Friday, May 27, 2011

This Just In...

In my last post, I described how my husband hunted down Doris' new bank card number, so that he could once again go online and pay little things like, oh, the municipal taxes on her house.

Well, guess what? You know it.

The number still isn't giving him access.

Anthony: "What the @#&^$%@!"
Me: "Agreed."

Anthony: "I got the new number Monday afternoon. I tried using it first thing Tuesday morning. She couldn't have possibly lost her card again after we saw her, and then gotten to the bank Tuesday morning to order a new one, all before I tried to get access! What the #*&$@#%!"
Me: "Total agreement."

So our plan is to make an apointment with the bank, discuss the issue and see what we can come up with to manage the situation better.

As Anthony bemoaned, we'll probably have to hire a lawyer after the meeting. To send the bank threats. Because in the past, they've pretty much refused to co-operate with Anthony, even though he has Power of Attorney, and can wave around signed medical documents from Kookytown General stating that Doris can't take care of business anymore, and doesn't understand the consequences of her own actions.

Heck, she can't even remember most actions.

As you may well imagine, Anthony isn't looking forward to the bank meeting.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Bank Card Conundrum

Anthony and I visited his mother a few days ago because Anthony tried to go online to pay some of Doris' household bills, and he was denied access to the account. As he also needed to pay the taxes on her house, the situation was quite untenable.

This happens every few weeks because Doris loses or misplaces her bank card, and orders a new one, with a different number on it, of course. Then Anthony can't sign in. If he tries calling her to discuss, all he gets is gobblediegook.

 His cousin was there when we arrived, but Doris was not.

This is the cousin who has of late come to live with Doris and Anthony's brother John, the one who "borrowed" $1200 from her a few weeks ago. The atmosphere in the house creeps me out, what with these two overgrown leeches hanging about with the elder Doris, sucking away like crazy at her hospitality.

Cousin Leech proceeded to launch into his big plans: he has bids out everywhere. Numbers are tossed around, big numbers, the cash he's going to haul in. As soon as he ever works, of course.

Reminds me of the time Anthony's brother announced that he "could make $100,000 a year by moving to Alberta."

Doris actually spun on him and said "Why don't you then?" It's the only time I've ever heard her challenge John on his dysfunction.

Of course, he had a quick, and I imagine well-practised, comeback for her: "I don't want to. But I could earn that, if I wanted to."

It's like talking to a bragging kid who makes no logical sense, and knows it, but still attempts to maintain a show of independence.

Anyway, I could see Leech's Mustang car parked right outside Doris' home as he was bullshitting us. That's the car his mommy and daddy had to get out of hock for him recently. The fact that his parents bailed out his car, and are now encouraging him to live with Doris, pretty much tells you everything you need to know about why Cousin Leech is the way he is.

REMINDER: Both Leech and John are well into their 50s.

The stench of enabling and codependency is so thick, you can practically cut it with a knife.

Doris finally returned from her trip to the grocery store, which was unsuccessful because it's Victoria Day and the stores were closed.

She: "The store was closed!"
Leech: "I told you it would be closed."


Anthony: "Show me your bank card mom. Did you get a new one again, recently?"
Doris: (pulling out bank card) "No. But I have two. Why would I have two?"
Anthony: "One is old. It was cancelled. The other must be the latest one you got. Every time you change cards, I need the new number so I can pay your bills." (This said with casual, but meaningful glance toward Leech, whom Anthony wants to know that the account is watched.)

Doris: "What do you mean? I pay my own bills. You shouldn't pay them twice!"

Anthony doesn't argue with her. He's been paying her bills literally for several years now. Still, she insists she does it. So be it.

Anthony: "Don't worry. I see what goes out of the account (another icy glance at Leech). Nothing's been paid twice. I can tell."

She seems to accept that statement, and after a few minutes of idle chat, we leave.

But as Anthony and I discuss later, what to do, what to do?

It has become unmanageable to keep paying Doris' bills this way. She "loses" her card with frightening regularity, and the hassle Anthony has to go through to keep up with it all is unworkable at this point.

But if Anthony shuts down her account, it will only increase his workload. He'd have to ensure she had some money, groceries, etc. on at least a weekly basis. We talk about Meals on Wheels, but that's another concept that evokes a hostile reaction in Doris.

As it stands now, she still comes and goes as she pleases, taking whatever amounts she likes at the times she likes, and spending it all either on food, or on the demands of her son and her nephew. It's not great, but what alternative would make it easier and better for all concerned?

The only answer Anthony and I can arrive at is the one she won't accept: a retirement residence.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Delia Martin Show

I think it's going to be a huge hit, in the mode of  How I Met Your Mother, The Simpsons and Two-and-a-Half Men, all rolled into one huge dysfunctional lump.

I thought of it just now, after Anthony told me another little, precious, endearing vignette from his childhood.

When he was a young guy, maybe 17, his father had a "nervous breakdown," as it was so charmingly termed in those good ol' days.

Anthony now refers to his father's decline as "general malaise," which is how he described it to the emergency operator when he called for an ambulance because the other adult in the house, his mother, was too childlike to take any action.

Anthony's father had been hitting the bottle hard for some time, and the depressions and God-knows what else gradually ate away at him, until the fateful evening when he curled up on the kitchen floor in a foetal position and rocked away until Anthony thought something needed to be done.

Doris: "Ooohhh, Anthony. Why is your father doing that?"

Anthony: "Oh, I don't know mom. Let's brain-storm. Maybe because he's a hardened alcoholic of many years, as you clearly already know? Maybe because he's been suspended from his job due to his drinking? Or might it be due to the fact that he's almost completely disengaged from his family, work and status in life, and despite appearances at the moment, seems to have no emotions whatsoever? Hmmmm???"

Doris: "Ooohhh Anthony. Don't be like that."

Ambulance arrives, attendants look puzzled, finally announce they're hauling Anthony's dad to the local bin, and Doris finally takes a stand:

Doris: "Noooo!!!! Not to the Royal Kookytown Kooky-Bin!!! Take him to the General! What will the neighbors think?"

At which point, Anthony's father roused himself from his rocking, looked Doris in the eye and hissed out: "Fishmonger."

Which was at least a cut up from some of the other words he also called her.

Context: Anthony's dad came from a monied, well-established Kookytown family. He married Doris, who was quite the looker, right after she jumped off the turnip truck from The Labrador. She grew up in a teensy fishing village that had no real road in, just a path of sorts, and was the oldest of 11 brats. And after the delight of Doris' looks wore thin for Anthony's father, he took to smacking her around and calling her horrid things.

She never adapted to big city ways. You can take the girl out of The Labrador, but apparently, in Doris' case anyway, you can't take The Labrador out of the girl.

Anthony's father finally understood that, I believe. He came to habituate fine furniture and housewares stores, buying china for the dining room and signing his children up for refined activities like jazz dance.

Doris was embarrased, again, that the neighbors might actually see her husband buying Royal Doulton. She thought it extremely odd that a man would hang around the china department at Eaton's and she felt shame.

Anyway, Anthony's father went from china to booze to the bin.

Don't you think it would make a great show?

Today's episode: Anthony and Delia struggle with raging emotions and little-understood, dysfunctional urges. Cut away to little vignettes from Anthony's past, soft-dissolve back to the present.

Ah yes, everything is much clearer now.

Friday, May 13, 2011

As I Suspected!

So it was as I thought.

I finally reached my mother's doctor and he told me she wasn't taking her medication correctly, that her memory has clearly deterioted even more since her last testing, and that she is otherwise relatively fit. Robustly fit, from my perspective, but I digress.

He: "You may want to speak to her about the medication and try to monitor it for her."
Me: "She won't let me."
He: "If you explain to her what I've said to you - and I already told her the same myself - and she still refuses your help, then your conscience can rest easy. While her memory is getting worse, which may indicate the very beginnings of Alzheimer's, she is still capable of making decisions and understanding the consequences."

So I understood that he was actually trying to help me and ease my mind. I love my mother's doctor. He's a nice man who works with grumpy, stubborn old people.

That night, I had Anthony pour me a stiff rum and coke, and then I broached the topic with Sally.

She reacted exactly as I'd expected.

Me: "So, your doctor called me and suggested you may need some help keeping track of your meds."

She: (nose jerking suddenly into the air) "Yes. He said that. But I told him he's mistaken. I've been taking my medication the same way for months now. And that's how the other doctor told me to take it."

Me: "Well. He did have your file right in front of him. He seems to think, for some reason (my tongue firmly lodged in my cheek as I said this), that you aren't taking the correct dosages, or even at the right times."

She: (nose almost impossible high now) "He's mistaken. I feel fine in any event."

It's true. Even though she's all over the map with the meds, she soldiers on with nary a problem. Her one night of recent (imaginary) back pain, for example, is all done with. I expect she got quite tired of walking about and moaning that night, all in an effort to show us how she suffers, and decided to abandon the pantomime.

And so we all soldier on.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

All the Usual Suspects...and All the Usual Dilemmas

Sal saw her doctor yesterday. She didn't have a thing to say about it when I asked her how it went.

But he called me and left a message:

Dr. M: "Delia, please call me to discuss your mom's visit today. She isn't taking the correct medication. And I need to discuss her memory."


I haven't been able to reach him so far, but the conversation will go something like this:

Me: "Doctor, she won't let me help her with the medication."
Doc: "She isn't taking the right pills."
Me: "Not hard to predict that. She can't remember if she's flushed the toilet by the time she stands up and pulls up her pants." (True)
Doc: "You must seize control Delia. You must help your mother."
Me: "Doc, you obviously have nnnnnnoooooooooo idea of the ridiculousness of what you just said."

By a mysterious coincidence, my mother was in such pain last night, she roamed about and kept me awake all night. This hasn't happened ever before. In my entire life. And hers.

But I know what it's all about.

The doctor told her she wasn't taking her correct pills. She is the supreme hypochondriac of the ages, and upon realizing her lovely meds were inappropriate, well, then, she MUST be in terrible pain. How could she not be? She wasn't taking all the correct, pretty pills. Sheesh.

Talk about placebo effect.

Meanwhile, in other kooky news, I had reported to you that Anthony's mother withdrew $1200 from her bank last week. At the time, we mused that it was probably Anthony's brother who weasled it out of her.

Well, we were wrong. It was Anthony's cousin (another no-good, unemployed leech in his 50s) who weasled it out of her.

It's gone for good, we know that. Cousin Jed won't be paying that back.

And yesterday, she removed $400 from the same account. We wonder if it's the cuz or the bro this time, for it's surely one or the other, off on a good drinking binge, or buying drugs. Or paying back thugs they owe money to, and it wouldn't be the first time.

If it were me, I'd have limited her access to $100/week, a loooooong time ago. But it's not me. It's Anthony who is her Power of Attorney.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Voting for...Sanity

It's election day in Canada. Here in Kookytown, the lawn signs seem to indicate (at least in my riding) that the NDP candidate (and incumbent) will win. I will vote this evening...and I'm quite curious, as most of us are, I think, as to how it will all turn out for the country.

On the home front, the same question looms: how will it all turn out? Anthony's mother paid us a visit for Easter dinner last weekend. She was dressed like a bag lady, and kept discussing Pierre Trudeau's latest visit to her home.

My mother, on the other hand, remains impeccable in her appearance, if nothing else. Her mind wanders and she is clearly lost in the mist sometimes. Yesterday, for example, she told me she had grand memories of a party I threw at "the place we used to live before we lived here." Well, she and I haven't lived together anywhere else. At least, not in recent years. You'd have to go back to my childhood to remember another place where she and I lived together. So I have no idea what she was talking about, and ultimately, neither did she, because she wavered after a moment, and said "never mind."

She brought up her darn bed again yesterday, too. I think it was all spurred by the fact that Anthony and I had bought a lovely bed frame and headboard for Kathleen's bed (which used to be my mother's bed). Sally seemed petulant and jealous when I told her, and immediatley demanded a new mattress for herself. Of course, we'll go out to get it for her, and she'll probably say "never mind" to that, too, as she has in the past when she's had conniptions from time-to-time about her bed.

Meanwhile, Doris rambles on about the Trudeaus, and money seems to be getting siphoned at a faster and faster rate from her account. Last week, she took out $1200, an amount quite alarming, considering she literally has no expenses except groceries. The $1200 is on top of about $200 she regularly takes out every week, which is more than enough to buy food for two: Doris and her leech son John.

Anthony strongly suspects it is the leech who marches rambling Doris down to the bank when he wants some cash. And Anthony knows his brother as well as anyone.

But he hesitates to intervene. Doris will get angry and blame Anthony if he questions her at all about the money drippping out of her account. But she may well need that money in years to come. Leech-boy shouldn't be allowed to practice his elder-abuse without some challenge. What to do, what to do?