Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Mother-in-Law

I adore my mother-in-law. She is sweet, kind, and gentle. We are close and it is such a blessing to me because I was never close with my own mom. She lives in an assisted living facility here in Albuquerque. It's been almost two years since we moved her from her hometown in Texas. I am her primary caregiver, since hubby works. There are four other siblings--one in Santa Fe, and the others out of state.

Mom fell Friday morning. Didn't break anything, thank goodness, but banged herself up pretty good. There went my day. Had to drop everything and go up there, take her to the doctor, get x-rays, rent a wheelchair, pack her up and bring her to our house, because she couldn't take care of herself. We had to take her with us wherever we went, because we couldn't leave her home alone. She finally got the hang of a walker, but we didn't trust her to use it if we weren't there and we couldn't risk her falling again, which was probable.

Fast-forward to Monday. We took her back to her place and spent a few hours making sure she could do everything she needed to do on her own. I didn't feel comfortable leaving her alone, but she wanted to give it a try. So we left her, after several lengthy talks about the need to use the walker for everything. That she was very unsteady on her feet and needed the walker for balance.

This morning, when I called her, as I do every morning, she told me she was doing fine. And that she was even managing to do some things without the walker. I had to get off the phone before I exploded. Everything she does or doesn't do impacts me. If she can't find the needle for her needle point, I have to figure out how to help her. If she falls again, it will be me taking her to the hospital or doctor. So how do I allow her the independence she so craves and deserves, and still try to prevent things from happening. I know I can't control her, much as I'd like to. But I'm living on pins and needles for the next phone call with the next problem or crisis that will once again disrupt my day and my life.

This sounds so selfish as I'm writing. Guess the only thing for me to do is work on myself and my attitude. I can try not to project into the future and stay in the moment. For right now, she is fine and I have this day for myself to use as I see fit. I'm off for my morning walk now.

Till next time,


Tabitha Bird said...

I feel your pain. No, I don't think it is selfish to acknowledge that her choices impact your life. I am glad she is okay and I hope for both of you that she stays that way. All the best walking the tightrope of balance between loving others and your self. :)

Cyndi said...

It's not selfish at all. It's such a difficult situation. When my own father was in a nursing home, my family felt the same way. The constant worrying about when that next phone call is going to come is stressful and disruptive. Hopefully she won't have any more emergencies for a while. :)

Helen Ginger said...

Would it do any good to ask the staff to encourage her to use the walker?

Everything she does affects you, as you said. So don't feel guilt about your anger. Those feelings don't just come from what a fall might mean to you, but how it might affect her long term. The more falls she takes, the more cautious she will become. You want her to stay strong.

Hope your walk was soothing.

Straight From Hel

Stephanie Faris said...

I think we ALL have those selfish moments but you are a good person. You just need to vent every now and then...and that's what we're here for. I think we'll all be in that situation someday. All you can do is encourage her to be careful and hope for the best. I'll keep both of you in my thoughts.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

My parents faced exactly the same problem with my grandmother (who, basically, was Myrtle in my books.) She'd almost show off for them--reaching to pick something up off the floor without using her walker. They'd go berserk! You're not selfish at all...only concerned about your and her well-being.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Karen Walker said...

I can't thank you all enough for these loving responses. I am truly working on letting go. I can't control what she does or doesn't do and just have to deal with things as they happen.

Jody Hedlund said...

Oh my, just listening to all that you do, I can't imagine why you would consider yourself selfish!!! We all have to set boundaries so that others don't end up relying on us too much or even taking advantage of us. Boundaries are healthy and good! So, maybe instead of feeling like you're being selfish, maybe you can just see it as setting a few healthy boundaries with your time and life! Just my opinion! :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

This sounds so familiar, Karen, although my mother-in-law was in California and we live in Colorado. And she had a husband and live-in caregivers. Still, she fell and hurt herself, as did her hubby, and both managed to stubbornly keep doing things they shouldn't have been doing. We even had a terrible time convincing them to stop driving (in their 90s). We had to make several emergency trips to CA to handle problems.

You just do the best you can, and try to respect and encourage independence as long as possible. I don't know an alternative.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I so understand what you are going through. The last few years of my parents' lives, I cringed every time the phone rang. Between the two of them, it was one health problem after another. It was frustrating because we couldn’t convince them to move to assisted living, or somewhere closer to us or to hire in home help. They’ve been gone over a year now, but I still have pangs of guilt about the resentment I sometimes felt at having to drop what I was doing to go help out (they lived over 1,000 miles away from us).

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Uh, maybe you shouldn't have, gotten "off the phone before I exploded." I know it's not Tuesday, but, you can tell the truth on Wednesday, too, right? Maybe not explode, but, well, you get the idea. A little pointed honesty goes a long way...for everyone. Just sayin'...

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

L. Diane Wolfe said...

No it doesn't! You have a life as well. There has to be some give & take - she needs to be considerate of your time, too. (And since she's your mother-in-law, it would take your hubby explaining it to her.)

Is this the part where I get to say it's okay that I live thousands of miles from my family...?

L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”

N A Sharpe said...

I can so understand where you are coming from. My mom is in assisted living and it is a difficult situation. You try your best to be supportive of the choices they make and the independence they struggle to keep...but like when our children were small we worry over their every move and decision. We want what's best for them...but we do have to consider it has an impact on our lives too.

Keeping you both in my prayers,
Nancy from Realms of Thought

Marvin D Wilson said...

I think it's wonderful of you to self-appoint yourself as your mom-in-law's caregiver and that you have such a bond - lots of in-laws don't, and lots of old folks get written off and forgotten by their families when they are of "no use" anymore and are a problem to take care of. This is good karma, Karen, and the universe will not forget. I only pray that when I get to the stage where I need assistance there e will benough love like you have in my family that someone will take care of The Old Silly

Morgan Mandel said...

It's a no win situation from both sides. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. My folks both fell ill at the same time and couldn't manage alone. Fortunately, my brother lived at home, but there was no way he could handle everything. We had to hire a caretaker, which put a dent in our pocketbooks, but it was worth it. We still took turns visiting so they wouldn't be alone and my one brother wouldn't be the one who had to do everything. I'm lucky I have three brothers. It's hard when you're the only one.

It's normal to feel like you're the one confined and have no life. You can only do so much.

Morgan Mandel

Garret Gillespie said...

"So how do I allow her the independence she so craves and deserves, and still try to prevent things from happening." You don't. Just like a child, she still needs to have her life to live and continue learning from her own experiences; good and bad. The stimulation she derives from continuing to push herself through new challenges helps her grow just like it did when she was a toddler, child, adolescent, young adult, etc. It's no easier to leave her alone than it is to watch a small child go off to the big school for the first time, but we all get one go 'round while we're here. We gotta live while we're alive. Selfish? I don't think so, your post already conveys the love and sacrifice you're willing to make for her...and us. Thanks