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Archive for February, 2013


I got home and greeted Carly, who was delirious with excitement that we finally came home.  It was late, and Clara was already put to bed.  The next morning, I went over, and none of Clara’s pill dispensers were filled.  To me it looked like just enough were filled until I got home.  Being sick, I had no patience for that and exaggerated the reason why in my mind.  I felt like it was deliberately done to make a point that nothing more than the bare minimum was going to be done.  There was debris lying on the floor and I told Clara that I got the point loud and clear from her daughter that she was not happy about our trip.  I had a major attitude.  Clara asked what I was talking about and I was all too eager to tell her about none of the pill dispensers being filled, although I was courteous enough to fill them up before I left.  There were empty grocery bags and tags that were pulled off of clothes on the floor.  Who was going to take care of these things?  Clara wasn’t able.  I was spitting mad.  Part of it was the frustration of coming home sick and having to go right back into the caregiver’s role.  Another part was the ongoing resentment I felt toward Clara’s daughters.  I left for the doctor’s and sure enough had bronchitis again.  I came home and crawled into bed.  I was having a bad coughing spell when the phone rang and I thought there was no sense in answering it, because I couldn’t stop coughing.  Whoever called left a message.  When my coughing calmed down and I checked my voice mail, I had a nasty message from Clara’s daughter to call her at work.  Clara must have called her daughter to either report my complaint or to scold her for leaving things the way she did.  I called her back, and she was furious at my assumption that she purposely did not fill her mother’s medicine dispenser.  She pointed out I had returned from my trip hours earlier than I had originally said and she had planned to refill them that day.  I apologized if I came to a wrong conclusion and then she proceeded to angrily tell me how she has to get up for work at 5:00 a.m. and it was quite a burden for her to have to come out at night to come over to put her mother to bed.  I commented that is what we have to do all the time; we have to revolve our lives around her mother’s bedtime.  Then she got really hyper and said, “Yeah, but you didn’t have to come out at eleven at night in the cold nighttime air, then go home wide awake and have a hard time falling back to sleep.”  At this point I asked her if her mother had told her I had come home sick and she said she mentioned it.  I said, “You know that I’m sick but you still called to yell at me?”  She said she wasn’t yelling, but didn’t appreciate being accused of not filling the pill dispenser on purpose.  She added she hated how I always act like I do everything.  I was surprised that she said that.  I retorted that I hate how every time that she or her sister do something for their own mother, they act as if they are doing me a big favor.  With that we ended the call and I went back to bed, coughing and hacking away.  Somehow, the thought of her being inconvenienced made me happy, like it was her just due.  At first I was feeling sorry for myself for having to deal with this crap, and then felt happy that Clara’s daughter felt like she had to deal with my crap!  Then it was time to get back up to care for Clara, so I guess I didn’t have the last laugh after all.  The delightful cruise was over and it was back to reality. 

I was Clara’s full time caregiver for 8 years. I mentioned earlier in
this blog that I am posting exerpts from my book, Life with Clara – One
Caregiver’s Journey.
My goal has always been that my experience and honesty

could help others in this life changing role. My entire account is available at
www.createspace.com/3469034

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Vacation, a great start a lousy end…


Before we knew it, it was time to fly to Puerto Rico for our cruise.  I retyped all of Clara’s medical information to update it, made up another chart of Clara’s medicines, and filled her daily pill dispensers.  We were going to be gone nine days, so at first I thought I would buy some extra pill dispensers.  Then I thought this was a good opportunity for Clara’s daughter to become familiar with her mother’s medicines, and with the detailed list it would be easy to refill her weekly dispenser.  We were off on the cruise and had a great time.  Unfortunately, toward the end of the cruise I got sick.  I woke up the last full day of the cruise with a tickle in my throat, and by evening I was running a fever and was coughing like I had bronchitis.  Andy and I were both amazed at how sick I became so quickly.  That night we packed our bags and put them outside our cabin door as instructed and I crawled into bed.  During the night I woke up with chills and a horrible headache, and although I didn’t have a thermometer, I’m confident my temperature was well over 103.  I knew if I took ibuprofen, it would help some, but I can’t take it on an empty stomach, and I didn’t have the energy to get some food.  Andy was sleeping soundly and I didn’t want to disturb him.  As I laid there miserable, I thought when I got home that there was no way I was going to get any more help with Clara.  I wanted to be home in my own bed but the thought of going home to my routine was dreadful.  Morning came, and I got myself together to vacate our cabin by the mandatory 8:00 a.m. time.  I felt horrible, but reminded myself that it could be worse.  I thought of the year before when I had shingles, the flu and bronchitis all at one time.  I did eat some dry toast for breakfast, took some ibuprofen, and within an hour started to get a little relief from my symptoms.  We were able to pay to have our plane tickets switched to an earlier time.  We arrived home to frigid temperatures and an icy snow.  Not thinking, I had packed all of my shoes and had sandals on and a sweater.  Fortunately, my brother picked us up and cranked the heat up for us. 

I was Clara’s full time caregiver for 8 years. I mentioned earlier in
this blog that I am posting exerpts from my book, Life with Clara – One
Caregiver’s Journey.
My goal has always been that my experience and honesty

could help others in this life changing role. My entire account is available at
www.createspace.com/3469034

Read Full Post »

Travel dilemma, continued…


  The week before the cruise, I asked Clara if she had made her final care arrangements.  She told me what they were, which involved very little of her own daughters.  Then she said, “Since Zack will be home, he can put me to bed at night.”  I said, “No, he can’t.”  That rattled Clara.  I told her that Zack had finals to study for and that we should be able to go away for a week and between her two daughters, they should be able to do what we do the rest of the year.  I pointed out even though we had traveled a lot that past year, when you consider the amount of days in a year, and that we had been gone less than twenty days so far, it wasn’t too much to ask.  I was determined to stick to my guns on this one; I guess I felt like I had a point to prove.  Then Clara looked dejected and I felt bad.  I told her I was sorry that the cruise was bad timing and that I didn’t want her to feel like she was a burden to us.  I expressed that I felt it was reasonable for her to ask her own daughters to help out; after all, she is their mother.  Clara said she understood and that we deserved to go on the cruise and I didn’t need to apologize for it.  When she would say stuff like that it would make me feel like crap for being hard nosed.  I went back to my side of the house, and later came over with a cup of hot tea as a peace offering.  I heard Clara on the phone with one of her daughter’s saying, “She said Zack can’t put me to bed, I guess I’ll sleep in my chair.”  I tipped toed back to my side and felt so torn.  I thought I would let Zack know the outcome and see if he would reconsider.  Was this a principle really worth fighting for?  Why did she always want it easiest on her own daughters?  I waited a few minutes then went back with a cheerful, “I have some hot tea for you” and Clara was off the phone.  She told me that her daughter that lives a mile from our house would come over each night to put her to bed.  That was a relief to me and Clara. 

I was Clara’s full time caregiver for 8 years. I mentioned earlier in
this blog that I am posting exerpts from my book, Life with Clara – One
Caregiver’s Journey.
My goal has always been that my experience and honesty

could help others in this life changing role. My entire account is available at
www.createspace.com/3469034

Read Full Post »

Who will watch Clara? No takers…


Come September I broke the news to Clara about the cruise.  Then I came up with the idea of having Clara arrange for her own care.  Rather than me getting the phone call at the last minute for the arrangements I made, I thought let Clara take care of making arrangements with her own daughters.  I had a hard time not getting involved.  Clara mentioned to me she told her one daughter about the cruise.  She related her reply was that is a busy time for her and she wouldn’t be available for anything extra.  I would remind Clara to be sure to make her own arrangements.  We were taking my mother along on the cruise as a thank you for all the luncheons she arranged each week for Clara, so Clara knew she wasn’t available to help care for her.  Andy would ask me about the arrangements and I told him it was up to his mother and the more I asked, the more it involved me.  He said his worry was we would have a problem days before the cruise and he didn’t want that stress before leaving on our first cruise.  About three weeks before the cruise, I started pressing Clara regarding what her arrangements were.  She was trying to involve anyone but her own daughters.  When I asked her why, she said they were not available.  I was not sure if it was their words or Clara not wanting to ask them.  That would puzzle me how it could be so easy for her to ask her daughter-in-law to wipe her butt but not ask her own daughter for help in her care.  Zack was going to be home the week of the cruise, but he said he would be cramming; studying for finals.  He said he could care for the dog, but didn’t want the responsibility of caring for his grandmother this time.  Since he tends to study late into the night, he said he didn’t want to be in the middle of studying, to have to stop to put his grandmother to bed.  On one hand that seemed ridiculous, but on the other hand I thought we should be able to go away for a week and not have to be the only family members involved with Clara’s care.  Zack was not a stranger to helping with Clara.  The times when Clara would not be able to get up by herself and Zack was home, he would stop what he was doing to assist.  Once when Andy met us at the car to help his mother in the house after dialysis, she demanded Zack help her.  Andy is quite strong and was more than capable.  Once Clara made up her mind there was no changing it.  To me it was actually quite funny.  Neither Andy nor Zack found the humor in it.  Zack was in the middle of completing an assignment for college, and while he was accommodating to his grandmother, it was enough to break his concentration.  I decided not to argue with him about his decision.

I was Clara’s full time caregiver for 8 years. I mentioned earlier in this blog that I am posting exerpts from my book, Life with Clara – One Caregiver’s Journey. My goal has always been that my experience and honesty could help others in this life changing role. My entire account is available at www.createspace.com/3469034

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