My life has changed in the last few weeks. In a few short sentences, here is my situation:
- Mom is sick. Mild heart attack, diabetes, and just plain old age issues.
- Hospitalized twice in another county, I had to move her north for rehabilitation, to ease the travel stress on myself.
- She’s improving, but it’s a one-day-at-a-time situation. As you can tell from the title, I’m not good at that kind of thing.
- Next Monday will be a month since she landed in the emergency room. She has not been home since.
I’m a list maker, long-range planner and use a lot of notes and calendars to track what’s coming up tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. Having things come to a screeching halt because you have to be around to care for a sick family member isn’t something you’ll ever regret, but it can add some stress to your day, to say the least. Missed hours of work, fewer hours spent writing, no time for friends, holiday shopping, or even just sitting and thinking. Meals, when they happen, are too fast to be enjoyed. There’s a lot of time spent driving to and from her place to pick up mail and extra clothes, and not enough time to speak with her nurses, doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists and dietitians.
Worst of all, what happens if something happens to me? If I go down (I’m fighting a cold that’s been coming on for days now), then what? I’ve gotten some of the stupidest advice imaginable, well-meaning though it has been. “Don’t stress so much,” I’ve been told. “Just relax and don’t worry about her. She’ll be fine.” I’ve been asked to do volunteer work, or contribute money or attend events, and when I explain that I cannot do so and why, people are just dumbfounded that I could say no to them. And I’ve learned never to honestly answer the question “How are you doing today?” People do not want an honest response to that query, at least not from me, and not now.
No doubt Mom is under more stress than I am. It sucks to be sick, no matter what the cause. It’s worse to be old and sick, and wonder if that’s all that life has left. I hope I never get to that point. To be alone, ill and not contributing to society is not an end I would ever choose. I’m stressed, but glad she at least has me to be with her.