I can drive if I want to…

Denial is more than just a river in Egypt… and I’m living with the king and queen of denial.

This past February, my mother’s license came up for renewal. We had talked about reaction time, and how important it is to recognize when you can’t drive safely. Mom hadn’t driven a car in about 3 years (since her hip fracture) at that point, but I didn’t bother to point this out. She was very lucid and rational, and admitted that there was no way she could react quickly enough to drive at that point, so we went and got a state ID.

It was all so calm. No drama, just went and got the ID.

Frankly, my mother should not have been driving years before her hip fracture. She drove slowly, and once, when I was in the car with her, the car began to drift into the next lane, which was occupied by another car. I grabbed the steering wheel because when I told her she was drifting, she turned the wheel the wrong way, heading even more into the lane next to her. Scared the living daylights out of me, and she was furious with me.

It was then a complete shock to me when, while talking about the therapist who came to the house to do a safety check (dad is falling frequently) who also does driving safety certifications for people whose ability to drive is in question, my mom said something about still having her license. “I can drive if I want to, but I don’t think it would be a good idea with my leg the way it is”

Stupid me. I said “you don’t have your license anymore, you have a State ID” Oh, the can of worms popped open, because she did not remember that trip to the license bureau. All she could remember was the test she took 4 years ago and passed. So, not only did she NOT have a license, she did NOT have the memory of going to get her State ID, either, and insult piled on to injury. To make matters worse, my dad drives occasionally (and I hold my breath every time he does) and so she says to him “You drive! I can drive just as well as you can!” I said (yes, the stupidity continued) “You can’t get into the car by yourself” which of course she disagreed with. I finally shut my trap.

Today, while driving my father to an appointment, I told him I was dealing with some pretty severe depression. I said it is wearing me out dealing with mom every single day (it’s also wearing me out worrying every time he walks around the house, with or without the walker) and that I need some time away from her. I began to cry.

I told him it’s tough getting up early every day (she gets up between 6:30  and 7:30 a.m.), cleaning her up, etc, and that I could use a couple of days where I could sleep in a little if I wanted to, or just take my time getting ready. My thought was that he would suggest we could hire someone to come in early a couple of days per week. Instead, he asked what I did, suggesting that he could help mom those mornings. Really? In my head, my jaw dropped. Is he serious?

To begin with, the reason they are at my house is because he had been caring for mom for over 2 years on his own, and the stress was taking a major toll on him. He has Parkinson’s, and he was exhausted beyond belief. The house was falling down around them, with roof leaks going undetected and cats spraying the furniture. He got the litter boxes cleaned, managed to get them both food for 3 meals, and went grocery shopping. He also wiped mom’s behind and cleaned up after her, although the mattress had been soaked so many times that when they moved here, it was tossed in the dumpster. And this was when he was able to shuffle about the house without falling. Much.

But this factor is not the most important one. NOW when my dad stands in one spot for too long, he topples over. He falls twice a day sometimes. Picture this, with him helping my mom maneuver into the bathroom without falling, standing next to her to wipe her off, helping her to get to the sink to brush her teeth. Without both of them falling. Dad and mom have shouting matches because he can’t control his speech, especially when he’s agitated, and when mom asks him to repeat what he said, it gets worse. And did I mention they are both using (or should use, in my dad’s case) walkers?

Sigh. King and Queen of Denial. Living with them is exhausting.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Bert Cave
    Sep 29, 2010 @ 17:40:35

    Superb post. You can guest blog on mine (supportforhome.wordpress.com) any time! Please keep it up – and keep taking deep breaths. Bert Cave, Support For Home, Sacramento


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