Juggling Caregiving Duties

Goldie

Juggling Caregiving Duties

Goldie
My caregiving duties have been crisscrossing each other to the point where I'm afraid one day I'll drop my parents off at kindergarten, take the puppies to get their dentures repaired, and serve Ensure to our grandchildren. At the end of the phone call with my parent's doctor, she told me to be sure and take care of myself. Longevity seems to be inherited, so I should plan on living into my 90's. If I hadn't been in bed with a migraine, I might have thought of something witty to say back to her. She is a good doctor and I understood what she was trying to say. It's just that... well, we know how easy it is to take care of ourselves when we're at the beck and call of our carees.

Do I have to be at the beck and call of my parents? I'm working on that one. Of course, I thought having them in assisted living would solve this. It doesn't and this coming week, my dad has two appointments. I could just insist he take the bus, which is provided by the PACE program and is door to door. The first appointment is with the cardiologist. I want to know what the doctor says. The other appointment is at the clinic with the audiologist. I also want to know, first hand, how much he can hear. Once things settle down (don't laugh), maybe I can relax, my sibs can relax, and I won't feel the need to be at all their appointments. Right.

Do I have to be ready to care for our grandchildren at any moment? No, but knowing just how challenging it is to cope with chronic health issues, we want to be as proactive as possible and give their mom time to rest. Our daughter-in-law was able to go to a 2 week health retreat in Ann Arbor, Michigan in April. It was good for her, but she had somewhat unrealistic expectations about how much it would help her. It brought up more questions. She hasn't gotten her test results back yet, but there's a possibility she does not have true bipolar disorder, but chronic Lyme disease. I'm learning a lot. Her health retreat overlapped with our son's poetry conference, so both mom and dad were out of town for a few days. Writing poetry is our son's way of expressing himself and staying sane. He had won a scholarship for this conference and he had to go.

I love our grandchildren very much, but staying with a 4-year-old, 5 1/2-year-old, and 7-year-old is exhausting. Staying with them when mom has been away for two weeks and papa is also out of town.. well, they were stretched to the limit of their coping skills. We are familiar enough, they are not shy about acting out their frustrations with us. But, in spite of this, we did okay. They know their routine well and the first night they were all asleep by 7;30 pm. The pets were another matter and the cat decided to sleep with me. I'm not used to cats, so I got very little sleep. The second night was a sleepover at our house, complete with the excitement of being allowed to watch a movie. The next morning, April 29, we woke up to ten inches of snow. We had to pack everything up and go back to their house in order to take care of their chickens and goats.

By mid-afternoon, I'm afraid Grandma was a little short on patience. We had read stories, had lunch and snacks, played games, and had rest time. It was the last item which tried my patience as they all suddenly were very wound up. Grandma was firm and eventually, the children rested. (Graaammma... is it time to wake up yet?)

At 3:30, their other grandmother was coming to take over for the evening. She hadn't seen the children for several months as her job takes her across the country to work for long periods of time. She came in with bags of presents for each of them plus fudgesicles. One present each of them received was a large magnifying glass. The oldest came to me excitedly. He had found a story book and showed me how "You could read the words with this, Grandma!" He's right. In order to read story to them, I have to make sure they are sitting just right, the light is shining on the book, my glasses halfway down my nose, and the book about 8 inches from my face. The magnifying glass would be very helpful.

Their other grandmother is several years older than I am, but right then, I felt like the old, old grouchy granny. When do I get to take care of myself?

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