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Sick mum, sick husband, full time job, two children. WWYD?

(86 Posts)
gaelicsheep Fri 06-Dec-13 13:15:10

I will try to be brief. Mum is extremely ill, has cancer and we fear is about to receive a terminal diagnosis. Mum and Dad live 4 hours away (and a nightmare journey at that). DH is also now ill, needs urgent endoscopy for suspected internal bleeding - possibly an ulcer, but God knows and extremely worrying. DH looks after two young DCs, one of whom is only 3 and just goes to nursery for two short days a week. DH so tired and unwell that he really isn't fit for doing this. And then there's me - trying to hold down a 40 hour a week job and not doing a great job of it at the moment. Have talked to work - repeatedly, as I've had my own heath troubles - and have the distinct sense that they are starting to lose patience with me.

Result, I feel torn at least three ways. What on earth do I do? Where do I start in picking my way through this? Feeling very very down today, sorry.

oscarwilde Fri 06-Dec-13 13:43:18

Hi OP. I'm really sorry about your Mum, that must be really tough.

Can you ask your DB for financial help if he can't be physically present? Can he contribute towards some home assistance for your parents or a subscription to Cook! if nothing else? Is he making an effort to Skype etc to take some of the pressure to be in regular contact off you.
I think you should put him in the picture as to how difficult it all is at the moment, and your Aunt too. She may work all the hours that god sends but she may not need to. Simply telling her that your DH is also quite ill and you are frantically juggling but cannot / will not be allowed time off work at present might help.

Re your DH. Cross one bridge at a time and don't envisage the worst. Does your DD get any free hours from the state? Are you even in the UK? Do your friends and your kids schoolfriends parents know about your Mum. Would they offer lots of playdates if they knew?

helzapoppin2 Fri 06-Dec-13 13:44:03

I'd target your dads sister for some extra help as they are near to your parents. Explain your situation to her. She may be able to get some slack in her work and sort out help for your mum and dad. Or, maybe talk to your parents GP. You can't do it all yourself. Then you can concentrate on DH. Good luck, by the way, it sounds a really hard situation.

AcrylicPlexiglass Fri 06-Dec-13 13:44:31

Could you find a full time nursery or child minder spot for the little one and claim child care vouchers/tax credits etc?

ParsingFancy Fri 06-Dec-13 13:47:24

Are your parents getting DLA or Assistance Allowance (depending on age)?

Because your DM has cancer, she may be eligible automatically for DLA, and even if she's not in the automatic category, Macmillan will help her claim.

The parts of DLA are called "personal care" and "mobility", which may make it easier to overcome DF's refusal to accept help: "This money is for paying someone for personal care." Macmillan may also be very experienced in beating stubborn people round the head persuading families to accept help.

mrscog Fri 06-Dec-13 13:50:03

OP my immediate thought is 'gosh if this person lived near me I'd want to help them'. Have you considered posting on the MN Local boards to see if there are any local babysitters/people who could watch the children for you etc? There's the normal talk boards and the friendship bench. You could live almost next door to me for all I know and if you did I'd be more than happy to help with small things to help. You can also name change for Local so it completely removes you from any posting history on here.

Obviously encourage your parents to start to access whatever help is available. My uncle died of cancer this year and he was offered lots of practical help from Macmillain etc.

Have you tried writing everything down? Put together a timeline of your DH's appoitnements, when you find out your DM's results, anything else you must do, things you need to do. It then might feel easier to take each day as it comes.

Do you shop online? Could you help your parents out remotely by doing their supermarket shop for them and getting it delivered to their house? It's only a tiny thing but I'm sure anything and everything you can do will help.

I also think you need to ask your brother to plan a trip back asap to help ease the burden on you for a few days.

I think, given all the other stresses you are possibly right in trying to keep your employer happy - losing your job on top of everything else will be another strain.

Hope your DH is able to recover quickly and you can find ways of easing your burden.

AngelaDaviesHair Fri 06-Dec-13 13:55:58

Please do get in touch with Mcmillan nurses in your parents' area. They have been a godsend to my parents, and provide an urgent care service so that at least there would be someone to call for night time emergencies.

All the Social Services forms etc are a trial but there is assistance available. ONe does need to really push for it though. Unless you and your parents are quite activist, nothing will happen for them.

Similarly, you and your DH
may just have to push and push and demand for his treatment and appointments to be speeded up because of your family situation.

gaelicsheep Fri 06-Dec-13 13:56:59

Thank you so much everyone. Must get back to work, will pop back later. :-)

gaelicsheep Fri 06-Dec-13 17:19:42

Right I've knocked off for the day. Had quite enough. My parents are the total opposite of activist I'm afraid. They are of the stoical, put up and shut up generation. I will have to investigate things for them, but investigate I will. I will also have to point out to my dad - he will be the most resistant one - that if they don't take up any help that is available then they are actually being rather selfish because the burden (psychological, if not always practical) falls on me. In the nicest possible way, of course. But I think I do need to go and see them to determine how things really are. I do have a neighbour who's a friend and who I'm sure would keep an eye on things at home and let me know if there were any problems.

Yes I do think I have to keep my employer on side, it's pretty crucial for us really. I hope that as long as I am seen to be doing my level best, and doing it well, then they will forgive the odd wobble. I don't see how one can avoid wobbles in these circumstances.

I think Christmas is making all this seem harder. I'm trying to get enthusiastic about Christmas for the kids' sake, and also not least because my Mum and Dad are spending it with us. But because we don't yet know what we're facing, I don't know if Mum will have started chemo by then for example, I am just feeling pretty numb about the whole thing, and then I feel like I'm letting the kids down.

ParsingFancy Fri 06-Dec-13 17:25:41

You've hit the nail on the head about it actually being selfish of your parents to refuse "help" - because they're not actually refusing it, they're just expecting you to do it.

Do you think DF will respond to talking about your fears for your job?

I'm sorry, this is all so dreadfully hard.

gaelicsheep Fri 06-Dec-13 17:30:15

I can't know how they will react if and when the bad news comes - I don't even know how I'll react. I feel mentally prepared but it's all theoretical, I can't have even begun to deal with the emotions apart from the initial shock at the suspected diagnosis. So far I keep hearing from them, oh they're managing, they don't need me to come up, I'm too busy, I'm needed here, etc. etc. And that is all true. I am very busy and I am needed here. But as I said before I feel so torn. And yes they probably are managing - just - but at what cost. If my Dad makes himself more ill how is that going to help anyone?

I fear that if I raise concerns about me and my job they will say they don't expect me to be able to help on a day to day, or even week to week level. But I'm their daughter, if I don't, who will? I don't think they really think about that side of it - about how not being able to help and knowing they are struggling actually makes me feel.

twentyten Fri 06-Dec-13 17:41:27

What about speaking to your local Macmillan people about ideas to help? They deal with this all the time. You need support. Good luck. Depending on the area there are wonderful hospices who can offer all sorts of help and respite/ day care. Carers association?
Be kind to yourself. Teenage babysitter/ student a good plan.

twentyten Fri 06-Dec-13 17:42:31

Talk to your gp too - they often have social services links and you are a carer. Good luck.

Talkinpeace Fri 06-Dec-13 17:49:00

I am not normally in favour of financial imprudence and borrowing, but there are times in life when being there for people is more important than money. Credit cards have their uses.

Go into work on Monday and ask for 1 month unpaid leave.
Tell the mortgage company (face to face or by hand delivered letter) that you need a three month holiday on your payments.
Shift all expenditure that you can onto the credit card - if needs be explain why to them and they will up your limit for 6 months.

Then spend the rest of December and until the start of next term being there for yourself and your family

You only have on set of parents and one DH
they need you now
all else can be sorted later.

GoodKingWencesLACK Sun 08-Dec-13 01:04:06

How are things today gaelicsheep?

I understand totally about trying to be enthusiastic about Christmas. My mum started her chemo (for non hodgkin's lymphoma) about 10 days before Christmas so it was a bit of a washout that year as she felt quite ill from the side effects.

LEt us know how things are going xx

gaelicsheep Sun 08-Dec-13 12:14:39

Hello everyone and thanks ever so much for your kind thoughts. Still the same really. In limbo waiting for mum's results and DH's appt. We will have to ring up about the latter if no letter in the next couple of days.

Very interesting food for thought TalkInPeace. I think we're not quite there yet, but I certainly am keeping the option on unpaid leave at the back of my mind.

It helps so much knowing that there are people out there who understand. Thanks again. xx

Talkinpeace Sun 08-Dec-13 15:57:43

gaelic
have you got the whole of the Christmas holidays at home?
Talk to your bosses (the higher the better)
point out that you can do email a couple of times a day and booked skype when needed, but you NEED to be based at home till January.
If they are professional, and you make it clear that this is in their long term benefit (which it clearly is), there should be no hassle.

One of my colleagues is home working at the moment. She happens to be recovering from an op, but making the project home based means that SSP and everything else is far simplified : and she can go to all her kids school crimble stuff, no stress
in the long run we'll get more out of her by treating her well when she needs

gaelicsheep Mon 09-Dec-13 13:21:39

Hi. The home working thing is a no go unfortunately, other than making up hours as mentioned earlier. For a start you're not supposed to work from home if you have dependents there, which rules me out straight away. And then I'm in one of the roles considered "unsuitable" for home working, despite the fact that I spend half of most days dialled in to servers on the other side of the country, which can be done from anywhere of course. Of course many colleagues in different departments, including my boss, seem to work from home for much of the week and at the drop of a hat. C'est la vie.

But what I'm really feeling here is that somehow my DH's role as the main carer of our children (much as it pains me to admit it, he is) is not being taken seriously. Am I wrong to feel that if the boot was on the other foot people (by whom I mean doctors and employers) would be more understanding about a mother, partially incapacitated through illness, at home with two young children? Maybe that's not the case, but it does feel like people don't think he really has sole responsibility for the children for up to 9 hours a day, but that somehow I am magically there by proxy and therefore it's OK to ignore his needs.

That's probably unreasonable, but that's how it feels right now. I suppose the other thing as that many people are lucky enough to have family nearby to pick up the slack, and we just don't. Anyhow, DH was better yesterday and still seems better today - I've a feeling he's putting on a brave face for me, as I'm sinking fast just now. We'll take it a day at a time for now.

gaelicsheep Mon 09-Dec-13 13:23:18

Also my boss's approach to this seems now to be really hard on me, abrupt and piling on the work. I guess he thinks it will take my mind of things, whereas actually I'm just really feeling the pressure at the moment. :-(

lisad123everybodydancenow Mon 09-Dec-13 13:35:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gaelicsheep Mon 09-Dec-13 13:55:29

Sorry to hear you're in a similar position lisad. With DH this comes on the back of a myriad of other as yet unresolved health worries, not least an unexplained collapse earlier this year, so I guess that's why I'm so concerned about him. He hasn't been fit and well for a long time and this is just the latest spanner in the works.

But you're right of course. I need to focus on the situation on front of me, and I am trying - honestly! School holidays are looming, and I need to work for half of them, so that's number 1 thing to address right now.

lisad123everybodydancenow Mon 09-Dec-13 15:03:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gaelicsheep Mon 09-Dec-13 15:17:07

Sadly here in Wales it's only 10 hours, but of course you're right. It's obvious you've been going through similar as you have a very can-do attitude. Unfortunately my own health issue I mentioned is generalised anxiety disorder, for which I am being dosed and counselled (well hopefully if the appt ever comes through!) I'm soldiering on though smile

lisad123everybodydancenow Mon 09-Dec-13 16:16:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gaelicsheep Wed 11-Dec-13 21:27:30

Thanks Lisad.

Right, well we have mum's results. Not as catastrophic as we feared - it has not gone to her liver - but there are secondaries in at least two other locations so its in her bloodstream. They are talking about chemotherapy being actual treatment, rather than just slowing progress - I'm not sure whether to be heartened by that or not. Unfortunately the nature of her particular disease, and the horrifically low 5 year survival figures even when caught at Stage 1, makes me feel quite pessimistic about the chances of success. So now we await a treatment plan.

Meanwhile, true to my fears about the Welsh NHS, they are trying to fob DH off with a clinic appointment (ie pre endoscopy) in January. So much for an urgent referral to be seen within two weeks. This terrifies me - what if he's one of the unlucky ones with something more sinister than an ulcer and they turn round and say they found it too late. I've heard of that happen to too many other people, it terrifies me. So it will be back onto the GP tomorrow to try and get her to put some pressure on and persuade them that an urgent referral with red flag symptoms warrants actually being seen urgently. Aaaargh.

gaelicsheep Wed 11-Dec-13 22:40:59

I take it back. From what I've just been reading - I don't want to go into details on a public forum - it is pretty catastrophic unfortunately. :-(

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