"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.
- 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)
*My sincere apologies to any literal Suzy from Dubuque that may be reading this