Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Walking on Eggshells

This last weekend, my sister F and niece Emily made the 70 mile drive to central Minnesota to look in on my mother. We'd received a call from assisted living that she was coughing a lot and also very tired.

We took her to the dr, who said that she "perhaps" had pneumonia. They couldn't tell by a chest x-ray because there was too much scar tissue from the emphysema, nor could he tell by listening to her lungs. I said "pneumonia is very serious in someone with existing lung problems, right?" He then muttered that we should hope that it was pneumonia, which could be treated. Worsening emphysema cannot - one just progresses further down the tunnel of poor health. My M does not have much of a margin left before her quality of life is totally hosed.

So, it was not a happy visit. On the way home, Em and I were sitting in the backseat, playing travel bingo and working on learning some old Beatle songs. I took out my meter and lanced my finger. Em said, "wow - is that blood?". I told her that yes, it was blood, and that I was going to put it on a little piece of plastic and then a number would show up on the screen. We waited and looked at the number. I told her that the number tells me what to do next to take care of myself.

A few minutes later we pulled into a gas station and F turned around and shouted "don't you ever do that again - Emily is traumatized". Well, that was news to me. Em was singing "Good Day Sunshine" somewhat offkey but with a lot of gusto.

In truth, it was F that does not want to be reminded that I have db. She was very close to one of my cousins that died from it a couple of years ago. None of my immediate family has ever seen me take an injection, and I've always discreetly treated my hypos. It's a lot to keep up with. But no, I musn't upset anybody.

When we got back to my place they both came in to try on a sweater that I'm knitting for Em. F was in the kitchen and saw a piece of paper on my frig. Plain and simple, it is a list of all my meds and db stuff that I need to pack when we go home for my M's final days and/or funeral. F knew that and then again blew up. "You've already got her dead and in the grave - how can you think like that?" I calmly told her that the list had been written 9 months ago. I took it and moved it to the side of the fridge.

F is a high strung person, and my M's illness has been difficult for her. She refuses to talk about the funeral when M brings it up, but, I have. I don't know how to handle these episodes but to keep my mouth shut and not stir the pot.

I've talked to my friend Elise about it and told her that I was willing to make the compromise so that I could be a part of Emily's life. She said, "but there's no compromise involved. You are letting F dictate all your actions - she is not giving up anything". Hmmmm.

Well, hopefully she's cooled down. I'm tired of tiptoeing, and need to take the stage front and center, with everything that belongs to me. DB and ailing mother included.


Sara said...

You mentioned that Emily is your niece so I am guessing she is a child. Children are so resilent. I was diagnosed when my niece was 2, one nephew was 1, and one was not even born yet. They know that auntie takes medicine in her belly and that it helps her body use her food to grow big and strong and have energy to play with them.

They have seen me test, they have seen me inject, they have seen me use my pump, and I think they have even seen me do a site change.

My niece is THE MOST sensitive kid I know. She can't watch America's Funniest Home Videos because she gets so sad when people fall down or get hit with something. She doesn't think twice about me taking care of my diabetes.

I think your sister is blowing this way out of proportion. And you're a planner - that's a good thing!

Whew! Sorry for the novel! This post really hit home for me!

Minnesota Nice said...

Hi sister Sara - Em is 5. She is adopted from China and been with us since age 1. No, I am not her mother but I'm 99% sure that she was not traumatized. It was an emotional day for us all, and many times what we appear to be mad about is actually something else.

Araby62 said...

Geh, sounds like a 'fun' trip :( Except for singing Beatles songs with a 5-year-old :)

I too have always been pretty covert about taking shots, testing, etc. I think it was just the culture back in the old days. I feel sorry for your sister, she sounds like she's having a hard time with anything other than *you* at the moment. Hope things get better and your mom is doing OK.

Sandra Miller said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your mother-- and about what's going on with your sister.

Kathy, can you tell her how you feel?

Yes, watching your mother's health deteriorate must be incredibly painful for your sister.

But it's incredibly painful for you too.

Making you walk on eggshells, forcing you to hide the reality of your diabetes while having to cope with all that pain just isn't right.

Anonymous said...

It would seem to me, given the prevalence of diabetes in your family, that your niece _should_ see what it's like for someone to take care of herself, that it should be just something you do - not a big scary monster.

Of course...I don't get to make those decisions.

Hugs to you!

Anonymous said...

Oh... and there I am with a single focus. I'm sorry to hear that mom is facing more challenges. I know how hard that is to bear. Please be sure to be taking care of you.

Anonymous said...

You are a great example and peace permeates your blog. I think I know why. <><

Colleen said...

Hi Kathy,
Sorry to hear that your mom is hitting more "bumps." It's not fun and it's difficult to be the caregiver.
And, it's too bad your sister worries so much. Like the other comments, I'm sure your niece can handle learning about your health issues.
Oh well. Hang in there.

Karen said...

I'm so sorry things are so tough - and I agree that your sister is making things even worse. I absolutely don't think doing a finger-stick test in front of a child traumatizes them. I've testing in front of my godson - he was fine with it. He asked if it hurt, I said no, and he said "yeah, right". Then played with his dinosaurs some more!! They can handle it.

Anyway, I'm sending you big hugs and positive energies. SWAK

ps: love the new banner!

Minnesota Nice said...

Kathy - you are right in that F's anger is "conveniently" directed to me because I happen to be there. Fortunately, I'm in a place right now where it's easier to let go of than a few years ago.

Sandra - I don't know how I can go about talking to F - it would have to be approached very carefully. I might think more about it after the other family stuff calms down.

Zaz - I'm quite sure that Em really didn't think much of it - I mean, she certainly didn't start screaming or anything. And I was not in any way dramatic about the test - very matter of fact.

Anonymous - thank you.

Colleen - sigh. Yeah, another bump in the road. Actually, we had a nice long respite between this and the last crisis, and I'm greatful for that.

Karen - yes, I think she was fine. Who knows, maybe down the road she'll meet a kid with db who has to test their blood and she can say that her auntie does it too.
The banner is a scarf that I'm making for a friend's b'day - someone who has everything, including expensive taste.

BetterCell said...

You must be your "Own Person."
Your sister is the one with the problem and not you.
Emilt as a child has an "open mind," that is able to absorb new information regarding the world around her. Your sister has closed her mind to this long ago.................Sad and unfortunate.
I am sorry that your Mom is experiencing this crisis.
I am also sorry that you have a sister that has not been able to resolve her emotional pain regarding you and her cousin.

Minnesota Nice said...

Bettercell - Yes, I agree with all of your insights. And indeed it is my sister's problem and not mine.
And I seem to have dealt with it okay. I recall that just a couple of days ago, when I wrote the post, I was very angry and frustrated. Maybe it was the simple act of putting it into words, but, I now look back at it as a minor annoyance.

Molly said...

I just read your post now. Not sure how I missed it. Better late than never! :-)
Sorry to hear about your mom's setback. Remember to take care of yourself even when you're taking care of her.
WOW, I'm a little shocked by your sister's response. Sounds like she has some baggage of her own about your diabetes.
I don't think that you did anything except educate your niece and help her to recognize that the world is made up of all kinds of people.
Bless you.

Minnesota Nice said...

Hey Molly - looks like the weather has finally turned COLD........I saw my M this past weekend and she was breathing fine, but a little short on the memory. Still, she felt up to going out to lunch and then to Wal-Mart.
Yes, I know I did the right thing with M - I neither tried to hide it or dramatize it - blood testing is simply something I do and that was it.