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Archive for the ‘My Story’ Category

The Journey Begins


My life changed on October 22, 1997.  That was the day I was thrown into the role of full time caregiver and it felt like my life was turned upside down.  Just two weeks prior to that day, I had undergone outpatient surgery and was just starting to feel recovered myself.  It was a beautiful October day.  My two sons,  had finished their homework and went outside to play ball.  I decided to take a quick nap before starting dinner.  That’s when I heard Clara yelling for help.  She fell and broke her arm which left her almost immobile.  As if a broken bone wasn’t bad enough, she broke her arm right about where it meets the shoulder.  A cast was not possible so a sling was put on and it was stressed that she had to keep that arm completely immobile.  It was her right arm and she was right handed. 

As we got back home that night from the emergency room, Clara was filled with fear, mainly that she would move her arm without meaning too.  Clara’s eyesight had already put certain limitations on what she felt she could do, and now she sat paralyzed with fear to even move.  I was embarrassed when Clara asked me to undress her and put her pajamas on, but my compassion for her outweighed my embarrassment.  I was ever so careful as I slipped off her clothes, put her pj’s on, then helped her into bed.  The next morning, I was over early to help her back out of bed and to her sofa.  I tested her sugar level as I had been doing regularly and then got her syringe of insulin out of the refrigerator.  Clara said she needed both hands to give herself the injection; one hand to grab a fleshy part of her belly, and the other hand the give the injection.  Since she only had use of one hand, Clara said I would have to give the injection.  I have to admit, the thought of it made me very nervous and I’m not normally a nervous person.  Flashbacks of the session with the nurse during the injection lessons came to mind and I visualized the nurse standing over me like she had with Clara insisting that I give the injection.  I also remembered that my injection hurt, and my biggest fear was hurting Clara.  I was still having a hard time each morning poking her finger tip to get a drop of blood for the monitor to test her sugar level; I would apologize profusely each time.  Now I had to add an injection to my guilt.  I took a deep breath, gently grabbed a fatty piece of her belly and gave the injection.  When finished I sighed with relief and announced, “It’s done.”  Ever so sweetly, Clara said, “You have a gentle touch, I didn’t even feel it.”  I wasn’t sure if she was being truthful or not, but it gave me the confidence I needed for the evening shot and took a bit of the guilt away as to whether I was hurting her.  That morning is when I realized my life took a drastic turn.  Clara felt comfortable holding her cup of coffee and sipping it, but was afraid to feed herself.  Again, it was a bit awkward to feed my mother-in-law like a toddler, but compassion was a good motivator to get me beyond myself.  After feeding her and cleaning up the dishes, I went back to my portion of the house, but left the door open so I could easily hear Clara if she needed to yell for me.

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The Caregiver ‘Club’


Most of us have observed either in real life or on television two older men meeting for the first time with a bit of awkwardness.  Once it is discovered that they both are veterans, an instant rapport appears.  No matter how different their lives are or their backgrounds, there is a commonality between them.  Someone that may stumble across these two men minutes after their initial meeting could easily assume they have been friends for years by the ease of their conversation.  These men that just met could share stories and experiences that they may have not even shared with their own family members.  I have never served in the military or have fought a war, but I have experienced a similar phenomenon because of my role as a caregiver. 

When I would meet a fellow caregiver, an instant rapport appears.  As a result, I could candidly speak of the range of emotions that I’ve experienced as a caregiver without fear of being judged.  To try to have that same conversation with someone that never had to step into that role, there are too many things you have to try to explain.  If you talk about your frustrations, it is interpreted as whining.  Often a conversation with a non-caregiver about the rigors of being a caregiver, results in the non caregiver offering sympathies to you for a role they wonder if they are capable of fulfilling.  That same conversation with a fellow caregiver, often results in laughter as you swap your ‘war stories.’ 

Through my own experience, I learned things about myself that at times made me feel proud and other times ashamed.  I used to think that anyone could be a caregiver, it was just a matter of stepping up to the plate when needed, but I’m not so sure anymore.  You do not have to be a superwoman to be a caregiver, but you do have to be willing to put portions of your own life on hold.  At times I could do that cheerfully, other times with resentment.  The funny thing is, I never liked the scary rides at the amusement park, and the most dreaded to me was the rollercoaster.  Those few times I was coaxed into getting onto the rollercoaster, I would have to keep telling myself it would be over in a couple of minutes.  Yet, here I was in the role of a full time caregiver, daily riding a rollercoaster of emotions with no way of knowing how long it would last.  Some days I felt braver than others.

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My caregiver story


 PART TWO of MY STORY (Continued from Part One of My Story. )

Back to my story…so my mom was in the rehab hospital working on various kinds of therapy.  She had had a massive stroke on the left side of her brain, which left her right-side paralyzed along with 100% loss of her speech. I went to the hospital everyday, to spend time with her, sit in on her therapy sessions, and meet with various doctors and therapists about her progress.  Meanwhile, I was also running around crazy, trying to get legal documents in place, social security disability, her work pension, fighting her insurance to get the best care, and just about a million other things that needed to be taken care of.  While there was a war going on in Iraq; I felt like I was in my own war- at home. 

(more…)

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PART ONE of MY STORY

Hello Caregivers! 

Phew- I don’t even know where to start.  ok, so my name is Sara.  I am a 32 year old caregiver to my mom. I am starting this blog because I myself have had a really hard time finding any great online support out there for caregivers.  I would search and search and find forums that were so scarce – it looked like an online ghosttown!  What is going on?  I know there are soooooo many of you out there.  So with that said I hope you will find me.  I have been through it so I want to help any caregivers out there that I can AND I know I will learn from you guys as well. 

So, onto my story…. My mom had a massive stroke almost a year ago.  I was living out west in Arizona, working, dating- living and loving my life, then….I got the phone call.  Yeah, you know the one.  Like me, I am SURE you still remember exactly where you were, what you were doing, and how in seconds- literally- your entire world fell apart.  I swear, I can still feel that feeling through my whole body when I think about it.  So, there I was, in a state of complete and total lunacy- getting on a plane with one suitcase- home to Connecticut.  Guess what?  I never went back. (more…)

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