Author Topic: Supporting Sandy victims vs. taking care of myself - need advice and phrasing.  (Read 10887 times)

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Bijou

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I am not you so I can't really know what it would mean to have someone in the house at this time.
Is it possible he has other options and that you are the first one on his list?  I would want to know this and also, whether or not he has vacation time he could be using so he would not have to drive to work. (That would be my first thought if I were your friend.  I used all my vacation time helping to care for caring for a  member of my husband's and my family, and I was thankful to have the time available to do it.  Maybe it just has not occurred to him).
Is it possible that he could contribute in some way to make it easier for you during your hard time?  Maybe take over some of the household duties which could relieve you, so that his being there is more a blessing than a problem.  Maybe discussing what could be done to make it a liveable situation among the three of you could come up with some kind of workable plan.
I'm sorry you have to make this kind of decision at this time.  Can lordL help with the decision?
« Last Edit: November 04, 2012, 05:38:08 PM by Bijou »
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The703

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I agree with Aeris. I think that since you offered that you should follow through. I've had migraines and been on medication for them and I would still follow through with what I have offered. You don't need to entertain him. He's asking for a place to stay that is close to his office that has electricity and heat. He's not asking for a home cooked meal. I think you need to explain the situation and let him  know that he has a place but you need space. I think you should also consider finding a therapist for your anxiety issues if they leave you incapacitated.





baglady

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I don't know your friend, but if I were in his situation, and you told me the truth:

"Hey, Friend, you're welcome to crash here as long as you need to, but I'm afraid all we can offer is the living room couch -- which isn't very private -- or some floor space in the office. And I'm dealing with some medical issues -- nothing contagious, but they have me down for the count -- so I won't be very good company. In fact, I probably won't be any company at all. Is that OK with you?"

As soon as I heard the part about your medical issues, I'd probably be rifling my mental Rolodex for alternative arrangements. If I couldn't find any, I'd be bending over backwards to be as unobtrusive as possible. I might even offer to bring earplugs or a sleep mask to help you get through the migraines, or a silly movie for you to watch (alone) to take your mind off the anxiety.

My suggestion is to brainstorm a way you *can* accommodate your friend without doing any permanent damage to your own health or sanity. For starters, I suggest being honest about your space and health situations (see above). Then brainstorm the logistical solutions to any problems that may arise from the arrangement: Have tomorrow's clothes ready for dressing in the bedroom instead of the dressing room, as a PP suggested.

I sympathize with you -- I've got anxiety issues of my own and have done my share of bailing on stressful situations at the last minute -- but things like this are never as awful as we make them out to be ahead of time. And you will feel better about it when it's over if you *do* let him stay.
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kareng57

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You need to ask yourself what you value more...your privacy or your friendships.

It is also not necessarily a privacy issues, it is also the LadyL's medical issues. I know when my own mother had migraines it could take her down for a couple days, and if she tried to trudge through the migraine itself she made herself sick enough to throw up. It took her over two decades to find medicine that actually kept her functioning and after all that anguish she went through menopause and the migraines stopped. LadyL needs to value her own comfort level, and there is nothing wrong with that if a medical issue is involved.

I didn't want to sound defensive or like I was nitpicking people's language, but since SPuck picked up on this as well  - I feel this goes beyond me being simply stressed or inconvenienced over lack of privacy. I have had more days than not when I have struggled to get out of bed, get dressed, and leave the house and some where I have failed to do so entirely. I have had to take potentially habit forming sedatives in order to function, something I am trying to minimize as much as possible by keeping my stress levels as low as possible.

Also, the gas shortages in my friend's area are a problem, but he is able to get gas (he lives in a less populous area so the waits are on the order of hours, not days), for those who were wondering how that factored in. It is actually much harder if not impossible to get gas in our area right now, but that is expected to get much better within the next few days.

Look, you have to do what you have to do, but turning away a friend in a time of need by talking about your "stress levels" isn't going to make him feel very valued, or that you were being genuine in your original offer. There is really no good way to do it. You are at great risk of over-explaining, and making it sound like you are just making excuses.

Just offer what you can offer (are you going to offer anything?) or just say you can't. Be brief and then just be prepared to deal with the fall out.


I too have to agree with this.

No one here is unsympathetic to your situation, and no one has said that it would be rude to turn down your friend's request.  But - decisions have consequences.  Your friend might be thinking  that he would be minimally invasive (even if he's normally a boisterous converser he might be intending on turning that down), not expecting cooking/cleaning etc. - and if he hears "it would just be too stressful to have you here" after a previous offer of "we're always here in an emergency"  - well, if it was me, that would be my cue to dial-down the friendship.

No one is saying that it's an easy decision, of course it's not.  But re a PP - yes, if I was undergoing chemotherapy, a difficult pregnancy or any other reason that was making me feel horrible 24/7 - yes, I would still keep my home open to anyone coping with an emergency.  They would probably get no more hospitality than my opening the door when they first arrived, but they would still get their spot-on-the-floor.

Redsoil

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For me, if I were suffering migraines (and yes, I have in the past, to the point of hospitalisation, major drugs, and several days to begin recovering), there is no way I'd be having guests.  Friendship and understanding goes both ways.

The way I'm reading this is that it would be "easier" and more "convenient" for the friend to be able to impose on LadyL, and feels he can do so because of an offer made some time previously along the lines of "if you ever get stuck, you can crash here" (such as a blizzard etc.)  So, to my way of thinking, this isn't a true emergency where there are no other options, merely a situation tha the friend feels would be easier for him to stay in town.  Thereby making it harder on LadyL.

So, think of it from the other point of view - whose "comfort" trumps all?  Should LadyL suffer needlessly to make someone else more comfortable when other options truly are available, after reading all the avalable info.
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Redsoil

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For that matter, if I were the friend asking the favour, I'd be absolutely mortified if I realised I'd been accommodated at a time when the host was feeling so ill.  I'd rather be told about the situation, so I could then thank them for thinking of me, but politely decline.
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Fleur

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For me, if I were suffering migraines (and yes, I have in the past, to the point of hospitalisation, major drugs, and several days to begin recovering), there is no way I'd be having guests.  Friendship and understanding goes both ways.

The way I'm reading this is that it would be "easier" and more "convenient" for the friend to be able to impose on LadyL, and feels he can do so because of an offer made some time previously along the lines of "if you ever get stuck, you can crash here" (such as a blizzard etc.)  So, to my way of thinking, this isn't a true emergency where there are no other options, merely a situation tha the friend feels would be easier for him to stay in town.  Thereby making it harder on LadyL.

So, think of it from the other point of view - whose "comfort" trumps all?  Should LadyL suffer needlessly to make someone else more comfortable when other options truly are available, after reading all the avalable info.


Perfectly put, I totally agree.

wallaby

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OP you have my sympathies. I don't think potentially triggering a situation where you would have to medicate yourself to cope with having a house guest is fair to you or the guest. With that in mind, I think whatever you decide is right for you is ok. However I also know when people are unwell, things can get a bit out of perspective and we can tend to focus on all the potential problems and reasons something won't work. Try to remember that during the day, guest will be at work. That's like 8-10-12(?) hours a day, meaning that you will probably only see him for a few hours in the evenings. This is very different to the idea of someone essentially 'vacationing' at your home and spending all day, every day with you. Best wishes to you all in this difficult situation.

WillyNilly

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*There seems to be some downplaying of the hurricane's effects in this thread, which I find disturbing. The combination of the loss of heat and power, the extraordinary gas shortages, and the gridlock some areas are experiencing (as a result of public transport systems being severely compromised) make a 1 hour commute a nightmare scenario.

I don't know... I think there is some serious assumptions about apocalypse too.  Yes some areas - like LadyL's! - took a major hit.  People lost everything. Truly those people are in emergency situations.

Other areas in the same cities, sometimes even just 1 mile from devastation only lost a few trees. I live in Queens, which has had some of the worse devastation of any area such as Breezy Point and the Rockaways, and which still in NY has the most power outages.  But my neighborhood?  Not one single reported personal injury, loss of power or anything.  A few people lost cars to falling trees, some windows were broken and some streets were blocked.  My personal biggest hassles have been my commute and figuring out exactly what was most needed as far as donations and what I could afford to give. I'm not even affected by the gas shortage as DH and I filled up by chance right before the storm and we hardly drive - that tank, like every other tank, we expect to last us at least a month.

I'm guessing from the very vague descriptions here LadyL is in the 5 boro's and her friend is from north, like Westchester.  The gas situation on the islands (Manhattan, Staten Island, and Long Island (which geographically includes Queens & Brooklyn)) is a LOT worse then the gas situation on the mainland USA.  Are there lines up in the Boogiedown?  Yes.  Are people camping out in 12 hour lines up there like they are on an island?  No.

Not to mention trains are running.  As are buses - the buses are NOT suffering for the gas shortage - trust and believe they are getting priority for gas.

And the friend isn't asking for emergency accommodations.  He's asking for convenience accommodations.  He can get by without crashing with LadyL, its just easier for him to stay with her.  In her area that is a mere 4 blocks from devastation.

Through the aftermath of this storm I have seen some heartwarming and amazing examples of humanity.  It took me 3 hours to give red blood cells yesterday because the donation site was so PACKED.  The piles of donations I have seen and the coordination efforts are incredible. The outpouring of help being offered officially and socially are beautiful.

But you know what?  I've seen and read and heard some of the most selfish things too.  People complaining they are bored without power. People grousing that they haven't gotten mail promptly. People lambasting MTA workers as lazy and incompetent. People horrified at the very suggestion they should use services like public laundromats. 

If LadyL's friend had lost his home, or even just lost his furniture, or if he was stranded, if he was in a true emergency, absolutely that's a situation for a friend to step up and suffer a bit for survival.  But if he merely is asking for a favor of convenience, that's really a different story and not one LadyL should be guilted into accommodating.

O'Dell

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I have anxiety issues and times when I've had problems with my meds. I'd still suck it up for a friend and let them stay. I'd also be upfront and tell him I wouldn't be entertaining him and why. That he'd be on his own for entertainment.

LadyL, as someone with anxiety and depression, I think you really should be working on your issues around hosting people. My life is much better now that I've let go of my concerns about having people in my home. It actually makes me a better hostess now that I'm not nervous and hovering. IMO, part of being a good hostess is knowing when to leave a guest to their own devices and trusting that they can deal with it. You can do that with this friend.

(Oh and honestly, I'd have him stay on the condition that he help keep the place clean with all the others going in and out. Yes. I really would hand him the Barkeeper's Friend and a cloth and have him scrub out the tub.)
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RebeccainGA

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You need to ask yourself what you value more...your privacy or your friendships.

It is also not necessarily a privacy issues, it is also the LadyL's medical issues. I know when my own mother had migraines it could take her down for a couple days, and if she tried to trudge through the migraine itself she made herself sick enough to throw up. It took her over two decades to find medicine that actually kept her functioning and after all that anguish she went through menopause and the migraines stopped. LadyL needs to value her own comfort level, and there is nothing wrong with that if a medical issue is involved.

I didn't want to sound defensive or like I was nitpicking people's language, but since SPuck picked up on this as well  - I feel this goes beyond me being simply stressed or inconvenienced over lack of privacy. I have had more days than not when I have struggled to get out of bed, get dressed, and leave the house and some where I have failed to do so entirely. I have had to take potentially habit forming sedatives in order to function, something I am trying to minimize as much as possible by keeping my stress levels as low as possible.

Also, the gas shortages in my friend's area are a problem, but he is able to get gas (he lives in a less populous area so the waits are on the order of hours, not days), for those who were wondering how that factored in. It is actually much harder if not impossible to get gas in our area right now, but that is expected to get much better within the next few days.

LadyL, I've seen my DP have panic attacks from stress that have, literally, almost caused her to be coded in the hospital (O2 sats in the 40s, heartrate in the 130s+). Stress can kill. I've also had, and seen in my mother, migraines that send you into a cocoon of darkness, cool and quiet, where even a dim light or a faint whisper can make your head agony. These things are REAL dangers, as much as any that the storm has made you face.

Offering to let friends come by and charge phones/shower/eat something hot is kindness. If there was still flooding at your friends home and he couldn't get home, or if there was no way for him to get to work otherwise, that might be an emergency (like the blizzard). This is NOT an emergency. This is an inconvenience. This is annoying, possibly expensive (if he decided to stay in a hotel instead of at home), and way above your previous offers of a hot shower and an outlet to charge up a phone. If you can, and feel comfortable doing so, saying you can have him for two non-consecutive nights (so you can see how your medical situation and the environment changes up there) would be a very kind thing. However, if you feel so pressured to let him stay that you end up in the hospital because of your own real medical condition, and he can't stay because no one is home, how is that better for anyone??

I agree with the PPs that say put your own oxygen on first - after two years of caregiving for my DP, I've learned that if you don't take care of you, first, that you can't take care of anyone else either. Be kind to yourself.

rashea

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LadyL, I'm torn, as I suspect you are. You want to help, but don't know how to handle having him stay. Here's my thoughts. I'd tell him that he can stay, but on a night to night basis. Have you or LordL tell him that you're dealing with crippling anxiety. Use that word, people understand "crippling". Tell him that you need him to basically come in, take care of himself, and leave you alone unless you seek him out. Move enough of your things into your bedroom if possible that you don't have to use the office as a changing room for a day or so. Maybe even have him bunk in there, so you can go out into the living room without issues. You need to decide if you can handle this level of accommodation. This is about assessing your spoons, and none of us can do that for you. If you're at risk of needing to be hospitalized because him being there is adding too much stress for you, then say that. Because it's no use you becoming another victim the system has to deal with.

Now, in the future, I think you need to be more honest with yourself that you can handle being a drop-in center, but nothing more. That further help needs to be requested, and you'll decide each time. Because you can't be counted on in an emergency. And that's okay. That's where you personally are. For me, if it's an emergency where someone needs someone to cook, I can do that. If you need someone to get on a ladder and work, count me out. It's not that I don't want to help, but that's outside what I can do (my knee issues mean that ladders scare me and leave me hurting).

Foxpaws and others, I think the better question is: if you or someone in your house is immuno-compromised, would you still host someone who had a cold. Because what I see missing from the chemo analogy is that his presence might actually make things worse for LadyL.
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Mikayla

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((snip))

If LadyL's friend had lost his home, or even just lost his furniture, or if he was stranded, if he was in a true emergency, absolutely that's a situation for a friend to step up and suffer a bit for survival.  But if he merely is asking for a favor of convenience, that's really a different story and not one LadyL should be guilted into accommodating.

I agree with this, even if it's a minority opinion.  But in addition to the above, I don't see LadyL rescinding any prior promises.  She had indicated that in an emergency he could stay over, but this contained unspoken assumptions -- that she'd be healthy and well, and that others weren't relying on her for assistance at the same time.  So it was a vague offer subject to interpretation.  If I was the friend and got an explanation of what was going on, it wouldn't even occur to me to end the friendship. 

One other thing:  I didn't see where LadyL stated how close this friend is.  I have 3 longtime best friends that I'd let in 24/7/52 regardless of anything else.  This is because I know they'd do the same for me (and have!).  Others are in a different category.  I assume he's more a second tier friend.

stargazer

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For anyone that thinks the gas shortage isn't that bad, once you click on this link go to the drop down on the left and click All Stations.  http://gasbuddy.com/Sandy/.  Even some of the green ones are out if you click on the comments and obviously the red outweigh the green.  It sounds like the friend has a two hour commute every day (an hour there and back) and obviously getting gas is a major issue especially if he's trying to converse some for his generator for his family.   You don't need to "host" in the traditional sense - move some of your clothes to your bedroom so he can crash in your office, tell him you're not up to chatting, and have LordL deal with him if you can't. 

Girly

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I'm sorry, but I certainly do think this is an 'emergency' for the friend.

Now, LadyL of course doesn't have to let him stay with her, for whatever reason (medical, convenience, etc), however just say no. That in itself isn't rude. Coming up with all these excuses after the fact makes it sound just like that... excuses, and while it may or may not be rude, it certainly would make me think differently about my 'friend'.