Wednesday, February 6, 2013

It's not whining if you're stating the facts with update

Update:  Just talked to my sister and mom is breathing a bit better but she's 80 years old and things can turn on a dime.  I don't know what changed but my sister seems now to be very understanding about our circumstances.  Maybe it was our conversation last week or maybe my dad said something.  I don't know.  I just know that now is not the time for tearing each other apart.  Now is the time to work together. 

Unfortunately my mother was a bit incomprehensible when I was talking to her.  Part of it is fatigue, I'm sure, and part of it is her dementia.  Still, I got to hear her voice even if it was weak and rambling.

My mother isn't doing well and her health has occupied a great deal of my thoughts lately.  She's in the hospital with pneumonia; the first round of antibiotics did nothing to help.  My dad called today to talk about end of life measures.  They found a mass on her kidney, the only remaining one that had any function, albeit not enough to rid her body of toxic wastes.  She's on dialysis 3 days a week which makes her miserable.  The quality of her life has dropped measurably over the past year.  She has trouble walking now as well.

The situation is that we can't go down there.  My instinct is to jump in the car and race down there to see her but doing so would put our family deeper in the shit hole we call debt.  And we are deep in that hole, believe me.  Fortunately my father understands even if my sisters don't.  They use guilt to manipulate me to do what they have the means to do.  I just can't do it.  I'm not sure how we're going to pay our property taxes next year and we run the risk of losing the meager savings we have just to pay bills so popping down to Southern Indiana isn't an option right now.

I'll be honest.  I panic at the thought of a funeral, too.  If that is what is in the near future, I don't know how on earth we can afford that trip either.  Things are that dire.  Yes, I could and probably will put it on the credit cards but they are nearly maxed out, thanks to gall bladder surgery 15 years ago without insurance that cost us $25,000...just because they could charge us that much.  Followed by cancer treatment with medicine that cost upward of $1300 a month, which the insurance company would pay us back months later, at which time we were paying interest rates on the medicine and the payments kept going up.  Then Tom's pay cut a few years ago while Zach was in college during which time we had to use the cards a lot to make ends meet.  I don't think I've had a moment to breathe freely in the past 15 years.

And Tom is just years away from retirement.  Which we will never be able to afford, by the way.  If I try to explain to my sisters our situation, I get responses telling us to just find another job.  Or how much my mother would love to see me so why can't I just come down?  People who are comfortable just don't understand weighing every penny.  We are doing without things they would never consider.  I keep the heat at 55F during the day, 50F at night.  We don't even enjoy our dollar menu meals out anymore, nor do we go to town more than once a week if we can help it.  Meals are plainer.  Hell, they already were pretty plain anyway.  Tom is giving up fishing trips up north with his brother...trips that didn't break the bank but that we can no longer afford.  We wear our tennis shoes until they fall apart because we all have wide widths and can't get them from Walmart. Zach in particular has to get his from more expensive stores.

But my sisters look down on me as if I were the wayward sister, the prodigal child. They've even talked about me behind my back (and I know this because one sister cc'd me an email that had the conversation on it) in a way that demonstrated how little regard they had for my situation.  They decided what I could or could not afford to do. Yes, I've had a difficult relationship with my parents, but I love them.  It's not whining to state facts.  I'm not bitching about what's fair or unfair.  I'm just relating the circumstances.  Don't try to use guilt to make me feel worse than I already do.

 Plus I have responsibilities up here.  I'm a stay-at-home mom, yes, but I do have things that have to be done as I take care of all the bills, run all the errands and do all the shopping.  Plus I have a dr appointment coming up, which I might cancel because gas is nearly $4 a gallon again and the $25 copay is money I could use elsewhere.  It's not a critical appointment so I can get by with it but I have put off seeing the surgeon for my annual post-cancer check up because of expenses.  Plus the pets need their vaccinations this month and I can only afford the vaccination clinic at the pet store, which is one day a month. And that day is next Tuesday.  I've had something come up every single month so far and haven't been able to get the shots.  Going to a vet is out of the question.  That would be upward of $70 because of office visit and check ups they do before they will give the shots.'s not a question of me being stubborn and just not wanting to go.  It's not that I don't want to see my mother again.  I have resigned myself to the possibility that I might never see either parent again.  Decades ago people weren't so mobile and it was understandable that you couldn't just drop everything and go when there was a serious illness.  Now it's expected of you.

So...I'm not going to apologize for all the rambling.  I'm not asking for pity or help or anything.  I'm just explaining what it's like to not have the choices people have when they are comfortably situated financially.  Just think about it, show compassion to someone who has to make difficult choices based on money and for pete's sake, don't try to inflict guilt on them because they won't do what you can afford to do.


Susie B said...

Oh Kathy, I am so sorry for you and your family. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Kathy said...

Thanks, Susie. I replied to you comment earlier but it didn't post apparently. Sorry if two of them show up.

I do appreciate your prayers. Thanks.