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Hi all, this is my first time here... I've come to you because I feel like I'm treading water and sinking fast. I don't know anyone else in my position so I have no one who understands.
My situation is this. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer at Christmas time. Her health generally is far from fantastic- she's had previous mouth cancer that was surgically removed in 2016 and since then has had 2 minor and one major stroke. Despite this, and the fact that her mobility has been poor for many years she's an absolute trooper and is due her 3rd round of chemo next week. We found out a couple if weeks ago that her mouth cancer has returned, but should be removeable under a local anaesthetic and that's scheduled for a few weeks time. Her husband was diagnosed with mixed dementia (vascular and Alzheimer's) in January this year. He had become increasingly symptomatic over the past year so it was no shock to anyone except him to receive the diagnosis. Unfortunately, as my MIL was his main carer it has become necessary to place him in residential care which has upset them and us greatly.
My husband has 2 sisters, one, S, who lives nearby, and other, W, in Essex (we're near bath). W rings her Mum every day and goes as much as she can from a distance. She has come down and stayed with her Mum for each round of chemo so far but is unable to do so next week. S is less than useful. We believe she is in a controlling relationship, so allow some leeway but she's very quick to say what she can't do when asked to help out.
That brings me to our little unit. I have two children, a son of 13 who lives with his dad but is a wonderful young man who I am extremely proud of and see often, and a daughter of 7. We also have a very energetic beagle who is 3 :) I work as a healthcare assistant in a hospital 3 days a week, and have recently returned to work after 4 months of sick leave due to a knee and back injury. My back is now getting worse again, and I have a new manager who is not very supportive. My husband works 4 nights a week as a printer.
Today I feel broken. I don't know why, particularly, but everything's getting on top of me. I feel so much guilt that I can't do more to help everyone. My husband spends his waking hours walking the dog (I am unable to as she pulls terribly and it affects my back), and visiting his mum and Dad and trying to squeeze in some time with our daughter before going to work, which he hates. He is exhausted and I wish I could do more to make things easier for him. I visit his mum and Dad too when I can, and try to help out with hospital appointments but I'm unable to push his mum in her wheelchair so again, it falls on him. Our financial situation is dire, and my car's on the brink of conking out. I feel I should work more to earn more money but also know I need to be available for his parents, the kids, and trying to keep the house from falling down, but even without everything else, my back trouble wouldn't allow it.
I've just spoken to his mum, who sounds so low herself... she told me that W can't come down next week to take her to chemotherapy and said how frightened she feels about staying on her own the night after having it. She's asked if we can help. My dilemma is this. My husband will be at work all night on Monday and would need to stay up Tuesday before going to work Tuesday night if he takes her. I am booked on a training day at work and working again Wednesday. S works Tuesday too but it wouldn't enter her head to book time off work to help so I guess it's back to us as usual. God knows how this is going up pan out.
I'm so sorry- what a way to say hi! But I'm sat here with tears rolling down my cheeks and just didn't know where else to turn. If you've read this far then thank you. I don't expect any answers, but it's a comfort knowing that you're there xx
Hi laura
A bit of a rushed reply a s am at worl
S works Tuesday too but it wouldn't enter her head to book time off work to help
So put it in her head. explain no one else can do and it is her turn.
Don't ask, tell, calmly politely firmly

More from others later am sure
Thanks MrsA, we have tried all approaches, she just gets more indignant. This is the same woman who was too busy cooking dinner for her family (all adults, 2 of them are chefs) to accompany her mum to A&E when she had a stroke. The less said the better.....
You have a heavy load at the moment, and worst of all, torn in all directions. To sort out your priorities, I suggest you ask for some counselling. I found this hugely helpful when I too was a multiple carer, disabled, running a business, and newly widowed. Mum always expected me to drop everything. Counsellor helped me see that it just wasn't possible. My son with LD had to take priority. Mum could talk and take responsibility, son couldn't. You need to have a similar conversation.
Husband is also trying to do too much, and honestly, walking the dog is not a priority. Visiting every night isn't a priority, your children should come first. Agree who visits who, and which days. Your children deserve their parents undivided attention at weekends. That is their right.
You don't mention any benefits. Is everyone who gets your support claiming everything they are entitled to? If any of the parents have over £23,000 in savings, are they helping you with finances for the care you give?
You should not be pushing anyone anywhere in a wheelchair. Find out what volunteers are available. If mum wants someone with her overnight, then she needs to have sleep in staff. That's simply a "bridge too far" for you at the moment.
My husband tried to do too much, we were multiple carers, his parents, my parents, disabled son, and in the end my OH had a massive heart attack and died in his sleep. I developed a life threatening illness had major surgery, and life changing issues. Please, don't let this happen to you.
Having read you post again, you are in Bath, his parents both in Essex?
It appears S has some issues with your MIL by what you say, so probably not the best person to ask anyway.

Could you not have arranged hospital transport to pick her up, then take her back home when she received the letter from the hospital with the appointment.
Hi Laura,
I tried replying earlier, but my post disappeared?
Wanted to say Im listening, and obviously you need support and quickly. Talk to her GP, and maybe get social services to advice.
Your family are important as are you.
Please don't feel guilty, you have nothing to feel guilty about. Sad, not guilty.
Others have given good advice and worth consideration
Take care
Laura, something has to change. You and your husband need to sit down together, write a list of everything you are struggling with, and work out what is most important - kids - and what is least important. Be realistic. Forget about what people WANT, that really doesn't matter. Think about what people NEED. Don't think "she doesn't understand" because believe me, I do. Newly widowed, newly disabled, with 30 tons of brand new vintage lorry spares to sell when using a walking stick, a disabled son and a disabled mum.
My eldest son and I flattened every border in the garden. Heartbreaking, as I'd planted every single plant, many gifts from family members. However, it made the garden so much easier to mow, which my sons did. Get rid of everything in the house you don't need. The less "stuff" the better, and so on.
I agree it's time to sit down with your husband, write a clear list of all that is crushing you, all the demands made on you, and then see what can be 'deleted'.

Maybe you've done this already, and what you've described is already the 'bare minimum'!

However, two possible thoughts. Yes, maybe your husband is enjoying walking the dog (it is usually therapeutic!), but could he not time it such that he is doing it WITH your daughter together, after school, so that he's both spending time with her AND exercising the dog? You don't say where your son lives, but if he is close by, can HE not walk the dog (perhaps with a couple of mates for 'safety' - 13 is a tricky age re being out on your own).

As for your FIL, I don't think you have to visit him this often WHILE you are so stressed and stretched. He is being well looked after in the care home, and family visits are a 'bonus' in that respect. Remember, sad though it is, dementia is gradually taking away his sense of time, and at some point he simply won't remember when you were last there (My MIL has reached this stage).

I agree about getting hospital transport for your MIL, or even booking a taxi for her, as that at least would mean your husband only has to go and get her, or be with her afterwards, not take her in as well.

I know you say your supervisor is not sympathetic, but do remember that as an HCA in fact YOU have the power! If you 'walked' she would be a LOT more stuck for replacing you! And remind her that actually by supporting your inlaws you are lightening the load on the NHS anyway!!! It may just be time to 'put your foot down' (Are you in a union by the way, that might help?)

Another way of looking at the situation is to say to you - if you could change just THREE things, what would they be? (Not 'big things' like 'FIL not having dementia/MIL not having cancer' but things in your daily lives that are causing you the most pain and stress, what would they be?

How practical would it be for your husband to get another job, or with different hours? Again, sorry if this is the obvious thing, but the employment market changes all the time, so something may 'come up' that isn't possible now?

As others are saying ensure you, as a family unit, are getting ALL the benefits you are ALL entitled to (for example, if your husband signs up to be your MIL's carer, could he have that money, and still be able to work, at least a couple of nights, or whatever (I think the limit is something like £120 a week)(not sure if that is post-tax). The time he is spending on his mum IS 'care' and it might qualify for Carer's Allowance?

Looking forward longer term, is there any likelihood that your FIL will come out of residential care, or is that now 'permanent'? I would, sadly, hope that it is, simply because even post-chemo your MIL will be weaker, and also that dementia is a one way street - he will, grimly, just deterioriate (maybe he can come home for weekends if that is practicable, at least before he gets too bad??)

What, also grimly, is your MIL's life expectancy likely to be? The oncologists may not be telling her, she may not be asking, but she can give permission for them to tell YOU, and that may be useful input in long-term planning.

Finally, the pretty useless sister, S. Maybe it's time for YOU to write her a letter saying clearly what the situation is with her parents, and what help they need now, and in the future. Say that she has a choice - either she pulls her weight with her brother and sister, or she is 'written out of the family'. And that is that. It really doesn't matter if she has a controlling husband, or is 'too busy' with excuses blah blah blah,....YOU are very busy too, and you STILL find time to help with your inlaws. The choice for her is blunt - she will 'cease to exist' as far as you and your husband is concerned, and she can go to hell in a handcart for all you care, and if she EVER needs help herself, she can whistle for it! Be very clear on that - she CANNOT wriggle out of helping and still expect everything to be 'nicey-nicey' with you.

What does HER sister think of her? She may be the person to tackle her!

Wishing you all the best at a time when it is all 'collapsing' on top of you -but sometimes just lifting a bit of the burden can ease the way forward for lifting yet more, and breathing free again! Let's hope so!
Hello everyone and thank you so much for taking the time to reply. Where to begin?! To answer some questions...
All financial assessments have taken place and all appropriate benefits are being received. We are just waiting to find out how much of the home's fees MIL will need to pay.
With regards to S, my husband and W are both at their wits end with her. She and my husband have never really got on, and I think both would be quietly relieved if they didn't have to deal with the other. W anticipates losing touch with her too, once their parents have passed. Sad that families can be like this, but they're not the first and the won't be the last.
My husbands job is rubbish but well paid. Unfortunately he is effectively trapped due to our financial situation (which makes me feel awful) but is retraining to become an electrician. He chooses to work nights so that he can be around for our daughter when I'm working. My parents live about 45 minutes away and are wonderful, but it's not as though they can pick her up from school at a moments notice and bar a few friends in the playground we have no other support network.
The dog! Poor thing, we knew we were taking on a breed that need a lot of exercising and rose to the challenge- we'd take it in turns to walk her so that she had 2 really long walks a day and I absolutely loved it! We live in beautiful countryside and I think part of the reason I'm so down now is because it's hard to get out like I used to bothtimewise and because of the pain I get if I'm on my feet for too long. Consequently she gets one moderate walk a day at best now, and acts up because of it. My daughter loves her to pieces but is a bit of a fair weather type so doesn't particularly enjoy the walks all the time. My son helps out as much as he can when he's home, and I hope he knows how thankful we are. We've discussed rehoming her, but she's already been through that once and I couldn't go it to her again. I also hope that this situation is temporary, and that one day we'll be able to get back to the old routine.
Back to MIL. I know that patient transport is an option, and if need be I guess we'd have to use it but, although she's not agoraphobic, she gets so stressed about going out, and worries incessantly about appointments and things (if I had her medical history I probably would too to be fair.) She often apologises for taking up so much of our time, but the poor woman's so run down and depressed, my heart breaks for her. She already seems to be becoming quite frail. The type of cancer that she has is fast growing and aggressive, but apparently, responds well to chemo. Realistically I think it will prolong her life rather than cure her. She's already struggling and I honestly wouldn't be surprised to hear her say she's had enough a couple of months down the line. Without the chemo, worst case scenario was 2-3 months. That said, it never hurts to be a little optimistic ;)
She hopes that she will get better and will be able to have her husband home afain. She goes acknowledged though that she was starting to struggle to manage him, and knows that he's only going to get worse. I think we and W know that it's unlikely, and that she possibly realises this herself but it gives both of them something to hold on to. Xx
Just to clarify, his mum lives about a mile away - the resi home is just along the road x