Wednesday, 26 April 2017

When You Put Yourself On 'HOLD' For Others, Mom And Dad's Journey

You never expect your parents to age. When they do, what a shock.

Mom and dad still live in their home where you grew up. You moved out of town for a job after university. So did your siblings. You got married and had your own kids. So did your siblings. Everything was going along tickety-boo. And changes. And boy, does it. You suddenly wake up one day and realize your parents are elderly. 

You think, and know, they need some help. They don't think so. Ok. Just a speed bump. Health issues get bad for one parent. The other parent is refusing help but still doing an amazing job of trying to cope without 'bothering' anyone in the family. You try to convince them there is help available. Your siblings do the same. Resistance. Placating us. Oh dear. It's getting really tough for them. 

You have your own health issues, diabetes. And your kids have occasional rough patches. 

Your siblings are dealing with their own health issues. They are dealing with their own family stuff, mostly good, a little not so much.

For 8 years following my diagnosis, I did a bang up job of looking after my diabetes. The next two years were burn out and denial. Now, just when I thought I was ready to deal with my diabetes seriously again, my parents' reality came to light. The next two years were going to be hell for all of us.

And hell it was.

I, we, watched dad deteriorate very quickly. This is not unexpected given the disease. Mom was in shock. Mom was living in a world so very foreign to her. They had a very traditional marriage. Dad made all the decisions, mom had input but, dad ultimately made the final decisions on everything. They had, have, been married for 65+ years. This was how they lived. But dad could no longer make decisions. Mom didn't know how to make decisions she told us. She never had to. Mom found it very difficult to make even small ones. What we all realized is that mom could make decisions. Her decision was to do nothing, even when something needed to be done. Dad needed a safe place to live.   Mom needed rest, sleep, food, a break. She married dad for better or worse. This was the worse.

The 'we' I mentioned earlier--my hubby and kids, my two brothers and one wife. My husband and kids were my very large shoulders to lean on. My brothers--I saw a side of them I'd never seen before. I don't mean that in a bad way, no, just the opposite. I'd heard so much about how illnesses like dad's divided family or made family walk away leaving one kid to deal with it all. That did not happen in my family. My brothers and I were there equally every step of the way for mom and dad, and for each other.

During this time, I didn't feel well a lot of the time. I didn't sleep. I cried a lot. I basically didn't, maybe couldn't, look after myself. Oh, I tried but it was easy to forget I had my own health need. My diabetes did not take the break I was. I had gained weight, about 25 lbs and holding. When I tested my blood sugar, I never saw anything below 11-12 mmol. Even saw a number of 14-15's. Still, I couldn't rally to help myself. I was just heart sick over what I couldn't control 2 and a half hours away.

My diabetes was a mess. 

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