Crisis Management 101

When my phone rang at 10am, i wasn’t surprised that it was my sister, S.  i still let it go to voicemail.  It’s easier for me to talk to her if i have a few moments to get my head around whatever it is she’s on about.
But today?  i knew. 
i have been calling my folks on Sundays for over 20 years – now, just calling Mom on Sunday night.  Last night when i spoke with her, she was out of breath, and even more crabby than usual.  It was pretty obvious to me that she wasn’t feeling well even before she told me about the headaches and breathing trouble.
We went through some of the things i’d been researching for her regarding her supplemental medicare insurance choices, but she wasn’t tracking.  She said her head hurt, she was tired, wanted me to just come down to fill out the paperwork for her because she didn’t want to deal with it anymore. 
From there?  A brief pity party because  no one in the family seems willing to get together for Thanksgiving* this year.  i reminded her that she’s going to spend Thursday with S and her family for a home-cooked meal and some time playing games and watching movies. 

Not what she had in mind, apparently.  “The family is just falling apart…” she lamented.  i told her that i’d have been willing to host the family, but after the debacle from two years ago, i don’t think it would help.
Rather than be sucked into the conversation further, i suggested that she get some rest and think about going to see a doctor if she wasn’t feeling better soon.
Thus, the phone call this morning from my sister, S.  Mom spent yesterday with S’s clan, and apparently could barely keep her head up during dinner.  Weak, struggling to breathe, and she barely spoke for most of the day.  Earlier in the week, she’d been so weak she was unable to stand up from the wheelchair during a shopping excursion.

When they asked if she wanted to go to the doctor?  She said she wanted to wait until the last week in November, when she’s scheduled to see her cardiologist.  
S:  I swear, I don’t think she’s going to make it to Christmas!  Daisyfae, she’s going to die soon!  I’ve come to terms with it…
daisyfae:  We can’t change the outcome, but we can affect the path.  Can’t you just call and change the appointment with the cardiologist?  She might need to go to the emergency room even…
S:  She says she wants to wait to see the doctor.  This has been so hard to watch, and it’s been SO hard on DQ and BJ.  She says her last wish is for the family to get together** once more.  Last night?  She said she thought she was dying…

daisyfae [interrupting]:  Do you want me to call the cardiologist?  Seriously, if she thinks she’s dying, maybe we shouldn’t wait two weeks?
S:  That’s probably a good idea…
And so i was able to call the cardiology practice, and get Mom an appointment for 2:30 in the afternoon with the nurse practitioner.  At least someone will be doing triage on her symptoms.   
And so it goes….


* Given the number of divorces in my extended family, Thanksgiving was a particularly harrowing day for my trailer park siblings.  They’d have to be in five places at once, hauling kids here, having lunch there, stopping by a grandparents place after that…  We decided a long time ago to ‘time shift’ the family holiday to the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  My brother and his wife have been hosting for a few years, but after dealing with some of the shit for the past few, haven’t stepped up to do it again.  After my failed attempt a couple of years ago?  Fuck that.
** But that conflicts with my last wish, which is for the family to NEVER AGAIN be assembled under the same roof… because that means i’d have to be there, too (sigh).

34 thoughts on “Crisis Management 101

  1. Good for you. You did the right thing, Daisy, in acting promptly on her symptoms.

    Several years ago my mother, unbeknownst to me, became extremely anemic from the anti-cancer meds. she was taking. When I finally figured something was very wrong, she too didn’t want to go to the doctor and wanted to wait for her next scheduled appointment—in a month. We went that day and she was whisked right over to the hospital and given a transfusion. The doctor in charge was amazed she’d been able to get around at all, given the extent of the anemia.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to stuff like this, you become the “parent.”

    • i’m trying to provide the benefit of the doubt… that mom’s condition took a sudden turn for the worst, and wasn’t that bad for a couple weeks… they released her to go home after running a lot of tests, including a stress test, so i guess she wasn’t in immediate danger.

    • my brother-in-law, JK, is retired now, and was able to take her to the doctor. she was apparently feeling well enough on the way home to stop for some delicious fried goods at Big Boy.

      about the phone number? i was on the phone with my sister, who was also at work, and started googling the cardiologist’s number – but couldn’t remember the address. S said “oh, let me look” and was able to find it for me from her computer. it simply never occurred to her to call the doctor herself.

  2. I hope everything is going to be all right, Daisy. Never easy to deal with aging people. I had a client who was very elderly but living on her own. She was gradually going down hill, but still coping. One day I came to give her her massage and she could barely stand up, almost fainted on me. She had been feeling nauseous the previous week, and this week she still told me she felt like she had “that flu”. She was so white; I really didn’t like the situation. Her son came around every Thursday to take her shopping, her massages were always on Tuesday. I had told her that I thought she ought to see her physician, but she didn’t want to do an “extra” appointment, she had a regular appointment to check her blood every three months and the next appt. was in three weeks.

    Well, I went home and called her son and told him I thought something was very wrong with his mother so he came up to town. The upshot was, he took her to the hospital over her objections the next morning. She had a bleeding ulcer and was seriously anemic and they gave her three units of blood right then and admitted her into the hospital for treatment.

    The moral of the story is, if the elder seems like they probably need some medical attention, they more than likely DO need it, and right now.

    You did the right thing.

    And the whole family being under the same roof is probably a bad idea. Even for Christmas. Actually, ESPECIALLY for Christmas.

    • everything will eventually work out. she’s a tough old broad, but will literally give up the ghost at some point, and then i can revert to polite distance and a “thousand yard stare” when dealing with the rest of them… talked my Florida sister out of coming home last night. told her to do something AFTER the holidays. used the stepped up TSA activities as an additional deterrent…. (sigh)

  3. Well i guess it’s our job isn’t it? it’s not something i think anyone enjoys or looks forward to but someday i’ll bury my father and my mother, and my sons will bury me, any deviation in the order isn’t natural. Now go listen to Waiting for Superman by the Flaming Lips.

    • the only thing i truly fear is outliving my children. oh, and spiders. any deviation in that order makes my knees shake. we are supposed to bury our parents. i know it’s coming, and am fairly well prepared to deal with the end game. it’s just the path. the damn path that she’s taking to get there… it’s hard to move a path when it’s pinned down by some perfectly well intentioned boneheads.

      maybe superman can take a break from lifting the sun and see if he can help me move a path…. (great song! thank you!)

    • i have suspected for some time that they are already zombies. no living human could be quite that dense, now, could they? but i am reminded that they have absolutely no interest in brains, which rules out my ‘already zombies’ theory…

  4. Hi Daise — I liked your line about affecting the path — acceptance is the whole ballgame, I think. Sounds like you’re at least most of the way there? Maybe? Kinda?

    Standby liquor cabinet…… liquor cabinet GO!

    • i think we’re pretty lousy in this western culture of dealing with the reality of death. my dad taught me the process… how to take it head on, with as much dignity and functionality as can be mustered in the face of flapping loved ones and the health care system we created…

      yes. one bourbon. one scotch. and one beer… (sigh)

    • happy to help… i’m best with flapping-whacked out family, but can handle doctors pretty well, too. customers in a restaurant? you may want a back up plan. i’d simply hit them.

  5. Jeez. Good for you, and spazzy for them. If the woman can’t hold her head up at the dinner table, moving up the doctor’s appointment sounds like a pretty good idea. Do you say “duh” to your family a lot?

    I’m glad she got a decent bill of health, and can have her damn meal. I’m glad you can see through the guilt crap. I have a weird feeling you’d be better at my job than I am. Could you cover for me next time I go on vacation?

    • seems i was on speed-dial for an endless series of dark life issues today. i could not do this for pay, nor could i do it on a regular basis. you are in the trenches, and quite honestly, i don’t know how you do it… and i genuinely like people, too… (sigh)

    • thanks. i know what is coming and it’s a big bag of suck. but there are worse things… kyknoord’s quote from earlier in the week pretty much nails it:

      “We all come into the story halfway through, we all catch up as best we can, and we’re all gonna die before it ends”

      – Peter Watts, Blindight

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s