Thursday, September 8, 2011

Aging Parents and Endless Rain.

As I am STILL without DSL service at home, picture posts will have to wait.  I am seriously considering investing in a wireless hook-up and ditching the DSL/land phone obligation.  Let me apologize in advance - this is going to be a LOOOONG post.  Feel free to hit the pause button and get an adult beverage.  Or just go back to the previous post and leave me another sonnet!

Yesterday was spent on the first of many - I am sure - trips to accompany one/both parents to a specialist.  My dad just turned 89 a couple of weeks ago and my mom will be turning 88 in a week.  They are, for the most part, in pretty good health and mental standing.  But things are beginning to go wrong.  Heck, at 89, it's a surprise he's held out as long as he has.  My mother suffers from macular degeneration, the "wet" kind, and it's in her only sighted eye.  She is determined to retain her eyesight as long as humanly and medically possible.  I will not fill you in on the gory details, but the medical procedure that she endures every 10 weeks gives me the willies.  Yet, she never complains.  My dad has just been diagnosed with a tiny bit of MD in one eye.  That was the upshot of yesterday's trip to the retina specialist.

I think, up until yesterday, that I have housed the hope that they will continue on their merry way without my intervention, for years.  This is not the case.  I am very happy to be able to help them.  I figure they have been there for me every day of my life and it's nice to be able to be there for them.  But it's a journey fraught with emotional baggage and not one for the faint of heart or short of patience.  For instance:  I need to leave my house and do two errands on my way to their house.  I give myself an hour for the usual 40 minute journey.  Thanks to more flooding and heavy rain, it takes the entire hour, plus three minutes.  I pull in their driveway and -- their car is outside, they are standing in the garage, rain gear on, umbrellas in hand, envelope with directions clenched in Dad's fist.  I am given enough time to race inside to use the facilities, while they get into the car and wait for me.  Then there are the negotiations over the best route to take to the medical office - an hour and a half away.  Dad still relies on maps and distrusts anything computer generated.  I work in the area, so am familiar with it.  We go from his carefully mapped-out route - which, on a good day, would take three hours - to my way, which takes a half hour.  BUT first we have to stop and have lunch.  Let me fast forward here -- I'm beginning to hyperventilate.

I drop them at the door and park the car a quarter mile away.  By the time I get upstairs, reception has handed my father a twelve page form he has to fill out.  Patients are stacked like cordwood and moved around from one waiting area to another -- this is done to give the illusion that you're making progress.  Another go-around over the forms.  I realize that my dad is struggling.  He's hard of hearing.  He's unable to grasp a lot of information.  He thinks doctors are gods.  And, he's having to rely more and more on his daughter(s).  It's tough.  Plus, I am dealing with my mother's increasing impatience with him -- due, most likely, to the fact that it's terrifying to realize that the man you've counted on for everything over the past 60+ years is not up to snuff.  That, and she's never been an icon of patience.  We go back and forth and settle for me filling in the information while he sorts through all his cards for the necessary numbers.  Then we are shuffled from waiting area to waiting area. 

It took two hours.  I did manage to insert myself in with the doctor so I could find out what was going on, what the diagnosis was, what the treatment would be and what the timing of everything was expected to be.  They think they have caught it early enough that one shot might stop further damage.  I also was able to head off more visits to this office, since their specialists work in my parents' town once a week.  Of course, had they bothered to look at the address in the file...

As I was sitting in the various areas, I realized that most of the patients were elderly.  And most seemed to be accompanied by a son/daughter/relative.  What did not seem to happen often was that the relative was actively involved in the diagnosis.  Now, far be it from me to impose my standards - I am a Type A when in comes to this stuff - but what is needed, I feel, is an advocate for elderly patients and their families in every doctor's office everywhere.  It is a win/win situation.  Patients have someone to help them with forms, disseminate information, help set up treatment appointments, etc.  A hard copy summarizing the diagnosis and treatment would be invaluable.  Jobs are created.  And lord knows these "specialists" can afford to hire a couple more people.

I ferried them home (almost literally, as it was still raining), dropped them off, then headed back to my place.  I am very thankful that they are high and dry, safe and sound.  All the streams are over their banks.  Roads are being re-washed out.  We lost the use of another small bridge in town.  The endless grey and drumming rain is enough to cause me to think of red wine as a three-meal-a-day accompaniment.  The only happy feet around my place are webbed.

I hope for a) cessation of all wet things falling from the sky and b) DSL service so I can show you all my nifty photographs.  Until then, "Cheers" (clink).


  1. It's never easy when it comes to parents aging. I've been there. They are long gone. And I never regretted a moment that I had to do this. It's so tiring at times. At times I just cried, I was so frustrated and sick of it. But again, I'm glad I did it.
    I wish you the patience of a saint. You'll need it. And you'll be glad you did it some day.

  2. I remember the trips to the doctor and staying with my mom and mother-in-law post eye surgery to administer assorted drops a billion times a day for three days. It's trying, I know, but you'll feel better for it in the long run.
    Why don't you bring your computer over and tap into the wireless here. You can even do it on the porch!

  3. At least you are there for your parents, trying as it may be. I know of so many elderly folks with children that won't lift a finger to help them. One such has a child just down the block who won't bother to even drive them to the grocery store. Kudos to you for inserting yourself into the doctor's room to help out.

    You're STILL getting rain? Figures....we're still WITHOUT rain. Ugh.

  4. Sue - Unfortunately, I inherited my mother's lack of patience. I have to remind myself sometimes that I moved up here for that purpose. And, really, they are mostly a joy. I am glad to still have them in my life.

    Kay - And your caregiving doesn't stop with aging parents! I may trot over and eavesdrop on your wireless - I think a trip to the computer store is in order.

    Carolyn - Yes, most of the "relatives" were so obviously bored and not interested. Drives me crazy, the ungrateful wretches. Still no rain? Geez loueeze. Please feel free to take some of ours.

  5. Susan I know how hard it can be with aging parents. Enjoy that wine!

    And on the wireless internet, let me just say that I have verizon wireless internet and somedays it is nothing but trouble. I can not get on line and if I do it logs me off. If you are not right by the tower, or if rain clouds move in, again you dont have service. They never tell you that on the brochure. They just tell you how wonderful it is. LIES. So do lots of shopping because you might not be any better off with wireless.

  6. you must be part saint,but I know you love mom and dad and would do anything for them I suspect. you in return will be well rewarded sometime in this life time or next [ what ever that means]whose dumb idea was it to sell airways anyway-we have to deal with comcast and personally I'm with that older generation woman who gave them a good shake down--it was all over the news.She went to there office and damaged some of there equipment because she was so sick and tired of being taken advantage of,I wish I had the nerve,well maybe I'll be writing my next comment from a jail cell ,I get so angry with these giant corp.once they told me --we are comcast,we don't have to live by rules set by the utilities commission-hump!

  7. You are such a wonderful person! I am glad that you grit your teeth when you need to. Sometimes dealing with parents can be very trying, but it really is where you need to be. I have a huge, huge soft spot for the elderly. I could sit and listen to the stories (often repeated countless times) and it makes the heart glad.

    I am so sorry they are facing health issues. If I am not mistaken macular degeneration runs in the family, does it not? Be good to your eyes missy! It runs in mine and I know what they do for that. Ugh!! I don't think I could do it. Nuh-uh!

    Hope you have a better day and that all your troubles wash away with that dang rain!!!

  8. You may lack a little in the patience department (welcome to the club) but you are chock full of sensitivity, kindness, caring and love not only for your parents, but for loads of other people, too.

    It seems to me we humans run the full circle from being babies who need to be taken care of in all ways and then coming to the end of our lives when we revert back to having to be dealt with as if we were dependent toddlers again. I wish it weren't that way. I puts so much strain and stress on both the elderly who see themselves losing their independence and the child who then becomes the caregiver.

    I wish you didn't have to go through this difficult period with your parents but know you would never do anything but the most you possibly could for them. This, too, shall pass. Hugs.

  9. What an honest post. I wish for you all the patience that you want, and also the forgiveness of yourself when you occasionally snap. It's funny how life comes full circle, like Mama Pea mentioned. It always amazes me when kids are able to care for their parents, but what's more amazing to me is hearing the REAL stories about it. We live in a two family household (with my parents), have for the past four years, and intend to permanently. Yes its nice to be able to help your parents, but I also know that its REALLY tough somedays. But, as Sue said "You'll be glad you did it someday". :)

  10. Jane - If I run out of wine, I know where there's more... As far as I'm concerned, none of the service providers are worth a grain of salt. I am trying to be patient and wait my turn, since a lot of people have trouble after the endless storms. Did I mention I'm not patient?

    Judy - LOL, yes that is so tempting, isn't it? But keep in mind you can't post from jail - so behave yourself!

  11. APG - I am going to come and live with you and Pig Pen when I'm old and crotchety. You can build a special chicken tractor and move me around -- and I'll be happy!

    Mama Pea - Thank you, my dear. I appreciate your kind words. I think part of the panicky stuff is realizing that I don't have children, so my future will be in who's hands? (Please see above ;o)

    Mama Tea - I think the two family living aspect is just great - especially, of course, if everyone gets along. So many grandparents don't get to spend any time with their grandchildren, let alone be there to see the daily changes. Good for you!

  12. My time for this type of daughterly service is still a little way off, I hope, but what you are doing is wonderful, and is exactly how I hope to be. That's one of the reasons I am so antsy to move back home before it becomes an emergency someday. Nobody will advocate for your parents the way immediate family does, and it sounds like you have your hands full but at the same time with your heart full of love as well. You are a good example to those other "relatives" you see in care providers' offices, and I am sure your parents appreciate it so much they can't even begin to show it, good thing as families most of us just "know" we are loved and appreciated for it without recognition. And yes, you get a free pass on the wine, LOL! Take care of yourself too!

  13. I can SOOO relate to this post! Jerry's mom just recently moved back to Arizona from Florida and is currently living with us. She has MD in one eye and glaucoma in the other. Needless to say, she can't see very well at all. She is 85 and her health is actually pretty good and her mind is as sharp as a tack! It has fallen on me to shuttle her to all of her doctor appointments and I ALWAYS go in with her so I know what is going on. It has been a big adjustment having another person (and her little dog) in our little house. I also feel bad that she is used to "city" living and going here and going there and we are just "country" folk and pretty much homebodies.

    You are a good daughter for caring about what happens to them! :)

  14. Candy - Hi there, in beautiful Arizona! My sisters and I talk about the possibility of one/both moving in with one of us. It will more likely be when it's one. That I don't want to dwell on - yet. It must be a HUGE adjustment for all of you (and her little dog) ;o). I'd love your country living myself.