Saturday, July 10, 2010

Enough's enough

Ok, I have reached the point where I am sick and tired of family members telling me how pissed off they are at my husband because he is so lazy.

This has been an ongoing issue ever since his stroke.  His younger sister won't even talk to him.  His older sister recently found out how little he actually understands of a conversation.  His mom has Alzheimer's so bad, she probably thinks he speaks normally.  Heck, the woman thinks her husband, dead ten years now, is coming to pick her up tonight and take her back to Baltimore.

In many respects, you have to feel sorry for my hubby.  His own family is of such little help, both from their lack of understanding of his problem, and with their own problems.

What is wearing on me today, though, is my own parents.  Dave has been helping to clean his mother's house in preparation for renting it out.  This puts him way beyond his ability to manage - for small details, read my previous post about the 30-year-old-prom-dress.  When he comes home at night, we cannot have any meaningful conversation - he is too tired, he cannot focus, the words and comprehension just aren't there.

So what does he do?  He turns on the TV.

Mind you, he probably doesn't really understand what they are saying.  He turns on the prompter, but I think his reading comprehension in that state is minimal.  But, TV programs are designed so that you can tell what is going on simply by body language.  Just try watching TV sometime with the sound off!  Yes, you miss the nuances of the play on words, you don't catch how many years ago your best friend had an affair with your husband, but - you get the gist of what is going on.  And my husband seems to get that, even when he cannot catch the words.

My parents are currently living with us, in our attic, helping with the business and the kids for a few months.  I really appreciate their help.  When they came in this year to help, they said they wanted to spend more time with the kids, less time with the business.  That is fine, I'd love for them to spoil the babies.

My dad takes everything in stride.  I can tell he gets frustrated on some days, that he feels that I don't tell him what I want often enough, that he feels he is just guessing at what needs to be done.  Truth be told, I think he does a great job.  He jumps in where he sees a problem, and is usually able to take care of it without bugging me about every little detail.  I wish I had a dozen employees like him.  Heck, I can't afford even one employee like HIM.  But you know what I mean.

Mom mom - well, my mom compares everything to how she would do things, and of course she thinks she is perfect.  And, of course, she is not.  But don't try to tell her that.  She has created some sticky situations for me, but she is my mom, and she is offering her time for free, and I really appreciate the help.

But then there are the personal matters that come up.  I really feel like I am caring for five kids.  My four, plus my husband.  At the end of the day - even on a good day - we don't talk.  Like any large family, we don't have much time without the kids.  I work 12-18/7, since this is a home-run business.  So, I asked my parents if they would mind watching all the kids so that I could have some Dave/Lori time while we were both fresh, maybe go see a movie or go bowling.

My dad says sure, no problem, everyone should have some time off sometimes.

My mom says Dad is so pissed off at Dave watching TV last night, she doesn't think they'll do it.  Says Dad is going to ask me if I want this time together, or if Dave wants it.  'Cause if Dave wants, they won't do it.  And she was angry, on the verge of yelling, when she said it.  It was one of those so-much-hate-you-can-see-the-venom-spitting-from-the-mouth types of things.  Which is somewhat amazing, considering the conversation itself lasted only a few minutes.

You know, if they don't want to watch the kids, if they have other things planned, if they don't feel competent to watch four kids between the two of them, that's fine, I understand.  It's hard to watch this many kids at once.  Dave and I have routines that we follow, and the kids are used to us and know what to expect.  I recognize that it is hard, and don't fault anyone for it.  We do have a nanny, but I don't like asking her to work weekends (overtime).  And we don't have any babysitters we trust to handle four kids at once.  I guess I'm saying it's not that I think I am entitled to have them watch the kids for a few hours, but I do understand if they say no.

What pisses me off is that what my mom seems to be saying is that because she feels like Dave doesn't work as hard as other people around here, that I should not be able to treat him as a husband on occasion.  If he was paralyzed on one side, I don't think we would be having this discussion.  But I have a husband who's ability to communicate is impaired, which in turns hampers his ability to plan, organize, or perform chores on his own.  She sees this as laziness.

What really pisses me off, I believe if the situation were reversed, and it was my parents in this position, they would take offense if someone said they were lazy, and did not deserve time together.  I feel like there is so much more to say than that, but for once, I don't have the words for it all.

OK, I think that is enough of a rant for now.  I'm not even certain I made my point clearly.  But thanks for the sympathetic read.


Anonymous said...

It's hard when you have someone in the family who is young and doesn't "look" ill in the way people think they should. I wonder if maybe the family is in denial about the extent of your husband's condition. People often like to blame the person who is ill for not "trying" harder. It may be easier and less stressful for them to think of him as lazy.

Just hang in there. People we love aren't always understanding about these things. If you talk to your parents about it, make sure they are prepared to listen.

-Me said...

Oh my! I could have written this post almost word for word! I too am sick of family members commenting on my husband. Umm, how about walking a day in his shoes?!
Thanks for the honest relatable post!

Hahnsmum said...

Darling , l literally ''walked out'' on my so called family all those years ago..We had a severley disabled son, so there were those smart ars comments, as to why we dont put James in a home etc.. Fortunatley for James & me too, my husband supported us & we got on with life..We live far awy from rellys so dont have much interfering contact..l have been a carer now for well over 33 yrs..So l know how you feel..l now also care for Fred, my other half , so certainly know how it all feels. God Speed..Best Wishes.. Hahnsmum..
New England, NSW, OZ

Anonymous said...

Oh, my dear.....your husband is not lazy. He has suffered brain damage. His inability to plan is due to that damage. His inability to communicate in a "normal" way is due to that damage.

I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this and young children and a clueless though (partially) well-meaning family.

After my husband's hemorrhagic stroke occurred I was given a printout of the American Heart Association's material on Aphasia and the effects of a stroke on personality, behavior and language.

It's obvious your husband is functioning physically or he wouldn't be helping people clean house or whatever. But he is brain damaged.

Those who have suffered brain damage need a great deal of rest and sleep. This is when everything they have experienced that day is filed away, organized in their brain.

Your family needs an intervention - perhaps by a stroke social worker - so that they can really begin to help and to stop tormenting you and draining your patience and energy.

Take good care....

Caregiver in CA

Anonymous said...

Meant to mention: Do go online and find the AHA downloads - and there are masses of other informational downloads available on stroke and aphasia. Print them out for yourself and do print some out for your family.

If they continue to be difficult, distance yourself from the ones who are contributing nothing. You may be able to get your parents to come around.

Wishing you luck,

Caregiver in CA

Anonymous said...

PS: The buzzword for inability to plan, organize, and the like is loss of executive ability. You might want to look that up. Information is power.

Caregiver in CA