I wish I understood what the hell was going on

I was at work all day. There was a fire burning in the backyard, unattended, when I got home. We have a high burn risk, although we’re not at the level of needing a burn permit quite yet. I put it out. Since it was raining and no harm was done, I decided not to take it up with dad.

Then I got in the truck to take dad to Flower’s and there was a waste sticker on the truck that hadn’t been there yesterday. When I asked him how it got there, he said, “On the tractor.” He took his tractor into town to get the permit and then put a bunch of stuff on the tractor that he took to the town dump. The tractor doesn’t go very fast. It must have occupied most of his day.

My blood pressure shot into the stratosphere. I am proud of myself for not screaming at him. I reminded him that he is not allowed to drive, which means he is not allowed to drive on the road. He used his extremely irritating gesture for “it doesn’t matter.”

I reminded him that if he causes any problem, he can get sued, and although we moved a lot of his property into a trust, he is still personally liable and the things that we couldn’t move into it (including a huge piece of his retirement savings) would be forfeit. And that his car and personal liability insurance wouldn’t cover him because he has medical advice not to drive. He could end up impoverished. Again, he indicated he didn’t care and it didn’t matter.

The keys were in the tractor because my brother (I think I am going to start calling him Heavy Lifter — whoever suggested that, it was a good recommendation) and I had gotten tired of the yelling around the issue, and we reasoned that if he hurt himself while doing something in the yard, it would be suboptimal but it might be better than constant tension and anger and fighting about it. My nerves are really shot. I am not good at playing the enforcer, because I’m not trained to deal with people who refuse to obey any rule at all.

Heavy Lifter advised me to take the key out of the tractor. So I’ll be sleeping with that one, too.

I’m not sure how this is going to work — I have a call into the GCM and the neurologist. Are we going to continue to let him drive it? If he promises to stay in the yard? Do we trust his promises? Or will I have to be here for him to use it? Or do we really have to pay someone to be with him constantly? The doctor didn’t actually clear him to use it anyway so I know what the doctor will say.

I took dad to Flower’s. When I picked him up he smelled of booze. I’m sure if I asked him he’d say it was my fault, so I didn’t ask. He’s stumbled every time he’s tried to get up since he got home, but I’ve asked him to sit still and he’s ignoring that, too.

And there’s the daymare about dad driving drunk around town on his tractor.

The next step is going to be formally taking away his license, and if we take that step, I am going to have to provide all the justifying evidence.

Not that that is going to be what keeps him off the road.

~ by Servetus on April 26, 2019.

50 Responses to “I wish I understood what the hell was going on”

  1. I really think that you need to get the doctor to rule him unfit to drive. They are the only ones who can have the drives license away in our state. A drives condition report could be filed I think by you or the police but still the doctor is the only one who can get it taken away. OT can do drivers assessments but even we send them to the doctor. I will find out more about filing a drivers condition report from the husband, he has done a few in his career but the police send them to the state. You really are in a bad spot if he will not even recognize that he could do harm or get sued. You are in my thoughts.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The doc had just told him not to drive, I think because no one really understood the severity of the problem — the idea was if he made a good recovery he could just start to drive again. The OT did a response time test, which was on the low end of normal, and a visual attention test, which she said was extremely poor. She suggested exercises to improve visual attention which he refused to do. However, dad has been pushing this, so the last time we were there they told us to go to a local non-profit that does those evaluations, which we did, and they said he’d never pass a driver’s test because he doesn’t follow basic rules (staying in your lane while turning, checking blind spot). After that the neurologist said to try to discourage him and hope there would be some improvement.

      One thing that I’ve been struggling with (apropos of my earlier post about gender roles) is that everyone says I should take him practice driving. Well, apart from the fact that he would never listen to anything I said, there are all the memories of the things he said about my driving when I was a teen. I think he broke that and I don’t think I have the nerves to repair it. I’ve been wondering if I should try harder to forget all that stuff.

      I’d love to hear what your husband has to say.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’d keep holding onto the keys to the tractor for now, tell his doctor’s office what he did, and get their advice on what needs to happen, since you can’t stay with him all day to make sure he doesn’t get on the road and put people at risk. Doctors have the broad shoulders to make these decisions stick (or should/better). They need to know that he thinks this doesn’t matter, as this shows how poor his judgment is.

        I don’t understand the encouragement to take him practice driving – I can’t imagine that he thinks he needs that. And I wouldn’t put yourself through it either, as long as it appears that he really can’t do it properly. It would be good to keep the OT in the loop with this too. My 2 cents oxo ❤

        Liked by 3 people

        • I had said the last time we were at the neurologist that I thought it would be okay for him to drive to Flower’s and back (about 4 mi roundtrip, all back roads) if I knew he weren’t drinking, and their response was that he’d have to be evaluated by the people who our town’s drivers’ ed, but that that might not be a bad thing. I said it because I was worried he was too isolated and that it was getting on his nerves. (Which is probably still true, but he almost point-blank refuses when I suggest that other people drive him somewhere.) So we did the evaluation and the evaluator said he’d never pass the test if he had to take it now, and he might improve if he would practice — but practicing with a driving teacher costs $90 an hour and the evaluator said he should practice with me. And I just don’t think I can do that. I don’t think he would listen to me or that it would be good for our relationship.

          I just don’t know and I think that’s part of my problem — we’re in this indeterminate limbo. I don’t want to overreact. OTOH it is a huge problem that he was on the road, on that tractor.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I know what you mean…It’s a completely different (and difficult) dynamic if you’re the one taking him out driving – in his eyes, it’s another time that your roles are reversed again, & it seems that older parents sometimes listen to literally anyone else more willingly than their child/caretaker. Maybe you’ll have a chance sometime soon to talk over the phone with one of his nurses or doctors, and can be more open than during his doctor visits. If they really understand the details of his behavior, hopefully it will help them understand more about your concerns. And maybe someone will have some more good suggestions or resources for you. More hugs for you!

            Like

      • Not knowing your father, but reading what you have written, I don’t think there will be any improvement, practice or no practice. It seems that it’s not just a matter of him hurting himself or losing his money but there is a real possibility of harming others. As hard as it is, it does seem time his licence and all keys and all access need to be removed. From the sounds of it, it will be more unpleasant for you than for him as you will be the one unfortunately dealing with his anger about it.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I agree with sparkhouse. Sounds like it’s time to take the keys away. And that fire bothers me, only because my mother in law had a fire in the house (she lived alone at the time) that thankfully did no major damage but was the impetus for us to move her to a care facility. Is dad still capable of being unsupervised for periods of time?

          Like

          • The fire bothers me, too. But that’s probably easier to intervene on, insofar as I just need to make sure all the matches are gone.

            Liked by 1 person

        • I kind of don’t know what he’ll do if he can’t drive the tractor around the yard and do things with it. It was a good compromise.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure how it works where you live, but I thought doctors have a professional obligation to report to the transportation/licensing authorities if someone is unfit to drive a motor vehicle. Sometimes it is temporary (like if you are having blackouts and things like that due to a medical condition), sometimes it’s a more permanent thing.
    It sounds to me like your Dad should not be driving. I don’t think you can trust him to stay around the house. If he kills someone, he will go to jail and the legal fees will bankrupt you. I am not being alarmist here, I have seen too many fatalities and I know the fallout (you know what I do for a living, Serv). And driving a big slow vehicle doesn’t matter, there are plenty of catastrophes that can happen at slow speed (like hitting a pedestrian or cyclist). I do hope you and your brother will act on this soon. It will give you peace of mind. In the meantime, hide those keys!

    Liked by 1 person

    • From what I understand, in this state you are obligated to stop driving for 90 days after experiencing a conscious-altering state (or whatever they call it), and then return to a doctor who will judge if you are fit to drive. Both dads docs (the GP and the neurologist) have been opposed, but they haven’t gone so far as reporting that he is unfit to drive. I think they were both thinking maybe his cognition would improve.

      I don’t think he should be driving. However, after today I don’t know that not having a license would change anything either (not that I won’t pursue having it revoked or ask the doctor to do it if that is what the GCM suggests). I mean, he’s been told repeatedly in no uncertain terms that he needs to stay off the road. (And yeah, I agree, the tractor doesn’t make it any better — not least because he is much more vulnerable i it.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My dad didn’t live long enough to get dementia but was an alcoholic for most of my life and there was no way anyone could keep him off the road. As far as he was concerned the rules didn’t apply to him – he was an ex fighter pilot so thought he had quicker reactions drunk than most people did sober. To be fair he never had a car accident although his death ( from cirrhosis) came about partly because he rolled a sit on mower and gashed his leg badly – causing a wound that wouldn’t heal. I can’t advise on what you should do about your dad’s licence but I can’t help thinking that the only way you can hope to keep him off the road is to hide all the keys because I don’t think that not having a licence will stop him. And I can’t understand why anyone would advise practice driving either – at this point he isn’t going to get significantly better.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My dad’s not an ex-fighter pilot but the attitude toward the rules is the same. I’ve heard him say many times he’s a better driver drunk than most people are sober. He’s never followed the rules on that, and I really thought he understood that he’s not supposed to drive at all on the roads. So I don’t know what exactly the cause was this time — willfulness, forgetfulness, … and my brother pointed out to me that if he could get the tractor as far as the town center he could also have bought some alcohol so there may be booze in our house again and I don’t know where it is.

      Of course, the reason why doesn’t matter, he needs to follow the rule, and that is how the doctor will see it.

      Like

  4. It’s a really sore point taking away people car licences. My partner Dad had Parkinsons and he wasn’t safe to drive. .he thought he was but hadn’t for years because “it was easier for his wife to drive “. So when he wife died we had the problem or trying to stop him. Basically my OH took the leads of the car battery and hid the keys. We eventually had to talk to him but he was very upset. Luckily though his Dad was not the type to anger

    Liked by 4 people

    • I was thinking “remove the spark plugs,” but my brother told me that nothing we have anymore is really capable of being hotwired very easily.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Everybody here is talking about how to stop your dad from driving. Tbh, I feel more like saying ‘You have to get out of there’. It doesn’t look as if he is susceptible to advice from you or any person of authority. As long as there are vehicles available to him, he’ll just ignore you and the others. Plus, from the outside it looks as if you are left with the burden of looking after a grown-up child. Which is cruel, considering that you never even wanted to have children. But here you are, constantly having to pick up the pieces, cleaning up after him, making sure he is fine, scolding him for everything he gets wrong. And you are not even getting the love of a child in return. When are the college holidays? Can you go away on a long, three-week holiday, leaving Heavy Lifter to step in? Of course he won’t be there 24/7 like you are, but he’ll be burdened with all those hundreds of small things that happen every day and that you don’t even mention anymore. And your dad will soon realise that it certainly isn’t better not having you to look after him. Mainly, however – you would have some time just for yourself.

    Liked by 6 people

    • I completely agree with you in theory Guylty but in reality Servetus isn’t going to walk away – even for a holiday. Heavy Lifter hasn’t done much heavy lifting thus far and probably won’t until S has a complete collapse and can’t look after Dad anymore. So actions such as disabling the tractor or hiding the truck keys seem like worthwhile short term options to discuss.

      Liked by 3 people

    • HL is 30 miles away, so dad would have to go out there, and there’s no way that that’s feasible for more than a short time, due to my SIL. HL actually picked him up for the weekend on Friday morning (which has been great — time to actually work efficiently and think a little bit), and we have had our semi-regular discussion about whether dad should move out there, back into the farmhouse (where we have a renter). But there would be no way to make that work unless I moved with him, and I just can’t see doing that — it would make everything that’s bugging me right now that much worse. (Plus we’d have to sell this house, which would add even more to a workload we’re not managing to keep up with at the moment.) We’ve talked a bit about what would happen if I needed to leave for more than overnight, and the only solution is probably respite care or someone else moving in here, neither of which dad would currently agree to. Right now we’re at this huge impasse, which is why I hired the GCM. I hope she can figure out something to help us. Seeing her next week. I think her theory is that if we had an actual diagnosis of dementia, dad might be brought to see that he really can’t stay by himself anymore for longer than overnight, and cooperate more. I’m doubtful but it’s worth a try.

      However, it’s about 3 weeks till the term ends, so at least I won’t have to feel guilty about that much longer. At the same time, I will really be stuck at home, at least as the arrangements currently stand.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bolly was right, of course, and I knew it, too – you wouldn’t take the easy way out. And that is to your credit, it speaks for your affection for your dad, your sense of duty, your own expectations. I admire that, and I do know you are making the right decision – the one that is right for you, at this time. I just hope and wish for you that the GCM will get things moving along, and in a way that will benefit you as much as your dad and your useless HL and SIL. (Sorry, but it angers me to read that they are unwilling to entertain an alternative.)

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sorry, I wrote my post above before I had read this one!!

        Like

  6. Ask your brother to disable the Tractor, you would never live with the guilt if he killed someone.
    A friend I know had to report her father to the police because of drink driving he now gets about on a mobility scooter

    Liked by 6 people

    • I’ve been debating all weekend whether I should file the paperwork with the state about this incident. I’ve been worried about him hurting someone while driving for longer than just this week, but now the problem is acute and I have an actual ground for reporting him.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I wish there was some way I could help 😦 My father is so easy to handle compared to yours, he just accepted it when the doctor told him he mustn’t drive and we took the keys to his car. Is there a petrol source nearby where he can get to? Otherwise you could make sure the tank is empty.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I think I’m with Guylty on this one. I just cross-read a lot of older posts from you tagged with #dad and in one, you were wondering if your mum just left you her relationship with your father to deal with. And you clearly weren’t willing to do that at that time. What happened in between?
    From the end of 2015 to the end of 2018 my whole life changed (new love, drama, more drama, moving house, divorce and new marriage). I first had to find a new apartment for my mum, who was living with us (well the former ‘us’), because we were slowly splitting up, and she wasn’t at all happy about that. She got ill and caused herself high blood pressure through self initiated panic attacks. I needed to be very strict and somehow ‘unloving’ to get things sorted. I still recall telling her, that at 46 I won’t stop looking for a new partner but sitting at home with my mum instead, for the rest of her life. It was all in all a draining and painful experience but I got my emotional freedom back. If you know what I mean.
    I can see that the case of your dad isn’t as simple as my mum’s – as he obviously needs supervision and medical care. But not everyone of us is mentally ‘equipped’ to deal with situations like this, even if one’s own parents are involved.
    If I knew my dad would deliberately ignore me & the doctors and drive around as he pleases, I would go nuts. Not so much because he could get hurt himself, but mainly because /others/ could suffer from his ignorance AND my own failure of controlling him.
    I think there are some tough decisions to be made – I’m thinking of you.

    Like

    • The intervening factor is that he’s had a stroke and he can’t stay by himself. This is a trajectory we’ve been on since my decision to move here, which was precipitated in part by my awareness that he might very well kill someone while driving drunk if he didn’t have more companionship. I don’t know that I’m really equipped for this (in fact, I’m sure I’m not), but I am the person who’s here.

      I do think about precisely this question — whether I’ve inherited my mother’s relationship — a lot (it’s part of why the floor is such a conflict point between us, and why cooking for him, which I haven’t written about, is taking on those dimensions). But I’m not sure that, at this point, he’s deliberately ignoring anyone. We’re coming up on a year since the stroke, and maybe the GCM can help us with getting the doctors to say something about what’s really going on.

      I do believe I have a right to my own life (although I am not looking for a partner, on the contrary). The thing is that I don’t live my life in isolation from others or their choices. When I think about the current situation, I need to make sure I’m not overreacting because I won’t be able to take back anything I say. And I’m not sure dad should be penalized just because I’m worried about something or because I wouldn’t make the decisions he’s making. He should be preventing from harming others (and, within limits, himself). We need a solution that gives him some autonomy and hope for the future, and we obviously haven’t found it yet.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I don’t have any advice. Just lots of hugs and know that I’m thinking about you.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I am so sorry that you are going through this. Your father seems really depressed. Unfortunately, many people like these don’t care about consequences even if it affects their families. As far as the driving issue goes, pull the battery. We had to do this with my mother in law who had Alzheimer’s and it worked like a charm. Hope this helps.

    Like

    • The GCM and I discussed that possibility (the neurologist has asked twice now, and dad has denied it both times, but for various reasons that’s unsurprising). There may be a way around it but I’m not sure I can handle the additional wild card of how anti-depressants would affect him, as part of the mix. It’s something we’ve considered, though.

      Like

  11. This is a truly messed up situation and I am so sorry you have to deal with this.
    Thank the heavens nobody got hurt during his drive and through the fire!
    {{{Hugs}}}

    Liked by 2 people

    • 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I wish he concretely understood the theme of “danger to others,” but I think it’s a feature of his thinking in general (and always has been) that he doesn’t think of the abstract other as real. There are a lot of small children living right around Flower’s house, and if I said, “if you drive drunk, you could kill [name of child]” that would better than “you could kill a child,” although I am not sure how much, frankly.

      One thing this has really made me think about is how our convictions ossify as we get older. He never had to be very considerate of others, and so now it has come to a point where he just won’t and sees the demand to consider others’ welfare as unreasonable. I hope I’m not getting like that.

      Liked by 3 people

  12. I wonder if even taking a drivers license away from him will even register that he is not allowed to drive. He just doesn’t seem to know or care what the consequences could be. I may be wrong, but best to you in how to handle this situation. I offer no advice simply because i am not living with it. As someone who has had 2 strokes and had my license taken away I understand how the mind can become lost. I do however send you good wishes and vibes your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What’s confusing — and maybe this is something that people who study elderly people understand better than I do — is that if you talked to him, you wouldn’t think he was irrational or careless.

      I appreciate your good wishes. I know it’s gotta be difficult not to drive. (Part of me wishes we lived somewhere where it didn’t matter so much, but that would make dad miserable, too.)

      Liked by 1 person

  13. My first thought was if not for the waste sticker you may not have been alerted to the fact he was taking the tractor into town on the sly. Makes me wonder if he’s done it on other occasions while you were at work. The fact that he dismisses seeing this as a threat to the safety of himself and others is worrisome. As you say, even if he were to have his driving privileges taken away, it wouldn’t stop him from taking the tractor out anyway. Taking away the keys is the obvious solution but comes with the added stress of the anger fallout that ensues. We didn’t realize my MIL’s dementia had progressed to the point she was becoming disoriented while driving and getting lost. Fortunately someone who knew her saw her strangely heading out of town. We had to contact the police to help find her. We definitely had to take the keys away. There was a lot of anger and it was painful for a while, but the relief of having that anxiety removed made it worthwhile. Hoping that with the support of doctors, GCM and Heavy Lifter you will get this resolved with a solution that will give you some relief. Sending you hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, I wondered about that, too, if this is just the time I happened to notice. Sometimes I get home early and he’s remarked on it and that makes a little more sense now — assuming he was concretely trying to hide it from me as opposed to just doing it because he didn’t think.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. How my heart goes out to you in all this. I had to deal with someone who had an alcohol problem. I did not handle it well as I thought if I kept on lecturing him I would get through to him. I might as well have talked to the moon. As far as the car went the problem was partly solved as a family member needed one at the time so it was no longer available to him. Instead he bought a new $700 bicycle. I was terrified he would have an accident as my son in law spotted him one day cycling gaily along right in the middle of the lane he was in totally ignoring all the cars etc honking at him and people yelling at him. He actually fell off one day but fortunately was next to a soft shoulder so wasn’t hurt and not under a bus. I eventually decided that if this was the way he was going to go then so be it. Sounds callous I know but someone couldn’t be with him all day. He eventually got very depressed wouldn’t eat and ended up having to go to hospital. He passed away after being there for a month. I hate to say it but his death was in some way a relief as I couldn’t cope with how he was and would certainly have had a breakdown myself if it had gone on.

    Sometimes you have to make very tough decisions that are hard to live with but have to be done for your own health and sanity. I do hope that you will be able to get the help you both undoubtedly need and quickly. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Liked by 3 people

    • May I just add that I think you are amazing! How you can cope with what is going on with your Dad and working too is beyond me. It must be so scary leaving him on his own not knowing what he might get up to in your absence. Please try to get some kind of help very soon so you don’t become ill yourself. Is there any kind of respite care facility in your area? I don’t know what something like that would cost in the US or even here in Canada. Maybe nothing here but I honestly have no idea.

      Liked by 5 people

      • The local nursing home does offer respite care, but it’s the place where dad’s friend the Elderly Farmer died, so he has a kind of horror of it.

        My mother’s behavior throughout their entire marriage was enabling of him, and I ponder whether mine is, too. I don’t think so, or at least not in the same way. I do want to (for instance) enable him to stay home, but there are also certain things I can’t keep myself from saying, even if I should. (This is also something I have to talk to the GCM about — the extent to which dad is really susceptible to the traditional means that people have for expressing disapproval. I hate always being the person who says “no” and the fact that I am is definitely leading to a microwar on his part about things that I do that he doesn’t like, and that is exhausting, frankly. The mornings can turn into this progression of him picking away at me until I have to leave just to keep from yelling.) It’s definitely true, though, that yelling at an alcoholic has no effect. S/he has to want to change and since dad doesn’t even think he’s alcoholic there is no hope of that at this point. I don’t know if there is any way to make clear to dad what thin ice he’s skating on at the moment, in which case my brother and I should just bite the bullet and make decisions for his benefit, ourselves.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I am so sorry you had to endure this Teutcher but can relate to your feeling of relief when your family member died. When my dad died i had this overwhelming feeling of relief that what I had been waiting to happen for as long as I could remember had now happened, and I could manage it.

      Hugs to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I sympathize a lot with that sentiment, in that i spend a lot of time wondering how I will feel when he dies (esp since, since the stroke, I now regularly dream about being the person who discovers that he’s died), even as I sometimes have hovered outside his bedroom door in the last months to make sure he’s still breathing.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. This just sounds completely crazy-making to me. Good for you that you are coping as well as you are, even if you think you aren’t. Both the fire and the tractor could have had devastating consequences. So glad that they didn’t! I hope that the GCM and the doctors will help you to some good solutions. (Glad you like the “Heavy Lifter” moniker. Seemed appropriate.)

    Like

  16. Oh man, this sounds impossible! So lucky no one was hurt and there was no damage. Yeah, maybe permanently revoking his licence might be the way to go, at least that will be a clear statement with no tractor driving loophole. It’d be tough on him and on you too to deal with it… I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this!

    Like

Leave a Reply to Esther Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

 
%d bloggers like this: