Blurred Lines

LilMagill

Blurred Lines

LilMagill
colorful-266993_640There is a question on the site about "your caregiving years," but I don't know when mine began or if they have really begun yet, or when my mom stopped caring for me or if she has yet. That's what my title refers to, not that song. When did a feeling of responsibility turn into to worry and then turn into caregiving? Can I even call myself a caregiver if my mom is still pretty much independent? But the accident this summer was a major wake-up call to my role as family caregiver and a taste of what may be called for on down the road. Right now, I'm responsible for these things, in no particular order:

-driving her to the doctor and attending the appointments, listening to what the doctors say and asking questions and remembering

-making sure she feels loved and cared for and not lonely

-making sure she has social engagement by driving her to church and visits and inviting friends here (and cooking for them!)

-making sure she has food to prepare or to eat (that I prepare)

-answering her questions about the things she can't remember and reminding her of plans on a regular basis

-checking to see if she took her meds and insulin

-deciding whether or not she can drive safely once she starts again, post-accident (SCARRRRRY)

-doing her laundry

-washing and putting away her dishes

My husband's job is to take care of the technical/non-emotional things: fix her computer when it crashes, install things like her shelves and the shower grab bar, and drive on long trips.

My son's jobs are keeping her company and making sure she can work the remote controls! Charter changed their delivery system and made us install cable boxes and new remotes - but we now have to use two remotes, one for the cable box and one for the TV (volume and input). Of course, there's a third one for the DVD player. Only my son knows how they all work. Right now they are watching Big together downstairs - remember that 80s classic?

And my mom still cares for us. She gives company to my son when he's bored with whatever I'm doing. She gives him all her love and approval of whatever he does! She makes my coffee every morning. She listens to me when I'm upset and gives me advice. She loves me and cares what happens to me even if she doesn't remember my stories in detail from one day to the next.

This morning, I mentioned our upcoming trip to see my cousins, her nephew and his wife. We've had this on the calendar since before her accident, and fairly often, though not daily, I commented, "I really hope you'll be well enough to make the trip to see G. and D." But this morning, she said, "Oh, I didn't know we were going to see them. That's a surprise!" I know I shouldn't correct her, but my instinct was to defend myself. I wouldn't make a plan like that without involving her from the beginning! So I said, "Well, we talked about it," and then she felt bad about her memory. And I felt bad. . .

And she couldn't remember when the accident happened. Was it a week ago? Two weeks? (It was a month.) She remembers the last doctor's appointment, but not the ones before. She goes over the accident again and again in her mind and tells me about it daily. How did she fall? Why did she only hurt one leg and not the other? Why can't she remember what happened? Did she go to the ER? Did she see her internist? She has been on this mental track almost since the accident. I go over the story for her. I wrote it down, a chronology, and this morning I found that piece of paper and showed it to her again.

Those exchanges made me feel so depressed all day. But this evening, I was talking with her about my plans for organizing and needing some shelves, not being able to picture exactly what I need. I reminisced about how well she could always see space in her head and rearrange a room just in her imagination and have the result work out perfectly. She talked about craft projects she had done and how much she enjoyed them, and how interesting it is that people's gifts are so different from birth. It was a great conversation that made me feel strongly that she is still with me.

My biggest struggles as a caregiver are emotional right now. Maybe it is always like that for everyone. No matter how hard the physical work may be, the emotional part - the exhaustion, the worry, the grief, the depression - is harder.

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Kimberly

Reading your paragraphs refreshed memories from when the physical labor didn't matter because I was doing it so my mom could go do something and have fun, usually with me right along with her having fun. Those are the moments to enjoy and remember. Those good moments are the ones that make the harder moments worth bearing through.

Dawn

Wow, this sounds so much like my life with my mother right now, too. The non-physical part is definitely harder.

LilMagill

Thanks so much for the kind comments_mysql. Blogging here is really therapeutic for me, and I appreciate you reading and commenting!

jan

What a huge amount of insight, thought, contemplation, meditation, consideration, this post reveals. You are giving your heart and soul here.\r\nIt is hard work. And like having a baby, and you can't imagine what it will be like the down the road, it's like that with the caregiver path. You can't imagine it. \r\nI'm so happy for you that there is such give and take, and you realize it. That is a gift.