Caregiving Ain’t for Sissies

Smiley_green_alien_sick.svg.medIt’s Sunday, usually a day to brew coffee, sit on the porch in dual recliners and take time to read the newspaper. (Yeah, we are old fashioned here and love putting our feet up and sharing the Sunday paper while drinking strong coffee.)

But today, like many days lately, the paper gets read late in the day or not at all. Mom is still in rehab and I feel like we are spinning our wheels. She still says it is too painful to put weight on her left leg. After taking x-rays of her thigh last week the doctor now wants to get a bone scan. Without knowing specifically if either her pelvis or femur are newly fractured they still will not let her weight bear, so tomorrow, two weeks into this, they are going to take her to another hospital for a bone scan of her pelvis and upper legs. They will inject her with dye at 9 a.m. and then two to three hours later will do the scan which takes approximately 45 minutes.

So maybe we will get an answer, and then what? Even though she has not put any weight on this leg for over two weeks, the case manager has targeted this Friday for her to come home. I’m having a tough  time with that right now. First, for the last five days an old back injury of mine has reared it ugly head and I have had pain running across my back and down my right leg. It was pretty horrific years ago and I have been trying not to panic. Tomorrow at 9:30 I have an appointment for myself for my back made before the guys at rehab decided Mom needed the scan. Then yesterday my head started to ache and my throat got all itchy.

So I am sitting here feeling like crap and feeling guilty for not being the perfect daughter. I feel guilty because I won’t be there to go with Mom for the scan because I will be going to an appointment of my own. I feel guilty because I just don’t know how I can bring Mom home if she can’t put any weight on her leg and therefore cannot use her walker to move around.

The case manager seems to think it will be so easy. When I said we have two steps to get into the house she cheerfully said I could learn to “bump” the wheelchair up the stairs. Yeah, with my back hurting, the same back that when I injured it years ago pinched the nerve so badly that I had no reflex in my foot and experienced the frightening reality of telling yourself to hop on your right foot and nothing happening! Not kidding here, I thought “hop” and zero happened. No movement. No nothing. It took months to heal. So the thought of “bumping” a wheelchair using my back isn’t on my radar, no matter what she says.

Not to mention how to get a 94-year-old from her bed, to the bathroom, to her sitting room, on the carpet, in the tiny hallway, etc., etc.. So here I am feeling lousy. My head hurts, my ears hurt, my back hurts and I know I am probably blowing things way out of proportion, but I’m feeling overwhelmed and guilty.

They say growing old ain’t for sissies. You know what? Caregiving ain’t for sissies either.

Avatar of Thedogmama

About Thedogmama

Hi, I am a retired only child who, after several years taking care of my parents in another state long distance am now the caregiver to my 94 year old mother. Mom lives with us now and has two of our upstairs bedrooms as her "little apartment". She has extensive osteoarthritis, COPD, CHF and pulmonary hypertension. In the three years she has been living with me she has endured more pain than anyone should have to handle. Because of the arthritis she has had the head of her humerus in her right arm removed to alleviate pain and internal bleeding. It was not reconstructed. This year she fractured her pelvis and the head of the femur fractured off her left leg. The repair of the femur was successful, but her pelvis is deteriorating and cannot support her weight. She is now confined to a wheelchair and her bed. I live in Massachusetts with my Hubby and Mom's cat Molly and our African Grey Parrot Penelope. We have two adult children who adore their grandmother and live about an hour away.

8 thoughts on “Caregiving Ain’t for Sissies

  1. Cathy Mitchell

    I so feel for you. When my mother was alive, I felt so guilty if I couldn’t be there for her 24/7. With my aunt, the last few years, because she lives a few counties away, I am trying not to feel the same way. But it is so hard.

  2. Sue

    I can very much relate to your issue. I live quite a ways away from my parents (my dad is in hospice for dementia and my mom is a cancer survivor who was just “kicked off” chemo because it wasn’t really working against her current tumors, which are inoperable), so they need a lot of help and my sister takes the brunt of it. When I don’t feel good or my daughter is not feeling well, the last thing I want to do is go there. It is exhausting.

    Maybe if you get a diagnosis and restrictions from your appointment tomorrow you can tell the case worker that some alternative has to be given if she isn’t mobile? It seems unfair to you…I hope you can get things figured out as I know the stress is often what leads to the colds and health issues. Sending good thoughts your way.

  3. Avatar of ejourneysejourneys

    TDM, I am so sorry you and your mom are being put between a rock and a hard place. (((Hugs)))

    When my partner twisted her back several years ago, we put our camp toilet to good use. It cut down on a lot of the transportation issues. There are even better portable commodes that come with handrails. There are also temporary ramps available, but I know that slope is still an issue.

    The case manager sounds clueless to me. I wonder if the staff at your back appointment can suggest anything.

    I think you are doing everything you can in light of some very tough obstacles.

  4. Jwillis676

    I can feel your pain with your back, I have had several surgeries on mine and the last three weeks it’s had been killing me. Plus the stress with my mom doesn’t make it any easier. Hope your DR visit goes well, and they can figure the right time for your mom to come home. If you need to make the decision not case manager.

  5. Avatar of RichardRichard

    TDM, At least the big toe on your right foot’s not hurting. We’ll you didn’t say it was. I am so sorry for everything that’s going on with mom. We say this a lot here, “You have to take care of yourself before you can care fore you caree.” That’s so true, but none the less I fully understand where your coming from. I’ve had to do that with mom 2-3 times and felt like crap for it but I knew mom understood and she would be pissed if I did other wise. Don’t beat yourself up or put yourself down for not being able to go to the procedure, she understands and you know she does. Take care, good luck and best wishes to you and mom and may both your appointments provide excellent results. / : ^{ ) >

  6. Juliet C.

    You are absolutely right, caregiving is not for sissies! Feeling guilty is so common among caregivers. There is no such thing as a perfect caregiver, or a perfect parent, I also served as caregiver to my mom. Doing as best you can is a a fantastic help, and it’s enough.

    In your case, I would be brutally honest with the case manager and the nurse, about your back and how much you think you can or cannot do. They may send a visiting nurse to help. They may suggest sources you can access to modify your home (ramps, grad bars etc,). You may chose to hire a private home care agency to send in-home caregivers. We have resources on our blog to guide you through rehab-to-home decisions and upcoming blogs on how caregivers like you can lower your stress. Minute Women Inc .com

    Caregiving was the hardest “job” I ever had. I wish you health, help, and happy moments together.

  7. Avatar of ThedogmamaThedogmama Post author

    Thank you everyone for all the comments and ideas! And yes, Richard, the big toe on my right foot is not hurting! And looking for the positives here (thank you for that) most of the rest of me is feeling better today. Trying to figure out why I was all itchy and snarky (is that a word?) Hubby took the lovely chrysanthemums he had picked for me from the house and took them to work. If my head clears up we will have solved that mystery. My visit to the doc has resulted in the pain subsiding even more today and he says my back is moving more freely and has given me the okay to go to my “Backs & Butts” class this afternoon. The more movement, the more strength the better, just do it gently. For the long run, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room in those vertebrae in my lower back and I do have to protect it. He is more worried about the twisting and awkward positions you can get into helping with transfers than pushing the wheelchair. As you have all said, a sick or hurt caregiver doesn’t do the caree a lot of good. Still waiting for news from Mom and how her test has gone. I just have to be patient and figure things out and quit jumping to conclusions.

    • Avatar of EllysGdaughterEllysGdaughter

      Hurray TDM! I am so glad your back is doing better. Sorry to hear about the chrysanthemums, although good news if they are making your head and throat feel bad! Now, your Mom has got to have some good news soon!!! One thing at a time, today!


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