Time For Family

My lil’ brother has had some physical challenges lately. He needs an operation, but his daughters are married and live out of state (and have small children). He’s divorced. There’s nobody to care for him after his surgery. He will need someone. He hasn’t even told his daughters that he’s ill!

I had been considering taking my accumulated leave time at work and going to the midwest to watch over him for a couple of weeks when the time came if needed. My first aid ability is mainly limited to setting broken bones on animals. I figure I could change bandages, cook, and keep him fed and medicated. I’ve been concerned, however, with SwampMan’s ability to care for the house and animals while I’m gone because SwampMan’s knees are so bad that he can barely walk.

My mom is beside herself with worry, though, for she cannot go.

Something else has come up, though.

My (good) stepdad has been suffering from COPD for years. An active, proud man, he’s gone from fishing and hunting, working hard, gardening, playing multiple rounds of golf (and winning bets on the outcome) to having his horizons gradually limited. Golf had to go as his lungs became worse. In the winter a few years ago, he fell down the steps at their house while mom was at work, breaking his arm in seven places and knocking himself out. The dogs barking alerted a neighbor who checked on the noise and called 911. The dogs probably saved his life. He was in the hospital for weeks and developed pneumonia, but was able to come back home. He needed so much care, though, that mom had to quit her nursing job at the hospital and became his full-time caregiver. He had a big decline in his ability to do functions of daily living after that pneumonia.

He’s been losing function every year. Last year, he could no longer walk and became wheelchair bound, but he could help move himself between chair to wheelchair to tub and toilet. He’s had several falls this summer. When he stands to try to move, he’ll pass out and collapse. My small mother with rheumatoid arthritis and leukemia cannot pick him up by herself. She’s had to call the neighbors for assistance (I live 45 minutes to an hour away).

For the past two weeks, he’s been entirely bedridden. He had another fall. He broke some toes and can’t put any weight at all on that foot. Mom can’t pick him up and move him by herself. She also can’t leave the house, go shopping, or even go outside to mow the grass without somebody sitting with my stepdad. He’s afraid to be alone in case something happens. She’s scared to death the house will get hit by lightning, catch on fire, and she would be unable to move him.

I can go and sit with him a couple of days per week after work and on the weekends, but it will take me at least an hour and a half (probably longer) to reach my mom’s place after work. She doesn’t like to drive after dark and, when time changes, she would have to. I could do her grocery shopping and deliver it, but she really needs to get out and have a little time to herself. If the house catches on fire (grin), I believe that I’d be much better at getting my stepdad out than she would.

I’m not sure how we’re going to manage it financially, but I can’t see any alternative but taking a year off work. They need me. I need to be there for them.

I’m going to feel guilty no matter what I do. If I’m not bringing in any income, I’ve let down my husband. If I bring in income, I’m letting down my mom. I must have a double copy of the guilt gene in my DNA!

Oh, crap! I forgot my lil’ brother! MORE GUILT!

Aaaaaaaargh!

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3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    kcduffy said,

    My favorite Mother Teresa quote says something like, “I know God won’t give me more than I can handle…I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.”

    You cannot be all things for all people, Swampie, but dammit, you certainly do a helluva job of trying. I am in awe.

    • 2

      kcduffy said,

      AND I wish there was something I could do to help.

    • 3

      swampie said,

      Snort. Don’t EVEN think of comparing me to a good person like Mother Teresa!

      When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Going where? I’m going to be sitting in the dark under my computer table, munching on something high calorie. And cursing.

      I think I’ll go there now. With a pie. Damnit.


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