 weeks left. She has known for three weeks and hasn't told anyone. She wants to go into a nursing home so that my sister and I aren't burdened with her "mess." I asked her if she was considering treatment of any kind and she said no. She said she is done. She also said that I am not to tell my sister and ruin her vacation. I told her that she needs to tell Sis before she leaves to go back to Michigan on Sunday or I will. In the meantime, I have placed a call to my Mom's doctor to verify what she has said. I have Medical Power of Attorney, so they should be able to tell me. While it's not that I don't believe her, I want to make sure her story is straight. After all, she lost track of Thursday and Saturday.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I'm Just Glad I Didn't Turn Out Like Cletus

To celebrate the long-awaited Simpsons movie, Herr went to this site and turned himself, his wife and his two loving daughters into Simpsons characters. He spent waaaaaay too long snapping individual photos of us ( I tried to get him to use a photo of me as a 22 year old Hausfrau, but he would have none of it), uploading them onto the site and then adding features to create his vision of what we would look like should we ever be so lucky to appear on The Simpsons.

All in all, I am pleased with the results, even though in real life my lips and teeth aren't that large and my skin isn't, well, yellow. I also don't spend a lot of time with my hands in front of me clawing like a lobster. I'm just sayin'.

After Herr finished all of us individually, he played around in Photoshop and put together a family portrait.

I now present...Team Hausfrau.