Watching a Parent Decline – Needlessly


IMG_5263Years ago, when I was in college, my parents were horrified when my grandmother Froehlich (Nana) called my mother to tell her that my father’s mother and her sister were literally starving to death, and had reached the point of no return with their health.  My grandmother Reidhead (Gram) had become bedridden over it.  Her sister, Mabel was valiantly trying to care for her, but Gram had become so malnourished she had passed go.  If something was not done, quickly, she would not survive.  My father and one of his employees drove one of his trucks (he had numerous delivery trucks at that time) left, almost immediately for the 600 mile drive to Lake Worth.  Meanwhile, Nana was beyond shocked at the condition of the little house on C Street.  It had become infested with roaches.  Over two hundred years worth of family history, antiques, and memorabilia were at risk. My father’s brother, Paris, flew down from Virginia.  By  the time my father arrived, Uncle P and Nana were already sorting through dozens upon dozens of packing boxes.  Nana had simply packed Gram and Mibsey up and took them to her house, where Mae (her housekeeper and our surrogate grandmother) was force-feeding them – anything!  It was one of those all-hands-on-deck family crises moments, with both sides of my family working together to do whatever was necessary to save Gram.  (FYI:  Nearly 40 years later we are still sorting through the mountain of family memorabilia – there was that much.)

Much the same way when a child reaches the point where they fail to thrive,  senior citizens can do the same thing.  If they don’t get the proper nutrition something happens to them, emotionally, mentally, and physically. It literally destroys them.  I’m terrified this has begun happening with my mother.  She has problems with my father that no one should endure.  Still, from now on, I gather the story of my life is going to be trying to get her to eat.

My day began around 8AM when my mother called. I was up working on a project and did not fall into bed until around 6:30AM. It adds perspective. She was being EMSed up to town – again. I met her at the ER around 10AM. In full a-fib, her heart rate was anywhere from 139 to 179. Once I saw it go up to 199. She was in bad shape there for awhile. There’s a new young doc in the ER, who really has it together with cardiac. We finally left about 2:30. During that time they hit her with diuretics. They also gave her enough Valium to take out a T-Rex. She slept all afternoon. I had to go back into town and pick up a prescription, then the poodle, go to Wallyworld. It was 6PM by the time I was back at SP.

During the process, it was discovered she had a broken vertebra. You know, the one we’ve had problems with, an ER visit, X-rays, and a session set up to block a nerve – for something that was broken and this is the first time they found the break. Since the middle of July, we’ve been dealing with that – and not this other #$%@!

We have a very real problem with my mother. She has stopped eating. She has aged so much from the photo taken in March of 2013, I can’t get over it. She’s managed to let herself get old, feeble, and in some sort of a depression. She’s basically quit eating, to the point where it’s becoming a vicious cycle. If I say anything to her, I’m bullying her or harassing her. She’s literally killing herself, and I can’t get through to her. She’s just too tired to eat, or doesn’t like what there is to eat. She fights it, argues, starts almost crying, says I’m treating her badly. I’ve spent most of my summer dealing with this $%#@ back and trying to get her to eat.

I saw this behavior destroy my grandmother Reidhead. It’s destroying her. I don’t care how much your %$#@ back hurts, you don’t stop eating. I disparately need your help and your prayers. If she doesn’t start eating, and get an attitude adjustment, we’re going to lose her. It’s that critical and that simple.

Today, in the ER, I was so frustrated I did my usual bitch thing. I am a wreck, emotionally and physically. I’m exhausted. I’m literally giving up my life to take care of her and she’s throwing hers away. She loves cheesy fries. I bought the fries, bacon, cheese, made them for her. She ate about 6 or so fries, said she’d eaten a huge amount. Earlier, around 7PM or so, I forced her to eat a donut. She told me that, and to stop picking on her. She’d eaten so much. No, she had not. She was playing with her food the way someone with an eating disorder does. There comes a point when you know there is a problem when the messenger is attacked.

Right now, I’m so pissed about the back, I’m not quite sure what to do. I’ve spent hours cooking, and she just picks. It just makes her too tired to eat. She can’t breath good. Her back hurts. Just leave her alone. She just doesn’t want to eat. I need help.

Not eating destroyed Gram. My next mission is to keep it from destroying my mother.