What – Another Dreaded S-word??

Yep,  that’s right.  And this dreaded S-word is the word SICK!

Everyone dreads being sick but noone more than a caregiver especially if you are the sole caregiver of your loved one.  This is one of my big fears.  That I will get sick and be unable to look after my Mom.

I have been very blessed with good health over the last 4 years that my Mom has lived with me.  I have had my share of colds, odd sick feeling days but no major flu or other bug that has totally forced me to come to a screeching halt.  I came close a couple of weeks ago when I was confined to the couch for several days but I was still able to get up and get Mom her supper, and look after her other needs.  It was touch and go but I did it.  BUT… it scared me.

It really made me think about all the caregivers who are relied upon daily and who often like myself do it mostly alone.  It’s a serious issue.  Someone else’s life is in our hands – their welfare, their well-being hinges on our staying well enough to do what has to be done.

Right now is the time when people are getting their flu shots.  I’m going to get mine in the next couple of days.  I hear the strain of the flu this year is very nasty.  And I ‘ll make sure my Mom get’s hers too.  Not great consolation that I won’t get sick but I will take every precaution I can.

For me it’s not only getting physically sick I worry about.  Being autistic, I deal with anxiety and depression and huge mood swings where my emotions become so intense I don’t know what to do with them.  Then there’s the feelings of being so totally overwhelmed that I just want to run far away.  What if I got too sick emotionally??  I worry about this as the time of being a caregiver stretches on into the future with no end in site and that other dreaded S-word, the word STRESS gets more and more intense.  It’s being in a crazy headspace where you want it to end but then the end means you lose the one you love.  And you can’t escape the craziness of this dilemma. It goes round and round in your head every day, every moment of every day.  I want it to end.  NO, I DON’T!   I want it to end.  NO, I DON’T!  It’s like being in a personal hell.  And you walk around with a smile on your face as you work, shop, meet with friends and noone knows the hell in your head.

I don’t know what I would do if I did get sick.  Well, I do have a plan of care made up of all the details of my Mom’s care.  I do have good friends who would probably come to my aid.  I have PSWs and nurses who could intervene.  The flip side of this is if I get sick will I give it to Mom??  That ‘s my other worry.  She may not be out in public to pick up a bug but I am out nearly every day – in stores, on the bus etc etc.  It only takes one handshake or a hand placed on a germ infested hand rail on the bus to do it’s dastardly business.  I use a lot of hand sanitizer.  Kills 99% of the germs.  I still wonder about the other 1%.

I guess I just keep praying that I won’t get so sick as to not be able to look after Mom.  I have always maintained that God gave me this job to do so He will give me what I need or protect me from what I don’t need to do the job He has given me.  That is my hope tonight and tomorrow and the next day….

A Dreaded S-word!

OK, so I know what some of you might be thinking after listening to the weather report tonight but the dreaded S word is NOT SNOW!!!   Wish it was though, it would be a lot easier to handle than my S word.  STRESS!!  It’s actually got 3 S’s in it just to get the point across loud and clear!

STRESS – my main bugbear when it comes to being a caretaker of my elderly mom.  Every part of my being is stressed.  My body, my mind, my very soul.

My joints have started aching again after several years of very little pain.  I feel sick most of the time.  I have headaches nearly every day.  I clench my teeth, grind my teeth and tap my teeth together making a clicking sound.  I pace.  My restless leg syndrome is in high gear making life miserable.  I get every bug around it seems and they settle into my system for the long term just rearing their ugly head every couple of weeks or so after I think I am free of it.  Perhaps the most persistent and deep symptom is the exhaustion that permeates every part of me and never leaves.  It just gets worse or worser ( I know that is not a word but I’m going to take writer’s liberty here)- never better.  It just seeps into me like a tea bag left in a mug of hot water for ages.  It gets stronger and stronger.  I sit down to read a book or drink my tea and wake up 2 hours later.  For the life of me, I don’t even remember feeling sleepy.  Noise bothers me more,  going to the mall is too much sensory overload now. ( that’s a good thing – less spending I hope)  Smells of all kinds are overpowering and too much light overwhelms me.  People overwhelm me.  The stress of having PSW’s coming and going and the nurse coming and constant assessments being redone on Mom  just makes my head spin.

Emotionally,  the stress of looking after mom is debilitating.  It is eating away at me everyday and more and more of me is consumed by everything from remembering to give mom her pills to doing the laundry to changing appointments to even changing lightbulbs.  Tonight I came home from work to find that the light in the bathroom was out – the one that Mom uses only.  We leave the light on at night for Mom to see cause the hall light is too bright.  I panicked and immediately wanted to crumple to the floor and cry and cry.  Too much.  Too much.  After a couple of hours of thinking about it and knowing I had to do something about it before us going to bed, I went and looked in my stash of light bulbs, praying that the right kind would be there.  IT WAS!!  The bathroom light is now on and a major meltdown has been averted.

Sounds silly but that’s the effects of all the stress on me.  I guess perhaps the most costly stress is the fear of losing Mom in the future sometime.  I think I get used to the idea of losing her and am resigned to it and then some little thing like Mom having a bad day will put me into panic mode again.  One of the things that all this stress has created is a compulsion for me to buy things – anything.  I just want to buy, buy, buy.  It’s like LOSS is an actual entity creeping towards me over a hill and I see it coming and I grab every THING I can buy, find, and gather them around me to protect me from the LOSS.  Unfortunately,  this has put me in a very precarious financial situation.  But what do I do??  I can’t seem to stop.  We as those with autism love our things and for me that is what I go to instead of people.  I am stumped as to what to do and this causes just as much stress as the stress of losing Mom.

So there are layers and layers of stress all piling up on one another, weighing me down more and more till I feel I will be crushed under the weight.

And then….and then….  I noticed my cat today looking a lot thinner.  I believe he has lost quite a bit of weight.  And he is always licking himself and he goes and hides to sleep.  And he cries when I go out and even if I go upstairs and he is still downstairs.  MY CATS ARE STRESSED!  Both of my cats are showing signs of being very stressed.  What do I do about THAT?  If something happens to one of my cats that will be the last straw.  I can’t bear to lose one of them right now.

What am I doing to help with the stress??  Well, a number of things but they just seem to take the edge off for a short while just enough so I can still function each day.  I take medication, I spend lots of time rocking in my easy chair or swinging in my hammock chair in my bedroom.  I drink tea,  I go out with my friends ( one at a time).  I see my wonderful grief counselor, I talk to my psychiatrist, I sleep, I go for walks and do some photography, I cry, I scream, and most of all I rest in my great God who I know will see me through this despite all this stress.  God has an S word too.  His word is SUFFICIENT.  In the bible it says,  “My grace is SUFFICIENT for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  I read this every day.  It is my secret source of strength (SSS) and the ONLY way I get through each day.  God is my ENOUGH when everything else is lacking.  When my bank account is empty God is sufficient,  when my energy tank is empty God is sufficient,  and when my ability to handle the stress in my life is at empty God is sufficient.  God didn’t say life would be easy but he said he would be there for us.  God has given me the job of looking after my Mom so I have to believe he will give me what I need to do the job.  He promises he will and I trust in that.

My Apologies for no blog

I have not written a blog in almost 2 weeks.  It has been a very difficult 2 weeks where I have felt like I was literally drowning in my grief, my anxiety and my responsibilities.  I also came down with very painful mouth ulcers (blisters) that are probably a result of the stress I am under.  Thankfully they are mostly healed up now and although I still feel I am struggling in violent waves that continue to crash over me, my head is above water for the moment.  I am hoping to write a couple of blogs in the next few days.