April 5, 2001

More Guilt?

I wrote the following on Monday (three days ago) but didn't finish the entry that day:

I emailed one of my stepsisters today - the one that moved away last month.

All three of them are now in the New York - New Jersey area.

When we first discussed her plans, she reassured me that she was no more than "an hour" away by plane.

Her reply to my email tells a somewhat different story. Without elaborating, she mentioned that she's "stuck" in the U.S. for the time being because of immigration issues, and hopes she can manage to visit "next year".

This didn't do my present state of mind much good.

I think I have a right to be irritated at this.

When her mother complains that she feels abandoned (my word but her sentiment) I invariably take sis's side. She hasn't had an easy life and deserves a new start. I would do the same, under her circumstances - but I think I'd maintain better lines of communication with the family back home.

I wrote back requesting that she and her family (sisters and adult children) create a contingency plan, for when my father can no longer take care of their mother.

Is it asking too much? Is it unreasonable? I honestly don't know if I'll have the patience to care for her while dealing with my own loss.

Of course I feel guilty about it too - perhaps more for the tone of the email than for what I'm actually asking.

I don't know whether I sensed something coming on or if it was coincidence (or some sort of Karmic thing) but the very next day we almost needed that contingency plan.

Dad had been muttering about swollen "feet" so I told him to go to a clinic that occupies a room in his apartment building, just in case. He called back to say they told him to go directly to the emergency room, not tomorrow, not later, right NOW.

I picked him up less than an hour later and we spent the afternoon in emergency. It wasn't just swollen feet - his entire right leg was double the size of the left one, from the hip on down.

The most likely diagnosis was a blood clot in a leg vein; some other obstruction (cancer spread?) was also a possibility.

They gave him anticoagulant (blood thinner) injections immediately and told him to return at 7:00 the next morning for an ultrasound test to confirm the diagnosis.

So Wednesday morning we were back, to wait some more. A blood clot was detected (should I feel good about that? I'm not sure...) and treatment organized. Injections for the first few days, along with pills for the next few months, and frequent blood tests for adjusting the dosage.

Of course it wasn't that easy.. by Wednesday morning Dad was more tired, more cranky, and more perplexed about what all the fuss was about. (The fuss is that if the blood clot should detach and flow into the circulation, it might lodge in the heart or lungs, causing sudden death.)

In the "olden days" (until fairly recently) Daddy would have been hospitalized for at least a week, no questions asked. Now they try to treat this at home with the help of public health nurses working out of local clinics called "CLSC's"*.

I don't know if this is generally a good or bad thing but in this case I'm pleased... for some good reasons and some bad ones. Psychologically (and perhaps medically, considering all the things that go wrong IN hospitals) it's better to be at home; being in a hospital would limit his activity too much which is bad for this condition; and of course, he's still there to watch over Stepmom. Besides, if something should go wrong, it happens too fast for anyone, even hospital staff, to do anything about it.

We have to be at the hospital at 8 AM tomorrow for a follow-up blood test. Dad gets to see more of me (all the while grumbling that he doesn't want to be a pain in the ass, which he isn't) for the wrong reasons. I get to see more of Dad and still feel guilty for letting things slide over the past few months.

And about that email I mentioned at the beginning of this entry; I received a reply much more pleasant in tone than mine; the actual substance therein remains to be seen. Not too soon, I hope.

*Centre Local de Services Communautaires, or local community services center.

Yet more guilt: EVERYTHING is the mother's fault!

Linque Du Jour:   Edmonton Journal article

Entitled "The clean factor: How well you keep house could affect your child's future"

And they're not talking about allergies or food poisoning.

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