In a bit of an awkward spot...
July 19, 2011 8:28 AM Subscribe
What is the most ethical choice in this situation?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This could get long, but I'll try to spare you any details of the family crazy that are not relevant.
My grandmother (on my mom's side) is 89 years old and lives with my mom and dad. The relationship is strained, to say the least; there is a whole lot of resentment, anger and downright hate between my mom and grandmother and you can feel the tension when they're in a room together. They've never had a good relationship, and my dad just blindly supports my mom in this. My mom resents everything to do with my grandmother living there: taking her grocery shopping, or to other stores, and basically having to interact with her at all. They are just barely civil toward each other.
I was home this past weekend and my grandma told me that she's had a constant headache for the last six months, some days it's worse than others. She thinks it might be arthritis in her neck, but says she's afraid to go to the doctor in case it's a tumour or something. She hasn't told my mom. When my weekend visit was over, I went into her room to say goodbye and she seemed really disoriented. She wasn't looking at me, just sort of off to the side. I went to give her a hug, and she seemed like she didn't know how to react, or what was going on. She'd said earlier in the morning that her headache was quite bad, but only about 20 minutes before I went to say goodbye to her, she was perfectly lucid, if subdued.
So, I'm not sure what to do. Should I tell my mom about it? If I do, she will almost certainly make my grandmother go to the doctor and it might result in a huge fight and more resentment, and my grandmother will be angry with me (and she can hold a grudge like no one else). On the other hand, my grandma has the right to make decisions about her own health, but I don't know if avoiding the doctor out of fear of the diagnosis is taking a well-thought-out approach to this. Whether it's arthritis or something more serious, I expect the doctor would at least give her something for the pain.
Reluctance to ask my mom to take her to the doctor may also be a part of it, but usually she would just come out and tell me that, so I'm not sure (there's all kinds of weird manipulation and passive aggressiveness between them that often encompasses the rest of the family as well). My mom doesn't handle any kind of emotional upset very well, and there could be all kinds of fallout here that I'm probably not even anticipating; nor is she terribly empathetic. She won't relate to my grandma's fear very well, and may call it ridiculous.
What's the right thing to do, mefites? Tell my mom and increase the odds of grandma getting this checked out, or leave it alone because she can make decisions about her own health?