How to salvage my "vacation"?
May 29, 2020 6:04 AM   Subscribe

Well, my mother has been admitted to the hospital (see previous question). My stress level is at 100 and I'm just frustrated. I took vacation time and this is what happens? My birthday is on Saturday, is there anyway to make it... less awful?

I know that makes me sound very selfish. I should be worried about my 74 year-old mentally ill mother, who's now hospitalized due to a foot infection. I get it. I spent all day yesterday driving to see her and then spent the next 4 hours dealing with her health issues. I am just so tired of dealing with this shit. So tired. My patience is at 0. I can't even politely interact with doctors and nurses regarding her anymore. (No one called me to tell me she was admitted to the hospital, after I left the ER to sleep, and I was told by her nurse that they can't call the families to let them know "every little thing." Okay... whatever.)

My birthday is on Saturday and all I want to do is cry. I know I sound like a 12 year old, but I feel so sad that THIS is my birthday. Instead of having a mildly relaxing birthday, checking on my mother and ensuring everything goes smoothly... now I have to arrange it so her house gets checked on (are people even doing housesitting during covid?), etc. Now that I work out of town, do I have to call them and tell them this is going on? My mind is spinning.

I just want to scream, and cry, and scream. Due to covid, it's not like I can even GO anywhere or DO anything nice for myself this weekend. I can't do the things I would usually do in this city to make myself feel better. I just feel like a loser. Spending this birthday alone in my mother's house, when I don't even want to be here anymore. Is there anyway to save the next few days and make them less awful? I'm so stressed out. I don't know what to do anymore. Can I even somewhat enjoy the next few days of my "vacation"?
posted by VirginiaPlain to Human Relations (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Think of it this way: your mother is being properly looked after. She is currently not your responsibility. Professionals are dealing with her issues. This is all good!

Of course the overall pandemic situation is limiting and bad, but you can still arrange to get yourself some nice food, maybe go online and – if the budget allows – order yourself a couple of little treats, could be a book, a game, a good kitchen utensil you've wanted, perfume, anything.

Spend some time outside.

You're a good person. You've looked after your mother and she's now being seen to. And there will be better birthdays to come.
posted by zadcat at 6:14 AM on May 29 [23 favorites]

"Put on your own mask before assisting others" means you should arrange for something good to eat, something to watch or do to distract your brain, and a small cake.

As zadcat says, you have arranged for pros to take care of Mom, which is a good thing. Now you can stand down and look after yourself.

Can you get outside and soak in the fresh air -- a park or hiking trail? Maybe a long drive with new (or old favorite) music on the stereo? Your brain needs to come out of gear for a while.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:17 AM on May 29 [4 favorites]

I'm so sorry you're going through this! This year I had to take my husband to the ER on New Year's Eve, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter. Also International Women's Day. He was admitted each time. It suuuuuucks. I am now borderline phobic about holiday weekends. And based on your previous questions I would say that my underlying relationship with my husband is A LOT LESS FRAUGHT than yours with you mom.

So, the nice thing about your mom being in the hospital during COVID-19 is that there's literally nothing you can do in the immediate term beyond making a few phone calls to check in on her. You don't need to feel obligated to get her something nice to eat or sit with her or anything like that, because you can't. She is in good hands, and there's no logistical reason for you to not take the day off and do whatever you think would make you feel good: get ice cream, or eat your favorite takeout, or, sure, scream at the top of your lungs. Make yourself a fancy cocktail. Lie down on the couch and read a book you've been looking forward to (or an old favorite), or binge a TV series that you haven't gotten around to (I got hooked on Babylon Berlin during my husband's last hospitalization).

Maybe you will need to arrange to have someone look after your mom's house, but NOT TODAY! I mean, seriously, you don't even know how long you need someone to look after the house. Maybe your mom's not going to come home and you'll need a real estate agent and an estate sale company rather than a housesitter.

My advice: take the day off! Your mom is safer in the hospital than she has been in weeks. The logistics can wait. I know it's incredibly hard to stop worrying, and you have a ton of conflicting feelings about this. But please take today just for you. Everything else, even your mom, can wait.

posted by mskyle at 7:41 AM on May 29 [13 favorites]

Can you do a small nice thing for yourself on Saturday, and do a real birthday celebration next Saturday, when you're home (I hope)? Your birthday is your own, so it can wait for when you're ready for it.

If your schedule, budget, and living conditions allow, could you do set aside some time for yourself every day until then to (a) not think about your mother and (b) do something nice for yourself? Even something small, like taking an hour just to listen to music, or eating something you've never tried before. Watching or reading something that will make you laugh.

Do you have anyone you can vent to in the meantime?

Happy birthday to you, whenever you celebrate it.
posted by trig at 8:23 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]

All celebrations over Covid-19 kind of suck. Do you have friends you can ask to set up a Zoom dance/karaoke party (or equivalent) for you, maybe next week or the week after? That's one way to go.

For yourself I would definitely order in whatever you love, like for me that might well be a bunch of dips and chips and appetizers but for others it might be cream puffs or macarons or whatever. Call a local bakery that's delivering and ask them to surprise you within your budget?

It's not pipe-breaking season in your area I believe so her house should be fine for a few weeks unless she has pets or you're really concerned about crime...if you can, before you go home, clear out the perishables. But that's it.

And yes, happy birthday. You have been taking great steps and I bet the next one will be better, just keep that forward movement in mind.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:46 AM on May 29 [3 favorites]

I'm so sorry. I had to cancel a bunch of birthday plans because of covid, too, and I felt super guilty and whiny for even feeling bad about it, because I am supposed to be a grown-ass adult, and I don't care much about my birthday in normal times. I considered organizing a Zoom virtual birthday hangout but decided that make me feel worse, because Zoom is a pale shadow of real life.

What I ended up doing: took the afternoon off from putting out email fires, curled up on the couch, and read a Shakespeare-themed Choose Your Own Adventure. Watched junk on TV. Decided to plan for a future event on my half-birthday this fall, if things are open then.
posted by basalganglia at 9:20 AM on May 29 [4 favorites]

I know that makes me sound very selfish

No! You're having some cognitive distortions relative to being in this situation with your mom in which there are no good solutions. You do not sound selfish. You sound like you're doing your best.

Backing up to a personal story. My partner has a son with a mental illness who occasionally gets hospitalized. It is disruptive even though we all care for him a lot, realize this isn't his fault, and want him to be okay. It's okay that we also say "Well this kinda screws up our plans" Sometimes when he is hospitalized (usually after escalating issues) we do what zadcat suggests. We think "OK he is safe. Maybe we should get some together time now because it's been in short supply lately" This is not selfish, this is practical based on the real world you are in.

And awwww I'm so sorry for you, You have a mother=in-name-only which means in a standard situation you'd have someone having your back and supporting you through tough times and instead your mom IS your hard time. That sucks! And you're not behaving childishly to say that out loud. Saying it out loud is healthy.

The house will be okay. Clean out the fridge maybe and get the mail set up but otherwise it's mostly okay. Sometimes in my life it's good to look at my life as a terrible sitcom and realize that things are temporary (the good as well as the bad) and sometimes doing the things that I know I like even though I don't feel like I like anything right now. Get something good to eat in a safe-to-you way.Buy a movie you've been wanting to see. Call a friend and arrange something you can do together (netflix party?) and try to just let your mother be taken care of and Not Your Problem right now, just for a bit. Happy Birthday, sorry it isn't a better one.
posted by jessamyn at 10:53 AM on May 29 [13 favorites]

To take some of this off one-year-older you, call the social work department at the hospital soon, maybe not ON your birthday, and tell them you are expecting them to make plans for a safe discharge when your mother leaves the hospital and need to be kept abreast of what this will involve so that you will not need to hold the hospital accountable for making an unsafe discharge. I know this isn't the thing you want to do right now but I think it will spare you grief later on.

And then consider maybe rescheduling your birthday. Celebrate sometime when you actually feel like celebrating so there isn't this sense of "I HOPE I CAN STOP SCREAMING LONG ENOUGH TO BLOW OUT THE CANDLES." Feeling happy under pressure is a tough one.
posted by less of course at 5:54 PM on May 29

Hey, today is your day. Happy Birthday. 🎂
posted by jessamyn at 11:14 AM on May 30

Happy birthday!
posted by rux at 12:49 PM on May 30

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