(Editor’s Note: We welcome a new blogger, BreeAnna, who just joined our site yesterday. You can connect with her here.)
I haven’t quite decided where my story starts.
Technically it was in 2000 when my mom was diagnosed with RSD, a chronic pain condition, but I was only 11 then so I didn’t so much as caregive as just help out with what I could. Back then she was still mobile, still doing good and my dad and sister were still around.
But my sister graduated high school and moved out. Mother having her good days and bad. My dad working out-of-town sometimes, gone four days, home for three. They technically married April of 2001, after she was disabled. After they knew it was chronic and that she would never work again, that it would get worse. I have a kid at age 15 (11 days before I turn 16 in 2005). I finish high school, graduate with honors in 2007. I get accepted into Cal Poly University, while raising my son, and helping out around the house and with my mom.
Fast forward some years, my dad has had enough. He says he is “tired” of her disability. He just can’t keep doing the same thing and not get anywhere. That she is stronger than it but she has given up so he is leaving. The day he left (January 5, 2010), he sends me a text saying don’t worry about anything, he is leaving but I don’t have to worry about financials, or anything else. My sister moves back in, and my boyfriend moves in. Okay fine, we can do this!
February 2010: My sister finds Mother on the ground, not moving, not conscious. Boyfriend and Sister get her back up and awake, but she is really slow thinking, tired. She goes into the hospital for three weeks (I think, memory is a little fuzzy right now). They are not sure what happened or why, but she is switching letters up (u & n, m & w), weakness on right side. After everything, no diagnosis. Well the doctors and paperwork say “Undiagnosed Stroke.” Here comes on speech therapy, physical therapy, etc. She gets better, almost 85%. My dad during this time, comes in, visits in the hospital some but not much. He doesn’t do much at all, I am left to handle the medical bills, the appointments, the therapies.
Over the last two years, Mother has high anxiety whenever she talks to, about or with my dad (since diagnosis of RSD she has had problems with anxiety, depression, etc) so we avoid him. Plus, he hasn’t been following through with what he says, i.e., paying bills on time (with my mom’s money, not his). I barely talk to him, getting random text messages asking how I am doing, small replies saying fine or good. My mom getting random texts about money or they need to do this (since they are still legally married). My boyfriend being amazing, driving me to the city bus (to school), taking my mom to all her appointments( since I don’t drive), watching my son when I am not home. In November 2010, Sister moves out and very far away.
We get in our routing. Me to school. Kid to school. Boyfriend (I’m going to refer to him as Hubby also) driving us around, taking care of Mother. He is basically in control of all her appointments and health, while I do what I can. Mother is still mobile, doing what she can.
This goes on till November 2011. Holidays are upon us, which is a stressful time because I have to split up my holidays between my dad/grandparents, my mom, and Hubby’s family, which causes my mom to stress out more plus the normal holiday depression that comes with being disabled (and left out).
Thanksgiving is great. I give my dad the slip and don’t have to visit with him, thank goodness. I make a great big lunch on Thanksgiving for my mom: chicken with cheese, green bean casserole, potatoes, plus much more. and then we get her out of the house (a feat in and of itself) over to my hubby’s family house (10 minutes away) to have another Thanksgiving. She grabs the newest member of the family and holds her all evening, playing and letting her sleep. She is having a good time. She starts complaining about her pain level so we give her her normal meds and head on home around 9:30.
We get her home, in bed, tucked in and everyone heads off to bed. She stops me as I am leaving her room and asks me, “If I am alright? If I am feeling okay?” I brush it off and say I am just tired (really, I am exhausted from doing two Thanksgivings for her, I am irritated and in pain from working all day). Me and Hubby plan to go black Friday shopping so we stay up, her room being quiet and no button pushes (we have push buttons all around the house in case she falls or just needs our help), so we don’t even check on her throughout the night assuming she is asleep. Right before we head out, I peak in and she appears to be asleep, making snoring sounds. My boy is fast asleep in his room.
We head out and come home after a bit, peak in on everyone. Everyone still asleep, we go to bed to. We all sleep in till noonish and I know something is up. I check on Mother. Still asleep. Snoring sounds. I talk to her as I would to wake her up. She doesn’t budge. I go and her and nothing. She is not making snoring sounds, but more of a gargling sound. She has thrown up on her pillows (that wasn’t there before). We call the ambulance and they arrive and they go SOOOO SLOW! They finally get her bagged and moved out 45 minutes later (yes, really).
She has been in hospitals/rehab since. We are working to get her home but we are unsure of when. We don’t know what the future holds or how life is going to work out.
11/25/2011. End of nice simple, easy caregiving. Beginning of something (not sure what yet).
Middle of my care giving story?!Related