Unravel Cancer: Experiences with family battling cancer: May 2010
20:54 Mexico: the hard side
It's been several weeks since I returned from Mexico, but began cranking away at work almost instantly. But, that's ok - I'm hatching my escape plan.
The trip was harder than I expected, even though there were a lot of fun moments.
I went with my mom, her sister (my aunt), and my aunt's best friend from high school. We went to Guadalajara, and the areas near there.
My mom's health & mobility were much more compromised than any of us expected. She was quite worn out by the flight on the way there. She hadn't been able to sleep the night before, and was just wrecked for the first few days.
Additionally, she struggled to get on & off the toilet. For the rest of my days, I'll remember the acrid sting of her urine's odor as it hit my nose. I guess it's due to all the drugs she takes now.
It's a humbling experience to help your parent use the facilities. It's awkward, embarrassing, sad, and a whole host of other emotions all mixed in.
My mom also needed assistance with walking, getting in and out of chairs, and in and out of taxis. The first day in TlaquePaque, at a fabulous B&B called Casa De Las Flores, she insisted on walking 3 blocks to the pedestrian mall. After several stops, I had to almost carry her the last half-block, her energy was totally sapped. We took a taxi home.
She told me on Mother's Day that she had lost 4 pounds in Mexico, because she wasn't eating on her normal schedule. Well, that's part of why people go on vacation - to get out of their "normal" schedule! But, for someone on chemo & recovering from brain cancer, keeping a routine was important.
We all tried the best we could. The first week, and especially at the Rio Caliente in La Primavera, my aunt & her friend abandoned me to care for mom all on my own. By the second night, I was begging them for help. I was unable to relax at all, because I had to get her up & down this little hill to the dining hall. Between her treatments and mine, I was literally running back & forth between our room, the treatments rooms, the pool area, and the dining hall. Needlesstosay, I was pissed as hell.
Yes, I admit it: I was angry at having to go through all this. What about my vacation? Don't I deserve to relax, too?
My batteries were completely depleted coming on the trip, and being thrown into a challenging caretaker role in a foreign country where I barely speak the language was not what I had prepared for. I did actually mince words with my mom. By the next day, I felt guilty. She didn't deserve that. It wasn't her fault that she got sick. I apologized, but she didn't seem very accepting of it.
That was the hard part about helping my mom. She is a cranky, self-centered, whiny person. A pal told me that some people make good patients, and others don't. There's nothing "patient" about my mother. Sadly, she pushes herself too hard, and beats herself up for having this illness, instead of trying to love herself and heal gradually, over time. It's one thing to motivate oneself to not give up, but it's something altogether different if you're not allowing your body to heal.
Finally, as the week wore on, I got some space. It was just the physical space I needed, it was space away from my mom's kvetching about every little pain in her body, or every little discomfort in the bed or whatever. Additionally, I think my aunt realized how much I was dealing with, and she stepped up a little by the 4th day at the spa. This was a huge relief.
We had a nice time in the next town we visited, Ajijic, although it was chock full of expats. An aging, cockroach laden La Nueva Posada plus obnoxiously drunk Texans our first afternoon, put a pall on the whole place. Additionally, there were so many expats, that while the influx of money kept the sidewalks neatly paved, it created an "us" against "them" socio-economic dichotomy that left a bad taste in all our mouths. All the restaurants catered to the foreigners, and there was even a Walmart! It wasn't til the last night when our taxi driver took us to a local taqueria for the real deal Mexican food.
The last several days were spent in Guadalajara city, which while polluted as all getout, was lovely. Before the trip started, I asked my mom if she had planned to buy or borrow a wheelchair for the trip, but she said the cobblestone streets were too challenging, and she didn't think it would work. Besides, she wanted to walk & get stronger.
Nice idea, but not so much in practice. She managed to get out in a carriage ride the second day, but the seat was so challenging, and the carriage so bumpy, her back contorted into spasms afterwards.
It was hard for the three of us to see her constantly sleeping. She flew all the way to Mexico to nap for 3-4 hours every day?
Finally, the last day in GDL, I asked if the hotel had a wheelchair we could borrow, and they did. With the help of a local friend, we got her out to a neighborhood near the Teatro Degollado for a late breakfast, and some strolling through the pedestrian streets.
Additionally, I had a run-in with the a local tall, young, & handsome casanova at the jewelry mall, who tried to put the moves on me, when I thought we were just going on a stroll. Gotta learn some Spanish. It actually got kind of scary, but I did get out of there unscathed. Looking back, I think there was a lot of cultural and language misunderstanding. Despite the disappointment, it forced me to see yet again how I set myself up for misery in these kinds of situations. There were several times when i could have voiced what I wanted to do, but I didn't. After discussing with a pal, I realized in trying to be something I'm not, some kind of subservient ditsy broad because I think that's what guys want, I'm not being authentic. Not being authentic leads me into trouble like the kind in GDL. This reinforces my negative thinking that I'm doomed to never have a boyfriend, and then the cycle of setup for failure continues.
The silver lining is I learned a lot through these hardships. I'm certainly a different person than I was just several weeks ago, and I also can see now what it will take to be a parent. A shit-ton of patience! And, being authentic.
Up next: "Mexico: the good side". Yes, it was not all this doom & gloom. I just wanted to save the lighter side for last.
Labels: cancer, caretake, family cancer, Guadalajara, Mexico, relationships