When the Dysfunction Hits the Fan

Wow, this past seven days has been a whirlwind of research, phone calls, questions, more research, more questions and phone calls. At times it really does make my head spin.

I had done research on places for my Dad and found a referral service, so I inquired and started the process for getting help from folks who do this sort of thing for a living. I thought it’d be great to have someone ‘in the know’ on our side, especially since it costs us nothing. I quickly found out, however, I could not because I’m not the Power of Attorney.

Sharp learning curve ahead!

I had no idea what Power of Attorney meant, so I pulled out Dad’s will and looked through it. It was only after looking at our own wills that Richard and I saw what I had was in no way complete. I had to call my Step-Mom and ask her to look it up. It was our oldest brother. Okay, I thought, I’ll just forward the information and research to him. A phone call later and letting him know he is the Power of Attorney surprised him. Oh yeah, I’m not alone in being overwhelmed!

Meanwhile, my Sister-in-Law was taking the lead on some things she’d learned from a friend who had been a Critical Care Nurse. It all sounded well and good but it relied heavily on the Social Worker to help with a heck of a lot of stuff. I couldn’t fathom this happening in a big city. At any rate, she started off on that path.

I’d like to say at this point it was all smooth sailing, but no. One week ago today I began the correspondence with the referral agency and then handed that over to my brother at the beginning of this week. He didn’t want to do some of the things he needs to. Oh joy, oh bliss. I didn’t know there was an opt-out of responsibility. Yes, I’m frustrated, exasperated, and a wee bit on the pissed off side!

The dirt was flying, soon no one knew who was doing what and it got confusing not only for us but the Social Worker and the woman at the referral agency. Yep. Welcome to my dysfunctional life. We weren’t functional before this, why ruin the fun and start now? LOL!

It was decided by Step-Mom and the Power of Attorney to have me added to the POA. Okay. My Step-Mom said something to the effect of I hope you’re ready for this. I laughed and said, well, all those years I was trying to keep my house, work, and all was practice for this! Perhaps in reality it was that and more.

In my little world of TBI people’s intentions, including my own, tend to surface rather quickly with strange clarity. I can’t help my family with their baggage, insecurities, excuses, justifications, hang-ups, hesitations, etc. All I know is time is passing by quickly while the buck is being passed and my Dad’s life is at stake. Hello people, get your act together, this is NOT about YOU!

For whatever reason, my brain is sparked by this challenge and responsibility of finding Dad the best care. So much of my past ten years post-injury have been a living hell, going through systems that don’t care one iota about people, being isolated, feeling abandoned, vulnerable. I get it. I have a strong protective streak and I hate anyone being taken advantage of or not receiving the care they need. And passing Dad around like a flaming hot potato irritated the heck out of me.

I had to think about why I was willing to take this on and suddenly seem to be able to rise to the occasion although I get absolutely exhausted.

Here is some of my reasoning so far:

  • Dad served his country in WWII, he donated blood every year, he volunteered most of his life and we saw service and sacrifice in 3-D. You would NEVER hear him complain about his hardships…ever.
  • This is what we were raised for. We knew it would be coming, we didn’t know when and honestly, I have a couple of friends who would have loved to have as much time with their Dad as we did.
  • It’s not about who Dad is or isn’t, was or wasn’t.
  • That protective streak in me means I HAVE TO KNOW he is being taken care of.
  • There is just something odd about my TBI being able to handle this type of adversity and challenge. It seems I am at my best in these sorts of situations. Who knew? I am fully aware this will take its toll, I have to pace and plan, process and let go, take care of myself all along the way or I will crash, and crash hard.
  • It is, quite simply, the right thing to do – and – so I live without regret knowing I did my best for him with what I had while I could.

The reason why we are tasked with the responsibility of making sure Dad is cared for is because they divorced. Yes, I know, I still call her my Step-Mom, she still goes to see Dad, but it’s entirely different now.

Maybe putting it into a mental picture can help. There was a woman and her husband out here you’d see often at the local restaurant. Her husband was unable to communicate, had to be directed by his wife where to sit down, she took off his coat, etc. There was an unmistakable sense of respect, honor, love, devotion and acceptance.

You just knew how much she loved him because you could see it. Caring for him was no chore, it was an expression of love.

Well, okay. Here we are with Dad and Step-Mom. She is not seeing him every day and is totally uninvolved in this process. It is the most bizarre thing. They have been married something like 10-15 years and the distance is unsettling, almost eerie.

I got a call from the Social Worker today, initially Dad was going to stay where he is for 6 weeks, then earlier this week they said 3 weeks, and now we’re back to 6 weeks. Why the change? Dad’s getting weaker, more emotional (missing his wife) and his cognition is decreasing.

In no uncertain terms will she have Dad back at her house if he is unable to care for himself. He’s 89-years-old! Nor will she have in-home care for him because she doesn’t want people in her home. Okaayyy…?

I’m struggling to accept just how it is that her personal preferences trump my Dad’s life and how she can be okay with it. To me, it would be optimal to have him return home and have in-home care and pass away in familiar surroundings.

Forgive me for rambling on about this, it’s just my processing of this one is a little slow, and the truth a hard one to swallow. But, in these situations we get to see the best and worst in ourselves and others.

As I’ve said all along this life post-TBI, if this weren’t my life it’d be a fascinating study in human behavior!

About Resilient Heart

TBI x3, that's me! If you had a Traumatic Brain Injury (or Injuries!) and knew you might not remember dates, events, people, etc., would you live each day differently? Would you give more, forgive more, heal more? I am. The statistics for me developing Dementia or Alzheimer's is a high possibility - one, because of the TBIs, and two - because I'm genetically predisposed. Come with me as this present moment is all we know we have... Wishing you all the best - today & always. Blessings, Love & Peace, RH
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11 Responses to When the Dysfunction Hits the Fan

  1. these situations always bring out the worst in families. all the stuff comes out to see. take care of yourself. your dad’s journey is his journey. you can help but you can’t take it all on or you’ll be sick. hugs.

    • Thanks so much, Louise, yes these situations sort of magnify what’s already there at a really inconvenient time, LOL!

      I have already rested a couple of times just today and am offering my spirit it’s own safe place for this journey. Indeed, I cannot take all of it on nor should it be placed onto any one person’s shoulders.

      Thanks so much for your always sage, crystal clear wisdom, and support. I respect you highly and appreciate your words more than I can say. Hugs. 🙂

  2. buckwheatsrisk says:

    yes like Louise said please take care of yourself!

  3. I admire your great courage and do wish you the best.May you be rejuvenated.Take care!

  4. oh my! I have been in real life and not here in blogland

    I am so sorry you are going through this! I did the same with my mom and it DOES tax the old noggin! It took me 2 YEARS to realize that I REALLY did need to take care of me and my family first. PLEASE take care of you OK?

    I found great help through an organization called Jewish Family Services. I am not Jewish and they do not care. They are nationwide and have all manner of help available INCLUDING care takers therapy. I can not tell you how much that helped me. There is therapy for a whacked childhood (been there done that) for being abused (been there done that) for substance abuse (been there done that) SO I thought I had this thing licked. The care takers therapy REALLY really helped me figure out what my role was (huge) and how to handle it with balance.

    They also had very very affordable very good in home care. My mom fought it tooth and nail and it worked: until she had to move to a home.

    Just an idea. TAKE care of you TOO OK???

    XO Jen

    • Hi Jen! No worries, real life kind of takes over our best intended plans sometimes. 🙂 I’m sorely missing reading blogs right now.

      Yes, I am taking care of myself, pacing and planning, lots of breaks, naps, water to hydrate and I even juiced organic kale, spinach, and salad greens and added that to apple juice. Today I woke with a headache so it is definitely a take-it-easy day.

      Thanks for sharing the Jewish Family Services, I’ve received help from Catholic Community Services when I lived in Bremerton, a complete godsend!

      My Step-Mom will NOT take Dad back into her home unless he can take care of himself, which he can’t. She’s completely closed off to the notion of in-home care so we’re working with a no-fee agency to find Dad the best care possible.

      None of this is easy, but there’s always a pathway through.

      Thanks so much for touching base, It’s always great to hear from you.

      Back to bed for me. Hugs & all things beautiful, Ms. Jen. 🙂

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