Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Told You So

One of the many dreadful things about this situation is, quite frankly, what it's taking out of me. That may sound self-centered, but the reality is that I have to take care of me if I expect to be able to give care to anyone else. As primary caregiver, I'm on call several hours of the day, the trouble is that I'm also primary finance manager for the resources needed to support this condition. Had I been listened to years ago, I would likely still be primary caregiver, but my role as finance manager would been diminished because a plan would be in effect.  There isn't much benefit to me now to saying, "I told you so" (ITYS). ITYS doesn't help me juggle the many balls I must now juggle, nor does ITYS help me manage the critical resources or ensure that they last for the duration of the illness. Most importantly, ITYS doesn't make any of this any easier. 'I told you so' doesn't even make me feel better. Why would it?

The trouble with ITYS is that it's nothing but a Pyrrhic victory. You win, but ultimately you've lost. In our case, we've lost an opportunity to be ready for the inevitable challenges of aging and illness. First of all, I lost the communication round of the game. I wasn't able to communicate the urgency of the need nor the importance of action. Second, we also lost the time advantage that we would have gained had we followed through on my recommendations six years ago. Third, and the reason that hurts most, is the realization that not only was I right, but that my begging and pleading (and cursing and fighting) was, unbeknownst to me, going to protect my own sanity.

When I was making my recommendations I couldn't know that it was my sister and I who would be next bulls eye on the illness radar, not that it really mattered. I was making recommendations because they were needed. The actions I suggested described the only sensible path that could be taken given our circumstances. At the end of the day, we did nothing so there's no family plan in place though my sister and I do have a little plan. Our plan is still in its infancy, but it's moving in the right direction and growing slowly. Herein lies the reason for my juggling present and future. We have to try to manage today and tomorrow simultaneously. It's tiring just thinking about it, not to mention doing it.

I stand by my assertion that today's care has to be paid for out of yesterday's (and preferably last year's or last decade's) savings and investments. I also stand by my assertion that a family does better if it deals with the inevitable financial challenge that long term illness presents in the cold, harsh light of day, before anyone is ill and when family members can bring an unemotional clear-headedness to the discussion. Unfortunately, as I've learned, discussions of illness and aging, with the people who are likely to become ill when they age, is dangerous work. Apparently, I'm not certified to perform such work. So I muddle through and on, working in present and future modes simultaneously. This is the life. It's going to be quite something when we come out the other end having prevailed, as I fully intend to do. We're almost there now, but I'd really prefer to be there already.

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