Friday, October 17, 2008

One Of The Last Straws

I'll continue on with another medical post--this one is about one of the final acts that made me say 'screw you' to The Family.

About eight years or so ago--the youngest was still in high school--I needed to get away from home for a few days. A and I were going through some bad times and I couldn't take it anymore. Actually, K and I weren't getting along either because of the problems with A, but that is another story. Anyway, I needed to get away and went to spend some time with The Mother and Father. (We were getting along fine at the time.)

When I got to The Parent's, The Mother wasn't feeling well. She said it was a stomach bug or something bad she had eaten. I didn't think much about it, as she always seems to have SOMETHING wrong with her all of the time. I figured whatever was wrong would pass quickly. Over the course of the next day or two, I realized that she really WAS sick and wasn't getting any better. Finally, we convinced her to go to be checked out--I believe she went straight to the emergency room. Believe me when I say she was not doing well. Not only was she spending an awful lot of time in the bathroom, but she was weak and really looked sick. She was admitted into the hospital immediately--mainly because she was very dehydrated.

The next few days were really bad. The doctor could not figure out what was wrong despite doing many tests. The Mother wasn't getting any better and actually was going downhill fast. At one point, we were in the room and watched her blood pressure drop so far down that there was almost NO pressure--and no one on the hospital staff seemed to think there was anything to be concerned about. The doctor and I had an instant dislike for each other--I don't think she liked me because I questioned her too much and I didn't like her because she couldn't admit she had no clue what was going. Nothing was going well and then the doctor decided to do a colonoscopy to see what was what.

After the colonoscopy, the doctor diagnosed The Mother with diverticulitis. She also took samples and sent them out of town for analysis because the lab there couldn't perform the tests needed. So, with a diagnosis in hand, The Mother began treatments for diverticulitis. A couple of days later, the test results came back saying The Mother was suffering from a superbug, c. difficile. This superbug is a definite killer and the only way to take care of it was with a very expensive, potent, uncommon antibiotic. The local pharmacy didn't even carry the medication and had to special order it--that is how uncommon it was. After a few days, The Mother was sent home to recuperate. All this while, I was at the house taking care of things and then continued after she got home.

Now, I'm going to back up a little here. I was not at the hospital when the doctor gave the diagnosis of c. difficile. I have no way of knowing whether the diagnosis of diverticulitis was ever taken away. Needless to say--and this probably is very wrong of me--The Mother has held on to the diverticulitis diagnosis like a dog holds on to its favorite bone. She finally has something wrong with her that can 'flare' whenever it is to her advantage and no one can ever say she is faking. And it isn't as if this is something that can actually kill her, it just is something that she needs to 'manage' and have people feel sorry for her about. I KNOW this is awful of me to say, but it seems to be the truth--The Mother is a drama queen and needs something in her arsenal for whenever some drama is needed in her life. These are just the facts.

So, a week or two after I got home from nursing The Mother back to health, I had an appointment with my PCP. While I was there, I mentioned to him that The Mother had been sick and what the problem had been. My doctor's face went white and he said--in NO uncertain terms--how extremely lucky she was to still be alive. (This was just when c. difficile was beginning to be diagnosed as a superbug.) He had a patient who recently went through the same thing and barely escaped with HIS life. My doctor also mentioned the cause of the superbug: OVER PRESCRIBING AND TAKING OF ANTIBIOTICS. This was about the time he let me know that I would have to be close to death and have more than one test confirm a strep throat infection before he would prescribe antibiotics for me again. He was so adamant about the overuse of certain drugs, that I knew it was a big problem. When I got home that day, I let The Mother know what he said. I figured she needed to hear this because she ran to the doctor's/emergency room frequently for antibiotics because she was 'coming down with _______' (You can fill in the blank.) This is why what happened next is so unbelievable for me.

Several weeks later--it would have been about a month after she ended her course of the very expensive, potent, uncommon antibiotic--The Mother called and said she was sick. She said that she had bronchitis and was on an antibiotic to take care of things. EXCUSE ME!!!!! WHAT the shit was she talking about? She just almost died and now she is taking MORE of what contributed to her almost death?!?!?!? So, I asked for the story. She had gone to see her PCP because she 'knew' she was getting bronchitis. Her doctor disagreed and sent her home to take care of herself--I'm sure it was 'rest, drink plenty of fluids, ...' and to call back the next week if she wasn't feeling better. This, I believe was on a Friday. She didn't like what the doctor told her, because she knew better than he did. On Saturday, she decided to go where she KNEW she could get her drugs and that was to the emergency room. Sure enough, she left with a prescription and was, once again, on antibiotics. If the ER doctor had KNOWN she had just been hospitalized, I don't believe he would have prescribed for her, but I'm sure she neglected to give him that little piece of information--OR she told him she had been hospitalized for diverticulitis, not for the real reason. To say I was upset, is putting it mildly.

When I got off of the phone with The Mother, I immediately called her cousin--the only person sensible enough to discuss this matter with rationally. We both were beyond concerned with what was gojng on and discussed what could be done. At one point, the dark humor came out and we started talking about doing an 'intervention' to get The Mother off of antibiotics for good. Needless to say, we decided The Mother needed to be talked to and reasoned with. But, the opportunity never presented itself.

As I said, the youngest and I were having some problems at the time, so she took my conversation with The Cousin as her opportunity to do some big time damage to me. (She overheard PART of the conversation.) She called The Mother and told her that The Cousin and I were planning an intervention. That didn't go over very well. The Mother called The Cousin and told her to stay the hell out of her life and not be concerned about her ever again--that it was NONE of The Cousin's business HOW she lived her life. Of course, the next phone call I got was from The Cousin, hysterical over the way The Mother had screamed at her. Then, The Mother called all hot and bothered over The Cousin and 'how dare she' and how The Cousin had the nerve to yell at her when she was told to mind her own business and on and on and on... Funny thing is, The Mother didn't seem to be too very mad at me--which I still don't understand. She DID say that I shouldn't worry about the antibiotics, etc, but wasn't too mad at me. But that didn't take away from the fact that she was putting her life in jeopardy and she wouldn't even try to see it. I decided at that point that I couldn't be a part of her medical drama anymore and I took myself WAY out of the mix. While I didn't completely turn my back on The Family at that point, it was the first BIG step toward doing so. I could put myself through the emotional wringer any longer--it wasn't good for my own health, so I stepped away.

Even though I am estranged from my family, the decision to walk away has been one of the best ones of my life. I no longer have to worry every time the phone rings as to what crisis is brewing, who everyone is supposed to be mad at, and how upset everyone is. I live an extremely uneventful life--for the most part--and really enjoy my quiet existense.


Burg said...

Okay.. Are we absolutely positively sure that there is no possible way we're related?!? My gosh this scenario sounds familiar!

meleah rebeccah said...

It makes me sad to know that you are not close with your family, but I can appreciate and respect your reasons.

I would be lost without my mom, but you seem to have done the right thing in this situation. Why allow yourself to be dragged into the unnecessary drama?


cmk said...

burg: I still say that if I HADN'T seen a picture of you, I would think you were my oldest--you two are a lot alike. :) And as far as I know, I don't have any relatives in Oklahoma!

meleah: I used to cling so much to the thought that I couldn't be happy without my family and it was hard to make the decision to break off ties with them, but it certainly has done me a world of good. There are always hard decisions to make--and we have to accept what we choose, hey?