Christmas for Caregivers
It was mid-November, a time of year I usually love. The Thanksgiving holiday, which falls just before my birthday, always brings me a sense of contentment. My sister comes to visit and my Mom (who can barely speak) is overjoyed when she’s got both daughters within arm’s reach. She smiles when we’re all together and always finds the strength to say, “The two! The two!’
But even the thought of autumn togetherness could not lift my mood. I felt worn and ancient. On a physical level, my body seemed beyond repair. After two years of lifting my mother five times a day, my spine was angry and resentful. Five times may not sound like much, especially since she’s only 92 pounds. But without time to restore myself, each lift was like hauling bricks. In two years, my only real vacation had been a three day summer break.
My back was aching more than usual because I had been working on a series of writing assignments that were all due the same day. My bosses needed me to produce three 70-page beauties for a deadline after Thanksgiving — on my birthday! Writing at my computer for hours on end left me stiff as a rusty gate. When I stood up to take a break, I walked like a tired granny.
The Search for Respite
Most #caregivers know about this kind of pain. It comes from being on call physically and emotionally 24 hours a day. We seldom get the deep rest needed to heal. But I had reached the point where I was determined to get that rest. I knew if I didn’t get some kind of caregiver respite I would injure something besides my sense of humor — which already felt badly sprained.
My search for help led first to a cozy personal care home that rejected my mother because she was too frail. A second facility made the same decision. Mom’s condition was too fragile and no one wanted the liability of caring for her. Tears rolled down my face as I thought about her weakness and my own. The steering wheel was wet and I couldn’t find a tissue anywhere. I felt awful but I knew we had made it through painful trials in the past, so I tried to remember how we survived before. Some of those memories gave me some strength.
[Part I of IV]