The Day In the Life of a Caregiver

My husband always has to remind me to say I’m a full time caretaker instead of just saying, “I don’t work.”  I just take it for grant it that what I do is full time work, and then some.  I am at work taking care of my mom 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with the exception of Saturday when we hire an aid to babysit her for a few hours.

Every morning I get up and I take a deep breath and prepare myself for the ffe176b77d526f7499845409b4d83f90worst.  I slowly open her bedroom door expecting her to be passed away.  Sometimes I have to stand there for a few seconds and wait to see her chest rise and fall, then I can exhale.  Every morning I get her up and make her a cup of coffee and some pancakes.  I have to shut the door while she eats or she will give it all to the dogs; Her appetite is basically gone.    I have to remind her every day to brush her teeth and her hair, and then I let her pick out her own clothes for the day.  Then she sits. She sits for 10 hours or more every day just watching old cowboy shows.  Ill ask her if she wants to go outside and she will say no; she’s afraid to walk since she is nearly completely blind and has lost the feeling in her feet.

Every day I straighten up her room, and weekly we dust and vacuum and scrub.  I empty her trash, make her meals, clean her dishes, fill her water up, and give her supplements and pills.  I do this every day, day after day, week after week.  I rarely leave the house for fear she will fall again.  And if I do leave, I worry the entire time, even though we have cameras in the house. I feel like am abandoning her if I leave.  I worry about people – its one of my character flaws.

Sometimes we have over the top events that make me want to run away, or get drunk, or eat a cake, or do anything self destructive to not think. Today is one of these days.  15 minutes ago I started to smell the strong nauseating smell of human waste.  I knew something horrible awaited me in her room.  I walked in to find she has pooped on the toilet and on the floor, then she walked in it to her chair. There was poop on the carpet, and on her recliner.  Then, to make matters worse, while I walked away to get cleaning materials, one of the dogs ATE most of it.  No, they wont eat their dog food half the time but they will eat crap!  Sick.  So now Im nauseated and pissed off, but I cant say a word because I don’t want to humiliate my mom.  I just calmly say “I see you had an accident, lets clean this up ok?”  I get her in the shower and start cleaning. OMG, there is poop all over her recliner and luckily I have a professional and a portable small steam cleaner.  I get her dirty clothes into the washer and chuck the pants – they are too far gone.  But while Im cleaning I start to think about all the things I do for my mom – and it’s a lot.  Its also a thankless job, but I do it day in and day out because it’s the right thing to do. However, we might be getting to the point where I cant care for her full time – but its almost that same decision you have to make when your pet gets old. Putting my mom into assisted living is a serious decision – and one I probably would have made already if she was on medicaid.  Medicare wont pay for nursing homes unless you have medicare insurance. So today Im going to spend time applying for medicaid for her.  The other problem is the ONLY nursing home up here is full.  We are number 17 on the list – so that means I have to wish for 17 people to die to get her admitted.

For today I wont eat cake, or drink, or do anything else unhealthy to avoid.  Instead, as soon as I get her dressed again, Im going to head out on my bike, park someplace, and then go for a walk.  I need to get out – get away – clear my head, and my bike is like magic for these situations.  In a few minutes my mind will be concentrated on deeply leaning the bike to a 20 mile per hour curve – And for that Im grateful.  Im also grateful my dogs are healthy, my husband has an amazing job, and I have my health.  I have to keep focused on what I do have  and be grateful.  If I allow myself to get too wound up in these depressing emotions they will literally eat me up inside.

So, I will take a lunch break from my “job” and go take some me time.

Advice To My Younger Self Is My Advice To You

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I am no expert on life; I am no mystic, or coach, or guru, or anyone who claims to have the answer to all of life problems. But, what I do have is a lifetime of experience making mistakes, doing bad things, and having bad things done to me. I have made the same mistakes over and over again until I finally started learning from them during therapy.  I learned to forgive myself for my continual blunders.  I also realized that people who do bad things to specifically harm another are sick and it has nothing to do with me. They do bad things to people in hopes of hurting them as much as they hurt inside, or they have no conscience or remorse and it’s all about their needs and wants. The point is, I have had a very tough life and I survived it and continue to learn and thrive.  I want to share my life experiences in hopes that it will help someone, maybe even you.

My therapist gave me a life changing homework assignment.  He asked me to take some quiet time and to close my eyes and think about what I would say to my younger self.  He assigned me three pivotal times in my life; when I was raped at three, molested at 11, and drug raped in Las Vegas by strangers at 19.  He told me to imagine me sitting there my younger self in front of me.  What would you say to three your old Stefi?  To 11 year old Stefi? And 19 year old Stef? What word advice would you give her? What loving words of support would you say to her?  He said to imagine hugging my previous self and telling her that I would always be here for her, and that nothing that happened to her was her fault.  I also told my younger self that all mistakes are forgiven.  It’s a powerful lesson in forgiving yourself and letting go of past hurts.  It’s also empowering to know that you are now a more mature self that can go back and help heal the wounds of your past. Try it.  Pick a mistake or a time in your life when something life changing happened at any age, even last week.  Then close your eyes and offer kind words to yourself. Be nice, offer words of encouragement, and then give yourself a hug and say, “All is forgiven.”  Even if you did something horrible, there is no point in beating yourself up forever – it does no good to anyone. Instead continue to forgive yourself and let go.

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I think the best advice I would give to my younger self is the same advice I would give to most young ladies – stop making “getting a man” (or woman) your top priority in life!  You will find the right one. You will find love.  Just stop putting so much effort into it getting it right now.    Stop chasing love like butterflies.  Instead, take all of that energy and time and work on you.  Figure out what you want out of life and go for it!  Find out the things that make you happy, and chase those dreams. Want to be a doctor? An engineer?  A hair dresser?  An athlete?  Focus on those goals and the love part will come later, I promise. We have this stupid fantasy that there is only one true love of our life and we have to always be ready to find our prince charming.  Bullshit. Guess what ladies? There are lots of princes out there.  I don’t believe in the one true love – otherwise how do you explain people finding amazing partners after a divorce?  A very small amount of people do find that very true love right off the bat and stay married most of the life, but that is the exception.  For the most part we find love and often it goes away, but we find another love.  People swear before God that he or she is the one true and only love of their life and they get married. Then a few years later they’re going through a bitter divorce.  It happens. We love, it ends, but we often find another love if we are ready for it to happen.

Very important – don’t put all your hopes into a marriage or a partner to rescue you and make your life great – that’s a fantasy. Instead, go and find you. Discover all the good, and the bad things about yourself, and be honest about it.  Then you can be open to finding a partner who is comfortable in who they are.  You don’t want to be the strong one who has to carry the other person, nor do you want someone who is stronger that is always trying to fix you. That is parasitic and co-dependent and will drain you or the partner.   My point is doing go looking for love for the sake of being in love or not being alone.  Instead wait for is a partner that loves you, treats you with respect, honors you, lets you have your freedoms, and encourages you to be the best. Don’t settle for some guy just because he’s there and you’re lonely. And please don’t do that to a partner, it’s cruel. Don’t keep him hanging around so you won’t be bored or alone.  Be honest and real and just let him go and let him find true love.

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Oh and ladies – when a man has sex with you does not always mean he loves you. Heck, he might not even like you. But, there are some men that will feed you a line of BS just to satisfy their needs.  These men are out there, and unfortunately they are the ones you see most in the clubs and are the guys who always seem to get the hot chicks. They have their lines down pat and know how to get a girl to lower her panties with sweet words. These guys are narcissists – avoid them like the plague. Instead, it’s those quieter guys, the ones that often get overlooked, those are usually are the ones you want.  These guys often get put into the friend zone because they don’t come on strong enough, soon enough.   That’s because they actually want to get to know you.  These are the guys with self-respect, dignity, and a good heart. The guy that is respectful, romantic, and treats you like he wants to be treated. This is the guy who you have a lot in common with.  It’s also the guy you can talk open and honestly with – the one you can bare your soul to and he still loves and supports you and would never use that against you.  He’s the guy that likes the same things you do.  You’re the couple that gives each other freedoms and you trust that person not do  anything that would hurt you.  You trust them in all situations.

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Unfortunately, a lot of the times, we girls, just like guys, we go for that super-hot, super-sexy man and try to make a relationship out of it – even if he is a jerk and we have nothing in common with him. So in your quest for love – don’t forget the nice guys, the guys that sometimes end up in that friend zone. Because I can tell you from my own experience, being married to your best friend (as long as there is a sexual connection) is the best thing ever!

I know we all want love, it’s so wonderful when you are in it. But often in our quest we settle or we try to make love out of something that is abusive, or demeaning, or just not right, purely for the sake of being in love. That’s not love – that’s delusional and self-abusive.

Advice To My Younger Self Is My Advice To You:

  • You will find true love, I promise, don’t settle.
  • If you partner doesn’t respect you, it’s not love.
  • If your partner doesn’t support your dreams – he doesn’t support you – move on.
  • If he puts you down, belittles you, humiliates you, says mean snarky comments to you, it’s not love
  • Fighting all the time is not love.
  • If he hits you, it’s definitely not love.
  • If he cheats, dump him
  • If he lies, dump him and stop chasing.
  • Breakups HURT! They suck, they are painful, and often we will try to get back into a bad relationship just to not feel the pain or jump into new one. Don’t do it!  Just feel it, vent to friends, talk to a therapist, let the emotions run its course, and then go back and do the homework above – imagine yourself at the break up and give yourself comforting words.  Tell yourself it will all be ok and you will find love again.  After a break up we feel we will never find love again – that is a lie.  If you work on yourself, work on being a better person, and don’t go hunting for love because you don’t want to be alone, eventually you will find it again if you open up and make yourself vulnerable to being hurt all over again.

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  • Lust is not love. All that mushy stuff will fade over time.  Find someone you enjoy being with all the time – even when sitting around doing nothing.
  • If this wonderful great relationship later turns into any of the above, end it and move on. There are other princes out there.
  • Focus on what you want – be it working out, a great career, college, riding a motorcycle, or whatever else makes you happy (other than chasing men) – just go for it.  Don’t let anyone stop you.
  • Honest love is out there – but you have to be ok with yourself first.  Take the time to love you and do the things you love to do. Go to therapy, hire a life coach, and find some sort of support system to always keep growing and learning about yourself. Read books, lots of books, especially on relationships and self-growth. Always work on bettering yourself, because if you do, you will find a partner that wants nothing but the best for you as well.
  • While you are waiting for love, keep active.  Go out with friends, make date night with your girlfriends, find clubs to join, join a gym, do anything, and be active.
  • Take 15 minutes out of your life to write down what your idea partner looks like – not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and personality wise. What does he act like? What are traits you want in a partner? Focus on all the things you want and then raise your standard without being unrealistic.  “I want him to worship me, make a million dollars a year, drive a lambo, workout 3 hours a day, and cater to my ever need” Sorry, those girls are called professional gold diggers and they spend a lot of time and money having the right look to catch a guy who wants arm candy.  Unrealistic.

I have dated every shade of asshole that is out there.  I have been lied to, cheated on, hit, and verbally abused.  I kept with the relationship, because as a guest on Jerry Springer would say “I loved him!”  No, I just thought I could never do better, or that I would never find anyone to love me.  Not true. There are lots of loves out there – it’s just finding the right one is not as easy to find.  So relax, work on you, get out there and keep active, and I promise you – one day love will come.  However – if you have issues and you don’t work on them via therapy or some other method to self-evolve – you may end up like me for a while – dating the same losers over and over and over again.  Take the time to work you, and fix anything that you don’t like – then you will be ready for love.

By the way, if you are a guy reading this, it applies to you equally as well.  Stop chasing love, work on you, stay active, focus on what you want in a relationship, and eventually it will come to you.

If you have gotten this far, repeat after me.  “I am beautiful and lovable, and I deserve to have an honest, respectful, loving relationship.”