Life Stuff

The day before we were to return from vacation, we received a call that my FIL had to be rushed to the hospital.  We quickly prepared for an early departure if needed; however, he stabilized, and our coming back a day early was not necessary.  Other family members were there.

Fortunately, my FIL is recovering.  He is in his early 80's, active, healthy in every way.  However, his illness (sepsis/pneumonia) hit him quickly.  As he described how poorly he felt, and how he was crawling up the stairs, crawling across the upstairs floor--his destination 'his chair'.  He never made it to his chair.  Rather, he was a 911 call as my MIL, who has health issues of her own, found him slumped against the sliding glass door.

As he recounted his ordeal to me while I was visiting with him in the hospital,  I stopped him and asked humorously, "At what point in time in your crawling did it occur to you that you might want to call someone?"

The silver lining in this cloud, which is quickly dissipating with his recovery, is that we have had a chance to enter the lives of my in laws.  I'm a daughter, so I'm always aware of what is going on with my stepmom and dad.  These sons, not so much with their parents.  Thankfully, my schedule was flexible enough to help out when my FIL was released.  Some in our family felt that he was released too soon due to the home situation.  I said frankly, "The hospital doesn't keep you for those reasons."

My in-laws have been very independent.  This sudden onset showed the vulnerability that every person entering advancing years faces, the small chipping away of his/her health that makes  independent living more difficult.  I spent the first few days trying to explain to my MIL, after she told me repeatedly that I should not have to help them that Medicare would provide them with all of the help that they needed, that such a tooth-fairy did not exist.  Thankfully the physical therapist could explain that.

My MIL helped me so much when I was a young mother.  If my son/daughter woke up with a fever and I had to go to work (which I always did!), she kept them without hesitation.  (My mother did as well, but she was diagnosed with lung cancer when Hannah was not quite a year old, and my mother did not care for her for another 6 months before that because she thought she had a cold from her constant coughing.  She died when Hannah was just 18 months old).  Helping my MIL understand the importance of this help, and what it meant to me, went a long way.  Further, I also wanted to reinforce that their their two sons, two DIL's and two adult grandchildren are part of their family support unit.  We help out because that is what we do for our loved ones; it is not a chore, but it is caring for loved ones. Not allowing us to help causes us worry and robs of our our selfish desire to contribute to their health and well being. 

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, we have entered their lives and have suggested, negotiated and occasionally cajoled on ways to improve their living situation for greater comfort and safety.  For them, reducing some clutter, dusting, cleaning, rearranging, installing some support rails and storage are small things to do.  All in all, their living circumstance was not deteriorated, and in fact, they have less clutter than I have (As I look at my own home circumstance, I could get a headstart on a few things myself!).

While I regret that my FIL had to go through this, we have used his health circumstance to demonstrate how easy it is for us to help them. We are not taking away their independence, but rather, we are supporting their continued independence.  And with more face time, we are better able to gage their health and home situation.  We are practicing love and respect, and walking that fine line of when we have to take a firmer stand.  As with corporate life, ideas have to take root and change has to come when the corporation, or in this case, the individual is ready OR when there are extenuating circumstances that prompt quicker action.  We want to avoid getting to extenuating circumstances.



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