Thursday, May 31, 2012

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. It’s about doing the right thing.
  • 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!

No comments: