My mom lived in the same house with her 2 sisters for over 38 years. Six years ago, both sisters passed away. On the night of my aunt’s funeral, her daughters (Who now owned the house mom lived in), threw out a proposition to me. If the kids and I moved into my mom’s apartment (more room and where I lived with my parents for 18 years before I got married), they would move my mom downstairs so she wouldn’t have to climb stairs, and they wouldn’t have to sell the house.
My kids and I had just moved into a new apartment 2 months prior and we loved it there! But what was I supposed to do? Have my cousins sell the house from under my mom after she just lost both her sisters? I had to sell most of my furniture because it wouldn’t fit in this house. And the kids and I packed up again and moved. Right upstairs from my mom.
Within the last 2 years my mom has been hospitalized many times. The first five times was for colitis and CDiff. Each time she came home I had to take Family Leave from work to care for her (I don’t get paid for it because I work for a ‘bi state agency’). I did everything for her. Bathe her, fed her, made sure she took her meds, and every time she wound up in the ER I was the only one there with her for 10 hours at a time. (I have a brother but he is basically useless. Always has an excuse for everything).
Last year my mother suffered a massive stroke. Thankfully it was a blood vessel in the back of her head that closed so all it affected was her walking. But it was touch and go and in order to save her life I had to have her transferred to a New York Hospital (NYU). She was there for 7 weeks, during which time I literally left my kids on their own and lived at the hospital for the first month then drove back and forth every day. (We live in NJ and it cost me my entire tax refund on tolls and parking during that time).
My mom spent time in 2 ICU’s and at one point was in a coma. The hospice team came to her room one day and told me my mother would never open her eyes or walk again. (Imagine our surprise when she opened her eyes that night and told us she was hungry!). Following 5 weeks at a rehab facility (Where we had to spend one night in the ER due to my mother being in excrutiating pain with her arthritis), my mother finally came home.
I love my mother. But I am burned out. I work full time and thank God my kids are older (Daughter 21, son 18), but for the last five years all I have done is concentrate on my mom. I haven’t been to the beach in five years. My mom has an aide with her during the day while I’m at work, but as soon as I come home, it’s all me. I’m tired enough as it is from getting up early each morning, and to come home and have to see to all of my mother’s needs is exhausting.
I have come to despise weekends, because I’m stuck home with my mom, taking her out wherever she needs to go on Saturdays and then trying to figure out what to do with her on Sundays because she hates staying home. There is absolutely no one to give me a break. It is such a chore getting her in and out of the house, down the stairs, in and out of the car with the walker or wheelchair, and I am just… tired. Tired to the point where I am beginning to feel so guilty because I feel so resentful. And knowing someday she won’t be here with me and I’ll wish for these days back makes me feel worse. But for right now, I just want to get rid of this anger and the feeling that all I want to do is cry. I know there are so many out there who have it so much worse, like having parents with dementia who don’t even recognize them anymore. But no matter what role of caregiver you play, it is hard as hell.