Thursday, July 29, 2010

Feeling very alone

Over a year ago, when Mum started to get noticeably worse and need me to be at her house for hours every day, my brother was still in occasional contact with her.

He's never bothered with her much. He doesn't send her a card on her birthday, mothers' day or Christmas. He doesn't ring her up. She has always had to ring him. I don't know what his problem is with her, although he did admit once that during his child custody case, he didn't like the evidence Mum gave that my former sister in law was not a bad mother. Mum said she'd never kick someone when they're down and my sister in law had been suffering from a nervous condition.

So Mum got worse and she would tell my brother conflicting things on the phone. He took this to be 'lying' and began to dislike her. I think he decided she was turning into a 'liar' in her old age. For example, I was there once sitting in the lounge room as Mum was talking to him. He asked her if I was there. She said no. Then, a minute later, she called out to ask me something. He said, "Stop lying Mum, she is there," and hung up on her. She just hadn't remembered that I was in the house.

I have never understood why my brother won't talk to me. I don't recall ever having done anything wrong. I would take Mum to his house several hundred kms away 5-10 times every year so she could visit him, but he'd never say a word to me. I learnt to live with it.

In December Mum suffered a blackout on a plane coming home. She was taken to hospital in Sydney. She wasn't conscious. I thought she was dying. I called my brother and asked him to come. I even offered to transfer money for petrol to him so he could afford to drive the four hours to Sydney.

My brother phoned the hospital to inquire about her and they put Mum on the phone. She was by then conscious again. It's thought she suffered a seizure, something that's common in people with dementia. He asked her how she was. She said she was fine. She said, "I'm going home now, the doctor is discharging me. Don't worry, there's nothing wrong with me." He asked if she'd been unconscious. She said no. She had no idea where she was or what was happening so nothing she said was true, but he believed it.

He got his daughter to drive to Sydney instead with a view to taking Mum away from me permanently, since I was making up stories about her being sick when she wasn't. By the time she got there, Mum was sitting up in bed drinking tea. She'd been hallucinating though, and nurses had found her wandering in a corridor as she'd got lost, but my niece didn't know this.

Mum was released from hospital the next day and my niece told me she'd take Mum to my brother's place for a couple of days' break. I found this a bit unusual as he hadn't wanted her staying there ever before, but I wasn't suspicious. I let her go, though she was reluctant, not wanting to leave her cat.

As soon as she got to my brother's place, all contact with me was cut off. My niece, when I rang to inquire about Mum, said, "You are a liar and I'm not talking to you ever again." My brother and his de facto wife just hung up the phone on me as soon as they answered. I didn't know what the hell was going on.

Over the next few days I spoke to Mum quite a few times on her mobile phone. She can still use it, which is great. I have programmed it so that she only has to press down number 3 to get me, or 2 to get my daughter, or 4 for my son.

Mum had been taken to the bank to inquire how much money was in there and to get statements. As soon as I heard this, I went online to her account and transferred $3000 to another of her accounts, inaccessible by keycard, for safety. Sure enough, my de facto sister in law tried to withdraw that money, then sent me an angry email when she couldn't get the money out. She said she needed that money for Mum's 'board and lodgings'. She said I had 'stolen' the $3000.

My niece wrote on Facebook, for all my friends and other family members to see, that I was a liar and a thief and had taken $3000 from my mother.

Next Mum told me she was being taken for a brain scan. I rang my brother again to find out why. He hung up on me.

Mum couldn't remember why she was having a brain scan, so it was no use asking her. I was very alarmed by this time. She was being financially abused and taken for unnecessary tests and doctors' appointments. She said to me over and over, "I just want to go home to my house and my cat. Please come and get me."

Emails to my brother's house asking when I could collect her got no response.

I discussed the problem with several family members and Mum's friends and they all said I must drive to my brother's country town, go to the local police and ask them to help me get her back.

So this is what happened. I got Mum back home. She was very glad to be home.

I thought that would be the end of it, as my brother had no interest in Mum and had barely ever lifted a finger to help her with anything.

But he turned up at her house unannounced a few days later with his de facto wife. I had arrived to do my day's work at Mum's place and he was there. He was shouting and being nasty, telling her I was after her money and telling people lies that she had dementia. I asked him to leave. I said, "I have Guardianship and I won't have you talking to Mum like this. I want you to go."

He then assaulted me and left. I called the police and an Apprehend Violence Order was issued. What a terrible way for things to turn out. I had hoped for help from my brother with Mum's problems and this is what happened.

My brother notified police he would not accept the AVO and would contest it in court. So this happened on Monday.

It was terrible. I had to give evidence. I didn't tell lies, but they did. They had got together and concocted various stories. The magistrate saw no reason for an AVO since my brother stated in court, "I have hated my sister for 30 years and I never want to see her again, so I won't be any problem to her in the future." The magistrate accepted this.

How horrible to hear in court that your brother has hated you for 30 years.

He also said that I was telling lies that Mum has dementia. He said he had taken her to his doctor, who tested her and found no sign of dementia. He'd then got a brain scan done, which showed no sign of a problem. He told the court I was inventing the dementia in order to get control of Mum's assets.

My de facto sister in law stated I stole $3000 from Mum. The magistrate said he was going to ignore that evidence as he was not in any position to make a decision on what happened to the $3000.

They both said terrible things about me. They told dreadful lies. I didn't care that there's no longer an AVO, but I didn't like hearing those things said.

So now I am on my own. I do have my 22 year old son living with me, so that's a bit of a help. My daughter is too far away to help.

I have lost my eldest niece, I will never see my brother again (probably a good thing) and I am on my own as far as caring for Mum.

I don't understand why any of this happened. Why would my brother disbelieve me when I said Mum has problems with her memory and behaviour? I know she always managed to pull herself together and act normally in his presence.

I think he knows something is wrong and he doesn't want anything to do with the situation. He doesn't want to see Mum go downhill and so he's made up a reason never to see her or me again. He has not contacted her in six months and has changed his phone numbers so she can't ring him.

She cries all the time about it. Her grand daughter hates her too and calls her a liar as well as me. Mum has a great grandchild on the way that she will never see.

I have heard these kinds of things happen in many families after a person has been found to have dementia.

The magistrate was good in his summing up of the case. He began by saying positive things about me. He said, "It is plain to see that the defendant's mother is in need of assistance. In my experience, when an elderly person suffers from dementia, the burden is placed on the shoulders of one person, and in this case that person is the defendant's sister. It is clear to me that the defendant has done nothing for his mother in recent years."

He said other things, too, that supported me, but at the end he said that since my brother hates me and will never see me again and never intends to visit the town to visit his mother either, there is no point in having an Apprehend Violence Order.

The Cat Food Battle

The battle of the Cat Food continues. Yesterday Mum walked down to the mall by herself before I got to her house. She admitted to me that she had terrible trouble finding her way out (she says this is because of her bad eyesight but I know it's more than that) and had to walk round and round looking for the exit.

So, at the mall she went to Coles and bought about 20 of those little expensive gourmet tins of cat food at $1.80 each. She also bought another cat food dish - she has 7 or 8 now.

When I arrived at her house, the old problem had happened again. I found several tins half-opened and left in the cupboard to go bad. I found two plates - not cat food plates but parts of her dinner set - full of cat food and 'hidden' by saucers on top so I couldn't find them, in the fridge. And about 4 plates of cat food on the floor in various parts of the house.

All up about 9 tins of cat food had been wasted (the cat was not hungry as I fed her a few hours before) at a cost of $16. I can't allow this waste of money to continue so I said to her, "Mum, you have tins of cat food EVERYWHERE. You have to let me take care of the cat food!"

I always say things I wish I hadn't. She didn't know there were tins of cat food and plates of cat food all over the place. She denied this and said I was making it up to make her look 'mad'. She shouted and ranted about my efforts to kill the cat by starvation because I hate the cat.

I have three cats, all shiny and well fed - but not fat.

There were a lot of nasty words said as I disposed of the excess cat food and hid the tins that were left when she wasn't looking.

Then I put two tins on the kitchen cupboard, one labelled 'WEDNESDAY' and the other 'THURSDAY', but I know I'm wasting my time, by later today she'll have opened both of them and put them on the floor, probably on plates she expects people to eat from.

I should have taken the two nice dinner sets to my house and hidden them months ago. I cannot offer them to family members now, once she has gone to her rest. I don't know which plates the cat has eaten off. I will probably just throw the dinner sets out one day. Am I being over-fussy?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mum dies for 15 minutes on operating table

Dramatic developments the past few weeks. The surgeon was going to remove her pre-cancerous adenomatous polyp. The anaesthetist misjudged the amount of anaesthetic to give her and her heart stopped. It took 9 electric shocks to re-start her heart. She was in a coma on life support. The family came to say goodbye. I took out her pre-planned funeral booklet and started to think of arrangements.

But next morning, at 10 a.m., just as my daughter arrived from interstate. she woke up and asked for a cup of tea!

I have mixed feelings about this. I think if it were me, I'd only want to die once; I wouldn't have wanted to be resuscitated at the age of 83. But then, Mum does not know she has dementia. She thinks I am the one who is crazy and keeps making mistakes. I asked her if she wanted to be resuscitated if her heart stopped again and she said yes, it's good to be alive. So I should be glad that she wants to be here. But hey, God, what are you doing here? You sent her back to suffer more?

My cousin said to me, "God's timing is always right." For all the nice atheists out there, I apologize for this venture into the spiritual world. I'm sure you have your way of looking at things too. But this is how I look at it. So, I am trying to accept that she was sent back for a reason, that there is more work for her to do here, OR MAYBE I HAVEN'T BEEN PUNISHED ENOUGH!!!??

So, she was in hospital under close observation for a week. They could find nothing wrong with her heart. It wasn't a heart attack.

The surgeon and anaesthetist apologized. I won't be suing, that's for sure. It was good to get an apology for this horrible mistake.

The surgeon said he'd give her two months to think whether she'd like to try again. So we got a few opinions. Most opinions were that dying of bowel cancer is a very nasty way to die and even though the operation might kill her (again), that is a better way to go.

Meanwhile she had an operation for a large skin cancer on her leg. The surgeon had to cut about half an inch down. She had skin grafts. It has been painful and there's been a lot of suffering associated with it. She's still in pain and has to sleep at my place. I take her home to her house in the day time. I have to take her to the local doctor every day so the nurse can change the dressing. My workload has multiplied. I have very little time to myself now. I have to do everything for Mum. When she showers, we have to wrap the leg in plastic and make sure we don't get it wet. Goo runs down into her sock and so socks need changing several times a day and soaking in bleach. It is horrible.

I am trying to take over feeding the cat. She is resisting. I just can't take any more of her forgetting if she's fed it or not and trying to feed it six times a day at least and leaving several plates heaped high with dry cat food througout the house. There have been arguments: she says I'm trying to starve the cat to death because I don't like it. She says I'm a bully and I'm a cat-killing cat-hater. But I'm being stubborn and sticking to my plan. One plate of dry food and one small tin of food each day - no more.

God it is hard.