My Caregiver's Heart


My Caregiver's Heart

(Editor's Note: We welcome Kathy, who cared for her parents and her brother, to our blogging team today. Be sure to connect with Kathy on her profile page: @kathleen.)

heart-1137266_640During my caregiving journey, I had the role of caring for my mom, dad and brother. My mom, at the five-year free mark of cancer, suffered a massive stroke, which left her paralyzed. Because her cancer was throat, she never spoke another word. My father had bladder, kidney and prostate cancer. He was placed on dialysis when both his kidneys were removed after he lost his bladder and required an ostomy bag. My brother was born mentally challenged and suffered from COPD. The three of them lived together in another town about 30 minutes from where I lived. I spent my days working full time, my nights either at my place (usually catching up on work that I didn't get done during the day) or theirs, and my weekends doing a few chores, sometimes in both homes. I remember spending many Sundays cooking dinners for the week at their house and then driving home and cooking dinner for my guys. We have four kids and three of them still lived at home.

I am now what is know as The Godspeed Caregiver. My mom passed away January 9, 2011.  My father passed November 10, 2012, and my brother passed December 26, 2012.

I spent many years caring for them, being there, listening, crying, wondering, making doctor appointments, holding hands, attending appts/surgeries, monitoring meds, cleaning stomas. You get the drift. My heart, at the time, was all over the map. My vacations days consisted of many caregiving moments and hours, sometimes the entire day. I did what I had to do and I made the best of the situation. Does that mean I didn't get pissy, place my head into my hands and shake back and forth when the phone rang? Nope. I did. There were times when I let the call go to voicemail as I knew it was my dad complaining about one thing or another and I was tired. I really didn't feel like calling family with an update because, well, sometimes there wasn't anything new or different. And sometimes, I felt bad when I would answer a call, and it was a relative asking how my dad and brother were doing that day and I didn't have a clue because earlier I LET THE PHONE GO TO VOICEMAIL!!!    Yikes!

Sometimes I really didn't think I was nice -- I mean really, who doesn't answer the damn phone when you are the primary caregiver! Geez, someone should slap me.

I thought I needed to do more, be more. Why was I sitting reading a book? I should pick my ass up and get down there! Surely there was something that needed to be done at their place. Someone there needed to talk, take a bath, have tea made, something.. Stop wasting time, I would think!

I have a new thought now: I was allowing my caregivers heart to breath.
I didn't waste time; I stopped, I sat, and I gave my heart a moment. I was treating the heart during caregiving.

This thought fits. It's actual, it's honest and it's kind.

Thanks for reading.
Be kind to yourself
Warm wishes

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Kathy, thank you!! I *really* needed this today. I feel guilty when there is so much to do and yet I take a break, but it is truly necessary to take breaks.


I love this post, Kathy!!\r\n\r\nI've been meaning to mention to you that I care for my dad, who had his bladder and one kidney removed because of bladder cancer. It's nice to connect with someone who understands that experience of ostomy care with your dad. :)\r\n\r\nAnd, so glad you let guilt stay in the past. The heart hurts during caregiving and it needs time to heal, which is just what you did.