Confessions of a First-Time Caregiver - Part 6

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Confessions of a First-Time Caregiver - Part 6

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wristwatch-407096_64060-Day Itch

I just made two months as a family caregiver. A week in the hospital, 20 days in rehab (miss that place) and the rest at home. Home care, I'm sure you all know, has been the most taxing of them all and I find myself fending off anxiety daily.

My dad's rehab facility was as good as they come. The staff was accommodating and courteous, and there were quite a few standouts -- stars if you will. No. Angels.

As I watched those angels at work, caring for my father, my blood ran cold at the thought of the level of care he could need after this short stay. I did my share of work while there, too. I even helped out with the woman across the hall who kept wheeling her chair into a corner every other day. But even though my shifts ranged from 8, 10, and on occasion 14 hours (we never left Dad alone during the day), I always had plenty of back up.

I wished they'd prepared us a little better for what was to come. Sure they taught us how to transition Dad from bed to wheelchair safely, but they didn't tell us much about how to organize our time, how to not burn ourselves out, delegate responsibility and all the other things that come with caring for someone at home.

This has been a special kind of hell for me. At times, I feel imprisoned, not able to watch my T.V. shows, listen to my music, talk on the phone or go to my favorite spots (as I write this, I hear the sour sounds a fallen-then-forgiven televangelist wailing from downstairs). This is not my scene. I'm a city-boy. Currently, I'm in a 5-mile radius of cows.

I feel bad for complaining. One, because I should be fine caring for my loved one, right? Two, because I work from home and so far, I've been able to continue with my career in between keeping an 81-year old man out of danger and mischief. Three, I've been going home on the weekends. But that has been a bit like a job; I go to the gym (I've lost 10 pounds of muscle. I was only 177 to begin with. Not good.), I go to the grocery store, I cook, do laundry, and clean, do some work and catch up on a few shows.

What I haven't been able to do is catch up with people. I was in the process of rebuilding my social circle when Dad's stroke hit. I was days away from entertaining several new friends in my home, solidifying and celebrating new friendships. And most heartbreaking, I was working with a dating service on a date with someone very promising.

Next year, I'm 50. I'm terrified that when I come out of this, there will be nothing and no one left for me. My life was already too isolated, too safe and too single. Now, it feels stagnant, draining, heavy. My siblings have spouses, children and homes. I can't help but wonder, What will become of me?

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Denise

You will become.\r\n\r\nYou will become more compassionate, more understanding, more empathetic. You will become the one others love to love. \r\n\r\nYou will become.

LauraCT

I can totally relate to feeling like you aren't prepared properly. I felt the same way, but I'm not sure if anyone could have properly prepared me since every situation is different. One thing I found, getting into a routine and sticking to it is very helpful for me and my sanity - my thoughts go elsewhere when I go through the routine, and I really think my Dad does better in a routine too, especially with his dementia. \r\n\r\nAs far as the TV goes. My cable has an app where I can watch my shows on my smart phone or tablet, you may want to check yours out to see if they offer that too. Earbuds are great!! They block the sound right out and you can focus on something you enjoy. I also recommend the Pandora app.\r\n\r\nMost of all I just want to remind you this is a season. You will get through this, and you will rebuild your life. God is going to use every bit of this to grow you and make you a better person. I'm not just saying this, I truly believe it for you!! Now is the time to call on your faith, and ask for help from others in your family when you need it. Also, see if you can get some respite from the visiting nurse company that you are using for your dad. Even if it's a couple of hours a week you can use it to unwind and catch up with a friend.\r\n\r\nHang in there Mike! I don't think you will look back and regret helping your parents. =)

BeccaB

I understand as I downsized at 45 (quit my job, sold my condo, sold my furniture) and moved back into my parents' house. \"What will become of me?\" was a question I faced for the first time and it caused anxiety so now I work on just pushing that thought out of my mind. Not always easy but it does help. I am still trying to figure it all out so I don't have any solid advice.... I would like to say this though, since you go home on the weekends - LIVE NOW. Do everything you want or nothing at all! Or change it up when you need to. Leave Mon-Fri behind during those weekends. \r\n\r\nI hope this doesn't sound preachy because i am in no position to preach, but re the tv shows. ... if they are engaged, let the sounds go in one ear and out the other.\r\n\r\nAll the best to you. TGIF. :-)