March 5, 2017

The Joys of Being A Caregiver

Last week, I called Mom - after all, I was planning to visit and wanted to give her a heads-up. After one call went to voice mail, I waited and called response. After calling a neighbor to ask her to check in on Mom, I made my way....and Mom was in bed.

Short form: Mom had fallen from the toilet and spent the night on the bathroom floor. And that's not a joke.

After arriving and finding Mom in bed, I talked her into heading into the hospital. We tried to get her to the bathroom via office chair...and she fell. Again.

So last Sunday I got to ride in an ambulance and stayed with Mom until the late hours. She's been in the hospital the past week, and she has an infection in her foot.

The toughest part about all of this - dealing with others' reactions. Fueled by adrenalin and worry, it takes longer to rebuild emotional boundaries. So little things like unsolicited advice become major hassles. Questions become interrogations. Relatives and acquaintances get blocked on Facebook.

(I'm not kidding on that later part)

That's part of the reason why my blogging's been close to nonexistent - it's hard to keep up writing when life gets in the way. It's also the one thing that so many people who want to help....end up failing miserably.
Haven't Got What It Takes?
First, if you know someone like me, before you offer advice...ask first. Earlier this afternoon, I was discussing my mother's treatment with a colleague who then entered into a half lecture/half rant about what I should do in order to help my mother. If I ask for advice, I can listen; if I don't, all you're really doing is being obnoxious. And that's not cool.

I've been asked why I don't simply "move in" with Mom to care for her full time. Ironically, if I were to do so, they would complain as to why I don't move out and get "real work". But the simple truth is that Mom and I don't want to live together, and that Mom has care needs that I am unqualified to provide. (This is not offered as an excuse....but as truth).

And of course, there's the natural tendency to offer a sentiment like "God never puts anything on your shoulders that you can't handle." First, I'm not quite sure God is a chess master who manipulates human beings. (That's coming from a man who raised Catholic and educated by Jesuits). But it also makes it sound like this is easy....

...and that's further from the truth.

So I'm writing this post because....well, maybe it's because I get frustrated at being unable to articulate these feelings. If you're a friend of mine who feels surprised and shocked that I never said this before, let me finish with this thought:

When I talk about caregiving, I don't expect you to brainstorm solutions or ask me what I've tried.

If I want advice, I'll ask for it. If I don't ask for it, don't give it.

And most of all, the most I will ever ask is that you hear me. Because being a caregiver can be terribly isolating, and I just need to connect with another human being.

Enough of the emo - back to blogging shenanigans.

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