Friday, September 11, 2009

Riding the Fence

Since Father's Day, Mr. Larger Than Life has been doing a slow, downward spiral. Although he's not circling the drain just yet (medicalese for get ready to call the code), he is requiring more attention these days. In between episodes of feeling poorly, he's just as mean and wretched as ever. What do you do with an 81 year old man who is too ornery to live with, but unsafe to live alone?

When he had his emergency embolectomy in June, he told my husband he was afraid to be alone. Since that time, either my husband or my son has stayed there with him. They aren't allowed to open windows to let in the breeze on a balmy summer night. MLTL gets chilled. **At this point, if you cross your arms then briskly rub them, you'll get an idea of the visual cues that go with his complaint of being cold.** It doesn't matter if it's 90 degrees in the house, if the window is open, he'll take a chill. And we won't discuss cooling the house on a 98 degree day, either. Rather than put on a sweater, he makes them swelter. According to my husband, last night, he turned on the heat and set the thermostat to 75 F. Add that to the high humidity and the night was unbearable, but still, he is unwilling to compromise to make his guests comfortable. He nitpicks everyone to death: you dirtied a glass, you're using too much paper towel, you eat too much, your shower was too long, blah, blah, blah. Yet, he doesn't want to sleep alone in the house, eat alone or live alone.

Impossible to please, it takes a saint to live with this man, but he isn't safe to be by himself. He leaves doors unlocked, garage doors open, stove burners lit and water running (except for the shower which he steadfastly refuses to use--it'll be three years in November since he had one). The other day, my husband and son left his home and MLTL came out on the front porch yelling, "where are you, where did everyone go?" They were in the car, close enough to touch the man and he couldn't see them.

This hasn't stopped him from driving and I don't know what to do about that. Part of me wants to report him and part of me realizes that even without a license, he'd probably still get behind the wheel of a car. Lately, he's back to driving downtown to the casino every day. When he cracked his noggin, fractured his skull and survived his subarachnoid hemorrhage three years ago, he'd been going to the casino every single day. He never talked about his losses, but a review of his bank records showed withdrawals of hundreds of dollars every other day for months from the casino's ATM. After his accident, we went to pick up his car at the casino where even the valet staff knew his name and asked after him. In this manner, he's pissed away his retirement savings--in a way, pouring money down the drain. Interestingly if I were to tear up a 100 dollar bill of his in front of him, this man would scream at me, but he sees no problem gambling it all away. Not only do we worry about his gambling problem, we worry he'll be mugged on his way out of the casino or at an ATM. He's a sitting duck and way too blind to see it that way.

After his head injury, his behavior has worsened, and aging hasn't made him mellow. He has no social brakes and blurts out inappropriate things at the unsuspecting public. Since he can't hear himself, he's loud when he does this and has caused complete mortification of family members in public with him. One of these days, he's going to insult the wrong person and get himself clobbered for the effort. Nobody is safe from his verbal assaults that come out of the blue. He had some sort of run in at our dentist's office and "really let them have it." This is code for saying he screamed at some poor girl at the front desk and now can't return there. Ever. Too bad for him, he was in need of emergency dental care this week and ended up seeing someone who fleeced him. The next time I see my dentist, I have to find out what really happened there.

I keep telling myself there is no way on God's green earth that I could live with this man, but if we don't do something, he'll hurt himself or someone else. What if he leaves the burner on when my son or husband are there and burns the house down? I'd never forgive the old goat.

If I cave on this issue and either take him in, or we move in with him, I'll need to start a bail fund. Even if he didn't live forever, a month, a year or two would seem like forever. Sheesh, even dinner with him seems like eternity. I just know I'd end up braining him with my niddy noddy and probably by the end of the first day.

I'm crazy to even be pondering this, but damn it, I want my family back. I'm not liking this split life we're living so MLTL can be looked after. The burden of the past few years has been tremendous and has fallen primarily on my husband's shoulders. I feel badly for him and feel like I should be doing more to help out. I know it isn't easy for him or my son. In the past I've told my husband that if MLTL were to lose his tongue become incapacitated, I'd be happy care for him, but now I'm wondering if I'm wrong about this stance of mine and the time to act is now. If he were a kind man, there'd be no question about what to do, but believe me, if anything, I've understated how horrible he can be. I can positively guarantee that he'd charge us rent to take care of him. Oh. No, I'm not kidding. He absolutely would.

Obviously, I need to be talked off the fence. I would be insane to even consider living with this curmudgeon, wouldn't I?

Photo: Google Images


willowtree said...

Are you crazy!?! He shat in his own bed, let him sleep in it. The only way you could even consider it, is if you were able to keep him permanently docile my pharmaceutical means.

Miss 376 said...

You've been through so much over, this seems really unfair. The guilt can be unbearable thinking you should look after him, but you need to keep sane for the rest of your family. Your DH and son must be saints to be able to do what they do

J'Ollie Primitives said...

Sounds uncannily like my BFF's dad.

Can Social Services assess his safety ~ preferably a social worker with crocodile skin so he doesnt scare them off? He may need to be where he can insult the nurses and staff to his heart's content without killing anybody. It's hard to be objective when it's family.

In the meantime disable the ignition switch to that car.

Gail said...

This is a scary decision, we have been through it with both my parents.

Only you know the correct answer and you have the advantage of knowing what professional services would be available for him.

Good luck.

debra said...

doesn't seem like living with you'd be a great idea, rudee...

I share J'Ollie's thoughts.
good luck xox

Stephanie V said...

Oh, what an awfully sharp fence you're sitting on. Of course, you want your family back but how to do it? I have no magic solution and I don't know how the social agencies work where you are. Here, your needs/situation would be a nightmare. But having him live with you all seems unrealistic for your own mental health.
And I do agree with J'Ollie about that ignition.

Pyzahn said...

He could come down and live with my wacky 85 year old aunt. They could out weird each other. Maybe a romance would blossom.

I vote for home health care, not moving in with you, but whatever you decide, you know us peanuts in the gallery will support you.

SkippyMom said...

Pyzhan! LOL! Perfect! LOL!

On the serious side, I am so sorry Rudee - it is hard being the sandwich generation, believe me I know.

I wouldn't live with him/move him in tho' - although I am now pledging my $200 towards your bail fund, 'kay?

Cause girlie, you are gonna need it. God knows I would. :)

Rose said...

There isn't enough yarn in the world to keep you sane through it all. What does your husband want to do? What a tough, tough place to be for you both. MTLTL too, but he's causing his own pain.

Pandora's Box of FIber said...

I have both been there, and done that, albeit with a grandfather...

Don't feel guilty about not wanting to live with MLTL, as this is not fair to you, or anyone else involved.
And you are right to be concerned about YOUR family's safety (kitchen fire about 6 years ago)

My feeling is that the old coot should be in a home. And have faith that there is great training for that. There are people who are trained to deal with his type of behaviour.

And I agree with J'ollie. Disable the ignition.

Lisa L said...

Despite owning a house,does he have any assets which would disqualify him for Medicaid? Could he sell the house and then move to an assisted living facility and pay his monthly bill off with the house sale earnings, and *then* get on to Medicaid? Is there a geriatric doctor who can do a geri assessment on him and declare him incompetant? (he sounds very incompetant and is living dangerously....leaving on the stove etc)....a doctor can take away his driver's licence...saves you guys having to do it. Get rid of the keys. It is wreaking havoc on your family...cannot believe the incredible kindness of your husb and son staying with him. Please Rudee, for the love of god, do *not* take him into your home. The man is toxic, and now demented. He needs a custodial environment in my opinion. I sit on a team here in Hawaii called Case Management for the Elderly. We come from all different agencies, and discuss and troubleshoot cases just like you father in law. There may be a similar team in your area. Try looking up the Public Health Dept in the phone book..they may have a listing for such a team. Usually it is a public health nurse who heads up the team. I feel for you. My husb is going through the same thing with his mom. In fact he flies to Mississippi next week to 'deal with it'....(hugs)

Brenda said...

You have a niddy noddy? Where does one purchase those. Well, sounds like checking out some homes for him are in order. For his safety and the safety of others . Caring for someone 24/7 is more than most of us can handle. I hope some help comes your way soon.

sue b said...

I agree with Lisa L's advice. There's no way his needs should prevail over every one elses'. He needs care, but you and your family have a right to a life as well. Is your marriage and your sanity important? Both will suffer if you continue down this path. I wish you all well. It's such a tough situation.

Kathleen said...

You asked. I'm going to answer.

1) Just like what the flight attendants say, you have to put your own mask on first before assisting anyone else. Are you getting enough oxygen flow to help anyone else?

2) Your husband and son are choosing to go over there. There are other options.

3) What are the options? Cross living with you off the list this instant.

4) You deserve a life. You are a good woman who already gives over and over and over. You've got penthouse complete with all the yarn you could ever want already in heaven. No extra credit necessary.

5) You can support your husband and son in plenty of other ways. You already do. Adding the stress of MLTL living in your home will NOT do anyone in your family any good. Not even MLTL. He sounds beyond the kind of help a loving family can offer.

Shall I shut up now or keep going?

How 'bout hopping off that fence and onto that beautiful spinning thing about now.

I've got plenty more points to add -- just ask.

jeannette stgermain said...

Rudee, you are a nurse - wouldn't you bring a sick person to a doc??? He obviously does not function well enough that he can make his own decisions!Bring him to a psychiatrist, GP, you know the drill!
You are only responsible for your husband and son! You can't take care of the rest of the world. And if it's hard for your husband to take this decision, be a nurse! and take this decision for him:)

Rudee said...

You all make some very good points. I think assisted living would be ideal if he were the ideal candidate.

He's got to stop driving.

Jeanette, I've taken him to the doctor before. It didn't turn out well for me as he is not exactly in control of his anger, even in that setting. If I took him to the doctor and ratted him out in front of the doc, it could go badly. I probably need to call the doctor first.

Sandy said...

Oh wow, he sounds horrid....My parents and my inlaws did me a favor so to speak, they all circled the drain and drained out before they became a real burden. Oh I know that is cold, but truly, as much as I loved my parents, neither one wanted to be a burden and they basically took their exits gracefully.

I am so amazed at his behavior, wow. What ARE you going to do..? wow.

Lisa L said...

rudee in one of your responses you said you'd prob need to talk to the doc first. that's a great idea, but have your husb actually take him. your father in law has your number, he knows exactly how to piss you off...

NCmountainwoman said...

You would, indeed be certifiably insane to even consider living with this man. History has shown that he will not listen to anything you say and that nothing you do for him will ever be "enough." Just look at the history here. Nothing is going to change his behavior at this point.


Ruth said...

Everyone has said it all.

((((((HUGS to YOU ))))))))

Miss T said...

Yes, insane. You are not required to sacrifice your wellbeing for him. Assisted living, perhaps?