Family Drama

As y’all know, my grandmother (the sharp, independent, super-helpful one) was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer on the 6th. She was feeling a bit unsteady on her feet and having some significant back pain, so came into my ER to be evaluated, and the cancer was discovered and she was admitted that night. She did pretty well, had another CT to fully evaluate things (the cancer was actually found on a chest CT), had a biopsy, went home Friday pm in pretty good shape. Came back in Sat a.m. with horrible back/arm pain and seemed a little confused and slurring her words. Diagnosed with an MI at that time, admitted again, on lots of morphine. Yesterday a.m. she’s still slurring and not on any morphine, so I talked her doc into scanning her head, which they did this afternoon, and she’s got multiple small strokes, too.

Long story short, my darling, wonderful 84-year-old grandma is dying. We’re obviously heartbroken, as she’s the center of the family, and this is wholly unexpected, but she’s pretty realistic about the whole thing. She’s sad, but resigned, and talked to the palliative care folks today and is now a DNR. She has a strong faith, and I’m sure that helps. All of us (her kids and myself as the adult grandkid) are coping in our own ways, trying to help get the things that she usually does for her 88-year-old sister (blind + Alzheimer’s) accomplished, and to be sure she gets excellent medical care (that bit’s my responsibility) and to arrange for her end-of-life needs (funeral arrangements, life insurance policies, decisions about disposing of her minimal property, etc.)

Meanwhile, there’s my aunt. This is the professional psych patient, on disability for fibromyalgia, everything-is-hard-for-me, attention-seeking cat lady. She lives in my great-aunt’s (the blind/Alzheimer’s sister from above) house, and is ostensibly “taking care” of her. In reality, my grandma’s been doing the heavy lifting all along – all of the meds /appointments /groceries /cooking /laundry /etc. Aunt has completely trashed this little house over the past 10 years or so, literally has 15 cats, has second-mortgaged the thing to “fix it up” and then let the cats destroy it (pee, scratches, bites, etc.) When left to her own devices, she does as little as possible to “take care of” Great-Aunt. Won’t fix her a hot meal even once a day, lets her struggle with incontinence accidents herself, etc.

Everything about grandma’s hospitalization and illness is about her. How she’s going to get grandma’s car (a newish Camry which was purchased by another aunt and my dad, for grandma to use – she doesn’t have a huge income with SS and pension.) How her knee hurts too much for her to do X (help the great-aunt get up to see grandma in the hospital, let the dog out, clean the litter box, go to the grocery store, go to the pharmacy drive-thru to pick up the great-aunt’s meds, etc.) How she’s just crushed by this and the rest of us have no idea how hard it is for her. Yada yada yada.

She’s fully expecting that the other sibs (dad and his younger bro and sis) are going to finance her staying in the house that she can’t/won’t take care of, and “help” for her to “take care of” the great-aunt (who really needs assisted living/nursing home care, and not to be living with a disinterested party and 97 cats) and basically that the sibs and I are going to keep her afloat for the next several decades of her life while she lies around in bed listening to audiobooks.

She’s been alienating us all (the sibs and I) for years – even the next-younger cousins (the 13-year-old girl twins) are catching on to her. She’s got a known history of stealing and abuse of prescription drugs, and is just a PITA to be around. (Last Christmas she just up and left the gathering when she wasn’t getting good enough presents – not that she reciprocates/puts any effort of any kind into Christmas herself – but we should spend hundreds of dollars on her, each.)

Long story short, she’s driving me bonkers, and I just needed to vent. I mean, I’m working full-time at night, raising two kids (who are darling and wonderful, but hello, infants) and spending a bunch of time each day at the hospital advocating for Grandma’s care, making sure that she gets what she needs, and you’re home on disability doing NOTHING and can’t go to the drive-thru pharmacy?!! Argh.

If you’ve made it this far, give yourself a medal. Oh, and if I’m not around much in the next few weeks, this is why.

Explore posts in the same categories: Rants

2 Comments on “Family Drama”

  1. Megan Says:

    Oh my gosh! How horrible. I’m so very sorry about your Grandma.. And dang your aunt needs to act like a FULLY GROWN woman. Ugh! My grandma has Alzheimers, too, so I was just steaming hot reading your post. Ugh!

  2. Natasha Says:

    Wow! I am very sorry about your Grandma, how heartwrenching. I hope your aunt grows up already!!

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