My 94-year-old mother complains and whines about her ailments but won’t do anything about it. How can I get her to go to the doctor when she believes she is going to be dead soon?

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Mom had a partial colonoscopy about 4 years ago and has complained about it ever since, claiming the operation messed up her digestion (she is subject to almost chronic diarrhia). She has some trouble swallowing, I would like her to go to an ENT also, and she is way overdue for the dentist. She refuses to go, convinced she is going to be dead soon. I have been hearing that for the last 7 years... I really can't pick her up bodily and take her even if I make the appointment (tried that once, didn't work, she is stubborn as a mule and twice as cantankerous). How can I get her to go?

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joan - your comment to wuvs - my mum had her hysterectomy when I was very little - she took one look at me and said "That's all!" (LOL) You are right, Queen Elizabeths are pretty delicate - When I lose one I have been replacing them with a shrub rose called 'Knockout', another that is black spot resistant and requires only minimal covering in the winter time if any. I looked up Therese Bugnat - they are lovely - I wonder how they would do down here in zone 5? Probably pretty well if they can survive up there in the tundra... ;-) I do not remember seeing them around here at the greenhouses, I will watch for and may have to order. Glad your son was an early reader - so was I - I read Gone With the Wind when I was about 7, and understood it, Ivanhoe the next year. Years ago, we read Les Miserables in French class, translating it from an condensed copy, I saw the 25th anniversary concert from the U-2 in London on PBS, was so stunned by it I got the full unabriged copy from Barnes & Noble and am reading it now (3 inches thick). It is a long haul as I get very little uninterrupted time to read.

Actually, I made my living for nearly 30 years in the furniture business, and was quite content for the most part - lots of pressure but I met some great and interesting people and had some good and rewarding experiences (some heartaches too, but that is another story). What was it the teacher said in Anne of Green Gables - If you wake up in the morning and want to do nothing but write, then you must be a writer. I am not that way with writing, I just like communication, when I get to communicate with someone of the same ilk. I was that way with furniture, the thing that changed was the public's wants, needs, and perceptions, so I was glad to retire when I did, I could never go back.
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wuvs - you sre strong - some nasty experiences there and you seem to have come through relatively unscathed. I can relate - once in my teens, when I was very strong, my mother, who had just had a hysterectomy, wrestled me to the floor in a fit of rage. I never thought of asking for help from anyone. I am glad the NH is working out so well. It is wonderful that your mum is happy.

Dale - grim - lol - if the shrink liked your writing, you must have some talent! I think giving up the last couple of decades of your life for someone else's comfort is a big sacrifice and not to be played down. I hope you do get some time to live out your dreams of travel at least. I have a feeling you will.
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wuvs - I was actually commenting about a remark Joan made in regard to my expression that (among a number of things) I would like to take a creative writing class if I had time and environment that would alow me to concintrate on the homework. I do not, I have bashed out a few lines at odd times but whenever I do it gets to sounding self-pitying, and who wants to read that. I mentioned that a lot of writing is about writing what others would want to read. (I once wrote a sort of grim [get it...] sort of fairy tail about me and how I was growing up and out of it, but I loaned it to a shrink I was seeing at the time and he never gave it back - he said he liked it!! Go figure!) Anyway, compaired to quite a number of the entries on this site I really have nothing to complain about except a resentment that I am not enjoying my own last couple decades because I am pinned down with this responsability. I have nothing to complain about because most of you have a lot worse time of it - at least mom is not suffering from dimentia or alz (though she has her moments...) If I had had to go through what you did, I am not sure what I would have done. You are very strong.
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DT Don't ever feel like your venting here is for self pitty, even if it is, that's what your friends here want you to do. I find myself making suggestions and venting about my experiences at the same time. Have looked into a Long Term care situation. Upon takeing my Mother under my wing the furthest thing from my mind was a NH. I thought it was a mean and horrible thing to do to a person. I knew nothing of them exept the horrible memories of visiting my grandfather in the young years of my life. It was smelly, grandfather didn't even know us people there were always in a horrible mood. MY most horrifying memories of my life. I didn't know my grandfather (father's father) other than sick and in hospital or a NH.
I gave up the fight when Mom threatened me and I had to lock my self in my Bedroom and call police so I could get her to stop threatening me. Then they had to take her away in an ambulance to Mental hosital. To cut to the chase... I couldn't take her back home in fear of both of our safety. I worked it out for her to be admitted to NH. Know I see that this is best way for her and I tolive in best quality of life. I have no regrets. I see all the other residents being cared for in a good and healthiest, safest, and if medical attention is needed it is readily available. I see people who otherwise would be in "LALA Land" come back to earth if even for a moment during entertainment exersise or just by weekly icecream gathering. I have such a great feeling about her comfort now. Even when she gets angry at me and tells me to leave I am happy. My Mom is a rareity though she likes the comfort of the way she is being treated because noone is on her back about stuff she wants to do. If she wants to sit she sits if she wants to walk she walks. If she complains they see to it she's comfy. I make sure I am aware of all her needs are met, and she's happy as can be. Music is a wonderful uplifter and mood changer, good distraction from other things for both of you. I used to play name that tune with Mom in the car. Sometimes she was right on with answers or struck a memory! I show her pictures now and she'll give me a story, I am not even sure if she is telling the real story or mixing stuff up but I see her processing info that is clearer to her than what she just ate for lunch. That possative attention is best healer good memories happy thoughts. Your doing the best you can give yourself a hug and try to smile for your efforts are appreciated even if you don't believe so. She hassles you because she knows you care.
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Good morning, Dale – Love the impressionists too. They are my favourites and Van Gogh high amongst them, if you classify him as an impressionist. For me, in any city in Europe, the cathedrals are musts. If Miss Marple is a faded Victorian Valentine, Geraldine McEwan has it hands down. Helen Hayes could do that well too. Yes, Joan Hickson is too stiff. Not really into psychics, though I know they can give good revelations. I would be happy to hear about yours.
Leaf hoppers are not the same as gnats – Google them – they have bigger and harder bodies and plague vineyards and Virginia creepers among other places. Like gnats they fly in your face, up your nose etc. Nasty! Apparently Virginia creeper or its variant Engleman Ivy is not harmful to house exteriors. I love the ivy covered country houses in England. The creeper is my attempt to bring that to Northern Alberta. Yes, I live in the frequently frozen north of Canada – zone 2 - with huge mosquitos, June bugs, long cold winters, lots of snow, short but pleasant summers (other than the bugs and forest fires – the largest of which this year is 40 miles north and still burning and about 1 ½ million acres.) It is a strange place. The sunsets and sunrises can be spectacular – even in the winters. There is a very young population and the community is geared toward them. To get to civilization (the provincial capital) you have to drive 5 hours past endless spruce bogs and the odd farm. Mother lives in the capital. The road is paved now and has shoulders – had neither when we first came up here 30 years ago. They used to trap bears on the trail across from the house and I saw a wolf there one cold New Year’s day. I have seen foxes nosing around, and coyotes lying in the gutter. The deer come and munch my cedars every winter. There are a variety of birds - most notably large black ravens - which we call “tar sands turkeys”. They are very smart and survive this climate even to 40+ below. The white clematis must not be the same as I have – you can’t kill that thing – or maybe it just likes our climate. My friend, who gardens, assures me I must spray the roses with copper sulphate. I told him I have never sprayed. My main rose is Therese Bugnet which is black spot resistant. There is some benefit in choosing roses with that quality. Some of the ones more recently planted may need spraying. Queen Elizabeth’s are beautiful – far too tender for here. We are pretty well limited to zone 2 plants with a few zone 3 and the odd zone 4 which will survive. Roses have been bred particularly for this climate and planting any other means you treat them as an annual.
Yes, you are right – you must write what people want to read. Your description and “recipes of mum” do not sound like self-pity to me. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to write and have it bring in some income! "Happy is the man who can make a living by his hobby!"
Dale, you are a kind man to look after your mum so well. I am glad you get along most of the time. Some, my mother too, have to have the best or the worst of whatever is brought up and either way must be the centre of the universe. Always been that way.
“Persuasion” has a good rating (I just looked it up). Two of my children have been involved in theatre. My oldest son took a 2 yr. drama program and is a decent amateur actor. When asked what he wanted for his 16th birthday he answered “The Complete Works of Shakespeare” Not your average 16 yr. old male. He is a sales man and an excellent one. No matter what he sells he is in the top 3 in the store. I have come to appreciate the skills he has developed. My daughter took a theatre technology diploma, (and then went on the accounting). Watching movies with them opened up a whole new world to me.
Have a good (holi)day!
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ed - so glad u shared - the word pictures u paint are great. Good for ur mum to lift herself above the crowd. Why don't u give her some fashion advice, coach her a little, take her shopping - after all u r "papi chulo" My daughter got me into jeans again after a hiatus of years and I was surprised how good they look! Yeah way to go Mum!
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another PS to Joan - I forgot an important ingredient to the recipe for visualizing me mum - it is a fairly new movie, get 'Persuasion" by Jane Austen, the one made by BBC with Amanda Root. Pay particular attention to the sister, Mary. (I'm a real sucker for well done period movies, this one is one of the best, by the way.Give me a good costumer and I am in hog heaven.)
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Ed - (Or should we call you popi chulo?) I love your rather 'earthy' observations about people, you have a very sharp eye as well as a very sharp wit. I am quite sure it comes from the urban environment you are in and probably grew up in. For example, here in the Real farmville in the midwest, I am appaled at the seeming cluelessness of nearly everyone I run into (almost literally) every day - I grew up here but lived in San Francisco for a number of years, nothing like the Bronx, I know, but living in a city does sharpen your senses as to what is happening around you. If you grew up there, you probably have great instincts, also probably due to your Marine training, which I have always been totally in awe of. You are right, my mom has a lot of very real pain caused by the operation I mentioned at the beginning, but also because she has had both hips replaced, has ostioperosis, and very bad feet - hammer toes, and arthritus. She cannot take most pain medications as she has congestive heart falure and she is already on blood thinners - the doctor would not approve any operation that would require a general anesthetic because he is sure she would not come out of it. With all that, I will turn around and say that for as long as I can remember, even a small pain like bumping her elbow is magnified into a huge pain, I really had decided long ago before she really got bad that she just had a low pain threshhold and she also needs to draw attention to herself. Like Scarlett O'Hara, any conversation that does not center around herself becomes boring very fast. If I say I have a headache, hers is about ready to drop off, if my knee hurts hers should be amputated (really...), etc. It is just something I live with every day. She is, as you say, very angry at getting old and immobile and wants to fight with everyone - the new furnace I had installed just for her is not adequate to her eyes, I came home one day to find her on the phone with the installer and screaming (really) at him to get over here and fix it. In fact just now she called me downstairs to shut the windows so that she could turn on the air conditioner - it is 79 with a nice breeze, when we turn on the A/C we usually set it at 80! She is either too hot or too cold and "can't stand it another minute". Nothing much suits her, she swaths herself in unhappiness every day like a Jersey matron wraps herself in a fur coat, not much I can do about it - she would like a nursing home a lot less, that is why I am keeping her home as long as I can. Anyway, keep those observations coming.
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Joan - as for creaqtive writing, it really only boils down to writing what people want to read. Everytime I sit down to write something it always seems to Sound like self-pity, even though I do not mean it to be. So there it is.
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Joan - would love to get down to Arles. My two favorite painters were Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec (ine crazy, thge other handicapped...) (also Sisley, Pissaro, etc...) There are a lot of Toulouse-Lautrec in the town of Toulouse, not too far away. Your experiences with apricots sound like mine with lettuce that has never been refrigerated like I had in Monterey when I lived there. Italy is a delight I have yet to experience, I fear a short trip to Rome will be all I will be able to muster if I can, and that will all be spent in the Vatican. Miss Marple has been discribed as "a faded Victorian valentine", although I have never seen Joan Hickson's portrayal, she seems as if she would be a little too ramrod stiff for a faded valentine like Geraldine McEwan, but I reserve all opinion until I actually see her. I had lovely experiences in England too, my trips there centered more around traveling from one of the great country houses to another, which I love, but I had your kind of experience in Chicester cathedral, and someday I must tell you about a certain psychic I saw years ago.

You call a certain bug a leaf hopper. I have been plagued with a little black bug we call a gnat, they want to fly into my ears and nose, where you can't spray OFF. I wonder if they are the same thing. I do not encourage crawling vines on the house, they can be invasive, other than clemais, which is not. Some clematis need to be cut back every season for they will not bloom on old wood, others need only to be thinned out. I had one once that had the little white flowers, I forget the name, but it bloomed well for a couple years then just up and died one spring. I have had bad luck with roses as black spot lives in my soil and eventually even spraying has become ineffective, and the last 3 years we were plagued with Japanese Beetle, which loved my Queen Elisabeths above all things. So far, I have hopes they moved on, we have not had the onslot we have had in the past, though today I saw one and instantly killed it, and I got something from the greenhouse in the spring - she told me that it would help with both the black spot and the beetles, and by Jove, I think she's got it!. I do not remember the stuff, it was granuals out of a bag by a well known brand name, but I do not remember right now, I will stop out and find out. Anyway, the Queen Elizabeths have been blooming as they have not for years. You said something about northern Canada once?
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