Mom's Two Cents


Mom's Two Cents

penny-2023_640This week has been so incredibly difficult. My mom is back on another round of antibiotics for C. diff. (I think I will blog about this experience separately as there are some comical components in it.)

On top of all of the routine (and not so routine) caregiving, I will be driving eight-plus hours to ensure that my mom, my daughter and I see one of my sisters. For context, Sister #3 shared Mom's caregiving duties with me until May of 2013.  This year, my sister battles Stage IV Lung Cancer and has not been doing well.  My brother-in-law focuses on my sister's COPD symptoms mostly and the RN in me knows the gravity of the cancer diagnosis. Last week, the results of her latest CT scan came back and the tumor is back at the primary lung site and it also showed several enlarged lymph nodes again. The tumor sits at the base of her bronchial stem and it is not possible to do any further radiation to that site. She also had chemo when she was first diagnosed a few years ago. Things were going okay until they discovered lesions on her brain earlier this year. She had radiation to the brain mets. Since August, she has been weaker. I wonder if she will even be a candidate for chemo this time around. She is a full-code at this time and has little insight into her disease. My brother-in-law is either in denial or is trying to put on a strong front for all to see. He told my sister "Look, you just concentrate on fighting and I will do the worrying." Sissy did just that except that now she is saying that she is sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I feel like a complete failure in my caregiving duties this week. As she fights such a horrendous enemy and Mom deals with urgent diarrhea, I loathe the feeling of caregiver burnout. What right do I have to feel sorry for myself when she is fighting for her life and poor mom has another accident because she can't make it to the bathroom in time? As a result of the stress, I have been very impatient with Mom since Tuesday. Mom's needs seem so trivial at this time. When my mom (with her vascular dementia) starts obsessing over where the dime and two pennies from her purse went, I find myself snapping back to tell her ...yet again... that she already put it away.

Since I spend all of my time with Mom, I have been honest about my sister's illness. She sees me cry. Since my mom has always been the most stoic person I know, I can't read if she understands the situation fully or if she is pushing it out of her mind. I must remind myself every time I respond to my mom that if I am feeling incredibly sad, she must be too and is just coping differently.

Last night when I put Mom to bed, she started in with comments about the change collection (including the dime and two pennies) that she keeps under her bed. She then had me account for each container of coins as each collection has a purpose. This time, there was a singular five dollar bill in an old peanut butter jar that was previously filled with silver coins. I asked her what this was for and she said, "I hope we don't need to use it but it is the undertaker fund since your sister doesn't have insurance." Then at that moment, I realized, she understands, she understands all to well.

I rubbed her shoulder and she moved on to the next command in her nightime routine.

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I really don't know what to say, except, \"Uh-huh, I'm with you, Sister.\"


Oh, you're going through so much. I really feel for you.


Wow. \r\n\r\nWhat a touching, poignant post. We think of a disease, like dementia, as stealing so much. And, yet, we're often reminded that the disease can't steal who we are. Your mom will always be a mom, worried about her children.\r\n\r\nI would say that you are a complete success. \r\n\r\nThinking of on this journey. Let us know as you can how the visit goes.