Saturday, February 05, 2011

Jo Rants.

Y'know something?

You people suck. You fucking suck.

I'm not talking about the regular readers of this blog, or the folks who have sent me emails (that I haven't answered yet, thus proving that I, too, suck upon occasion) or sent me presents of sparkly nail polish or shine serum for my buzzcut.

I'm talking about the people out there who have adult kids with cancer or who have adult kids who are married to people with cancer, or who have adult kids who have kids with cancer, who don't make an effort to be involved in those people's survival.

Look, I know it's tough. You don't want to revisit that thing that killed your wife. You don't want to see your child, or your child's child, or your child's love, in pain. It freaks you out and makes you uncomfortable, and it might bring up all the shit that should've been said years ago that never got said.

But for once? This is not about you. This is about somebody that you love, that you nurtured and raised and loved, who is going through motherfucking undiluted hell.

When I got my diagnosis, the first thing that happened was that my sister, who was driving at the time, was calm and cool-headed and sensible. The second thing that happened was that my parents were the same way. The third thing that happened--and here is a lesson for you fuckers--was that every. Single. Person I worked with at Sunnydale? Chipped in to send me a bag of goodies. A couple of 'em drove way out of their way to make sure I got that bag of goodies, at the same time that Abilene Rob was visiting in the middle of the third week of school to make sure I ate and was otherwise nourished.

These are people I work with. They are not related to me in any way. And yet they went out of their collective ways to tell me that they were thinking about me, and show me that they loved me. And you can't do that for your own child? What kind of monster are you?

My family is weird; I'll grant you that without argument. My dad, who is very, very bad indeed when it comes to dealing with the sick and injured, did not come down to Texas for my surgery. Instead, he sent silly emails and small presents he knew would annoy me (that's how we show we love each other in my family; with itch powder) and clippings from various newspapers that he thought I might like. He wasn't physically there, but he was there.

My sister and mother came down, along with Sainted Friend Penny, and all three of them combined to take care of each other and me. They fielded phone calls and drove me to and from appointments (as did Nurse Ames, to whom I owe an unpayable debt), and made me ramen when I didn't feel good, and bought bottles of wine and watched unwatchable movies.

And you fuckers can't do that?

What is with you, anyhow? I mean, yeah, your kid's a grown-up now. But if my coworkers and friends are willing to drop everything, for however long, to either drive me to PET scans or listen to my fears or simply put a hand on my shoulder when I'm terrified of MRI results, why can't you? Where the hell are you people? These are children that are of your fucking flesh. Why are you so selfish?

I am pissed on behalf of my friends, who are losing body parts and lives and time to an awful disease that takes as many forms as there are people on the planet. I'm pissed because I got the good, clean, long end of the stick in terms of my friends and relations, but there are people who are way, way nicer than I am who are getting screwed.

It makes me sad. It makes me angry. It makes me want to get on a plane with this enormous pot of buffalo chili and a huge batch of biriyani and home-made flatbread and make somebody's day.

Why are people so mean? Worse, why are they so neglectful?

Nurse Ames, when I told her I have a re-PET in April, said, "I'm going to take you to that, of course. You're fun when you're on Valium, and we have a date! Every year, fucked-up Jo and Mexican food."

It is not that hard. Ball up, be a man or a woman, get your ovaries or testicles in order, and pull up those sparkly disco pants. Just this once, be a decent fucking human being like the people around me have been. Make your kids grateful in their parents, as I have been grateful for mine.

Or else I am stealing your credit card number so I can put an airline ticket on it and go visit the kid you apparently don't have time for.


Nighthawke said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now, i've never commented before, I can totally relate to you in this however. When my son was born with SB we spent every waking moment by his nicu bed, over the weeks, there were lovely little babies that didnt get a single visit from their parents, it broke my heart. When my aunt was sick and dieing of cervical cancer almost none pf my family had the willpower to get over their fears and comfort a person that gave love boundlessly her entire life.

Just My 2¢ said...

Jo, I hear you. My family has too much cancer. I think many people have a low capacity for caring, and they become compassion-fatigued. That IS an indictment on our society. Then I read that Wash & Tashi have enough money to splurge a little bit, and my hope in people is restored.

Nevertheless, it DOES suck when you see somebody that could use some comfort, and family isn't to be found.

bobbie said...

Bad day, eh?

Hugs ~

Anonymous said...

Thank you for voicing my rage at the situation I think you're discussing. Family neglect of this level is tantamount to abuse.Obviously, they don't deserve to have these kids. Sadly, the kids don't deserve their relatives, either. There should be a pile of money set aside for leisure, little comforts, final expenses and a way for him to know she won't have to scrape by when she is first alone. The family should have arranged this, and a hundred other comforts. Thank God you found them so the rest of us could try to fill in. Rennie

Pamela said...

When my husband was in chemo, I do not know what I would have done without my in-laws. It makes me very sad that for some people, they're a burden and not a support. Rant away.

Joy said...

Well. resounding silence Jo since there is absolutely nothing to say about your rant except you are absolutely, 100% right, of course. Some people suck at dealing with illness. You've seen it at the hospital more than you want to admit to yourself. Worried questions about where X is and why he or she isn't here for Mom, Dad, Sis, Bro or whoever. Husbands who never seem to call or visit, too busy at work. People suffering and dying and lonely. Sigh! There's some TV reality show I saw a trailer for about giving birht and the sucky husbands were bored, reading their email, complaining that the baby was taking too long. What a bunch of ....anuses. Hospitals give you a very cynical view of humankind sometimes.

messymimi said...

Amen and Amen.

Kirstin said...

You get Valium for PET scans? Not fair! I don't. ;-P

I have my first post-chemo follow-up PET a week from tomorrow.

My parents didn't come down. To their credit, they offered. I didn't want them. My dad had sent me an e-mail after my second treatment that basically suggested I put mind over matter and get over it. That's actually been the best he could muster for empathy my entire 40 years of life. Just, no. I didn't want them or their emotional games.

My friends, like yours, are amazing. For me, that has to be enough.

Laina said...

this breaks my heart. When my father was dying, i used what ever leave i had to spend time with him, i almost lost my job over it. but i don't regret it.
My mother could not deal with her sister's breast cancer, and never visited. When my mother was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer, her other living sister never even called her.
It breaks my heart to think that they never let each other know that they mattered in each others lives, no matter how messed up those relationships are/were.

Silliyak said...

It's not good to hold back, go ahead, tell us how you REALLY feel! ;)

CandyGirl said...

I have a pretty f-ed up family, so I can identify with having jerks that would do this sort of thing around.

When our father had a REAL heart attack and emergency double bypass, my sister demanded a heart cath as she decided she was having a heart attack too (long history of hypochondria). The docs told her that all of her preliminary tests were fine and TOLD her it was a panic attack... but she must have annoyed them so much that went ahead just to shut her up.

I flew in from 4 states away and had to deal with everything since she basically took herself out of action by pulling this crap. (and yes, she was just fine). I spent the weeks doing everything for our father and making excuses as to why my sister was no where to be found - he would have probably had another attack if he'd found out what she'd pulled, both from worry and anger.

She had the nerve to get mad at me for telling her she was a selfish jerk. (she's never held onto a job her entire life and owes our dad EVERYTHING)

One of my friends said, "She better hope that was a real heart attack otherwise you're going to kill her."

Sorry, feel ranty every time I think of her doing that... people that can't suck it up and DEAL when they are needed should to be bitch-slapped repeatedly.

Sarah said...

Wow. A 10 on the rant. I get where you're coming from.

Deep breath. And then let go.

birdergirl said...

I hear you, Jo. I am not a saint but I helped my dad, my best friend, and my mom die. I saw each one of them take their last breath. I was there every day and, as my mom was the last, I was with her every minute possible. I took a leave of absence from work when her time got hear. People would ask "how can you?". I would reply "How can I not?". These are my loved ones how could I not provide as much care as possible. I would do it all again if I could just have five more minutes with each of them. So what if there are unpleasant things, it was NOT about me, it was about them. My best friend could no longer talk as some fucking tumor had eaten away her brain, but she could look at me and smile. My mom just passed away in October. Not of cancer but just being elderly (91). I would give anything to bathe her, dress her bed sores, and clean up her body fluids if I could only hold her hand once more and tell her I love her. And a friend of mine could not go out of town to vist her mother dying of a brain tumor as she couldn't "stand to see her that way.". I will never understand.

Lurkette said...

Thank you for speaking for me. Every surgery, every round of chemo or radiation - no family. They don't live in the same country as I, but post, email and telephones work very well, last I heard.

It doesn't make me angry (maybe it should), but it makes me feel very sad and lonely and even rejected.

Thanks for saying the words I wish I could say.

Rosanna said...

*F*L*A*M*E* on, Jo!!

Instead of a young, 26-year-old dying man and his very-devoted wife receiving, (as Anonymous at 1:13 PM so astutely said, Above), "a hundred COMFORTS" from their families, it's almost as if they're receiving............ a thousand (emotional) BLOWS instead from their families. And from what I can discern in reading their transparently-honest blog, a thousand *U*N*D*E*S*E*R*V*E*D*, mean, and neglectful emotional blows from their families, too, you know.

I greatly admire this young couple for both trying to get things more settled and amenable with their respective families, (i.e., as stated today in their blog), because I know what----a genuinely exhausting/exasperating UPHILL battle that often is with irrational/delusional/*grudge-holding*/unforgiving people, (i.e., with some families!!)

She's devotedly doing that FOR HIM............ so that from-now-to-the-end, things will (hopefully) be as good *FOR HIM* as they can relationally be, family-wise. And he's devotedly doing that FOR HER............ so that from-now-to-the-end-and-AFTERWARDS, things will (hopefully) be as good *FOR HER* as they can relationally be, family wise.

Warm be the love that surrounds this courageous young couple.

Warm be the love that surrounds this courageous young couple, not only from their in-person friends; and online friends, (i.e. like us!!), but also, hopefully, from their respective families............ before it's just too late.

So, keep *F*L*A*M*I*N'*, Jo, because this issue of parents who, in effect, ABANDON their adult child in their (adult child's) "hour of need" is.... very subtle.... very often hidden from the parents' own friends, and from other family members....and also potentially very "publicly embarrassing" (to the parents of the poor, genuinely-suffering adult child)............ if "found out."

Sometimes, the parents will treat an ill and/or dying PET............ better than they'll treat their own adult CHILD who is ill and/or dying, you know.

Crazed Nitwit said...

I just don't understand people like those you're describing. When my infant started have intractable seizures Either I or my husband was with his 24/7 when he was in the hospital. He was never w/o one of us. When he was home home for three months on hospice I was with until certain people forced me to sleep or take a break. He died in my arms which is the absolute best place for a child to die~in his mother's arms listening to her heartbeat. So WTF parents who aren't there for their children? It pissed me off back in '95/'96 when my son was sick and dying and it pisses me off now. Same with any family member being sick.

I wasn't telling you to say oh what a fantastic mother I was; I was telling you because it's just the way a mother should be and should want to be in that situation.

I'm so with you on this rant!!!!

woolywoman said...

Jo, it's not limited to adult kids. People weasel out on their children when they are sick. They leave them, alone in hospitals, miss appointments, act up,engage in "anticipatory grief" which is nurse speak for you're going to die, this is too hard for me, so I'm going to leave now to protect my weak, cowardly self". It's horrifying, but not really uncommon, and I have held dying children so they would not be alone because their parents refused to come in until after the baby was dead. One of the many things that drove me out of pediatrics.

Moose said...

For me it's always been the coworkers. But I didn't work in medicine. And it wasn't cancer.

The first time I was majorly ill I spent 2 weeks in the hospital, the first week unable to get out of bed while they struggled to find an antibiotic to work on a leg so badly infected they thought I might lose it. For 2 weeks the only person "from work" I saw was a friend who was there as a friend, not a coworker. My bosses asked her how I was doing and didn't bother to talk to me themselves.

Skipping a lot of minor hospital stays [if it's under a week, I consider it minor :/], none of which had any work-people interaction, 3 yrs later I had a violent reaction to Vancomycin, only it was 5 days into a 10 day stay before that was known.

On day 3 one of the senior managers came to see me -- to drop off the forms I would need to fill out to request Short Term Disability. By that point I had moderate neutropenia and my room was designated for masks & gloves for everyone entering. A day later work sent me a fruit basket, filled with tasty things that I was not allowed to eat [of course, I gave it to the nurses]. And on day 5, when they figured out what was wrong, my supervisor called me to tell me what I needed to be working on when I got out of the hospital.

A week after I got home, a co-worker spent 3 days in the hospital for a kidney stone. My bosses visited him every day.

inkgrrl said...

Thank you.

Molly said...

Suddenly, I feel better about myself. In the year since I lost my dad, I've been angry at myself for not doing more. I mean, I live at home still, so I was doing his medical stuff - sucking out his trach tube being the most delightful of the tasks - as my mom couldn't (understandable, I didn't want to either!), so at least there was that, but I feel like I wasn't around as much as I should have been. Because it WAS because it was too fucking hard for me. And I still hate myself for it because if it had been me he never would have left, ever. We weren't anticipating that we would lose him suddenly, we had plans about what we would do when he could go out again, but. What use was that in the end? And I'd gladly give up half of the rest of my life to get another year with him, but that's not much use either.

But it helps to know that I could have done a whole lot worse. It's something, anyway.

Susan said...

Thank you for reminding me how lucky I am. My mom kept Southwest Airlines in business the 2 years I had cancer. My husband was awesome too.

Hospital Volunteer said...

THANK YOU! My family (both sides) left my Parents,sister and myself high and dry when my 2 y/o brother was diagnosed with a genetic disease and I have a deep dark hatred for them.

I can honestly say that our friends and my dad's platoon of police officers where more of a family than they ever where or ever will be.

bdaiss said...

I'm not religious but - Amen.

I can only hope that those you speak of (and those in the comments) are surrounded by caring loving friends as you are. Sometimes family sucks. Unfortunately we can't pick our family. We can choose who we surround ourselves with. Sometimes those who share our DNA don't deserve a spot in our inner circle.

Hugs and warm fuzzies and thoughts for those in the horrible situation you speak of.

Geosomin said...

YES. Thank you. This needs to be said.
When my Mum was dying, being with her while she slowly passed was the hardest thing my sister and I have ever done, but it was what made her last days some of her happiest. She could be distracted from the pain and discomfort and visit with us. And although it was hard, I now look back on that time with great love.
There were a few people in the ward with her that had noone visit them. Ever. It was so very sad. We invited some of them in on our talks and food gifts and visits.
I don't understand how people can be so selfish that they cannot deal with this and they leave their loved ones...their CHILDREN alone to deal with this kind of crazy stuff. Love is watching someone you love go through hell because they need you.
I only hope I can be so lucky if the time comes for me.

Anonymous said...


I had a friend who I took care of like Nurse Ames did with you and your MRIs and valium.

I picked him up from the airport, went to lunch, then took him to various holidays at his relative's home because the sh*t got pissed at her one year and flew back home when they argued in the car.

I did this for a couple of holidays and gatherings and I was scheduled to do the same this past Christmas, only he didn't make it. He had a massive heart attack and died.

I finally met her at his funeral and she was happy to see me because of that. I'm so happy I picked him up to see her. One little thing made a difference.

Sometimes people just have to be brave enough to do that little thing.