Friday, November 6, 2015

In which I can't figure out how to bend another person to my will

Turns out Sly was using the walker and he still fell.

This does not bode well for his future.

Primo is all full of agita because this is super stressful.

His stress is not helped by Ted and Jack, who want to send messages using the Apple messenger, iMessenger. It doesn't work well with non-Apple phones. Primo had called yesterday morning and Jack told him that he couldn't talk just then because Sly had to go to the bathroom and that Jack would call back.

Half an hour later, Jack had not called.

"That's an awfully long time for someone to need for the bathroom," I said.

Turns out Jack had sent a note using iMessenger only Primo did not get the original note or the 17 that followed as Jack and Ted talked via iMessenger (rather than just picking up the darn phone - once you have more than a few texts, it is time to talk and I say that as someone who hates talking on the phone) until five hours later.

He asked them to use facebook messenger or regular text, explaining that there was a long delay in his getting information.

Ted's response?

"Get a real phone."

Would you be ticked off if someone wrote you a flip response like that?

I would.

I was.

So was Primo.

Primo replied ( rather tactfully, I thought, because I am already at Bitch Eating Crackers stage with Ted), "Funny, but if you want me to have information, you need to use another way to communicate. If I don't get the message, it's your problem, not mine."

Except of course it is also Primo's problem because he can't stand not knowing (can anyone? Isn't that what caused the original Fall? the desire to know?) and because he is way too involved in this whole thing.

My sister, who is a nurse practitioner, and her husband, who lost his first wife to cancer, are visiting. Their advice is that Primo should draw some boundaries.

My sister's words: "Your dad is an adult. He gets to make his own decisions. You cannot force him to eat. You cannot force him to drink enough water. You cannot make him do rehab. You cannot make him want to get well or to do the things necessary to get well. In fact, if you spend all of your time there in the rehab center with him, you are actually making it more comfortable for him and giving him less incentive to work to get out of there."

Primo knows all of this intellectually but emotionally, he is caught up in this. I can't make him set boundaries, but I sure get frustrated that I am losing my husband to a mean old man. I want Primo to say, "Enough" and walk away - or at least not spend all of his time down there.

If that won't happen, I want Sly to be man enough to give Primo permission to walk away: "Primo, you have spent the past two and a half months here with me. That's enough. It's time for you to get back to your life."

I can't make either of those happen, which means I am probably not going to see my husband again for the next few weeks after he leaves tomorrow. And we might have to cancel our vacation, which we have been planning for a year. I want Primo to tell Sly to drop dead.

OK. I want Primo to tell Sly, "Dad, we have gotten you through the crisis stage and now it's time for you to concentrate on getting well by eating right, drinking enough water, and doing your rehab. You don't need me for any of that. It's something you have to want for yourself. I will call you every day, but for now, I am stepping back."


  1. Thank you -- I've a parent just out of hospital after coming too close to dying and the script you wanted Primo to adopt is the one I shall have to be using in the the coming week.
    Hugs to you.

    1. Oh I am sorry. I hope your parent recovers quickly and easily.

  2. His phone answer was great ... if only he could manage to hold that line ... not!

    They need to give lessons in parenting one's parents.

    1. Yeah, I wish! Distancing works only if you really don't care, which is why I am able to distance myself from Sly but Primo is not. Poor Primo. I had such a wonderful father and he gets Sly. I don't know how Primo turned out as well as he did. He is a wonderful, good man, not something you would predict by knowing Sly.

    2. Actually, you can care and still distance yourself, it's just harder. I had to do it as an adolescent and young adult, because my parents were a very dysfunctional couple who screamed at each other all the time. When they finally divorced in 2004, a lot of people said basically "Wow, we were expecting this many years ago!"

      I've been easier on myself than Primo, even though I'm an only child. I tried staying a week or more at a time at the hospital, and I was getting really burned out. Now I visit for 4-5 days (including travel days), and I'm coping OK.

      I have to keep reminding myself that 1) my father is probably going to do things that I wouldn't be able to prevent even if I was there (he pulled out his tracheostomy tube, for example, and yes, it was on purpose), and it's easier if I let the professionals deal with it, and 2) there are people in hospitals and nursing homes who can't make their own decisions and who have no family left to look out for them, and there are mechanisms to provide for and look out for people in those situations, so I'm not going to cause a disaster by missing anything. Besides, they still call me when he pitches a fit about not immediately getting 3 meals a day because he passed one swallowing test (which means he can start on pureed foods 2x a day, unsupervised), or to let me know that he fell because he dropped a hearing aid battery and tried to get out of bed to pick it up, even though he is supposed to be in a wheelchair when he's not at physical therapy.

      Sorry for the wall of text, but I hope Primo is learning that no matter what he does, he can't help Sly recuperate as much as a team of full-time professionals. It's not on him at all, especially because he has more family that can spend time with Sly.

    3. This:

      there are people in hospitals and nursing homes who can't make their own decisions and who have no family left to look out for them, and there are mechanisms to provide for and look out for people in those situations, so I'm not going to cause a disaster by missing anything

      This is key. I am so glad, for your sake, you have come to that realization.


  3. That is so on point about rehab - you have to keep a distance for it to work.

    1. See, I never even would have thought that, but for myself, I am super highly self-motivated and would be going nuts sitting in bed all day long. Sure, I could read and watch TV and work on my book, but I would be thinking about all the other things I need to do, like plant the tulips and clear the garden. I would have to get out of there. (Although now that I think about it, I would tell them to put me on a diet - I would stay until I had lost 20 lbs!)

  4. iMessenger doesn't work consistently between two iPhone users either. Any chance the brothers are making things more difficult to draw Primo back?

  5. Oh no, no, no! If we later learn you and Primo had to give up your vacation for Sly, I'm going to be so upset for you!

    1. Thank you! My dad, I would have given up vacation. My mom, for sure. A mean old man who isn't even nice to his own children? No.