24 April 2006

Taking the Credit, Awaiting the Blame

We talked to GH's parents over the weekend. The highs and lows of dealing with cancer are harder for them to take than they are even for me and GH. Well, they don't handle them as well, in any case. They are far away and don't get to see GH every day, they don't have the emotional support network than we have, and they are just older and less resilient.

Because of that, the bad liver function tests of a few weeks ago and the subsequent treatment changeup were very hard on them. They were quite disspirited and went into Cure GH Overdrive, which takes different forms for each of them. GH's mother sends us stuff. We receive a package from her almost every day. Mostly she sends stuff that we can buy in Boston: socks, noodle bowls, crackers, single-serving containers of applesauce, lotion, you name it. It's sweet on one hand but overwhelming and annoying on another. Dealing with all that stuff is a time drain, and often it's stuff that we don't eat or use that we then have to dispose of or give away. I hate to throw it away, but donating it or getting rid of it in an otherwise useful way takes time that I'm loath to give up. No amount of gently (or even forcefully) asking her to stop will change her ways.

GH's dad retreats to church. He's there all the time when he's not working. 5:30AM service every day, all kinds of committees and such in the evenings. He doesn't get enough rest and his wife feels neglected. He thinks all her package sending is crazy. She thinks the churchgoing is crazy. They fight. GH spent a big chunk of time providing marriage counseling for them when he was out in Chicago. I won't even get into how I feel about that.

I do have a point in all this and I'm about to get to it. When we talked with GH's parents over the weekend, they sounded great. They were out doing errands together and they were thrilled with the improved liver function results. As usual, they spent their time on the phone with GH lecturing him: do this, eat this, don't do that, sleep a lot, blah blah blah. When they got me on the phone, I got my usual treatment: We're so proud of you! You take such good care of our son! Good work! You're the reason he's doing better!

As though I am personally responsible for getting his liver functions tests to improve. HA! Not. I deserve no more credit than GH himself, his medical team, and his other family members and friends. But his parents have always given me sole credit for any success in GH's treatment.

It drives me crazy. It's too much responsibility, for one thing. But here's my real problem: I'm waiting for the blame. If they are so eager to give me all the credit when things go well, will they be equally eager to blame me when things go poorly? So far, they have not laid the blame at my feet for any treatment setbacks we've had. Frankly, we're lucky not to have had too many. But ultimately, when push comes to shove, I am deeply fearful that they will somehow make it my fault. While I know that I am not responsible if cancer kills their son, it would still be immensely hurtful to hear anyone say that I was.

No one is to blame here and no one deserves all the credit for things going well. But that's too intangible for GH's parents. I think giving me the credit is a way for them to show love and appreciation for all the things I do for GH, but it's a weighty burden. And I just feel like the tide could turn all too easily.


Menita said...

You're right - I htink they need something concrete to hold on to, hence the packages, church, and focusing you as the "miracle" that makes things go well. Unfortunately there isn't much you can do about it, except try to avoid feeling responsible for any of it, because you are not.

weigook saram said...

Yes, it sounds like they are trying to take control of something that is uncontrollable. The churchgoing reminds me of how involved my FIL's church was when he was sick. They were at his bedside all the time, praying and singing.

I don't think your inlaws will blame you if your husband takes a turn for the worse. How could they??? I would give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they're trying to be supportive, even though it's not the kind of support you want or need right now. Can you just say, "yeah, yeah" and ignore them?

Christine said...

Ah, parents-in-law. I know that song and dance well from when M was more acutely sick with lupus. He's an only child, and his mom was constantly asking ME: Is he going to be OK? What is this lupus stuff? What does such-and-such a test result mean? And on and on. I got seriously irritated, then my cousin the nurse suggested I get them to talk to his doctors directly. I didn't actually try that, but don't know if you'd want to.

Sending hugs. You have enough crap to deal with without running interference for his parents, no matter how well-intentioned they are.

Patti said...

Could you try turning the tables? "You and Daddy GH take such good care of GH with all of your prayers and gifts. I know he really appreciates them, and I'm sure it is helpful to his health to know how much you love him."

Perhaps they'd take on some of the responsibility?

I'm sorry you have to go through this. It is stinky for them to put you in this position.I hope you can let some of it slide off your back.

OTRgirl said...

I like Patty's suggestion. Turn it right back at them. That's a good one! It'll be the war of flattery, but it might make them feel better and ease up on you a little? I hear the fear. False praise can easily turn to false blame.

Unrelated but parallel. Neither Jrex or his sister had children yet. Two years ago his mom fasted and prayed for 40 days. His sister finally got pregnant. And two months later, my sister was also pregnant. I figure God did what my parents always do, "OTRgirl, I mean OTRsis, I mean the other one. Whatever, you look alike..." Don't mess with praying Koreans...

Leggy said...

Wow- that's hard. Inlaw issues are tough to deal with, particularly when you inlaws that are the intrusive type.

You have so much on your plate right now, both logistically and mentally and for them to add this stuff "he's doing better because of you" is hard to take. I hope you can find an outlet that works for you, since it seems unlikely that they'll change much.