November 15, 2007

A Little History

MIL grew up back east in a fairly traditional Lutheran family, attending Church on Sundays, growing veggies in the garden, attending school, helping with the house...all the "normal" things that most people experience on some level or another.

Her sister is 4 years older, and was a typical "first child", the light of her grandparents' eyes as she was the first on all sides of the family, could do no wrong, and was favored as the darling for some time before MIL was born. MIL tells stories of how she was unfairly treated because she "wasn't as" pretty, smart, helpful, insert your adjective of choice. Obviously, not being there, and Auntie remembering things differently, and Grandma being almost 90 and not remembering things well at all these days does not help the situation, so we take it with a grain of salt, and I usually think to myself how glad I am that I didn't have to go through that, or if I did, I've apparently not let it dictate my life. MIL has a little brother that is some 8 years younger than she, and due to the issue of a few miscarriages in between she and Uncle, along with the fact that he was destined to Carry On the Family Name, she is horribly jealous of how he was petted and made much of. Again, see the above comments on the situation.

At the age of 18, she was married and pregnant because she was never taught any differently (her words, not mine). In fact, she was taught that the man works, and takes care of the woman and child(ren), and that she should therefore do the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Never mind that the year was 1963. That's how she was brought up. 4 years later, she was mourning the loss of her second son, who died in infancy (most likely from what we now call SIDS), and going through the horror of a dissolving abusive marriage. She packed up her little boy, moved cross country to California, got a job as an accountant, and never looked back (again, her words). After another 9 years of so, she met BBs dad, who was freshly divorced, and trying to deal with a remote relationship with his not quite 2 year old, and an ex who was an alcoholic, lousy with money, and had a multitude of mental and physical issues.

Now, while you may feel like you're reading the backstory of a Soap Opera, let me assure you that this is REAL LIFE.

MIL and FIL were married, and fought a dirty fight to gain full custody of BB, and he grew up calling her Mom, visiting Real Mom only occasionally during his growing up years. Not because of MIL and FIL, but because of Real Mom's issues and schedule.

Somewhere in the intervening years of 1963 to 1974 MIL became hardened and bitter (not surprising given her situation at the time), and has since become the controller of all she comes in contact with. As anyone who has spent any time with victims of abuse can tell you, this is a large defense mechanism...if you are in control, no one can ever hurt you again...makes sense, and in some instances, is not an unhealthy shift. HOWEVER...MIL has never gone through any counseling, therapy, anything, to truly recover from her first marriage, and instead, has held it against her parents, his parents, the world at large ever since.

As a result, in my uneducated, unmedical opinion, she is domineering, controlling, and must always place herself in the role of martyred saint. This, as you can tell, results in strained relationships, and the need to be the leader in all she does.

FIL is a browbeaten man who hides the fact that he is not in control of anything in this marriage, and who finds comfort and release in his general contracting company.

TO bring this all to a point to understand my frustration...

Some years ago, MIL decided that it was God's fault she was in a bad marriage, and turned her back on the church. Uncle's wife accused Aunt of molesting his children, causing a family rift that has only begun to narrow. MIL has always been the one taking care of Grandma and Grandpa (before he passed away 4 years ago), and has shouldered the burden of being the one to "keep them on track".

About the time that Grandpa passed away, Grandma came down with a nasty bug, passed it to MIL (think I mentioned this briefly in the beginning, but here it is again), who has since experienced vertigo, ringing in her ear, numbness in her hands and arms, horrible back problems, and now knee issues. She underwent all the tests for various medical conditions and diseases, including, but not limited to diabetes, tumors, blood pressure issues, thyroid, and a host of others. She even saw "the top neurologist" in the state and "even he couldn't find anything wrong" with her. ( I think she delights in being "uncurable" ) Her local family doctor never thought to question her dietary habits (as I sit at her computer staring at her 3 empty cans of Diet Pepsi from this morning, and an empty can of Pringles also from this morning), her activity level, or any family history of any problems that were unexplained. She is, in her own words, as healthy as a horse on paper. She has since switched to a new family doctor who, while he has all her records, is issuing all tests to be redone. I wonder if he will have her visit a dietician, and do a stress test?

Tomorrow, she has an MRI done on her Cervical and Thoracic vertebrae, along with her hips to determine if there is anything that has been missed, or is now showing up.

The reason I bring up her unmentioned dietary habits, is that she has spent the last 60 years eating a processed sugar diet, nothing but red meat with gravy, and lots of processed carbohydrates, and only canned or cooked to mush veggies, and iceberg lettuce, smoking menthol cigarettes, and drinking Diet Pepsi. She does no physical activity other than walking to and from various places in her 1800 square foot house, and does not even walk to get the mail at the end of the block, 3 houses down. She easily weighs 350 pounds, and is only 5'5". Even before the vertigo set in, her idea of exercise was walking to the mailbox if it was not raining, or eating a double scoop in a waffle cone of ice cream from the local place that proudly boasts its 13% butterfat content...

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE pray that the new doctor will be able to see the need to look beyond the evident physical problems of vertigo, and look into nutrition, and some systemic issues!!!!

Please also pray that the MRIs will show SOMETHING...anything...at this point, maybe a big fat giant mass of something would scare her out of her complacency into a lifestyle change.

Pray too, that BB and I will be at peace tomorrow during these tests, as we'll most likely be here at the house with no means of transportation to get anywhere if we need to...

1 comment:

Ang said...

hugs and prayers for you and your family during this time. your MIL may say she is healthy as a horse but she is using food to deal with emotions. (I only say this because of the things you have posted I have experience and knowledge of) Until MIL can get some counseling or reading material, she will not change. Short of being notified she's on death's door, she will not change until she's ready. I send prayers up for you and BB. I say prayers up for her that she allows Light and LOVE back into her heart and finds not everyone is out to get her(you and BB). She needs to learn to love herself again. Hugs to you Kork