Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fun-filled Funereal Facts

"Suzy From Dubuque" Syndrome*

"Suzy From Dubuque" Syndrome (SFDS) is an affliction that often attacks family members of the elderly and/or dying. It specifically attacks those family members that have NOT been in recent contact with the patient. SFDS does not make itself manifest until its victim sees the patient after an absence of least 6 months to many years. Here are some common signs/symptoms:

  • Uncontrollable fits of criticism aimed toward the "hands on" caregiver's ability to properly meet the needs of the patient.
  • Irresistible desire to undermine the wishes of the caregiver and patient by insisting on hospitalization, lab work, invasive testing, IV fluids, tube feeding, etc.
  • Feeling of superiority in medical knowledge and caregiving techniques directly proportionate to the amount of time spent away from the patient.
Of course, SFDS has a profound impact on the caregiver who is most likely letting the visiting, long-absent "Suzy" stay in their spare bedroom. Some common effects of SFDS on the caregiver:
  • Marked decrease in confidence about one's ability to care for their loved one.
  • Marked increase in guilt related to their new-found "inadequacies".
  • Loss of ability to advocate for their loved one as they increasingly cave in to the demands of the SFDS afflicted family member.
This syndrome is extremely difficult to treat. Medical professionals can play an important part in helping to shore up the caregiver's confidence and aiming reality checks toward the "Suzy". However, if SFDS is to abate at all, it is usually due to one of the following:

  • The "Suzy" has no more time off from work and must return home.
  • The caregiver has finally developed the "huevos" to tell the "Suzy" to "eff off" and sends them packing.
  • The patient has died. (Probably the most common cure for SFDS)
(The old, two by four up the side of the head of the "Suzy" has potential, but has never been tried by myself or any caregiver that I know of.)

*My sincere apologies to any literal Suzy from Dubuque that may be reading this

1 comment:

marachne said...

Just found your blog via Hospice Blog.

Suzie from Dubuque, eh?

I've heard it as the "Daughter from California" or "Daughter from NY"

Guess we should give equal time to the heartland.