I am so grateful to have found this group. Reading many of the posts has left me feeling less isolated and somewhat normal (or as normal as one can be in this situation). I have been a caregiver since I was a child and I am now 57 years old. I had a close relationship with both of my parents. My mother had many health issues, so it was necessary for me to grow up rather quickly to tend to her health episodes. Both my parents are still living (mom 84 & dad 86). They have been as independent as they can be, but during the last 2 years they both experienced critical health issues (mom sepsis and dad a heart attack and also has dementia). Prior to that, I tended to my mother's frequent spinal fractures as a result of severe osteoporosis, from hospitalizations, to procedures and treatments. I've been primarily responsible for their health care, as well as financial and legal needs.
I had a good job at a university and hour and a half from my home. I left the job since it was challenging to tend to them and it was really taking a toll on me...and that's before both of them took sick. Two weeks after i left the job, my mother ended up in ICU with sepsis. I spent a year getting her on her feet - many procedures, appointments, etc. Also challenging since they live an hour away. I finally got mom stablized in late May of this year and my father had a heart attack in early June. Outside of obviously being concerned about him, I couldn't believe I would have to repeat the prior year of caregiving all over again...I couldn't bear the thought of having the responsibility of navigating another individuals' medical care and adding another person to my caregiver list! The intensity of both situations has been overwhelming for me. I actually cried that day as mom and i followed the ambulance carrying my dad...I said "I just don't want to have to do this again." My mother responded sternly "that's what children do." I was so angry!!!!
Dad has been on the mend and has improved greatly, although he has declined from where he once was. We had to get him a feeding tube, because he wasn't eating, which has helped. He has gained weight, but is not ready to have it removed...he still has to put on some weight and eat more.
They finally agreed to a chair lift in the house and a PT caregiver once a week for a few hours...I begged for help for more than a year. My sister moved in with them, but she works full time - I'm not complaining, however, because her being there has helped a lot, although her involvement only began within the last year. She also battled cancer last year and, quite frankly, isn't taking care of herself, so God only knows how long she'll be able to help.
SO, onto why I'm writing....I feel like I lost my life. I don't have a l ot of time to do much of anything. My social circle includes maybe 5 people. I feel very isolated. The one thing I do for myself is try to take a class at the gym a couple of times a week to maintain my sanity. I no longer have dreams anymore....i don't have the luxury of thinking about what i want to do, because I am so preoccupied by constantly putting out fires and tending to health crisis after crisis. When I begin to try to focus on myself, I seem to always get derailed by circumstances. The summary i provided above is just a snippet of the episodes...the latest episodes...but this activity has existed for most of my life, although it has intensified the last few years.. I am so burned out with all of it. I feel imprisoned by my circumstances and hopeless that there will be any change. While i love my parents dearly, I feel like I am wasting my life...I try to be happy and grateful for my blessings, but caregiving is very challenging. I feel guilty for feeling this way, since I love my parents. I know they won't be around forever and one day I probably will be happy that I was able to help them...and I do want to help them, I am just extremely burned out, empty and sad.