May 15, 2010 - 2:36 pm
I hope long posts are acceptable here. I really need some coping advise and don't know how short I can make this initial post. Please bear with me, just this once.
This is my second time around as primary caregiver for a loved one as we face the final stages of cancer at home with hospice care. First time was with my grandma, who raised me for most of my life. I actually moved back into the house with her when it came time to settle in with hospice. Physically and emotionally, I would not have lasted much longer had the end not come when it did. That was five years ago. Not a day has gone by that I don't still have haunting thoughts about being the one who gave the final dose of morphine before she passed. Even tho I was instructed by hospice nurses to go ahead and give it, it is always in the back of my mind that she died about an hour later. Don't get me wrong, she was in her last hours anyway, and was moaning terribly in pain. She needed the morphine....but there is just something about me being the one who gave that final dose that I just haven't been able to shake. Other than that, tho I was exhaused, we made it pretty good through the ordeal. I was so grateful it was over quickly and I got back to my life.
Now, five years later, I am in the same position with my mother. My niece and I are the primary caregivers. I live 250 miles from mom, so for the last year, I have commuted to her house, staying 3 to 6 weeks at a time. A niece covers for me for two weeks when I go home to "recoup" and spend time with MY family. I used up all my Leaves of Absences at work, so I have quit my job to be able to take care of mama. (Fortunatly, I have a great hubby who supports me in all this.)
Since I was raised by my grandparents, mom and I have never been very close...but I do love her and she is a very sweet person now...but it hasn't always been that way. Now, spending so much time in the old house, with bad memories and with the people who caused the bad memories during my childhood is taking this thing to the 10th power with me emotionally. This was hard enough with my grandma whom I adored and who adored me. It's different with mama. I love her, but the old triggers in that house and with mom and dad's basic personalities are really messing with my head this time. I am the loving caretaker (on the outside); but inside I am angry and resentful. Of coarse, I NEVER let that show...EVER. That would just be mean, and my grandma didn't raise me to be mean. That being said, the good news is that thru this, mom and I are discovering things about each other that we truly love and admire. She is not exactly the same person she was when I was young, and I am finding a side of her that is very lovable when the meds don't have her totally zonked. We are reconnecting in a wonderful way...just in time for her to die. Wow. How unfair is that?
Wondering if there is anyone out there who is the caretaker for someone they were estranged from for most of their life. Any feedback, advise would be so greatly appreciated. Actually, I feel a little better just finally speaking (typing) the words. Can't talk to family members because problems of the past are "taboo" subjects in our family. If I don't find an outlet where I can discuss this and "empty out" this turmoil, I am afraid I will have a stroke or something. (Doc just put me on anxiety meds yesterday with spiking blood pressure that blows thru the roof unexpectedly, for no apparent reason. I have never taken anything other than aspirin for headaches before. Go figure.) Thanks for being here. God Bless you all.