Visiting sick parent?

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emu_oil

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Visiting sick parent?
« on: February 09, 2019, 08:09:24 PM »
Hi everyone,

First off let me apologize for my inactivity. I've been so busy with work but I do spend time lurking when I get the chance. I'm still pretty new here so please also excuse me if this has already been discussed before.

I am a daughter of an uNPD mom (potentially BPD according to my last therapist), and a non-PD dad. I decided to go very limited contact with both of my parents 3 years ago after hitting rock bottom and desperately needing space from my family. Over time, this meant distancing myself from my siblings, who I still talk to, but only occasionally and cautiously. We all live in different places which I find helpful. (more on this in past posts...)

One of my siblings recently reached out to me and told me that my father is dealing with some medical problems. He is in his mid-70s and has lost a lot of weight and bone mass, walks with a limp, doesn't eat well, etc. My sibling assured me that he is not in critical condition, but nonetheless there are some concerns. My dad plans on getting all of his teeth replaced with a full set of implants because his dental health is deteriorating. He will be undergoing surgery and wants all of the family by his side when this happens.

Growing up, my dad was enabling to my mother and emotionally withdrawn. He experienced some severe hardships while raising my siblings and me, but he never really made that apparent to us. We grew up knowing very little about him, which made it easier for my mom to take center stage and harder for us to build a close bond with our dad. Over time, he began to loosen up, but my early memories of my dad (cold, stoic, reserved) are difficult to completely forget. Like my mom, he was emotionally unavailable, but unlike my mom, he has evolved over time and learned to take responsibility.

I'm trying to figure out if it's worth it to visit my family during the surgery. I want to be there for my dad, but I do not want to reconnect with the family or open up a new line of communication. I'm honestly scared and sad for him; I have not seen him or my mom in person for a few years and it's starting to hit me that they are both slowing down quite a bit.

Have any of you reconnected with your family during low or no contact? I've heard that this is a bad idea, but I'm honestly torn. I will need to talk this through with a therapist before making a decision. Any advice or insight would be much appreciated.

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WomanInterrupted

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Re: Visiting sick parent?
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2019, 02:32:08 AM »
Personally speaking, it's a *really* bad idea to get drawn back in during a medical crisis or a "medical crisis" (problem made out to be MUCH more severe than it really is) - and frankly, if your dad is having dental implants and calling it "surgery", I'd classify it as a "medical crisis", in that he's milking it for all it's worth - or somebody in your FOO is milking it for all it's worth.

IIRC, dental implants take a couple of steps - first, pull tooth.  Second, they put stabilizing putty/material in the socket, to prevent bone loss.  This takes *several weeks* to heal - they want the gum completely healed before the next steps.

Now, what comes next, I'm a little sketchy on:  either they place posts  (through the dried compound and into the jawbone and/or upper mandibles) and let those heal for about six weeks, or they screw in the actual implant.  I'm really not sure, but I'm sure you can Google it or find it on Youtube.  :)

I only got as far as the stabilizing putty - the implant part is a bit expensivo, so I've been holding out for "the right time" (which just never seems to come).   :doh:

Oh, and this is all done with a topical application of Lidocaine, followed by Novocain injections.  8-)

I'd stay *out* of it, and the first line of your post gives you a very real Medium Chill excuse:  you're extremely busy with work, and can't get away.   :ninja:

If somebody tries blaring the FOGhorn about SURGERY! - remind yourself *he's having teeth pulled and stuff put in the sockets.*  This is NOT a medical emergency - that's a routine trip to the dentist, for many people.   :yes:

Another reason to stay away is if you're the scapegoat, being some sort of *caregiver* will probably come up, be inferred, or thrust upon you, in some way.  Remarks may be made about quitting your job, or moving to their town - or you moving them into your home.   :aaauuugh:

There will probably be hints about how they're getting on in age and need help - only help YOU can provide.  (I think they only want the scapegoat so they can be on their worst behavior, we're used to it, and they think we'll just keep putting up with it.  For anybody else, they'd have to behave like normal people, and they can't do that for extended periods.)

To me, this sounds like a situation you should stay away from - I know I would, and have.   :sunny: :heythere:

You're swamped at work, can't get away, and you're sure everything will go smoothly with his implants - that's all I'd say.   :ninja:

Anything after that, I'd probably ignore - after all, you ARE busy!   8-)

If you don't want to reconnect or open new lines of communication with your family, this is the kindest, sanest and safest way to proceed - support from afar, but not much else.

Once you establish your *boundary* (I will not respond to the dog whistle), don't be surprised if you don't hear anything until the next big "medical crisis" - real or imagined.   :roll:

And I'd respond with the same - swamped at work, can't get away - especially if the details are *vague* - like the "surgery" your dad is having, that I demystified and put into perspective.

As the voice of experience, I'd like to warn you PD's age *terribly* - they become clingier, needier, and more desperate for attention, as their world grows smaller and more insular.  They tend not to socialize and may think everybody is out to get them, or jealous of them, when nothing is further from the truth.

They're getting old - they have no positions of power, they've lost their looks and athleticism, and they tend to get downright nasty about everything - even minor changes.

While the people they used to know are having fun and socializing, your PD parents are probably sitting at home, badmouthing every single one of them *for not being included* - after refusing dozens of invitations in a rather disdainful or rude manner.

People give up.  They stop trying.  And I can't blame them.

Eventually, they run *us* off - we put up boundaries, and use time and distance to our advantage.

Your sibling may say your father wants the entire family there for his "surgery" - but how many of them, other than you, are *actually considering going*?

And how many of them will actually *show up*?  :snort:

You know your sibs best, so you probably know the answer, based on past experiences - and if you said, "None" - I wouldn't be surprised.

Please listen to your gut - if it's telling you to stay away, this is a BAD idea - it's right.   :yes:

And please take to heart the words of Vivid Imagination:  If it feels yucky, it IS.   :thumbup:

 :hug:

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emu_oil

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Re: Visiting sick parent?
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2019, 08:50:04 PM »
Hi WomanInterrupted,

Thank you *so* much for this response. My gut initially told me that this was more of a "medical crisis" than a legitimate medical crisis, but I also felt guilty. I totally agree that, if I visit, I'll be pressured to prioritize my parents. A lot of my family members are prone to guilt-tripping and scapegoating, and I wouldn't put it past them to make me feel bad for being low-contact these past years. The sibling who brought all of this up has been triangulated several times; she loves to keep me "updated" on the family happenings in an effort to reel me back in. I don't know how to handle it, because I do want to be made aware of legitimate emergencies and crises, but I don't want to be manipulated or toyed with.

I'm not sure how I feel about it all. I wish I could visit my family without feeling depleted and worn out after-the-fact. I also can't help but feel guilty, and I don't know if my guilt is coming from a healthy place.  :(

Still need to continue thinking on all of this, but thank you again!

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Sunny_day

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Re: Visiting sick parent?
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2019, 04:00:39 AM »
"He will be undergoing surgery and wants all of the family by his side when this happens"
I'm curious about this part because of two reasons. One, why he does not ask you directly but through a sibling? Does he know this sibling asked, requested them to, does not know? Two - and this may come across heartless - he has a right to ask, you have the right to say no, two equally important rigts.

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emu_oil

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Re: Visiting sick parent?
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2019, 06:44:32 PM »
One, why he does not ask you directly but through a sibling? Does he know this sibling asked, requested them to, does not know?

Unfortunately, this is very typical behavior in my family (third party communication). I have strict rules on how my parents can communicate with me, which is limited to emails only. For this reason, my parents like to solicit my siblings and cousins to communicate on their behalf. I’ve tried explaining that this is unhealthy behavior, and in many cases I just ignore or give a bland/medium chill response.

I’m not sure if my dad knows about the conversation I had about his health. If I had to make a guess, he probably didn’t want to discuss these issues over email. He did ask me to skype him and my siblings a few weeks ago, but that goes against my LC rules so I didn’t comply. He never explained why he wanted to skype (again, very typical). My dad is more tolerable than my mom, but he is still mixed up in a lot of unhealthy patterns and he doesn’t always hold himself accountable for his mistakes. I also cannot correspond with him too much, because when I have in the past, my mom would get jealous and pester me about it.

You are definitely right that he can ask, and I can say no. I’m planning on saying no, because the thought of visiting is making me sick. I just have to find the right way to say no without too much explanation or emotional investment.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2019, 06:47:29 PM by emu_oil »

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WomanInterrupted

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Re: Visiting sick parent?
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2019, 07:01:04 PM »
If the thought of visiting is making you sick, staying away is the best thing  you can do for yourself.  Your body is telling you how unhealthy the situation is.

As for your reply - you can't get away; you're swamped at work.  :ninja:

That's IT.  That's all you say, in a very calm, unemotional way.   8-)

I strung unBPD Didi along for the better part of a year with being busy.  She'd want to know WHAT was keeping me so busy and I'd tell her, "You know - the usual.  It's never a dull moment around here."   :ninja:

The less Didi knew, the better - and I think the same goes for your FOO, too.   :yes:

So you're busy with work.  Can't get away.  It just doesn't work for you. 

Another option is to say, "I'll see what I can do, but I can't promise anything."

And what you can do is not put any further thought into going.  THAT'S what you can do!   :ninja: :evil2:

Any further conversation on the subject, after that, is to be shot down with, "I already said no, so please drop it."

Anything after that is to be *ignored.*  You already answered the question of going.  Just because they don't like the answer, doesn't mean they get to keep asking, hoping to make you change your mind.

If your sibling just won't stop asking or trying to cajole you, I'd let the calls go to voice and delete the messages - or block your sib's number until after your dad has been to the dentist.

Remember - less is more, when dealing with PDs.  :yes:

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Bloomie

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Re: Visiting sick parent?
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2019, 09:02:30 PM »
emu_oil - Hi there and I am really sorry your dad is facing some kind of surgery and his health may be declining. That is hard to hear and emotionally complicated with the family dynamics that have been so painful for you.

Is it possible - since you do have limited communication via email - to simply ask him how he is doing and how his health is and if you do confirm he is having some struggles or facing a tough procedure to offer your kind well wishes and let it be? Offering first what you have to give may be an empowered and pro active step that settles your nerves and allows you to move on. It seems to me the best way to communicate with him is directly and through the channels you have deemed comfortable and best for you or not at all.

vLC or NC with family members who are enmeshed with our high conflict PD loved ones is especially hard when these things come up - and they will come up - and we may not be the ones who are able to support those family members directly, but it seems like your dad does have good in person support and that can be a reassurance to you. It doesn't have to be you sitting right there holding the cup of ice chips to be valuable and loving imv.
"If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow." Dr. Caroline Leaf

Bloomie 🌸

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emu_oil

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Re: Visiting sick parent?
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2019, 11:23:54 PM »
WomanInterrupted + Bloomie, thank you so much for your responses. I do think it's possible to check in with my dad and simply let it be after I hear from him. I'm going to take my time with this for several reasons. I'm worried that my parents will continue to grow desperate in their attempts to see me. I don't want them to show up where I live, or worse, where I work.

I'm also starting to think further ahead and can't imagine what it would be like if my mom were a widow. I would be devastated for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, because I'd like to build a relationship with my dad but can't when my mom is in the picture. Second, I know my mom's condition would get even worse, and I have no idea who would attend to her unreasonable demands. I probably shouldn't think this far ahead :(

I'll take your advice and continue to be cool, calm, and far far away from all of them.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2019, 11:26:39 PM by emu_oil »

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Yael924

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Re: Visiting sick parent?
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2019, 02:14:30 AM »
Reads like the best thing to do is to skip it. If anyone asks why not you can answer

It's an elective dental  procedure, not a heart transplant. *Sheesh*
If he's so scared about it, he can cancel.
I'm really sorry that this is so difficult for you.  But really --  it's
Just  ridiculous. What will he want a family circle for next? Mole removal?
 :doh: