Need insight on mum's health

  • Mum has had all kinds of health issues for 2-3 years. As far as I know, they were auto-immune in nature. She also had a fall twice in that same period and had a minor fracture the second time. Her auto immune issues seemed to have stabilized with meds. However, a few months ago, she started developing numbness and pain in the legs and hips and has mobility issues now. Scans reveal tumours in the brain and spine and she's slated for surgery asap, which appears to have poor odds of actually fixing the issue. And risk of failure, incomplete work, stroke, paralysis, and death. Even if successful,, it ill leave her less able than she was before. However, her condition is expected to worsen if she doesn't do the surgery or the issue is not resolved.

    I sense that the actual cause is something simple, that if found and fixed, would negate the need for surgery. I think the tumors are actually just an inflammatory side effect and are causing impingement - and that they will go on their own if the real cause is resolved. She's in her 60s...even if surgery is successful, it would be sad if she loses her mobility and ability to work etc, or becomes in need of caregiving.

    I also wonder about the spiritual side of this or lessons for her etc. It feels very unnatural about how her health has just turned, and just as one aspect stabilizes, a new issue pops up.

    She's not going to listen if I tell her to try alternative treatment. What's the best way to proceed here and what do we need to know? If there is something important she should know, how can I share it in a way she will hear it?

  • ACCEPTANCE. I know that's a hard call but the issues presented right now did not happen over night. The "simple" intuition you are getting is both true yet not. A lot of simple life changes would have made a long term change but right now it is too late for that change to reverse things. Of course better choices would help but the brain tumors will continue to grow and that is a tough one. On the positive side they were slow growing. Anti inflammatory treatments like taking Turmeric etc. would have been good as a life style habit but she has chosen or in reality ended up in an emergency situation that puts her in medical care and that's hard for an outsider like you with your more proactive beliefs to fight. Medicine treats with medical treatments. The best way to be in control of that possibility is for a person to decide early on that they will be proactive and do all possible not to end up in an emergency situation. You can not convert her now. I'm sure she's tired and may be willing try some change but right now it is an urgent situation. The time to reevaluate her life style habits would be after a successful surgery. The doctors are just trying to save her one day at a time. I sense a blood sugar issue that has done long term damage as well as poor diet and that's pretty common. I know it looks like a sudden turn but the reality is that the issues she has are the many silent ones that do the most damage but go unnoticed. Medications often come with side affects so yes it's best to treat early with any possible alternatives or life style changes. I feel any spiritual messages are meant for YOU. Learn from it for yourself. Her life and her spiritual journey is hers. It's tough to separate yourself from a declining loved one. We all go through something like this. I wish I could give you a magic solution but this is one of those "in God's hands". Take one day at a time and do the usual prayers and listen to your daily intuitions. Consider your own SELF CARE practices and life style habits. I was close to my father's long decline that spanned many years! I took his journey to heart and put it to use for my own "self care". I try very hard not to repeat his mistakes! Prayers and BLESSINGS!

  • Problems with mobility indicate a fear of moving forward and with such drastic health issues, it seems as if your mother has many fears about life and living below the surface. Auto-immune problems are all about the body fighting itself or the spirit not being happy with the person's lifestyle choices/direction. perhaps there is something your mother longs to do but fears failure or a backlash from family? Still, if she is not open to any discussion on her private life or alternative theories about illness, I am not sure how you can help her.

  • Hi Blmoon,

    Oh yes, I’ve been taking notes…, because there are parallels in her health issues and mine. The cat caregiving situation is overwhelming, and makes it tough to do proper self care. But health is more important to me now. So I’m trying to change bit by bit and I believe I will turn it around eventually. My mum is a mentally strong person, and has a lot of drive. She did make some positive changes, just that perhaps they’ve not been enough to counteract any side effects from meds and other less health-affirming lifestyle and diet habits.

    And you’re right, this didn’t happen overnight. She’s had minor issues on and off for a long time. There seems to be an inconsistent belief that she can take charge of her wellness. At times, she seems resigned to being in poor health or a poor prognosis. I doubt all the doom and gloom and conflicting info from the doctors and specialists is helpful. I think that what will aid her in recovery is for her to take charge of this situation and believe in getting the best outcome for herself (no matter what she is experiencing right now) and making decisions in support of that. That even as she puts faith in the medical personnel, she needs to be the driving force of her wellness.

    Also I clearly ‘heard’ the message not to get involved. Because it is not my journey. And it is not my fight. I want her to be well, but I feel too tired to be invested in her situation. We are not close at all. My input is mostly ignored in the family. Regardless, I just was wondering if there was something I could or should say. But I will pray for her to receive the revelations and discernment she needs to get on the path that’s right for her.

  • Hi Captain,
    We don’t ‘share’ in this family. But my observation is that she is a go-getter, who pursues her interests. If she’s felt held back, it might be because of the illnesses or her life stage and perceived role in life. My mum has a lot of drive, but this is somewhat dampened by my dad’s less ambitious nature. I do think that sometimes my folks absorb each other’s individual insecurities and biases.

  • @danceur
    your mom is just like my dad! He was so tough! A coach that led others as far as the Olympics. He was a powerful force! BUT it was a self told lie to ignore his mortal very human reality of needs and self care. A strong will must have a healthy body to exist on this earthly plane. I am a tough one too and strong willed so being a big part of his slow decline was in my face and I got the message. He was a good person and of service to so many as a strong mentor. I learned there is no special pass for that. He did though beat the odds against him many times so the survivor energy did play out as a lucky boost but only for so long. I think you get it and your intuition is working but as a caretaker you feel that pull. ACCEPTANCE. You just needed validation. My father as well did not whine about his condition. He faced it with humor and his usual tough attitude. Also, some folks truly prefer the solace of doing things their way and excepting the price. Their choice. And you have yours. Hugs and BLESSINGS!

  • @danceur, could the fact that no one in your family shares (thus building up anger, resentment, frustration etc) be the basis or cause for all the family problems or illnesses? Could it be this handed-down group mindset that permits you all no relief or expression of your turmoil so that it all is held inside and festers into emotional or physical illness? Maybe you can be the one who heals all by bursting the dam of family emotion? Holding an intervention that allows everyone to feel safe expressing their grievances and sorrows? Your mother's physical illness manifested AFTER she repressed what she really needs inside her, and was not the initiator of her trouble.

  • Hi Blmoon,

    Mum is not stoic. She does get whiny when ill. But, she will push through like you wouldn’t believe. Very tenacious. It’s amazing how she has bounced back repeatedly from each health issue. But that does mean she doesn’t listen to the body’s need to slow down and heal. It comes across like she can’t ‘not move’ and ‘not do’, like she doesn’t want to take a minute to feel the situation.

    You said before about blood sugar issues.. I think that might be me. My adrenals are shot.

    I think acceptance could mean accepting that I don’t want to help (and reconciling that I’m selfish). I am not prepared to be there for her, at the expense of being there for me. I’m unwilling to play the role of safety net even though it is expected. It feels disingenuous to do that, when my folks and me do not have a relationship, beyond blood ties and living as house mates.

    I often wonder why my folks had children. Because although they did provide for us, I don’t recall them being interested in us as people or providing much guidance. They never fostered an emotional connection with us. We were latch key kids. The two of them were in their own bubble. Still are. I don’t blame them, it’s the way they are. When I was young, I really liked the freedom. But then I grew up and saw other people’s relationships with their folks, and realized, ours is so ‘off’.
    Do you get a sense of how surgery would go, if she chose it? Or how things could be for her in the near future?

  • Captain,

    You’re probably right. However, my mum is a co-creator and enforcer in this no-sharing framework. My folks are not nurturing people. They don’t know how to deal with feelings. They were never involved in our lives, beyond discipline, chores, practical daily stuff. It feels like they ignore or compartmentalize, and gloss over what they see. So we grew up feeling like we couldn’t express ourselves. The past few years and the caregiving have taken a toll, and I’ve allowed my emotion, opinions, wants and needs to shine through more, though often in blunt fashion. I dislike the non-communication. I refuse to gloss over how I feel. But Mum doesn’t want to hear it. Most times when conflict occurs – even if she’s an observer - she will yell at me to be quiet.

    I feel bad that my folks are coming away with an incomplete, inaccurate view of their children’s apathy. Then again, I’m not sure I care enough anymore to stage an intervention. I’m just too exhausted.

  • @danceur then for your own health, you need to pull back and accept that some people cannot be helped by others and have to learn their own (hard) lessons in order to grow and evolve. It would be much worse for you if you get sucked down with your parents who are too blind to see what they are doing to themselves and everyone around them.

  • Maybe you can help me unpack my thoughts… I don’t know what I’m trying to say or what I need to work on.

    I want to reach a place where I can interact with my family in a non needs-based, and neutral context. It feels like – because there wasn’t an emotional nurturing or teaching aspect in how we were raised – I never really formed a proper connection with my folks. They never talked to us about hopes, dreams, life... didn’t care or know if we were dating, never knew our friends. It’s like the kids were just part of the unit and tagging along for the ride which is my parent’s life journey. I know they did their best and there’s learned behaviour from their own parents etc that they could not help. Still, I can’t have a genuine connection with anyone under those terms. It seems to invalidate my relationship with them and any expectations they have of me. I don't feel obligated in the way I think I should. In some way, I started viewing them as people behaving badly. Even from a young age, I have often not fulfilled the expectations (to participate, to contribute, to commiserate with the official line etc) because of the feeling that it wasn’t emotionally honest or that it put me in a situation where I couldn’t be there for myself. Or that they were asking something they could learn to do for themselves, and just didn’t want to. I allowed myself to be viewed through the lens of (other’s) disappointment or to be seen as the black sheep because it felt ‘more aligned’. It's tough to do that when you're all living together. It made me feel even more estranged from everyone. I was doing the right thing for me, I listened to my instincts but it hurt me too and messed up my thinking..

    Now as we reach the stage of my folks having health challenges and possibly needing caregiving, I’m not sure how to honor my truth without creating a situation (refusing to be involved) where reconciliation becomes impossible. Strangely (or not), this is not a 'deal breaker' for me.
    But it is a steep price to pay for emotional freedom.

    I have gratitude for them being my parents and all the sacrifices they made. I’m just not ok with allowing choices that keep me in a fragmented state - perhaps even those that arise out of grave situations. I gave up so much to do the present caregiving - and I feel like I don't have much of anything left. But it feels like I have everything to lose if I don't make the right steps, moving forward.

  • Hi Danceur,

    I am going to be a buttinsky (jump in) hahaha and you can break apart that first part of the word if you want. Growing up I had moments that I clung too that kept me sane. I learned what not to do growing up and I held onto the moments that were good and worked them out so my kids wouldn't have to go through it. You still make mistakes...but I look at the work my wife and I did and I can smile. You have a spark in you, ignite it and trust in your feelings. Use the barometer of what you went through and what not to do and try something different. Learn from often and quick and see what works. Be honest about it and don't worry if you make a mistake. That will be growth that you can build on. How can you lose if your honest and you tried your best? Yeah others will look at you like you are strange, they will create there own perceptions either way... but you will look in the mirror and see the truth and that will be enough.

  • Guilt or duty are not good enough reasons to tie yourself to people who may be harming you.

  • Nick, you can be a buttinsky anytime 😊 You know your input is greatly appreciated.

    I didn’t mean to disparage parenthood. I’m already a parent, in many ways, to my cat. I repeated the same ‘mistakes’ from the way I was raised – taking care of him without real nurturing, without seeing him - for most of that time. And it’s only in these caregiving years, that I learnt to become more authentic and present with him, to make him feel loved and cherished. I’ve done so many things differently from how I was raised. I don’t know how it could be true but it seems I learnt nothing good from my childhood and I’ve only carried forward baggage, inner child wounds and karma that keep getting revisited. And that anything good that I want to carry forward and expand on, I only learnt in the last 7-8 years from life, from others' experiences, from being on this forum, from personal realizations etc.

    I want what you said - which is the chance to fail and fail often and try again, without fear. I want to be able to try anything, without feeling responsible to anyone but myself.

    I can never have that within this household. Which is why I know I must leave, after the caregiving is done, after I can afford to. I’m even wondering now whether I’ll have to become homeless just to get away sooner.

  • Captain: I don’t think it does either. I’m not trying to give myself reasons to stay. I do not have here, what I believe a family is supposed to provide. And I’ve also turned into a toxic angry person, because I’m frustrated about the situation (and doing the caregiving in this context), and of feeling no stability in life. I don’t like who I become around them. So I know I have to go. It will benefit all of us. But I want to be clear what my motivations are, to figure out and own the toxic parts that are mine, and I need to know how to fix those. I don’t want to create more karma and repeating patterns.

    This is what I realized so far. I know I’m angry because 1) I lose the ability to extend care and support on my own terms, around my family; 2) they have expectations of me I don’t feel they’ve earned/I don't want to acquiesce to; 3) I don’t love or like or care for them, in the way I should, but I’m capable of doing that for strangers, and I wonder what's wrong with me; 4) my folks do need support and I hate the feeling of abandoning them to their fate – yet its come to a point where I must choose me, else I don’t think I would survive. And I also feel they need that as impetus to choose to fight for themselves. It's just all messed up.

  • Hi Dancueur,

    First here is a mental Hug....Don't hold the hurt, recognize it yes, but let it go. Start from today and don't worry about what has happen. Think of all the love you can share that will be remembered.
    As much as I try I know I always carry the baggage with me, but I try my best to keep it zippered. The wounds are not open but you can see the scars and that is ok. Growing up Cinderfella I can wash a mean dish...and somehow I am still washing does that happen...hahaha so small example I didn't figure it out until later that the step witch (and I am sorry for the negative condemnation of the term) she was not happy with her life so I was the blunt instrument of her frustration. I realize that I still do things and have reactions because of the abuse. When that happens I try to stop myself. I don't hold onto the hurt, I have let that go, but I try to then send out some goodness to someone else. If I can help someone smile then I have sent a little bit of light out. Who knows what that will turn to? A butterfly's wings of breath.

  • Danceur, none of us came here to this earth to be responsible for anyone else, only for ourselves, and by stopping other people leaning on us, we help them to find their own strength and self-esteem and wisdom,.

  • You are right Captain. And you know what – I know I’m done. There is just a misplaced sense of identity of being a protector. I realise that even as I’m falling apart, I’m putting their vulnerability ahead of my own, because theirs seems more visceral and final… when apart from their pressing health issues, I’m worse off in all ways. I gotta stop doing that. Any ideas? I think it’s one of those, “no matter what you hear, see, think, feel – don’t believe it, keep going and don’t look back.' I pray not to be put to the test any longer. The situation hasn’t been kind and clear cut. So many things have happened under duress - while I’m not able to move out, and exhausted, stressed and sad from caregiving - making it difficult to keep a clear mind.

  • @danceur could you arranger for someone to pop in to see if they are OK and get what they need now and then?

  • Hi Nick,
    That is such a nice way of putting it. I sound very bitter in comparison…sigh.

    I have tried to let go of the hurt. But then continuing to live in the same house (because of the caregiving for my little one) and being exposed to the same behaviour and actions re-opens the wounds all the time. I gotta say your reading was bang on. Everything you mentioned already happened. It was a terrible week for me – I was exploding on everyone, and then also sad and miserable, beat on myself, all the rest too. It is normal in my culture/country for adult children to stay with their folks because housing is expensive. The idea is also to ensure that the elderly get taken care of by their children, instead of the state. But then for those like us, it breeds so much hostility when everyone doesn’t get along, and is living separate lives in the same house and there is no clear division of responsibility on chores, and many in the house have a very high tolerance for mess, clutter and lack of cleanliness. It is making me crazy. I’m trying so hard to make the love I feel for my boy bigger than all this nonsense. But it is so so difficult.

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