I think I was hard wired from the day that I was born to be a caregiver. I have always taken care of others without giving two thoughts. I think that is also because I had the best role model and teacher growing up, my Grandmother.
They thing about Caregivers is they have a really big heart, they appear to be strong people that can handle anything that is thrown in front of them. In all actuality, most Caregivers feel like they are crumbling away inside, that they don’t have a moment to breath and that the don’t have as broad shoulders as everyone thinks they do, but on the outside it appears they have it all together like a super hero.
Well, that describes how people perceive me as a very strong person. I have been told over and over and through the years that I am strong and they don’t know how I do it. As matter of fact, I don’t know how I do it either.
I remember this one time when I was taking care of the man that raised me (my Dad). I really thought I was going to lose it. It was when I got the third call of the day from Life Alert, you know the commercial…”Hey, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. Every time they called me it was at the request of my Dad. The don’t automatically send an ambulance out if they can speak with the client and they tell them it is non emergent and not life threatening. He was trying to get me to come over to his house, which I had told him earlier that I would there in a little bit. I told him I couldn’t come right away that I had to run a couple of errands but as soon as I was done I would be there.
So, I pulled into a parking of a shopping center where I needed to return and purchase. My phone rang again and the caller ID displayed Life Alert again… They said it’s not an emergency but your Dad needs to get in touch with you. I told them okay and that I would get in touch with him. I hung up the phone and just started balling my eyes out. I was at my breaking point because I didn’t get any help from family. It was always on me that was taking care of everything.
So, like always I dropped everything that I was doing and went to his house to check on him. He was in no danger and he really didn’t need a thing, just lonely and medicated. His pain management doctor had put him on a new med that alter his mental state. He was alert but was in a state of confusion.
The tough part of being a caregiver to a love one is watching a strong person deteriorate and able to do the things they once use to do. This man had been strong and rule the house, “it was always his way or no way”. He always provided and took care of us. But after my Grandmother (Mom) passed away, he became extremely needy, lonely and his health continue to decline.
My phone would ring non-stop from him reminding me to get something from the store, pick up his mail or medication, need to go to the doctor, hospital or something else…he ran me ragged because of his loneliness. I always would say to myself when ever he would call me for nonsense reason, that “One day, this phone isn’t going to ring anymore”. Between God and counseling, I survived taking care of him.
I was a caregiver for both of my parents for 8 straight years, 3 years for both of them until my Grandmother died and another 5 years for him. These people raised and loved me, how could I not be their caregiver. I can’t believe my biological mother had an issue with me taking care of him. Doesn’t make sense, he took care of me for all of those years. I felt it was a honor to take care of them in return. It broke my heart because their children really didn’t jump in to help, only on a rare occasion. It also broke my heart because these were strong and loving individuals that became sick, weak and frail and I had a front row seat to watch the deterioration.
When my Dad went to my Grandmother’s (Mom) funeral, he was on a walker, it was difficult for him to get around, he had Parkinson disease, heart and lung issues, along with chronic back and neck pain from an injury he suffered and surgery that went wrong to correct the problem. I really don’t know what my biological mother could fear from him, as she knew what his condition was before she came to the funeral.
I did all I could for both of them, grocery shopping, paying bills, taking them to the doctor, cleaning, and anything else that was needed. I put my personal life on hold and did what I had to do and I don’t regret one moment of it. It infuriates me that someone else would be offended because I did what was right.
During my care giving years for my Dad, I had DCF called on me stating that I was committing elderly abuse. I had to leave work in the middle of the day without notice and meet the DCF worker at my Dad’s house so they could investigate the accusations. There was no findings against me. These accusations were filed by his daughter Carrie, she wanted in a nursing home so she didn’t have to feel guilty for not helping him out. It was really sad since her profession was a nurse, who is suppose to be caring and compassionate.
My Dad didn’t want to be put in a nursing home, I told him as long as he could make a sandwich, heat something up in the microwave, shower and wasn’t a harm to himself, I would do every thing in my power to keep him home as long as I could and as long as it was safe. He died about two weeks after DCF was called. His home nurse told me that she thought he just gave up after he knew what his daughter Carrie tried to have him put in a home. I don’t know about all of that, I believe when it is our time when God says it is and nothing can change that, but that is my belief. I also, know he was head strong and said someone might as well shoot him to get him to leave his home.
Mommy Dearest will just have to live with her hurt (hatred) that I took care of this man. I know, I did what was in my heart and what any loving daughter would do.
My caregiver role doesn’t end here, I have had other relationships that have also required me to play this role, but that is another blog way down the road of the journey of my life.
You’re not alone, you are loved,
The Girl that was Abandon
Caregiving is an exhausting task, I thought when they passed there would be a relief from running ragged but I wasn’t exhausted from the work, it was from the worry of my love one.