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Archive for the ‘A Day in the Life’ Category


mom driving post strokeThe truth is…I never thought this day would come.  Nearly two years ago, my mom had a massive stroke, leaving her right-side paralyzed with a loss of speech.  The stroke was caused by severe artery  diseases in which one of her corotoid arteries is 100% blocked, and the other about 70% blocked.  She was previously not aware of the disease and needless to say, her stroke was shocking to everyone.  The doctors were not too optimistic about how much recovery she would make because the brain damage had been so severe.  While her recovery is mostly on target with what was predicted (she regained some of her mobility back and got about 30-40% of her speech back)- one thing is for sure- no one ever thought it would be possible for my mother to drive again. (more…)

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tracksAfter my mom had a stroke, I spent months in crisis mode, doing everything humanly (and sometimes inhumanly) possible to help her recover.  Now, more than a year later, with the dust settled, she is gaining independence and I am gaining some of my life back.  As I was finding a new life outside of only caregiving- work, friends, a relationship; unbenost to me, I began to hope… My mom had made some recovery- both physically and mentally.  From where she had begun, she had gained quiet a bit of independence.  I never was naive enough to think that things would go back to the way they were before the stroke, but I unconsciously had hope that with the recovery she had made, maybe just maybe I would have my mom back.  And somewhere along they way, that hope had turned into expectation.  My expectation that at any moment now, she would just snap out of it, and become my feisty mother that would call the shots and tell me what to do. (more…)

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Caregiver’s First Family Get Together


This weekend, my mom and I will be going up to New Hampshire for my aunt’s wedding.  This will be our first family get together since her stroke, almost a year ago.  I am nervous!   There are the logistics- the 4 hour drive for us and our two dogs, all the bags, the special need’s equipment for her, etc.  Then, will she be able to get around the hotel ok, will the shower be adequate to fit the chair in it- how in the world will I be able to help her, carry everything, and hold two dogs- AHHHH.  Then there comes the emotional aspect.  This will be the first time since my mom had the stroke, and I became a caregiver, that the whole family will be together. My mom is the second oldest of 11 children.  Not all of them will be there, but many will.  Some of them have not seen her since she became sick (I am not going to get into how I feel about that).  How will they react towards her?  Her communication is strained and you’d be surprised how uncomfortable that makes people feel- even her own family! How will I feel seeing members of the family who are there to celebrate but were a no show during the hard times?  There is also a past history of our Irish family (under the influence of alcohol) behavior that has occurred during family get together’s, which may perhaps be adding to my apprehension.  Maybe my worries are all in vain, and the weekend will go smoothly.  Well, I am going to do my best to keep the peace.  After all- this is the wedding of my mom’s sister who has been a great help and hugely supportive to her from the beginning.  And we are there to celebrate her long and loving relationship with her partner, which they are now able to make legal- thanks to the new law in New Hampshire.  Wish me luck and I am sure I will have plenty to write about when I return.

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my mom and me, august 2008

my mom and me, august 2008

There are moments in my caregiving life where I can just live in the moment.  In these moments, come clarity and hope- for myself, for my mom, and for life.  And just as suddenly as these moments come, they leave, to be replaced by a bittersweet feeling. 

I had a beautiful weekend with my mom.  I had put away all my caregiving responsibilities- errands, lists of things to do- all of it.  I wanted to just spend quality time with her.  And I did.  We went to an inlet near the beach; we fed the birds; we went shopping (the fun kind); we played with our dogs; we even layed in my bed together to watch a movie.  As a caregiver, with so many things to take care of, so many lists, so many responsibilities- quality moments, let alone weekends, don’t happen very often. 

But througout the weekend, I would have moments of “feeling” time.  This was not a feeling I was unfamiliar with- it has happened from time to time.  I would hear the clock.  The clock of time’s past and the clock of time’s future.  The feeling of what has been lost and what will be lost.  I hear the clock for her, and for me.  Time…had clouded my beautiful moment, making it bittersweet.  I suppose moments of feeling this way are inevitable when caring for someone with a serious chronic illness.  It’s hard to “live in the moment” all the time. 

For me, my hope is that I will have more moments where I forget time, the clock stops, and all that is left is an awareness of that present moment.

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As caregivers, we often (if not always) put our loved ones first.  We do everything we can to help out the person we are caring for.  We help them with meals, we take them to doctors, we drive them where they need to go and most of all we are there for every accomplishment and disappointment they encounter.  So why is it that we get all the blame?  Our families seem to criticize a lot of what we do and how we do it.  No-body’s perfect; not even caregivers.  But at the end of the day, we do what’s best for them.  It’s us, after all, that have made the sacrifice.  We do it because we love them and because we (most likely) are the ones in our family that are loyal, caring, and want to the “right thing”.  On our own we are usually the first ones to feel we are not doing enough or to feel guilty over everything! So why in the world do we need more of that from our family?  I guess, as a spectator, its easy to criticize what someone else is doing.  After all, anyone can be a “Monday morning quarterback”.

Wow!  I feel better already- venting really helps!  I personally hate to be negative but… I guess sometimes you just have to get it out.   And if you are a caregiver, you know!  I would love to hear your thoughts and personal experiences on this.  And vent if you need to!

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Terms of Endearment. This was a movie that my mom and I watched numerous times while I was growing up.  There is a scene in the movie, where the mom and daughter are hanging out in the mom’s bed, talking, laughing and just being best friends.  One time when my mom and I were watching this, probably when I was about 12, my mom said to me- “I really hope that’s us when you grow up”.  At the time I was too young to understand what she meant.  But over the years, I remembered that moment and I wished too that that was us.  It could’ve been, but it just never happened.  Life… got in the way. 

Until…we got a second chance.  And it happened when my mom was in the hospital.  After dinner at the hospital,  my  mom liked to watch TV.  Well, her TV was attached to the ceiling, was tiny, and really could only be seen from her hospital bed.  That’s when it happened.  I took off my shoes, crawled into her her bed, and layed next to her.  All we did was watch TV. But I felt it.  That closeness to my mom that I always yearned for. In that moment, it was only the two of us.  I felt that no one could ever take away that moment I shared with her and I knew at the time that it was something special.  It wasn’t what I had dreamt of growing up.  It wasn’t perfect.  She was sick and in a hospital.  We certainly weren’t laughing.  And I felt  more like a mom, than a daughter.  But it was something… and it was ours.  In that moment, with all life’s defenses down, we just loved each other.  So I got my “Terms of Endearment” moment, and for that I will always be grateful.

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