My daughter has the singular talent of lifting me up to the stratosphere with joy or slamming me down to the depths of hell. She has this most frustrating habit of dropping some kind of bomb shell on me and then going off the grid for days or even weeks, no answering text messages, the phone, doesn’t respond to messages left asking her to call me.
Sometimes I get so aggravated that I want to buy a plane ticket just so I can fly up to Boston and choke her until her eyes pop out. Her latest bomb shell was a text message informing me that she got a bad result on a mammogram. No stress there, hah! I immediately tried to contact her. Finally, after a week of sleepless nights and stressed out days, I managed to get through the Great Barrier Reef she erected and talk to her.
She was pretty stressed out and explained that she tends to hide when something bad happens. I know the feeling and will try to remember that the next time I isolate because someone or something is bothering me. The not knowing what is going on is sometimes a lot worse than the actual facts of a matter.
I tried to explain to her that it was probably just a cyst because she is prone to those. When she was a kid she used to get what we refer to in the south as bible bumps on the topside of her wrist. The word bible comes into play is because the cure was to whack the bump with the family bible which burst the cyst and it is reabsorbed by the body. It sounds gruesome but really isn’t that painful. I didn’t do that though. She got those several times and always cured herself accidentally by flailing her arms around and whacking her wrist on a door jamb or table edge. She’s very dramatic and waves her arms around when she talks.
So she is supposed to go get a biopsy this week on the contrary lump in her breast. I hope and pray that it is nothing. But, I can’t help but be terrified. She’s my baby girl after all, even though she’s 40 years old. I don’t want her to suffer and be frightened, but she is and there is nothing much I can do except talk to her and be there for her when she needs me.
Two days ago Mr. Husband probably had one of the worse days of his life. He spent most of his day with his Mom who is FREAKING OUT about a diagnosis of a stage one pre-cancerous lump in her breast. According to all medical professionals involved it is not even close to death sentence. She should be fine and live a normal life (whatever that means) and still go to a wedding in December in Key West, Florida.
We’re driving to North Texas to Key West because Mom-in-Law won’t fly. So we get to experience 4 days in a mobile insane asylum that is Hubman, mother-in-law, and me cowering in the back floorboard with my iPod cranked up loud enough to damage my hearing.
At this point I don’t care. If I go deaf it may be a blessing in disguise. I suggesting renting an RV to make things easier, but she nixed that idea immediately by announcing that she did not intend to go to the bathroom whilst flying down the road. I snapped “well who asked you to anyway?” That took her aback so there was temporary silence for a small bit. Jeebus, you would think I was expecting her to squat over a tomato juice can in the back seat like the rum runners used to do on their runs between Chicago and Kansas City.
Mother in Law has been in doom and gloom mode for 3 weeks now. In her mind she’s already gone down to Sparkman’s and picked out her coffin and tombstone. We’re hoping that this is a passing stage and she will come to terms with the fact that this is probably not her swan song after all. She’s also angry with her husband who left her in death 3 years ago. Now she feels she’s facing this alone. I hear that it is common for the remaining spouse to be angry with the spouse who left them behind alone to cope with whatever comes along. But, we love her and she’s not alone. I hope she can find comfort in that eventually.
She had to get an MRI on Thursday. She declared herself claustrophobic and had already decided that she would lose her mind and die right there in the MRI machine. She didn’t of course. They doped her up so good that she had to use a cane when she got home that evening because she was too woozy to walk straight. Hey, I would have been yelling “Yee haw, I have a fantastic and totally legal major buzz on.” If one can not at least enjoy some part of unpleasant medical goings on – that’s just sad.
Anyway, Hubman got home from dealing with his Mom all day and walks in to me chopping broccoli with unusual animosity, even for broccoli. I seasoned them with lemon juice, olive oil and tears. I turned on him and began the story of how, since this is my third marriage, that this is my 5th rodeo with sick parents and the death of parents. I then told him that I was firmly in the camp that believes that elderly people have the right to make their own decisions and even die with dignity if that is their choice. Usually the worst enemy of the elderly parents in this scenario is their children, because they can’t let go. Also they have switched roles and think that they are the parent and the actual parent is now an uncooperative child.
I started screaming about how I think that the medical profession is ghoulish for keeping people alive when they don’t want to be and are supported by the children of the patient. I then went on to express my view that a medical power of attorney only comes into effect if or when the patient is not able to make decisions and that state of mind kicks in at a much later time than most family members chose to think so.
I finished my speech at the top of my lungs and in tears. It occurred to me later that I was waving a formidable 15 inch kitchen knife around like some mad conductor in the orchestra from hell. It happened to be in my hand when I started the tirade.
Mr. Husband managed to remain calm in this explosion of emotional catharsis. And I have to give him credit for that. I went to him later and apologized for waving a knife around like a mad woman and we cried on each other’s shoulder. We are both each other’s best friend and when we do not agree it’s a very lonely place to be.
So life goes on. Mom-in-law seems to have calmed down a bit. Or maybe it’s the Xanax, but we’re happy about it no matter what the reason. Hubman got her to talk to her friends who have had breast cancer and are now living happy lives and been in remission for decades. That seemed to help her a lot.
Life goes on. It’s all a learning process. Who knows how I would handle the situation if I were her. Maybe I’d be at the top of a tall building drinking from a whiskey bottle and throwing tomatoes at passersby.