It’s been a month since I’ve posted here on the blog. Recently, so many days have been filled with doctor visits and hospital visits and rehab visits that it seemed there was nothing positive to write about. Nothing to celebrate. When caregiving is worrisome and heavy, I struggle to post it all here, because I know there are people everywhere who have more problems than I do. So, it seems like whining.
And then I think, well, why not get it all out? Caregivers like to read about how other caregivers are managing, or not managing. I know I do. It helps to read that we are not alone in whatever we’re dealing with. So, then I dump it all here, then edit half of it out because it just goes onandonandon…it seems endless at times. Then, I hate what I’ve written, so I go watch reruns of Home Improvement and snack on dark chocolate chips. Tim Taylor and his antics always cheer me up.
Sometimes, I just get absorbed by this caregiving life.
There are days I think we’re moving forward with the folks; they maintain a stable week where they meet with their bible study group, they get to their exercise classes, they get their naps, and we all get to Mass.
Then there are weeks where Mom develops pneumonia (again) and goes back to the hospital, and Dad needs more skin spots cut out, then gets the flu, and both of them have UTIs, and doc appts have to be cancelled and rescheduled, and they both fail swallowing tests and end up on pureed food, which they hate, so they eat less and lose weight, which makes them weak, and then they slip and Dad sprains an ankle, and Mom breaks a femur, and then their computer dies. Yep, all that happened recently.
Sometimes it’s just sad, and sometimes I feel like we’re all in a slapstick cartoon.
Then, there are the shockers:
- Mom’s femur broke because of big holes in her bone just under the break. Initial reports suggested cancer. But, we had to wait six days before we knew. (No cancer, just severe osteo.)
- Dad gets pneumonia and the flu at the same time. 104 fever. We thought this would probably take his life, he was that sick. (By the grace of God, he recovered.)
- Mom has not been out of rehab long enough for insurance to re-start, so the folks are having to cover the copay from Day 1. Thirty days will cost $5,000. (Gulp.)
The heart can only take so many bombshells before it starts to go numb, just to protect itself. I don’t want a numb heart, but I have to admit, there are days when I just need to hibernate with a cup of warm chai tea. I hate to see my parents, who are still with it mentally, lose their bodies and their lives slowly, piece by piece.
OK, I’m done whining. On the news today, I saw suffering toddlers in Syria due to the horrific toxic chemical attacks there. I can’t stand it. It makes my head throb, I can’t get the pictures out of my mind. Such savagery. It makes me sick. Please, God, intervene. Give us wisdom on how to help.
And then there are days like this…
…when our sweet, chubby grandson snuggles me on a beautiful breezy day at the local Strawberry festival. He is so perfect and healthy and smoochable. He is so refreshing to hold and read to and chase up the stairs. He is the balm to my eyes that see aging and decline every day.
I know God is just as present in my 90+ year-old parents as He is in our precious grandson, but He highlights a different angle.
Baby James is full of hope and potential, with strong, growing bones and screeching lungs. My folks are winding down. They have worked and contributed and shared until their bones are brittle and their breath is shallow. James is rambunctious; my parents are frail.
However, they are both vulnerable, because the young and the elderly are always at risk for being hurt or taken advantage of. They have so little power. So, God is always watching, hovering, guarding. He assigns us, those in the middle, to be the caregivers.
It’s a tremendous, at times overwhelming responsibility. When we love people, we have a lot to do. And, so often, we feel inept. I don’t know what I’m doing. Young parents feel it; middle-agers feel it. I feel it every day.
We go in vulnerable as well, for when we love people, our heart becomes exposed to learning hard lessons, making mistakes, making sacrifices, and doing it all again every day.
But, our children grow into adults, and parents eventually pass from this life. Our caregiving days do come to an end.
In the meantime, life is trying and sad and joyous and precious and sacred…here in the middle.