Physical and mental issues from caregiving.

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My sister Geri died August 10 2013 and she and i always took care of mom . My sis just turned 49 died of a PE and heart attack....Mom has Alzheimer's and bil DVT's , history of. a fractured back and osteoarthritis .iGeri and I were RNs , I still work full time in a hospital . Now I take care of mom really alone I send her to,day care on days I work , we have to get up at 4:30 am to get her ride on the paratransit and me to work at the hospital for my 12 hour shift . A caregiver lets her in when she gets home at 6pm. Mom is 78 retired nurse of 50 years , she is a strong woman. She is min assist transfer and walks short distances . Anyway I am starting to get sick first I thought it was stress and grief , because I am still grieving . But my ANA blood work was very high and I have all the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis and Lupus .they are still testing I feel very tired all the time and even my patients say I look sick. I get sick so, often I go to work very ill. My WBC is low which is a sign of lupus, and I just hurt all over . Mom is not really a hard pt to take care of ..... Can deep raw grief and caregiving make you sick ? Any advice or your stories of getting ill . Thank,you in advance you are all awesome

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In my opinion, you need to find some alternate arrangements for mom at least until you can get yourself back in better mental and physical shape. Yes, stress can make you sick. As a nurse, I'm sure you know in your heart of hearts that's true.

You NEED to put yourself first and take care of your own health first in order to be there for your mom long-term. It's not weak to put her in a facility for 2-3 months (or longer) to give yourself time to heal. Working 12 hour shifts is a killer for anyone! Getting up at 4:30 PM is a killer for anyone! You need to change your life so that you have a healthy future. Please keep us posted!!
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I'm no expert, but I read a lot and I think stress and undue anxiety can cause a lot of health issues. Plus, getting enough sleep is huge! Lack of sleep can really rob you of time your body needs to heal itself.

You probably are upset and rightfully so that you lost your sister and now have all the responsibility of care giving. It takes more on you than you think.

I would get an evaluation from a professional to get an idea of your emotional health. From there I would try to get out from under some of the responsibility. It's a personal decision, but when your health starts going downhill, you have to take action to save it.
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I believe that grief (or any type of sustained emotional toll) and stress can make us vulnerable to illness which is why we need to take extra special care of ourselves when we're going through emotional and/or mental strain. Get extra rest, make sure we eat and are getting enough fluids, don't push ourselves.

Continue to follow up with a rheumatologist. I have lupus and it's not easily diagnosed but if I am particularly stressed out for a period of time I become symptomatic. I can become symptomatic without the stress but stress doesn't help. To take care of myself when I'm working I get up earlier than I really need to so that I can start my day off in a calm and slow manner. No rushing around.

And as caregivers I think we're particularly prone to illness as we tend to put someone else's need ahead of our own everyday. Plus, caregiving takes such an emotional toll that it makes us vulnerable to illness as well.

These are just my opinions, they're not based on anything, but it's what I believe.
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My SIL has some mental issues that leads her to be stressed out in caregiving of her narcissistic mom who treats her more like a slave than like her daughter which is how she treated her husband. Debra has an emotionally enmeshed, codependent relationship with her mom that has contributed to Debra's physical and mental decline as a uterine cancer survivor since 2001. Thus, she is sacrificing herself in the name of honoring her mother, but also not honoring her marriage or honoring the care of her own self.

I can't tell you how many times this spouse/parent enmeshment issue comes up in people's stories with its collateral damage to both marriages which normally are destroyed as well as the mental and physical destruction of the caregiver all stemming from what professionals call emotional incest. Something should be done with parents who make their children their emotional substitute partner in childhood as a means of grooming them for the future.
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