Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Part C: The wife, the sandwich and the spread

I've been doing research on what is called the "Sandwich Generation". That's us baby-boomers who feel we need to take care of our aging parents while we allow our adult children to move back home and we "take care" of them as well.

The definitions totally leave my husband out:

Traditional: aging parents and children of their own
Club sandwich: 50-60 with aging parents, adult children and grandchildren
or 30-40 with young children, aging parents and grandparents
Open faced: anyone else involved in elder care.

So, my husband is 50-60 with 75 year old aging parents, 90 - 93 year old aging grandparents, 31 -32 year old adult children and a 4 year old grandchild with another in the oven!!!

I don't think you can spread the man any thinner than that!

One website calls it "the cluttered nest". LOLOL! All I want in my life is my empty nest!!!

My view is just a tad different from my husband's. My grown children will not move in with us as they need to know that they have to live with the outcomes of the decisions that they make in their lives. My mom is living with my youngest sister right now and one thing for sure, I will never lie to my husband about what I do to help her out.

So my husband does not have my support in how he is dealing with his family. Partly because I think they are all using him. Partly because I think he is enabling each of them in some type of negative manner. But mostly because I know that the stress he is putting himself through, at his own choice, is not doing anything to improve his diabetes. Being a hero to everyone else does not make you a hero to yourself. He really needs to be a hero to himself and get his diabetes under control.

I asked him tonight who would be here to take care of everyone when he is gone. He did not answer me. Who will his daughter move in with? Who will buy his son an airplane ticket to go see mommy? Who will fly and drive his mom to the doctor? Who will take his grandmother wherever she wants to go?

Why is it I see the answer so clearly? Each of those individuals is going to have to come up with some means to take care of themselves when he is gone. Why can't they do it now? Why does he continue to enable them? Why does he put himself through all this stress (and yes, he admits it is extremely stressful). And where am I in all this? Spread completely out of the picture? Off the page? Nowhere in sight? Smothered in the layers of the cluttered nest?

Yes, I will call the counselor again tomorrow as they have not called back to schedule an appointment. In the meantime I'm wondering if I should just spread myself out of this sandwich as it may be to cluttered, too thick, too suffocating for me to survive.

On the other hand, he is flying out in the morning and will be gone for 6 days. While he is gone, his daughter will be moving into our basement. Maybe I will have a couple of days of sheer silence and can do a little bit of mending of my own spirit!!!

Here's to all of you caught in the middle of the sandwich that is one layer diabetes and another layer family! :o)

Part B, the aging parents

My husband's parents are in their late 70s and live a 15 hour drive from us. The live with his 90 something year old grand mother. "Mom" has been a very bad girl and has racked up about $70K worth of credit card bills. And she calls my husband crying, wanting money. In the past year, he has refinanced our home and given her several thousand dollars. All in secrecy. We are not allowed to tell "Dad" as he will have a stroke if he finds out about this. We are not allowed to tell "Grandma" as she is another source of income for "Mom" and if she finds out, she will cut "mom" off.

So, in this whole tangled web of deceipt and lies, "Mom" came down with the shingles. Now, at her age, shingles are most commonly caused by stress. They lasted for 3 weeks and I have no doubt that she was miserable. They developed into trigeminal neuralaga in her face (which incidentally, is brought on by stress). My theory is that the woman will not get well as long as she is caught up in this web of deceipt and lies. My goodness....if I were $70K in credit card debt I'd be a bundle of nerves and stress myself!!!

The pain in "mom's" face will not go away. So, hubby flew down to take her to the doctor to have an injection done. That's the story I got. He flew 1 1/2 hours, rented a car, drove 1 1/2 hours, picked her up, drove 1 1/2 hours back to town to the doctor. Then drove her 1 1/2 hours home, drove 1 1/2 hours back to the airport for his 1 1/2 hour flight home.

Two weeks later he tells me he needs to make the flight/drive again to take her to the doctor for the injection. At that point I flipped out! Come to find out, truth be told, the first trip was just for a consultation. Hmmmm. Why could he not tell me that? Because he thought I would get mad at him spending the money just to drive his mom for a consultation. Duh!!!

Now, 6 weeks later, he is making the trip again. The daughter who up and quit her job said she would go with him, so he bought her a RT ticket. Of course, she got the new job at the cosmetics counter, so he is out that ticket. He is flying down early tomorrow morning. On our way back from his son's house tonight, his dad called to confirm that he is still coming down tomorrow. He said that he was, but that his daughter was not going to make the trip. "Dad" was quite upset and said that his mother-in-law who lives 3 hours from them had wanted to come up for a visit and to see my husband's daughter. My husband said to his dad, "I can drive down and get her". When he hung up the phone he sighed heavily and said, "family".

I said, "you do have the option of saying "no". He said, "no I don't." I said, "of course you do". He said, "you and I were raise differently, we have different feelings about our families, I do not have the option of saying no". I said, "it is just a word, and all of us always have the option of saying the word no".

I just wanted to smack him. Is this the HERO thing again? He is going to save his parents? From what? From themselves? Their debt? Their old age?

And I really wanted to scream at him that this has absolutely nothing to do with how either of us was raised. My goodness! I was raised a Baptist and went out on the street corners and handed out religious pamphlets every Saturday morning. I sure don't do that now! I was raised that it was a sin to drink, dance, gamble......and I sure don't believe that these days. I grew up going to church on Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (lots of teen meetings and such). I don't do that today. I was raised eating meet and potatoes, everything smothered in gravy and all my veggies were in cream. I sure don't eat like that today. As an over age 50 adult, I believe that what I believe today is in part to how I was raised, but in a greater part to the decision that I have made to be what/who I am today.

And he thinks I'm going to "buy" into the concept that he has to tell his family "yes" because he was raised that way?

Should I call him a schmuck?

I suppose it is no sweat off my back if he wants to add another 3 hour drive to pick up his other grandmother. OK, make that 6 hours as it's 3 hours each way. But why? His parents will only complain....and who will take her back home?

The "sweat off my back" comes from the wear and tear on my husband that his parents are putting on him. If he had "terminal cancer" no one would be asking him to do the things they are asking. The wouldn't dare. I know they have absolutely no idea how incredibly sick this man is. He can barely move today because his back is in such bad shape. Yet he is going to get on that flight tomorrow morning and go be a hero to his parents and his grandparents.

So, could part C be any worse?

Part A, the adult children......When the "hero" dies, what happens to those he is busy rescuing?

My poor husband wants to be the hero so bad! He wants to fix everything for everyone....except himself. And it is he who needs to be fixed the most.

Why is that? I've read all the Mars/Venus books and understand that men want to fix all the problems so they will go away. But why can't they fix their own (diabetes) problems. And why do they think they have to be the "hero" for everyone else? I think I'd best break this blog down into 3 parts.

A. The adult children
B. The aging parents
C. The wife, the sandwich and the spread!

So, this is part A. Let's discuss what's going on with his grown children...just this week alone!

1. His 31 year old daughter up and quit her $50K per year job and took a job at a cosmetic's counter. So she calls daddy and says that she needs to move in with us until she gets back on her feet. He makes the announcement to me and of course.....well, I won't continue that sentence! I ask if he is just "telling" me, or if we are going to discuss this. We have a disucssion and agree we need to sit down with her and let her know the rules of the house. That happened last night. It went well. She is only going to move in for one month and will reside in our unfinished basement. She has a list of rules (mostly relating to keeping the house clean, no guests and no smoking). Simple things in my book. Suddenly, I have been assigned the task of "enforcing" the rules as dad knows he won't tell her what's wrong. No problem! I will be happy to help her follow the rules...most of which is that she move out by August 31.

Question? Is he enabling her by allowing her to move in even for 30 days? She has to move a bed and a dresser to the basement as it is totally empty at the moment (nice basement, house is only 10 years old). She quit on her own accord without any preparation for her future, other than she knows she can fall back on daddy.

Question? Is this fair to our marriage to allow a 31 year old adult daughter to move in even for a month?

Does he think she will love him more if he does things like this for her? Does he think he will be her hero?

Does he think this will make him better? physically? improve his diabetes? his stress?

2. His 32 year old son who has a PHD (and should have some brains) confessed this week to having had an affair. We went to visit the son tonight. We sat outside their home for 30 minutes. The pregnant daughter-in-law and granddaughter were inside, upstairs. She did not want to see us. I don't blame her, I know she is mortified. She is a wonderful young woman and I am sure this has devastated her. I adore this young woman and have so much respect for her!! I asked my husband if I could slap his son up the side of his head, call him a schmuck and ram my knee into his balls. Husband said, "no, you cannot do that". I said, "well, at least you know what I would like to do to your son at the moment!"

In case you didn't read that right, I am so ANGRY with my husband's son. What a stupid idiot! WHAT was he thinking? And WHY is this young man acting so upset? He is the guilty party in all this. No one else. But if he can't hold his marriage together through all this, my poor husband will suffer as he adores his granddaughter and is so excited about the baby on it's way.

Son takes dad aside and asks dad to buy him an airline ticket to go see his mother (my husband's ex wife) who lives several hundred miles away.

WHAT???????? This grown man wants daddy to buy him a ticket to go see mommy because he was a bad boy and had an affair and wants mommy to give him a hug and tell him he is ok??? Has he lost all of his marbles? Does he not understand that his dad is DIVORCED from his mom???

Why doesn't he just talk to his dad? And WHY did dad (my husband) agree to buy the ticket? Because his son asked for his help and once again he is in the role of being a hero to the kid?

Why does my husband not "get" this? Why does he not see that his son is just using him? And why does he not see that he is literally rewarding his son for having had an affair by buying him a ticket to go visit his mom?

Does anyone else read this the way I read this? Totally disfunctional parent/child relationship going on here? Oh....wait for part 2 and 3...it just gets better!!!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Moment by moment changes in blood sugar

OK, I am NOT a pro at this disease...I live with my husband who has it. But I seem to be able to track it way better than he can!!! Yesterday, he nearly "bit my head off" and it really was funny, although he did not see the humor in it at all. We had been to Subway for lunch and he had got "3 cookies for $1.00" and ate 2 of them. We stopped and got groceries and came home just in time for my sister, her husband, and their 2 grandsons to arrive. Nice time together. We had had a really late lunch, about 2:30 pm, so I thought 7 pm for dinner would be just fine. About 6:45, my husband asks me where the cookie is. I said, I set it right in the pantry. Continued chatting with my sister out on the back deck. He comes back out and yells at me in a horribly angry voice, "WHERE DID YOU PUT THE COOKIE?" Still not realizing he is crashing, I said, "it's right inside the pantry" and he screams at me, "IT'S NOT THERE, WHY CAN'T YOU REMEMBER WHERE YOU PUT THINGS?"

So I get up, go inside the house, walk to the pantry and pull the cookie right off the shelf, right at eye level, right in front of him and all he says is, "oh".

Really. Honesly. Seriously. It was on the shelf, right at his eye level, the first thing any normal, sane, sugar-balanced person would see when they looked inside the pantry. But not him! He was crashing big time and could not function to save his soul. So, I immediately started dinner and in 2 hours, he was just fine. To his credit, he did apologize to me later on in the privacy of our bedroom, but he never apologized to my family who were visiting.

Which brings me to tonight's topic. Moment by moment changes in blood sugar. It's a theory that I have. And if you have experiences with this, please post!

There's this term called "fight or flight". Has nothing to do with diabetes. When something happens that scares us, or shocks us, or frightens us, or upsets us, our natural first instinct is either to fight it, or run from it. A bear attacks your tent while you are camping, you are either going to grab a gun and shoot it (fight) or run and jump inside the truck (flight). OK, a bit of an extreme example, huh? But I think you get the point. If you smash your thumb with a hammer, you scream, you jump up and down, you shout out in pain....and the adrenaline in your system rockets up. In an earthquake...or a car wreck, your body goes on automatic pilot and your adrenaline increases. That has an impact on insulin. I know it does, I've read the research. But those are huge increases in adrenaline.

I think, (again, my personal theory) is that when little tiny things happen, there are changes in adrenaline, and changes in insulin, all day long. Your boss yells at you. Your kids don't call. Your wife is mad at you, the dog pees on the carpet. All the tiny little insignificant things that normal people can handle, can and sometimes do cause shifts in the adrenaline/insulin/body sugar levels of a diabetic. The more tiny little insignificant things that happen at the same time, the more the shift in the blood sugar, and the more it all "piles up".

I also think there must be some kind of "lag time" in events and in insulin production or lack of it. Sort of like the traffic that ques up, you slam on the breaks, you speed up again, but you never come upon the event that actually made that first car slam on the breaks! We have a tunnel on our freeway and I can guaraantee you that every time you approach it, everyone slams on their brakes. But there is never any indication why....and I don't think normal people slam on their brakes just to go through a tunnel on a 4-lane highway! My husband takes his blood sugar and it's within normal levels.....but I KNOW it's really not because of the way he is acting!!!

My personal opinion is that adrenaline has a huge impact on the body's blood sugar levels. The calmer I can keep my husband, the less outbursts we seem to have. But every day life tends to prevent calmness around here! He doesn't handle company all that well, let alone 2 little boys aged 9 and 11 who wanted nothing more than to play with our little puppies. So, 2 bouncing, yipping puppies, 2 little boys, 2 adult relatives...yep, that fight or flight instinct probably was in full gear!! After all, I couldn't seem to put the cookie in the right place!!! :o)