My current favorite quote

"People take different roads seeking fulfillment & happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost."

~Dalai Lama

Monday, August 12, 2013

You think your stubborn teenager is bad? Try having one who is chronically ill

    As you may remember, my daughter has medical problems. Ulcerative Colitis destroyed her colon. She had a total colectomy followed by 2 reconstructive surgeries the next year. She's been doing great for the last year or so.

    Anyway, on Friday afternoon, she decides to tell me she has been having diarrhea for a week. She increased the amount of probiotic she was taking but it didn't help. Tried to take care of herself. She has no fever, and no blood in the stool, which is good. Only it's too late to call the doctor for advice. I try to convience her to eat plain foods, drink a lot and take it easy. We start Cipro in case it is pouchitis. Pouchitis is inflammation in the internal pouch, due to bacterial overgrowth. Saturday morning, she says she is better and goes to work. Feels good after work and goes to the movies and dinner with her friend.

     Sunday morning, she is a pale almost dehydrated mess. Then she starts vomiting, which she doesn't tell me until 2 or 3 hours later. Her Dad talks to her, and determines they ate Subway & movie snacks. He thinks the vomiting is because she ate something bad. Especially since there is no fever, and no blood in the stool. I call the Dr on Call at the Children's Hospital, and wait for the call back. She calls back and agrees we need a RX for Zofran to stop the vomiting. We have to avoid dehydration.

Daughter was doing better after some Zofran, able to eat a baked potato. She was really drinking the fluids too. So this morning, I'm waiting for her to get up so I can see how she is today.

     It's still scary, even though she is a lot better since they removed the colon.

    Update: she's doing better. Even though she still has diarrhea,  she thinks she's well enough to eat anything, and didn't actually take the probiotic like she said she did. She doesn't think eating what the Doctor told her to eat will help any, so she won't even try it. Makes me crazy. The husband and I have decided we'll have to go back to treating her like she's 7 instead of 17. When she gets out of the shower, I get to tell her she isn't going to Chili's or anywhere else today, and that when her Dad gets home we'll be talking more. Not my idea of a fun morning, or what I planned on doing today.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

In my Family, We play Pretend....

    In my family, we have to play pretend. We have to pretend everything is okay, and that things that hurt us are no big deal. You see, my baby brother, who I love very much, married a girl with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. We (including my brother) only know about this diagnosis because her previous therapist (from childhood) told my brother when he went to her for answers after getting none from his wife or her parents. He was desperate. Her parents admitted it after that, even telling him that she has had problems since she was 4 years old, and was committed to a hospital as a teenager. This was, of course, well after the wedding. She seemed perfectly normal during the dating phase of their relationship. Lived on her own, had job, etc. Turns out her parents were "helping" her.

     My sister-in-law does not believe she has any such problem, and therefore, goes through adult life without any treatment or acknowledgement of her illness, or her behavior. My brother has had two children with this woman. I feel very bad for his situation, I really do. However, I think he enables her behavior by not setting boundaries, and he may be co-dependent. I can't stand to hear how she speaks to him. It's full of hate and disrespect. I wish that she would get treatment. I'm afraid that what goes on behind closed doors, is far worse than what we have seen. That breaks my heart, for my brother & his children, but it doesn't take away my anger at being in this situation.

     Let me try to explain some of the issues. She was very nice to all of us in the 'getting to know you' period. We treated her like family, as we do anyone coming into our family. As soon as they were married, she started listening in on phone calls between my brother & I. I thought that was strange. I'm his sister, not some random girl. She has deleted and hidden messages from me or my Mom to him. While he was out of town for work, she took his puppy to the pound and had him euthanized, because she didn't like him.  Right after that she got pregnant by 'accident.'

     She took “extra” prescription drugs while pregnant with my nephew and almost killed him. But since we play pretend, she has never once taken responsibility for hurting her own son. She didn't go to the NICU during most of the visiting periods, which I found strange. When my daughter was in the NICU, you couldn't have pried me out of the hospital. My sister-in-law didn't bond with her son, and left most of his care to my brother, my Mom, her Mom, or other relatives, because she was sick. Headaches & seizures mostly. 

    At my nephew's 1st birthday party, she announced she was pregnant again.  A week or so later, she sent out an email and told everyone we know that there was a problem with the pregnancy, but didn't tell us. The doctor had recommended termination of the pregnancy because she had been taking the drug, Depakote, which has caused extreme birth defects. She decided not to terminate. So we were upset, and afraid that she couldn't handle raising a child with severe problems, given her history with my nephew.  We knew that would be too much for my brother to handle, with working full time and trying to be the main parent, and take care of her. Instead of talking to us, and hearing us out, she just decided not to let my Mom see their son anymore. My brother went along with this. I then told my brother exactly what I thought about his decision to go along with his wife.  His wife calls me and says, I'm making my brother feel like he doesn't have any family anymore. Gee, I didn't cut off the visits, did I?!   A few weeks later, she miscarried. My brother then tells Mom he was relieved that it ended in miscarriage.

       She goes to the emergency rooms, a lot. If she doesn't get the answer she wants at one emergency room, she goes to another. She still uses lots of heavy prescription drugs for various problems. She can't keep a job because of her headaches, and has repeated invisible foot fractures (no one sees them on the x-rays.) My niece is now starting to emulate this behavior. She even has her own little boot/cast thing, which she got at the emergency room, just like her Mom. No, there wasn't anything visible on my niece's x-ray either.

    She has hit my brother while in her rages. My brother has never hit her back. I can only hope she hasn't hit the kids. Once she tired to run over my brother with the car. He left for a few days then, but went back to her. 

     I guess as part of the poor impulse control part of her illness, she spends money uncontrollably. This has resulted in the loss of their home, having astronomical medical debt, plus other unpaid bills. Once, they begged on Facebook for help with the rent money, not too long after she posted new tattoo photos. They have repeatedly borrowed from my Mom, and not paid it back. I've kept their kids when things get bad, but I won't give them money.

     My brother is never around to help with the bad parts of family life, like when our grandparents have been hospitalized, and Mom needed help staying with them because she couldn't be in two places at once. But he can certainly take a week off work to move her parents. They only come to family events were there is free food, like holidays and funerals, or when they need something. If they suddenly decide to visit I'm expected to drop any plans I had, and go visit. Sometimes he comes without her and things feel less stressed, more relaxed.

      I now have pretty much no relationship with my brother outside of the mandatory family gatherings. He used to sneak and call me when she was in the shower, but he must have got caught, because he doesn't do that now. I have tried so hard to be supportive, because I don't know what it's like to live like he is living. I suspect she gaslights him often. If we haven't seen him in a while he don't seem like himself. It's scary. I bought him the  Walking on Eggshells book, & he read it at work on breaks. I read it before I gave it to him. But other than that I haven't tried to directly help him, but just to be there. I also have read Understanding the Borderline Mother, which scared the hell out of me.

     Every year during the holidays, I have to plan it, cook it, clean it up, and PRETEND. They come over, visit, sit around, eat, and leave. She has wrecked our Christmas traditions. We have to plan what we are doing around how she might react. She makes everyone feel stressed and on guard, even the children. It is truly like walking on eggshells. Holidays are no longer joyful for me, just stressful. Without Granddad's quiet sense of humor, to help me through the day, I just don't know if I can keep pretending it's all okay.