Sunday, February 19, 2012

"I just want to be taken seriously"

Gary has had 4 ER visits in the past year.

The first was for an injury he sustain in MMA practice. He was afraid he had broken a rib. He had not.

The second was for a panic-attack-from-hell that he had as a result of consuming something (or several somethings) at a party. He thought he was dying. He had his friends call him an ambulance which took him to the ER were they gave him IV fluids and an anti-anxiety medication.

The third was 10 days after he had his tonsils removed. He hadn't bothered with the routine anti-biotics he was prescribed and he was spitting up blood. He could not wait a few more hours to go to the doctor's office. At the ER they gave him sympathy, considered giving him antibiotics, but got an afternoon appointment with the surgeon. He was prescribed antibiotics which he did not take because "the doctor didn't think it was an infection." I argued that the doctor must have thought it was an infection, because he prescribed antibiotics. Finally I just started handing them to him on schedule.

The fourth was yesterday. Friday evening he was at a bonfire with friends. He was drinking, did something foolish, and hit his head hard. At noon he felt he had to have medical attention because he had such a terrible headache. We took him to the urgent care clinic, but he reported symptoms of a concussion and they sent him to the ER. There he was given Tylenol, had a CT scan and was told he was fine.

He has this pattern with his health. He has a symptom, is afraid he is seriously ill and must see a physician. The physician sees him, prescribes some treatment, and Gary goes home, ignores the treatment and usually feels better very quickly. He seems to have a strong need to be seen by a professional. This does not translate into any desire to follow up on the treatments.

And I have noticed at every emergency room visit, at some point when we are waiting for something or other, he will say, not necessarily to me, "I just want to be taken seriously."

My usual approach won't work with this one. I cannot just let him do what he is going to do and deal with the consequences himself.

Okay, I wrote that and then thought "sure I can. I just don't want to."

I can't imagine going back to yesterday and saying, "Sweetie, you have no bruise, no bump, and your eyes look fine. You are severely hung over and you hit your head. Of course you feel miserable. Drink some water and take a pill."

I wanted to say that. I think I would have been right to say that. On the other hand, what if I had been wrong? What if he had had a concussion? I no longer trust his reports of his own health. I don't think he is lying. I think he is genuinely frightened by what he is feeling. He needs the reassurance. Maybe he needs the attention from me. Even if I am right about that, he still could be seriously hurt.

Only the thing is ... I seriously cannot afford this. Roland and I are living on a very tight budget paying off debts from last year. Two thirds of that debt is a combination of Gary-related car expenses and Gary's medical bills. Before this latest ER visit I had hoped we would pay off all the debt before my mother moved in, but thought more realistically, we might make it by the end of summer. I know that "can't afford it" is relative. I know that if he had had a concussion and needed surgery I would be resigned to paying off a higher debt load. I would be worried, but I would cope.

Right now though? Right now I am angry because even if he had been seriously injured, it still would have been the result of getting drunk. He doesn't seem to think that is a big deal. When he was in the emergency room after taking the stuff at the party he seemed quite sincere when he said that he learned never to do that again. This time he says that drinking is just what teenagers do. (Does that mean that when he turns 20 in the fall he will change? I'm not holding my breath.) He won't try to do acrobatics and land on his head though. I do not want to be responsible for this bill.

On the other hand, he really can't afford it. He has to be at least $1000 behind on his car payments. He doesn't have a job and wants to move out. I want him to move out too, and saddling him with more debt won't help.

We've pretty much decided that we are going to take responsibility for the larger portion of the bill and make him responsible for a smaller part of it. The easiest way to do that will be for us to pay the money owed to the hospital and make him responsible for the bills from the docs. (We will get one from the ER physician and from the radiologist who looked at the CT scans). That feels right to me. It means he has to deal with the real-world consequences of his actions, but we have soften the blow enough that it is not going to destroy him. It will hurt real bad though.

Roland and I are getting resentful and that is not a good thing. Gary has been talking about wanting to buy a tablet computer. In the ER he told me that he was thinking that maybe all he could afford would be a Kindle Fire. I ranting about how much money he owes and our struggles to pay off the debts, but I didn't. On the way home I did tell him that the changes that he was seeing in our lifestyle were a result of trying to get out of debt and that I did not think Roland and I were going to be willing to take responsibility for the $800 (or whatever) the ER visit was going to cost. I told him we would help, but he was going to have to be responsible for some of it.

Right now the very best thing about my mom moving in is that Gary is determined to move out first. I warned him last summer that if this happened he and Brian would have to share a room. He losing the private bedroom when my sister shows up in the middle of May.  Since I started this post he has told me that he called his social worker to learn about getting assistance moving out. He just has to find a job first. (He also told me that he is feeling great and he googled his symptoms. He is sure he had a severe concussion. CT scans can't always pick those up, you know.)

I love the boy, I do, but I am past ready for him to move.

I'm angry that he agreed to do chores to pay for his rent and he has not. I'm angry that he leaves dirty dishes in the basement and I have to nag at him to get them back up. I'm angry that he doesn't understand that not doing chores and making messes is something I can tolerate in a high school student, he has passed into a different realm for me.

I'm tired of hearing about all his fantastic plans. I'm tired of feeling resentful.

So I think it helped to rant to y'all.


But I still feel like slapping someone.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

My Mom

Plans are being made to move my Mom here at the end of May.

Last June I made the offer to Mom and she seemed to think it was a definitely possibility. I suspected that Mom would keep putting it off, agreeing that it was a good thing to do in a year or so. She couldn't delay moving indefinitely. She lives in a small house with a bedroom on the second floor and laundry in the basement. As the Parkinson's progresses she simply will not be able to handle the stairs. She says she doesn't want to live in an assisted living/retirement community, and that does not leave many options.

The big change is that her BFF is going to retire and move next fall. That decision wasn't expected, but it makes sense given the events in the BFF's extended family. Mom has become very dependent upon her friend for all sorts of things. Her friend drivers her to most of her appointments, takes her shopping, and carries the laundry up and down the stairs.

My sister is finishing her class work for college in early May. After that she does and internship and then she plans to get a job. Sis can take a month off early this summer to help with the move, but doesn't expect to be able to take that kind of time ever again.

So right now, here is the tentative plan. Sis is a meticulous housekeeper. I'm not. Sis will be flying out here when she finishes classes and will spend two weeks bossing me around and whipping my house into shape. I am by the way, pleased with this. I am getting professional-quality home organization service free. Well, I have to give her room and board and be her staff-of-one, but it should be worth it.

Then Sis and I hope to be able to fly to Mom's house. If all goes according to plan, Mom, with the help of her BFF, will have the closing of the house finished. Most of the furniture is going to a local auction place. Some will have gone into a small moving van. Lots of things will have gone to a thrift store or the dump.

Sis, Mom and I will then drive back here. It will take about four days. It could be done in less, but neither Mom nor Sis do much driving and I think 9 hours a day is about all I can expect of myself. Maybe we will take five days. The main advantage to driving is being able to bring Mom's almost-new car back with us.

We have not finalized all these plans, and Mom is still thinking about whether she would prefer to do it another way,

***correction: I just got an email from Mom's BFF. Mom is sending a check to Sis to help pay for travel. We're on.***

My niece will be coming along with Sis. She will help with the grunt work in my house and with the driving on the way back. With niece to help with the driving, maybe we can make it in 3 days.

I guess I am moving on to the next stage of my life. I haven't been a foster parent for more than a year. Soon things will be different again. Maybe it is time to start a whole new blog. I imagine there is probably a community of bloggers who are living with or at least caring for their elderly parents. I don't want to lose y'all, but it might be good if I connect with them too...