Frieda stares out the bathroom door, her unblinking green eyes focused on the dogs. She didn’t have to deal with dogs in her old home, and so she isn’t quite sure what to do about this dog. Eventually Frieda and the dogs, as well as my two other cats, will work it out.
I am Frieda’s new pet mom. Her first mom, my daughter, is a woman who faces many challenges. My woman-child underwent surgery for the removal of a herniated spinal disc. We rejoiced that the surgeon didn’t find a tumor as the underlying culprit. She has also undergone the removal of a desmoid sarcoma. Desmoid tumors are cancer-like in that they can occur anywhere and will spread to, and destroy, nearby tissue. Unlike cancer, they do not send cells on expeditions to distant organs. A desmoid sarcoma diagnosis is extremely rare, occurring in just 1 in 500,000 people.
The psychiatric community has arrived at its own set of conclusions. These expert opinions run the gamut from bipolar disorder, to OCD, adult ADD/ADHD, and depression…I find it somewhat frustrating as it seems that the diagnosis depends upon the specialty of the issuer. And inexperienced counselors are very easy to manipulate.
My daughter works, attends college classes, and generally can function in society. Key word here is ‘generally.’ By my count-unofficial though it is-she functions well about 75% of the time. The other 25% is filled with heart-rending phone calls detailing broken relationships, financial disasters, and lost jobs.
My husband and I try to help her pick up the pieces. See, we are not her legal guardians, nor hold a power of attorney on her behalf. At 35 years old, she is cognizant of her surroundings, and all those things an incompetency ruling would demand. So, wrestling away control of her life would be an exercise in futility. That does not mean we lack influence. Many talks on the need to find and keep a job-any job with benefits, sticking to a budget, routine car maintenance, and a myriad of other concerns have taken place.
We belong to the vast number of parents who have adult children with, for lack of a better term, issues. We discuss endlessly, the doctors diagnose and prescribe endlessly, and the therapists counsel endlessly, but somehow not much changes. While the day has not yet arrived, I can envision a time when her dad and I will be unable to provide not just financial assistance, but comfort, guidance-such as she’ll allow, and love.
I don’t know what to do about that. And it scares the hell out of me.