I do not like being a sandwich! Warning - pity party happening here

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by rlsnights, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Fellow members of the sandwich generation - I don't know about you but I already don't like the sandwich thing and we haven't even gotten much past getting out the condiments. But I can smell the mayo and mustard, I can see the lettuce leaves descending and the pickle slices aren't far behind.

    My dad died about 8 years ago. My mom is 84 and relatively hail but fragile as only an 84 YO woman can be.

    My spouse's dad is on dialysis and just returned home from surgery to fix a broken hip after a fall. My mother in law is doing great (thank goodness) and is much younger than my mom so we have a ways to go on that end of the loaf.

    What is really making me feel like I'm living in a baggie is the squeeze from my mom and my younger sister C. who live close to each other about 500 miles away from me.

    My sister should be dead - I mean really, she should have died a couple of different times in the past several years due to very serious health problems. She lost most of her small intestines to stage 4 endometriosis in 2004 and her life has been a living hell ever since.

    C. has been slowly sinking as time passes. Each crisis is worse than the last and she recovers less function each time. It is so terribly sad. My sister is utterly brilliant - as in IQ 185+ couldn't even measure it. Major learning disabilities but that has not stopped her one minute. Already has a Masters, is a native-level speaker of ASL, an accomplished clinician where children are concerned. She had just started a rigorous doctoral program in So. Cal when she lost most of her gut and would have long since graduated but for the health issues.

    Her gut is in such bad shape that she's been on IV nutrition for the past 6 months and even then she is losing her eyesight due to vitamin deficiency. She is in tremendous pain all the time and on 19 different medications a day.

    C and my mom live in the same complex about 3 minutes walk apart. For a long time, when one was sick the other helped out and vice versa. No longer. Mom has stopped driving except for brief daylight excursions in their small town and C can hardly see to drive now let alone read and write. Mom's health is declining and she is on several medications (which she hates passionately). Mom is often depressed, in part due to grief over my sister's unrelenting misfortune, and in part because she misses my dad. My sister tries so hard to stay "up" but cannot help being overwhelmed at times.

    They are seriously co-dependent with each other. I think they would probably have a different relationship but for my sister's illness. My mom is mostly supporting her, a thorn in both their sides. Maximum fuel for big drama here and they rarely disappoint long distance and in person.

    I have been down to help one or the other or both 3 times over the past 3 1/2 weeks. That makes over 8 times in the past 6 months I have dropped everything to fly down to help out. My mom had a TIA (small stroke) 8 weeks ago and my sister ramped up trying to help mom a lot. Result: I had to take my sister into ER on Thanksgiving and she spent 6 days there recovering from a blood infection. Then this week she is back in the hospital again with a secondary infection caused by the antibiotics used to treat the first infection.

    I cannot keep doing it. Between the expense of the last minute, maximum price plane tix, the total disruption to my own little family's life and the lack of stability difficult child#2 has had over the past 3 months ... something's got to give.

    I cannot play long distance caregiver and it is so hard to step back and let them flounder. My brother is a sociopath and cannot be trusted not to abuse our mom. My youngest sister is out of state and has her own sandwich drama going on with her husband's mother; not to mention that she's working 3 jobs to keep her family afloat since her husband lost his job almost 18 months ago. They will not move closer to me because my sister is holding on to her graduate program like it was the last piece of wood from the Titanic and my mom will not leave my sister. I cannot mover closer to them due to spouse's job and so here we are.

    Because of the confluence of all these things, we just got a Xmas tree today. I have no place to put it because for months everything has just been shoved here and there by everyone until the house is a wreck. I have almost no presents made or bought. Our twins' 14th birthday is Sunday and the only reason they got a present was because my spouse took them shopping while I was gone and let them have the stuff right away. I have zero Xmas spirit - or any other kind of spirit for that matter.

    I have about 10 paper bags and boxes piled in various places with stuff to give away that are too good to just send to Goodwill but I have no time to deal with them. I have a big bin full of unopened mail from the past month. I shudder to think of what is in there. Then there's figuring out if we need to pay more money in taxes before the end of the year. And a bazillion other things.

    Told our psychiatrist that I felt like I was drowning under paper and she said ME TOO. She told me she had been taken to collections for a bill from the medical center where her MD husband practices because she hadn't paid the bill. OMG she's like - can you imagine how embarrassing THAT is? We laughed together really hard. It was great but it was also crazy as I feel like she is the closest thing I have to a friend and, in another life, maybe we would have been friends but in this life she's my doctor instead.:(

    I feel like I am suffocating. I know I am not the only one but I feel so alone. I have no close friends anymore and no way to get any that I can see except on-line. And as close as I sometimes feel to folks on-line it's just not the same as being able to call up your friend and have lunch ya know?

    Sorry, sorry, sorry. The holidays are not getting any easier the older I get. What kind of a rotten deal is THAT?:faint:

    And to top it all off, I went to post my Holiday Cards on the photobucket website and it won't let me in to our little card party. The login info Abbey sent me won't work at all.

    Boo Hoo
    Boo Hoo
    Boo Hoo

    *sniffle, wipes nose, smiles bravely*

    OK, I'm done now.

    I will go to bed so I can get up and shift stuff around so we can put up the tree somewhere since I don't think my spouse will make good on her threat to leave the tree outside and pitch all 2 presents out there with it because the kids are being so awful.

    Don't ya just luuuuuuuuuuv the holidays?
  2. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Don't know what to say except to send you a box full of hugs and a case of Kleenex. What a terribly frustrating situation.

    Does your mom qualify for some type of in-home care? Someone that can stop in a couple times a week to check on her and your sister? Can you afford to hire someone to do that? I truly have no experience in this area of life (yet) -- hopefully others here will have some experience to share that may help.

  3. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Thanks so much for the hugs. It is a very frustrating situation. And of course there are things I left out that would make the word "frustrating" sound tame if you knew them.

    Mom and sister both have someone in to clean but neither will admit they need more help than that. And neither qualify for the govt in home care program and would have to pay. My mom could do that but won't because she's barely making it since she's paying nearly all of my sister's bills.

    And don't get me started on that subject. That is where their relationship is totally co-dependent. I have seriously considered reporting my sister for elder abuse because she is living like the proverbial Grasshopper while my mom lives like the Ant.

    Families. Can't live with them. Can't live without them.

    Hugs right back at you.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I was in the sandwich generation for a large part of my life. Ok...not large but from the time my kids were mid teens upward. My mom had alzheimers. Even before that she was a problem. We always knew there was something wrong with her. I dont have any siblings.

    When my mom finally got to the stage that it became evident that she was...well...out of her mind, it all fell on me. I got a call one day and she was in her bank trying to withdraw money from her bank account but she couldnt tell them her name but she had a check book and there was a man with her that wasnt my oldest son who lived with her at the time, who the bank knew. They called Social Services, who in turn called me.

    I was told I had to come do something about her RIGHT THEN or I would be charged with negligence to an elder and parental abuse! How bout them apples? LOL. This woman who had abused me all my life and I was going to be charged with abusing her...ironic.

    I ended up having to bring her up to live with me and my family. My kids, my SO and I had to take care of her as long as we could until her illness just became so debilitating that it was more than we could do at home. Then she had to go into a nursing home. She died within a year. I think we gave her what we could.

    I ended up having to quit my job about a year earlier than I would have to had I not had to care for her. My health issues were hitting me hard and heavy back then but I think I may have been able to hang on maybe another year. Maybe. She forced me to have to quit right then.

    This is never an easy situation to be in. You really need to check out your state laws because if its like it is here, they can force the most capable child to be the one responsible to take care of the elderly parent. It hoovers.
  5. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    I am sending my sympathies - my mother is comming to live here next year and everytime I think about what my life is gonna be like I just have the urge to be sedated ahead of time My brother was taking care of her and passed away, but not before he and sister in law used up most of her money. My aunt went and got her and placed her in assisted living in Ohio, but now she has managed to p her off, big time, and she is done doing for her, like stick me with a fork kinda done- not to mention she probably doesnt have enough money to live at the home past maybe June.

    Am sorta sandwiched in between her and my SO who is valently struggling to stay OUT of a wheel chair and my mother who is definately losin it, and can barely walk with a walker. Not to mention his mothers health and he is stressing over that.

    I get a couple of calls a day from mom, where she is either crying, accusing people in the home of stealing her stuff, accusing my aunt of stealing her money, giivng me an inventory of what stuff she has left and what she wants to bring with her, am I sure my aunt isn't in charge of her money (she is, but trying to get my mother to understand there isn't much I can do about being on her bank account while I am some 3,000 miles away isn't working for the bank so I lie to her) ..some days I don't even answer my phone it gets that bad LOL

    If my brother (aka The Saint) and his wife had not gone on a 5,000 spending spree for months and months and months on end, I could have put her in an assisted living here.

    I don't know what you can do with your sis and your mom if they don't want to move cept say either move close by me or else. Its bad when family gets older or is ladden with illneses - its really bad when they are stubborn to boot.

  6. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Not much advice. My mom is moving in Dec. 29th for the duration even though I have to keep her house in Pa going because she would fall apart if I shut down and sold the house.
    I went through this before with my dad for 3 yrs.
    All I can tell you is to make sure your SO and children get priority. When someone is in need then they have to learn about the world doesn't revolve around children 100% of the time. It's a lot of work to juggle all those balls.
    I try to not be a martyr and if someone offers(sisters) I take them up on it. My sis kept mom the last two months because we had a lot of travel going on. Now mom will come down and stay for the duration.

    I'm sorry that you are feeling the squeeze. I know I get overwhelmed too.
  7. ML

    ML Guest

    Nothing to add but support and hugs. I am the last year of the boomers I think (61) but since I had manster so late this could happen to me if mom doesn't take better care of herself.

    Adding hugs and encouragement. Please take care of yourself first and foremost otherwise it all falls apart. Love, ML
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    OK, I went to the board Holiday Card area of Photobucket, and GCV and I are the only ones who posted cards...
  9. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    I got the correct password from Abbey yesterday but have been running around like the proverbial chicken with no head...last night at 11 pm I had to ask one of the Target employees which way was the front of the store :faint:

    should get my cards posted tomorrow sometime.
  10. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Hey PJ, sending lots of hugs. My mom is 87 and we (siblings and I) have finally gotten on the same page and are avidly seeking a home for her. Initially she will go into a place in PA that we chose that's great, then we will transfer her to a CT place of our choosing. The advantage of having her here is that there is more family present and able to help. My sister in PA was the only one available and she has her own famly (with a difficult child teen) and that's more than a plateful. Plus she has her own health issues.

    I would urge you to contact your state's Dept of Aging just to make sure there aren't any other not federally funded programs your mom may be eligible, your sister also in fact since her health is so poor and fragile. On both the local and the state level, there are programs that your mom and sister would not be eligible on the federal level. It's worth a shot and worth the effort in case she is eligible for something, no matter how small.

    It sounds like your sister would be better off in a convalescent home and perhaps mom would be better suited to an assisted living facility. She would still have some autonomy while still having emergency staff on hand should the need arise. Mom is taking on a lot of the caregiving of your sister that she shouldn't and vice versa. I feel for you! You must just feel frazzled.

    I will keep you in my prayers. Im sorry you're facing this with your mom and sister - I know it's so difficult, especially from afar. Hugs~
  11. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Thanks for all the support . Like I said, I know I'm not the only one dealing with this stuff, it just feels that way sometimes.

    Right now I can't see any way for this to end short of my mom and sister hitting the wall, singly or together, at which point we will have to pick up lots of little pieces and put them back together again - if we can.

    I happen to have an inside track as far as public programs in our state go and know there are none that my mom would qualify for due to her income. She does have LTC insurance but is "saving it" for when she really needs it.

    The kind of things mom needs help with are not really covered by LTC. To some extent they're the kind of services provided in assisted living facilities. But mom will not go there voluntarily as long as my sister is living independently and my mom has even a shadow of independence left. And she will not move close to myself or my other sister in AZ because that would be "abandoning" my sister C.

    My sister would qualify for in home support services except that my mom is claiming her as a dependent for tax purposes and she doesn't have MediCare part B. My sister is on SDI but refused to sign up for MediCare because she believes she will be unable to get the care she needs through that program. I don't know whether she would or wouldn't but it doesn't matter since SHE is convinced of her position. Without Part B she can't get IHSS in our state at this time, assuming she would be willing to apply for the services.

    My sister would have to be literally on death's door to go into any kind of rehab hospital. Two reasons: she is an extremely high risk patient and is in danger of infection in any kind of group care setting like a hospital or rehab center; and she would just plain go crazy in that setting.

    This is a woman who is ABD - all but dissertation - toward a doctorate in pediatric neuropsychology in a program that qualifies it's candidates for prescribing privileges. She is functionally a pediatric neuropsychologist with special expertise in the area of deaf/hard of hearing children. Can you imagine her in a rehab hospital without access to a computer of her own, work to do, library privileges?

    Even when she is very, very sick, her mind is going a mile a minute. She has my mom read journals and textbooks to her when she's too sick to hold the books or can't see to read anymore. This weekend she dictated a 7 page case analysis "final" for one of her classes to a college student to type up for her. Besides the 7 page analysis (with footnotes) there was a 3 page list of references. C told the student what references to use and the student looked up the exact details to enter in the correct reference format. I think she would just turn her face to the wall and die if she was isolated from intellectual stimulation at this kind of level.

    I won't go in to all the details but I have a lot of time in as a caregiver to people with serious health conditions and rehab hospitals are not healthy places for a patient with her issues. A small, highly specialized board and care might work but C. is unwilling to even talk about whether she might be at the point where she needs that level of help.

    Another barrier to a board and care is payment for that service without a private source or MediCare funding. Even an assisted living center might work but again who's going to pay?

    Guess what I need is to find an assisted living center that they can both move to so they can get the care they need while retaining as much independence as possible. Don't know about the $$$.

    Maybe I could get each of them to agree for the sake of the other...

    I think I need to conference with my sister in AZ and see what she thinks and knows. She's a smart cookie and has more experience with the assisted living stuff than I do cause of her mother in law. Sadly, I always seem to rub her the wrong way - maybe it's just the oldest:youngest stuff that's the issue. Dont' know cause she won't really talk about it, just avoids me as much as possible. Might also be the L word - she and her husband are devout churchgoers and I'm under the impression our family would not be welcome at their church. All I know is the harder I try to avoid mis-steps the more I seem to offend her.

    Well it's going to be pretty hard to continue to avoid me if we have to start dealing with C and Mom's living placements in a united fashion. Oh goody.

    I have to go to bed now. It's been helpful thinking out loud here.

    And I have also gotten very clear that I have to make my own family here my priority. I need to be proactive with the situation with my mom and sister but not at the expense of my own family.