Failure Is Not An Option


Failure Is Not An Option

I think today was the first time in two years that I wanted to cry. Other people who know my mother have looked at her and said, "Boy, she just makes me want to cry". I'm pretty sure my sister has cried. But until today I have been sitting upright on the seat in the Crazy Train, and watching the landscape go by.

The tears were not from seeing her decline or knowing about the loss of the person who will never be again like the friends and neighbors are experiencing. Or even realizing our mom is gone and won't participate in anything we share as a family again, like my sister might feel.

The tears came from my first realization that I have failed my duty, not succeeded at my job. I always give every job I ever took on my very best effort; was always raised that way and taught our kids to do the same. Even when no one else is looking, you have to give it your best and live by a higher standard. I've poured out myself for other jobs to the point where it is practically unhealthy and certainly not recognized or appreciated.

This caregiving job is like a voracious rabid animal. I try to do everything right, and by every accounting, I should be doing better than this. I'm in good health. I try to watch what I eat. I take vitamins and fiber supplements. I floss. I try to walk daily and exercise. I listen to swinging jazzy music and burn lavender-scented candles. I have a caregiver come weekly to allow me to keep appointments and get out of the house. I go to bed at 8 o'clock. I have an amazing, loving, supernatural husband and wonderful, sympathetic daughters. I have a brand-new healthy hilarious granddaughter who I get to see often. I know I have the unconditional support of the caregiving family on this website and the encouragement of Denise, which is my lifeline. I live in continual sunshine. By every measure I should be bitch-slapped and sent to bed without my supper.

Today, my mother refused her medications. She's been hinky-ing around with them for a couple weeks, both in the morning and night, and always in the past I could still get her to take them. I try to think like a demented person; what is this woman putting in my hand? What does this woman want me to do? I have followed all the rules, read the books, adhered to the suggestions. And my mother spit the medicines into the garbage and started screaming for me to get out.

Fast-forward in my mind: it's not like she has any of the Big Dogs like cancer or diabetes or high blood pressure or the kinds of conditions i read about on this website. Without her thyroid medicine, in time her overall condition will worsen; without prednisone she will feel more pain; without the anti-depressant and anti-psychotic, her behaviors will be even less "moderated" than they are right now (God Forbid). Nothing here is going to kill her, and the lack thereof will just slowly decrease her quality of life. Hasten her passing? I don't know.

It felt like a watershed moment. Maybe the first of many watersheds but thankfully I'm ignorant of them right now. I had to talk myself out of it, remind myself it's not my fault, I didn't fail. "Don't cry."

Sometimes I wish I had my mother's memory, although I have serious doubts about all this short-term/long term nonsense. I think she remembers just fine because she can sure hold a grudge and she knows when I'm mad. I wish I could forget the mounting horrible awful confrontations we're having and just pretend like we're two wild and crazy chicks enjoying the Florida sun.


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I think you are a hero and I admire your dedication. It is not easy and I am in day one of the harder times. You give me freedom to realize it is ok to cry and be human. thank you


I'm sorry you're having such a tough go of it. I'm glad you felt comfortable sharing your feelings with us. I hope it helped to talk it over with us. A good cry is one of the most underrated tools we caregivers have. Don't be afraid to use it. Give yourself permission to have a watershed moment. I know it feels so awful right now but I know you will pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue doing the amazing job you are doing. And by the way, to me dementia is just as much one of the Big Dogs as cancer or any other illness, disease or condition for that matter. It's just as difficult and painful and challenging for the caregiver regardless of the illness.

John Parks-Coleman

Jan, you are definitely NOT failing; in fact, you are the antithesis of failing, your are a human, with emotions, a heart and soul, and feelings - which makes you a whole pack of AWESOME! \r\nThere are times when you need to cry, you absolutely MUST cry -- the feelings of frustration with the situation can be overwhelming, as a Caregiver (especially when you provide care for a loved one). What helps me get through, personally, is something that my Wife said to me in a moment of her own frustration, \"John, you feel frustrated? So do I, we are on two ends of the same rope working to untie this \"knot\", and sometimes we get crossed over one another.\"\r\nJan, you are not failing, you are part of the rope...relax and let that knot loosen up. You're doing great, and I'm obviously not the only one who knows that about you.


You are not failing! Crying like that is a very therapeutic and by crying it does not mean that you are a failure! In face it is good for us to cry like that.\r\nHugs from Kansas!\r\nMaria

Lillie Fuller

I'm sorry you're feeling that way! My dad had dementia and even though he was in a care home I was there each day with him, for several hours. He did the same thing with his meds, he would hide them in his dentures or just spit them out. Can they be crushed, can you give her the meds with chocolate pudding or peanut butter, maybe applesauce? Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly. I appreciate you and all you do for this group, which includes me!

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