I can't do this anymore.

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I'm sure some of you know me from 5 or more years ago, when I was caring for my terminally ill father, and trying to take care of mom who was grieving even before he passed.


Well, now that mom has cancer, she is inoperative due to fibrosis, from all of the radiation and brachytherapy treatments she went through. Long story short, she is suffering so terribly and even though the tumor is super small, stage 2 and has no spread, she has to live with this awful pain. She has rectal cancer and she can't even sit down correctly. She has to lean sideways or lie down in order to sit with the family.


She has NO quality of life. I try to make things fun for her at home, I cook all of her favorite meals that she taught me to cook as a child, we have game night with my siblings, try to make her laugh, but at the end of the day, her life is not a life anymore. She isn't a candidate for hospice, because her tumor is "maintained" and controlled with chemo pills, but she's so so so depressed.


ME?


I've been in and out of the hospital with chest pain, heart palpitations and other symptoms alike ALL from stress. I'm 43 years old and feel guilty for even leaving the house for more than an hour. I work from home luckily, and my partner lives here too. We bought the house and making renovations to it so it'll look nicer and updated. I wanted to make mom happy.


For me, when I even think about watching mom go through what dad went through -- I cringe. I can't even think about it. My worst fear growing up was losing mom. She's still the same person -- spunky, same personality but SUFFERING. She's on oxycondone, like a lot per day, she hates morphine and Fentynol. So she takes the oxycondone as much as the pain comes on (prescribed correctly) -- but it still doesn't truly help her anymore and she has built up a tolerance. At this point, addiction isn't my concern.


Next week, we were supposed to bring her to the beach house for an entire week. We do this for her every single year, but this year, she thinks she may not go due to her pain. Now I feel guilty for going for a few reasons: 1, my sisters will make me feel guilty for leaving, 2, It's Mother's Day!!! 3, I don't want my mom to feel bad or sad.


I'm having such bad panic attacks that I cannot even function! I see a therapist, but it's not enough. My relationship has really gotten very distant too -- we never do things together, ever. We take care of mom and it feels so incredibly overwhelming. My mom is one of those stubborn old Italians where she refuses to have a nurse come in to keep her company or anything of that nature.


I'm losing my mind. So I'm sitting here writing to you all with huge heart palpitations and I don't know what to do or where to go. I lost many friends because I couldn't give them the time or didn't want them to come over in fear that my mom would feel uncomfortable. I lost myself. I've never been this depressed before and it's scaring me -- my thoughts scare me.


Please send some prayers or positive energy my way. I'm truly suffering as a care giver...

14 Comments

Dear Friend,

I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through. Sending you all my thoughts and prayers. I know its very hard. I can relate to so much of what you are writing about.

I am concerned about your stress level. Please consider seeing a doctor. Look for other options. I don't think your mom would want you to feel like this. Or consider talking to a family therapist or social worker.

Thinking of you. And hope you will consider getting some help for yourself during this difficult time.
Thank you so much. I see a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a cardiologist as well as a massage therapist (my favorite) -- but none have truly helped. I've gone and found different ones, but there is only so much humans can do or help effectively sometimes.

I feel so alone in this. I'm the only one taking care of her. Nobody is there for me ever. I feel like life isn't worth living anymore -- and I LOVE life usually. I just need an out or a break or something. Maybe I'll feel better after my vacation hopefully.
I'm so sorry that you are going through so much stress. It sounds like your expectations of yourself are not reasonable. Is that why you feel so overwhelmed? You need your respite time. I would take it and allow others to care for your mother. If your sisters don't get it, then they are very dense and I would ignore them.

If your mom has such a serious medical condition, then, I might require that she get the nursing care that she needs. Refusing help may seem normal for her, but, it's causing you distress and unnecessary work. I would insist that she gets the professional help that she needs.

Can you delegate some of your duties? Maybe, if you weren't so overworked as a caregiver, you might be able to relax and enjoy some of your previous activities. As caregivers, we have to protect and promote our own physical and mental health in order to help our LO's. I hope you can get some help and learn to be more gentle with yourself. You sound like a jewel of a daughter. I bet your mom is very proud.
I appreciate that. Thank you. She's not unable to move or go to the bathroom safely. She can even step into the kitchen and make a sandwich or whatever -- she's not as bad as I probably made her seem. But when she does have the pain onsets, it's really bad and she curls up in a ball and cries. She needs to also stay near a bathroom due to the rectal cancer flare ups which sometimes makes her bleed. She is also going through a major depression which makes it hard to help her since she gets a little standoffish -- which I can totally understand. I tried looking into health care workers to come in for a few hours, but mom refuses. And when we do something against her will, she will give us h*ll on earth. She is one powerful mama. lol But my sisters, they all live their lives, work as much as they need to, play as much as they need to. I remember when they didn't come for months and I was sitting down with mom looking at my phone watching them all out at this nice restaurant drinking and having fun while I was sitting with mom inside on a Saturday evening. I remember that night, because I really wanted to go out for dinner with my other half. I feel like I have no life and my sisters will not budge unfortunately. I would feel like a piece of crap if I just said, oh the h*ll with it, and went out and left mom alone.

But I'm doing just that -- leaving her alone so the ambulance can pick ME up. I've been in the hospital twice within the last couple of days due to stress related symptoms that mimicked a heart attack. I'm on ativan for my nerves, and I hate medication.

Thanks for letting me vent. I even feel guilty for being in bed right now after being hospitalized. I feel like I'm not there for her right now. It's an awful feeling.
I would not ignore you own medical conditions. It sounds like your health is really suffering. Since your siblings aren't on board with helping, I'd try to avoid them distracting me.

Are you your mom's Healthcare POA? With her chronic pain, it's understandable that she's depressed. Is she being treated for depression? I'd encourage that and also try to get support for her to get help from professionals from her doctor. Sometimes, the doctor can say things that you need to get a bath aid, nurse, or housekeeper. Sometimes the patient will listen to the doctor if hesays they really need it. OR maybe, your doctor needs to say that YOU are not able to continue doing certain things. Explain to mom that doctor's orders require a change in the duties, that she needs certain professional support and then make the arrangements. If your mom is still resistant to taking reasonable measures that ensure relief to both her and you, then I would question if she is fully appreciating the severity of the matter.

I realize that you have to pick your battles, but, if your own health is suffering, I'd have to make arrangement to help myself and hope that mom will adjust.
Dear overworked friend,
You sound like you are ready to snap. Your health problems are a direct result of what the stress is doing to you. You have got to listen to your body. You MUST reduce the stress you are under or the chest pain may lead to permanently disabiling health issues. You can not sacrifice your life for hers! She is at the end of her life, you have 40+ years left.
Immediately call a family conference of everyone who can assist with your mom. YOU do NOT have to shoulder ALL the responsibility yourself. Your sisters and brothers (and anyone else) needs to sign up for caregiving on a calendar. Why do you feel you have to do it all? Your mom is everyone's responsibility. Make the calendar for a month at a time and, later, if someone can't work on their day, THEY are responsible to find coverage. Tell them your doctor is demanding you reduce your work load or you will suffer irreversible heart damage.

Why do you (and no one else) take responsibility for entertaining your mom? If she is in that much pain, she doesn't need entertainment, she needs rest and pain relief.
Your intentions are wonderful (trying to please her in every way) but you don't realize that the responsibility has to be shared and that you will loose your health if you continue to be the sole caregiver. Explain to mom that your health is failing and that you HAVE to have others take care of her (whether she likes the idea or not.)
Google what stress can do to your mind and body. It can kill you.
Mom will adjust.
May God cradle you in His arms and help you find the strength to make these changes. Positive vibes and energy is being sent to surround you. Also a big bear hug to relieve the anxiety. Good luck.
The Boogs,
It is because you Love your Mother SO much,that it makes it even harder...I know and had Many of the same feelings you are having when I was caring for my Mom for 9 and a half years by myself.I lost my friends and my health too.I felt lost then,but since her death,I feel even more lost.
Hopefully,your vacation will help your spirit and you will come back recharged.Your Mother needs you and I know you want to be there for her.She is very lucky to have you.
I am sending prayers your way.
Take good care~
Thank you everyone. All sound and wonderful advice. Sad thing is, one of my sisters who happen to be the proxy is bipolar and she is also an alcoholic. During Easter dinner at a restaurant where we all took our mother, my sisters were fighting, throwing wine on each other, making a scene to where the mayor of the town had to walk up and comment, and sadly, remove one of my sisters from the scene. As much as the toxic sister is helpful, she barks at everyone for not doing enough. She mocked me for going to the ER twice and saying, "Oh stop it, it's just anxiety! Why do you make a scene?" She downgrades my ailments and stress and doesn't realize how much I sometimes feel like I loathe her for being such a toxic person. She even gets mean with my mom but she is the one that handles the doctor situations. I'm the one who cooks meals every day, spends time with mom and cares for her at home. I feel like running away. If it wasn't for me and my other half, my mom would either be living with one of my sisters or in a nursing home. We bought my parents' beautiful home so that my mom could stay here and so that we could make it a nice inviting home for the family as well. But I guess that comes with a lot of grief.

This has helped a lot. Your comments have made me feel less crazy.

I am going to address one small thing here. You have left your friendships go because you thought your mom would be "uncomfortable". I have my friends (those that understand) over often, and my mom loves to see them and interact with them, even for a short time. It is a break in her day, and a huge help for my mindset. Maybe she would like to see some other people, even for a few minutes, and then she could go and watch TV or whatever she normally does. My friends all call her Mom, and she loves the attention. Maybe you could try this once or twice and see how it goes. And it may do YOU a world of good. Good luck!
True! My in laws come over and sometimes a couple of friends, but I keep it to a minimum since she's been so sick. And with my own stress, I guess I'm choosing to push some people away because I'm just not in the mood to absorb anyone else's energy. I'm tapped out. :( But you are so right...

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