Long Distance Caregiving with my Siblings.
I have to say - I was so relieved to find this site. I am the oldest of 4 children (I am 54). I am currently iving in England with my English husband (I am American), and we do plan on moving back to New York. I have lived here for just about 5 years now. When I moved over in February of 2008, my mother was in fairly good health - she suffers with atrial fibrillation, an issue with her heart rate. She takes medication for this and seems to be doing well on it. She is also on Coumadin as a blood-thinner to prevent blood clots. Last July (2011), my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to the hip bone and to the breast bone. She is currently taking Femara (as her breast cance is estrogen-receptive) which does appear to be keeping the cancer from spreading any further. I spent most of last summer in New York, having taken a leave of absence from work. I researched everything I could and found a top-notch oncologist for her - we went together, she and I - for all those awful, terrifying preliminary PET scans and advanced mammographies. Needless to say, the news was not as good as we had hoped. Flying back to England was the most difficult thing I have ever done. While I was in NY, I set up a binder of all her doctors, medications she was on, and upcoming dates for appointments. I entrusted this to my sister who lives about 2 blocks from her in NY. My brother lives in New York, but seems to be unavailable or disinterested for much of the time. My other sister lives in Florida, and is currently up in New York, visiting and assisting with doctors' appointments, etc. The concern I have is that I am trying (as the oldest) to keep the peace amongst all of them as best I can. There was a tremendous argument last night at my Mom's house between my two sisters because of my brother possibly cancelling an upcoming appointment for my Mom, again. This, understandably, set off my sister who lives in NY and the end result was that all were upset, particularly my Mom, which is what angered me.
Being so far away currently, I feel tremendous stress and sadness and have tried to call all 3 of my siblings to "take a pulse reading" of where they each were, and to encourage them to work together with my sister in New York, as she has been complaining more and more about all the responsibility falling on her and is quite angry and resentful with my brother, who is right there and yet does not seem to be too helpful, and I think she is angry with both my sister in Florida and myself. We were on the telephone arguing (well, I was listening to them argue) until about 1:00 a.m. UK time. As a result, I am both physically and emotionally exhausted and was not able to go in to work today. One of the biggest issues is that my sister in New York and my brother (in NY) don't seem to speak directly to each other - and, amazingly, I see a lot of childish behavior appearing in that my sister wants people to "take her side" on things. God forbid if you are not angry with my brother, because she feels that you don't understand the stress she is under. I ask her to try to let it go about our brother, because this fighiting is only upsetting our mother. I also tried to make her see how difficult and painful it is for both my sister in Florida and myself to be so far away. We are very involved and try to do whatever we can from the areas where we live - calling doctors, calling our Mom every day to offer support and encouragement, calling pharmacies, etc. I just can't help feeling that it's becoming a kind of competition amongst us, which upsets me, as I think we all do help as best we can. As far as my brother is concerned, my sister in NY wants me to call him and lecture him on how he needs to step up to the plate and do more to help. I have tried this, but nothing works. I don't know what else to do until I can get back over there. I am absolutely heartsick and worried about my own health now, as I do suffer with IBS and anxiety. Any thoughts or suggestions would be really appreciated. xx