Old 03-19-2016, 04:14 PM #1 (permalink)
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Default Upcoming Family Visit

So at Thanksgiving, we had my hubby's (my PALS) family here for a big feast. Right before the meal, my brother-in-law was helping me prepare the stuffing and I stated that I really like the Thanksgiving dishes. He replied -- and I'm not kidding--"That's obvious. You have put on a lot of weight since PALS was diagnosed. It is very noticeable. Is it stress?"

I recoiled and said it was inappropriate to comment on a woman's weight no matter the circumstances, but he doubled down, "No really, is it stress? You were always slender and now you are so not." I left the room. When I returned I reiterated to him how inappropriate his comment was. His response was, "oh you know me, I just say stuff". He never apologized and my hubby caught the gist of what was going on from our second conversation and told him he needed to be respectful of me.

Earlier that day, my PALS was showing off the features of our new Amazon ECHO and how it could turn the lights on and off verbally, a real plus since hubby has very limited arm use. Same brother-in-law, rolled his eyes at me and said, while making the up/down motion, "cause flipping a switch is sooo hard". I whisper scolded him saying it was when you have trouble lifting your arms. He replied--oh yeah, okay.

Cut to today. He calls and tells PALS he and the family are coming into town next week and plan to stay with us for 2, 3 or 4 days. He hadn't decided how long they would stay yet. So okay, he would see us Monday. UGH!!!!!! He has not spoken to either of us since Thanksgiving. Suggestions on how to be civil to him for the visit? His two young kids are great and hubby adores them. Wife is tolerable. But him???????????

Oh and yeah, I haven't lost any weight yet.

Tracy
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Old 03-19-2016, 05:48 PM #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

Some people just don't recognize the line when they see it. I'd have told him of course it's stress--DUH. They eye rolling over the switch tells me he really doesn't get it. Is he helpful when he visits? Does he understand what is happening to his brother? Maybe he needs a crash course in what is causing your stress.

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Old 03-19-2016, 06:09 PM #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

I say make a manly to do list and hand it to him. Get a grocery gift card and send the wife shopping for you. Then, you can enjoy the kids!

Last edited by gooseberry : 03-19-2016 at 06:17 PM
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Old 03-19-2016, 06:15 PM #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

I'd be inclined to be extremely blunt and use the most graphic and serious language I could. There is no point in sugar coating such a serious diagnosis to spare others' feelings or to spare an awkward conversation- he's shown zero inclination to do the same for you. As Becky has stated, it really sounds like he has no idea what having ALS means and needs a pretty in depth, detailed crash course on how ALS affects the whole family. If he's staying with you, it could be the best opportunity to show him the day to day grind ALS is. It may scare him away (but it sounds like that may spare you some stress in the long run, really. Who needs that kind of "I'm just being honest." crap?) or it may cause him to understand how profound a daily loss you are experiencing and how he is adding to your load- and in this realization he could become a much bigger help with his brother and be actual support instead of an unreasonable drain on your emotional resources.

Aside from all that- HOW OUTRAGEOUS is his behaviour? I profoundly dislike people who think they can say terrible and inappropriate things and just brush it off when they're called on it. And when you do call them on it, you somehow become the bad guy because you can't take honesty/ a joke/you're too sensitive/serious, etc. Man. that's just bad manners. I guess you can "tell him like it is" as well and tell him he's just unpleasant to be around. I am so sorry you had to deal with that. I am very steamed on your behalf.
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Old 03-19-2016, 07:30 PM #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

OK my 2c worth.

Firstly, decide if you want him to stay at all. Be sure you are deciding what is going to be good for you and your PALS. Take all the feelings of family and duty out, and decide on that.

If you decide no you do not want them staying, it may be that they can come and visit while in town. Send him an email or text and state it plainly.

If you do think it's ok for them to stay, decide if there is a limit. 4 days sounds like hell to me, but maybe you decide they could stay 2 days.

Again send an email or text and state what you have decided.
Then I love the idea of making a list of things he can do. Make it clear in advance. We would love to have you stay, I need help with quite a few things, so I'm making a list, and trust that you will be more than happy to do as much as can for us while you are staying.

If you get baulking on anything, just reply that it won't be possible for them to stay.
Offer to the let the kids stay for a couple of nights instead

It's really hard, I didn't do so well with this stuff. I look back now and realise I could have been more assertive. I remember the one time I tried, Chris's daughter told me if I was going to be so negative (because I had told a few home truths about the severity of his progression a couple of months before he died) then she wouldn't even come for his birthday dinner ... I did reply that she should decide to come or not for him, not because she was cranky with me.

It's tough, but honestly we are dealing with more than enough without letting family pull their crap on us.

Let us know!!!
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Old 03-19-2016, 07:46 PM #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

I think you have to be assertive because a. No one is living what you are going thru, and b. Family will walk all over you. Meet them on your terms...as Tillie said a couple of nights with the kids may be just the ticket.

It was not uncommon when Steve's family would come for a week to spend $700 on groceries. They were great about cooking and helping but I did all the buying. The last 6 months, I to.d them we would need them each to provide a meal for everyone while they were here. One stopped bringing their family and the other didn't blink.

With this disease you have to ask for help you need or think you might need. As a sole caregiver with little support, please let others help you.
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Old 03-19-2016, 09:54 PM #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

I'd send him an e-mail and say something like,

Was thinking about the visit you invited yourself for, and I have to admit, I'm feeling queasy about it since the last time you were here, you really didn't seem to understand and even belittled what we are living with. [Hubby] has a disease that robs people of their ability to move, speak, eat, even breathe. And he will die of this disease.

If you stay under our roof, I'll expect you to respect our situation, help and speak positively, and leave your previous negativity at home. Love to the family.
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Old 03-19-2016, 10:23 PM #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

I have difficulty relating directly to this, since we don't have such issues with my family. However, I have dealt with enough difficult human interactions throughout my career to have a few suggestions to offer. I suspect you have already considered these

1. You can't change him, so don't try
2. If you allow the visit to occur:
a. It has to be because it is good for you and your PALS. No other reason matters.
b. Let him know he is there to help. Having him hear the objective increases the likelihood the objective can be achieved.
c. Bluntly (very bluntly), explain the disease, progression, and expected outcome to him. He might not listen well, but at least try to communicate why you need help.
d. Engage him in doing tasks that will make your life better.
b. Distract him with tasks that make your job easier. Don't hold back on assigning him mundane, unpleasant tasks. They need to be done and he can help.
3. In the end, he may not ever get it and he may not be willing to help. You can't change him, but you can ask him to leave.

Steve
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Old 03-20-2016, 12:10 PM #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

These are good suggestions, everyone. Thank you for the feedback. Honestly, he's always been a bit of a clod, but hubby's diagnosis has made it more pronounced. I am going to be prepared with a list for him and have emailed him and told him that we could not carve out more than 2 days for his visit. (I am a teacher and off this week and I am not going to spend my precious off days playing hostess to him). Wish me luck. I am ready for him, I think He's one that always thinks he knows best and good at the "you should.... you need to do....." stuff. Not going to listen to that stuff this time, will respond with my list that 'he should help with'. And you are so right, Steve--this time I am prepared to ask him to leave

I will keep you all posted. And I just 'DARE' him to comment on my weight again!
Tracy
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Old 03-20-2016, 02:26 PM #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

onya Tracy, view this as a wonderful learning opportunity for you - after this visit you may never have true problems with this guy again if you stick to your decisions

I'm so looking forward to hearing how it all goes
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Old 03-20-2016, 10:25 PM #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

I dont want to hijack the thread but rather share a funny inlaw story. Julien and I have been setting the security system each night. While we were gone, my mother in law and brother in law decided to come into the house without telling me. The alarm went off and they got to meet the local police. They had the nerve to tell me it was all my fault. I told them, uh no. You knew I was gone and entered without me knowing. Wish I could have seen their faces.
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Old 03-20-2016, 10:48 PM #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

What? WHAT? How is that ok? What is wrong with peoples' families? My sister might pull some random and weird shenanigans sometimes out of selfish pique, but never to the extent of what I've heard others' families have done on this board. You all are absolute saints to have to deal with that on top of the burden of ALS.
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Old 03-20-2016, 11:51 PM #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

I think many of us can tell some shockers ...

I had a stepdaughter suggest I could leave her a key out while I was away one weekend and she could just come in and go through to take what she wanted ... yeah right of course I didn't ....
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Old 03-21-2016, 09:41 AM #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

Oh man families....

Tracy, you totally did not deserve any of those remarks.
He needs a good kick up the arse.
As does yours Steph...
And tillie...

I say to Wayne I married him not his family...maybe that was in the fine print...
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Old 03-21-2016, 03:42 PM #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upcoming Family Visit

Quote:
Originally Posted by gooseberry View Post
I say make a manly to do list and hand it to him. Get a grocery gift card and send the wife shopping for you. Then, you can enjoy the kids!
THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT TO DO. Make sure you make it very long and time consuming. Have a backup list just in case.
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