I am the primary caregiver for my elderly mother and will be having surgery this week to remove my thyroid. Its an hour surgery with a 24 hour hospital stay but it was a surprise event-- I went for my checkup in early June to discover that my nodules had grown significantly and needed to be removed ASAP. My mother is not handling this well. Despite reassurances from everyone involved (dr, surgeon, other people we know who've had the same surgery with the same surgeon, other people who've had relatives who had the same surgery years ago), her emotions keep see-sawing back and forth.

I understand her worry, at the very least she's my mother and worry is part of the job, but it's beyond that. She's not just worried about me and my health, she's worried about herself. She's a dependent person who has never been able to live alone. She and my stepfather lived together 24/7 for 20+ years and when he died, she transferred all her dependency to me. I am a single woman with no family of my own and no brothers or sisters to share the load. Everything I say or do to reassure her only seems to last a short time and then we're back to crying and/or yelling again.

Thanks for letting me vent. I just needed to get out my own frustration regarding this situation, I'm not expecting a magical solution.

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Ladybard since your mother's not being rational, I'm very much afraid that there isn't much hope that anything you say or do will calm her down. You could tell her:

that you are the person with the problem, not her
that she is really not helping you with her panic attacks
that, like everybody else, she will have to wait and see, and hope for a good outcome
that whatever happens she will be well looked after, and that people who care about her will be there at all times.

But since she already knows all this, and it's not making any appreciable difference… Sigh.

You're an extremely sweet and understanding person not to be furious with her. She's being monumentally selfish, so I assume that you have accepted this as part of her personality and are generously overlooking it. Huge credit to you.

Meanwhile, however, you have surgery to prepare for, and that means that the time has come for you to be a bit selfish. The second your uncle arrives, take full advantage of his help. Give him, too, the contact details of that lovely network you've set up ready to help (you clearly know some very nice people! - sounds like birds of a feather flocking together…); then make no bones about taking yourself off-stage and concentrating on being as relaxed and well-prepared for your surgery as possible.

I'm only adding this because it sounds as if it will be a priority for you: but don't forget that the better your surgery goes, the sooner you'll be able to restore the status quo for your mother! So take real care of yourself. Best of luck for this week, hope it all goes smoothly.
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I have my uncle (my mother's brother, our only other relative) coming in tomorrow to stay for a week so she won't be alone. I don't know how much comfort that will be as she doesn't seem to trust anyone but me, but it was all I could think of (she won't really let anyone else in the house). I've notified friends, neighbors and coworkers and introduced them to mom whenever possible so that she'll have a bit of support and will be familiar with those who may show up at the hospital. She has the phone numbers of my closest friends and I even got the one she knows best to promise to call the night of my hospital stay to check on her. She's fine with money and groceries until I'm back.

Cmagmum-- you're totally right about the what if I don't have the surgery. Right now, all the tests are coming back that it is benign but my surgeon said it's grown about a million cells in the last year. If it keeps up that rate and I don't get it removed, the chances of it becoming cancerous increase dramatically.

GardenArtist-- thank you so much for your kindness. Sometimes it just helps to know someone is listening.
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What about friends of your mother's? Church, senior citizen group friends who could stay with her until you return?

Do you think she'd feel better if you created back-up systems for any potential issues? Medical alert, lockbox, neighbors calling and checking in on her.

It seems what is needed is a temporary substitute for you, who took over after her father died. I think the question is how to create that substitute, but I don't know how other than friends and/or a paid substitute.

Is there anyplace she could go just for a few days for respite care? I'm not sure if hospice has anything like that, even though a relative told me that her hospice choice did have that option.

I'm in a similar situation, and also wondered what would happen if I were faced with the situation you faced. I wish I had some answers but right now all I can offer you is understanding and hope that others here will have some good suggestions.
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Has your mother considered what will happen to her if you don't have this surgery? Does she have enough money to be cared for while you have the surgery and recover? Are you her POA?
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