Another ‘side effect’ of Clara’s death was what amounted to panic attacks. One day I was in a department store and had walked to the register to pay for my purchases and there were a couple of customers in line in front of me. Without warning or cause, my heart started pounding, I broke out in a sweat and I felt like I had to flee the store, as if I had to be somewhere urgent. At first I was startled and confused by what was going on. I checked my watch; it was the time I used to have to be at dialysis to pick Clara up. I was panicking as if I forgot to take care of Clara. As I continued standing in line, I had to have an internal talk with myself reminding myself I did not have to leave to get Clara; that assignment was over. When it was my turn to pay for my items, my heart had settled back into a normal rhythm, but I felt nervous, like when you have too much caffeine. I actually experienced this several more times on other occasions, but I knew then to check the time first. Sure enough, each time it happened was when I normally would have been taking Clara to or from dialysis. My body and internal clock was still programmed to Clara time. My friend was right, in time these things resolved themselves.
I reflect back on that conversation I had, well that spat I had with Clara’s daughter after returning from the cruise. I wondered if through the years I had alienated them, by them having the impression that I was a one woman show with Clara’s care. Then again, the reality was, I did do the majority. I knew of others that never got any family help, so I was always happy for the break that would come on Wednesday and Saturday. Upon reflection I decided that was more of an excuse on her part not to have to recognize that I truly was her mother’s caregiver. That’s just my opinion of course. I also think back to that fateful night that Clara broke her leg and when her daughter showed up and said, “Why didn’t you call me? I would have come over and helped you.” I remembered feeling incredulous that she would make such a statement. I’ve wondered about all those times when they knew I was sick and did nothing additional to help with their mother. Was all that was needed was for me to call them and ask for help? Clara often hated to ask her own children for things that she thought would be an inconvenience to them, which I never could understand. Was it possible at times they may have even offered to help but Clara told them not to worry about it? I often used discernment in anticipating and filling Clara’s needs, so that was the expectation I had for her daughters when I was sick. Could I have saved myself years of frustration and resentment by just calling them directly and asking for help when I was sick or following surgery? I don’t think so, but I don’t know. I never really tried it to know if it would have worked or not. Hopefully, I will remember if ever in a caregiver’s position again, to have better communication skills with other family members as to my expectations or requests for help.
My entire account is available at http://www.createspace.com/3469034 or at Amazon.com, just type in the title of my book, LIFE WITH CLARA – ONE CAREGIVER’S JOURNEY. I appreciate all of your comments and wish all caregivers the strength they need to cope each day!