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 worst. 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.