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I feel awkwardly trapped between my husband and my 92-year-old mother-in-law, June. Her husband (my husband’s father) died 7 months ago. Since then June has had health problems and has moved to an assisted living facility. One problem was confusion from a urinary tract infection, which is common in older people.

June is legally competent. However, she asks for a lot of advice and help from my husband and her other son. For example, they make all her doctor appointments and accompany her to them. Her sons give her most of what she asks for, without complaining to her, and do other things for her that I'm not sure she wants. (Stuff like throwing out the catalogs she gets in the mail because it's their opinion she doesn't need them. They genuinely seem to think they're doing her a favor.)

No one is happy. June and her sons are adjusting to new realities and dealing with emotional baggage from years before. (Example: She was a bit of a controlling mom. Not abusive, but when my husband got his drivers license in high school, she volunteered him every Saturday to drive her elderly friends around and so he had a limited social life. That sort of thing.)

I try to be supportive in whatever way I can. June seems to appreciate my involvement, but my husband wavers between welcoming my help and telling me—in polite ways—to mind my own business.

This is the latest of the sorts of stuff I've been dealing with:

June’s been on a pain reliever, gabapentin, for about 18 months. It was for shingles, which have healed. Now her doctor is trying to discontinue that prescription. June’s intermittent confusion reappeared, along with extreme fatigue, depression, and nausea. The assisted living facility’s nurse emailed that her recent symptoms could be signs of gabapentin withdrawal, so June’s doctor restored the dosage sometime last week.

June called our home yesterday and I answered the phone. She said she is tired of the medical rollercoaster. “It’s not me; it’s all these drugs.” I told her I’d been thinking the same thing, which was true. She said she wanted to talk to a different doctor, and I agreed that would probably be a good idea. I told her I’d relay her concerns to her son and ask him to schedule an appointment with another doctor for an assessment of her meds. She said, “It’s nice to talk to someone who listens.”

I had expected that I could relay a simple message (“Your mom wants a second opinion on all her meds”) and get a simple answer (“Okay, I’ll make an appointment soon.”) But instead, my husband argued. I shouldn’t have agreed with his mother; he thinks the confusion is still the urinary tract infection; a few other minor objections. When I pressed it, he told me that if I felt so strongly I should make the appointment myself. So I asked him for the nurse’s phone number. He replied: “Oh, I’ll do it myself. I just wish this was over.”

Because I had to argue about the message rather than just delivering it, I told him what June had said about listening. I encouraged him to consider her feelings in that area. The conversation seemed to end peaceably enough.

Then this morning, I emailed both my husband and my brother-in-law with some Internet links about gabapentin withdrawal. My husband emailed his response: “I still think it’s the urinary tract infection.”

I have no idea now if my husband is going to make the appointment or not, and I don't want to ask for fear of irritating him. But again, it’s not just this one incident—it’s been months of me getting pulled in two directions and rejected by one when I respond to something the other asked of me. I could just let my husband and his brother handle my mother-in-law. But sometimes my husband appreciates my help, and I don't relish having to tell June, “I'm done. I cannot talk to them any better than you can.”

What to do?
 

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I am going thru a similar situation as you. My MIL was put on that medication for sciatica nerve pain. After a few weeks she was vomiting all the time, loss weight and stop eating. We were going to the hospital 2xs a week and see the other doctor during the week.

They cannot figure what is wrong with her after a ton of gi test, sonograms etc. Still don't know what happened but she was taken off it and put on anti nausea meds and allergy meds. They seemed to helped a bit.

Our problem was I was the only one running with her to her test, hospital visits and doc. visits. But everyone and their grandmother had a opinion on what I should do.

Her nieces and my SIL and my husband thinks she needs some TLC. What does that mean. I thought my taking her to the doctor, cooking for her, shopping for her and cleaning her house was TLC. I guess I was wrong, maybe I should swaddle her and spoon feed her. So, I got pissed and stop doing everything.

The last straw came when my dumb ass husband said, that if his mother had a daughter maybe, she would have taken good care of her. So, I replied she has four sons and maybe it's time they started.

So, when she called on her regular 5 a.m. call, I told her he is coming. He made such a big fuss and went over and told not to call at 5 am. anymore.

So, now I am out of it. I think that is the best thing to do. Stay out of it and let them figure it out themselves. Because you are dammed if you do and damned if you don't.

She is their mother, you wouldn't get a thank you from any of her sons.

And also, your husband is most likely overwhelmed and like most guys is not handling this well. The demands of having a sick parent can drown you with their needs.

Tell your MIL that she needs to speak up to her doctor and why is UTI taking so long to treat. YOu can also, find an advocate for her at the hospital or the nursing home to help her speak to her doctors.

I hope you find a solution to help your MIL and husband because it's a long journey.
 
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