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Wow, guys, I just had a real scare and it ain't over yet!

I got sick with a virus that had me on antibiotics for three weeks and so tired that I could hardly move. At the same time, I strained my knee so badly that I have been limping in pain for a month--just went to the doc for that yesterday and will,hopefully, be on the mend.

Here is the thing: I got up close and personal with my role as a caregiver and what it means if I have limitations. OMG, was that scary. Remember (if you have read my posts before) that my husband does not drive but has never made the decision not to drive. His driving is FRIGHTENING in the extreme. But when I was sick, it meant that i had to leave the house to go to appointments, pharmacy, etc. I was so sick. One day I spent the whole day on the couch--not like me. At the same time my husband got worse, much worse, twice to ER, mopping up blood, pills, pain, etc. (sorry if you are eating breakfast). Yesterday the poor man, sick in bed, wanted a glass of juice (downstairs) and when I brought it up (in great pain from my knee), he wanted two pills (also downstairs). I thought for a minute that I was going to cry. At the same time, I don't want to make him feel guilty.

During these past weeks I realized that his whole operation depends completely on me. Anything that is going to happen, from washing dishes and cooking to getting to appointments and calling the oxygen machine repair man, dealing with the lawn guy--EVERYTHING depends on me.

Somehow I had not really grasped this before. His has been a gradual letting go of responsibilities. Now, all at once, he has let go big time and, for the first time, I see what that means when I am not functioning at 100%. In a word, it was h*ll. Just making meals was such a drag. And my husband who used to cook sometimes, now does't even clear his dish from the table.

Fortunately, his son is coming to stay with him for a few days so I can take my grandkids on a little vacation. It is awful to say, but my life with my grankids is so much easier than with my husband. I long for these bits of respite.

Anybody else?

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Living close to a big city certainly helps. Unfortunately, we live in a rural area where assistance is sparse and usually stretched to the limit. Having a back up plan is a great idea. Since I am the only family member who helps out, when I get sick all h**** breaks loose.
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Hey cwillie, Fortunately for me and my friends, when they realized the wife needed 24 hour care, they had enough ladies on hand ready to work that the care began right away. All I had to do was say "yes, go ahead." We are in a big city suburban area and perhaps that helps. One of the ladies had worked in a hospital most of her career as a nurse's assistant until the job got too physically heavy for her, and a younger lady was just learning all the ropes in this kind of care. They would stay 24 hours a day for 5-6 days straight, then switch off. When the wife would get up at night, they would hear her moving around and check to see what she was doing. When she tried to get out of their condo, they would guide her back to bed, making sure she went to the toilet again first. They kept extensive written records of their observations and their actions in a 3 ring binder for the wife and a separate binder for the husband. They also cooked and did the laundry as needed with the soiled clothes and bedding.
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Hi, just touching bases again. Thank you everyone for excellent advice. I am still in shock and awe. won't know what is really up until tomorrow afternoon. But, truly, knowing there are people out there who understand is a huge, huge help.
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JohnnyJ, there are many options for a planned vacation or surgery, not so much for emergency care. Even if you already have aides coming into your home on a regular basis they are not usually available without notice and many agencies offices seem to keep bankers hours.
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Well I can relate it's difficult being the only care giver and all of the house responsibility falls on you inside and out! I had a total knee replacement Thank God I listened to my son to have it did before his deployment praying that everyone gets the much needed support!
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When we were getting ready to leave town for a couple of weeks, I found an organization that provides in-home health services to help my two friends with dementia and over whom I have the POA for their health care and finances. It was a great move. They were well cared for until we got back and when the wife suddenly became incontinent and started to wander, the agency could provide 24 hour care until I could get them into an assisted living-memory care unit about 2 months later. There was only so much time I could give to these friends so outside help was essential. And, they provided knowledgeable care and could do things with the wife that was beyond what I should be doing as a male friend of theirs. The reality of their needing more help than I could provide finally sunk in, and once I saw all the help such an agency could provide, it was a huge load off of my shoulders. It was not cheap to do, but my friends had enough cash assets to pay for this and using their money for their care made it seem o.k. for me to authorize the extra help. There are no children or close relatives to help. A cousin from Illinois is 2nd power of attorney and I keep her informed via emails of how they are doing and she sometimes drives up to Minnesota for a weekend to visit and see how they are doing. She is a nurse professor and her medical background helps in evaluating their situation. Find an in-home care agency near you or ask around to find out what others have done. It doesn't have to be all on you! Call adult protective care for advice. They can suggest other possible solutions.
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Salisbury, in the business-world if an employee isn't able to do something another employee steps up to help.

So many fail to realize in the home-world if the wife/husband/sig other is out of commission, there isn't another wife/husband/sig other to step in to help. What is left is a spouse/sig other or teen children who don't know how the washing machine works, can't identify the appliances in the kitchen, or can't figure out how to get the fitted sheet to go on the bed.

Thank goodness the younger generation is cross-trained :)

In the mean time we limp along with shooting pain, while the rest of family wonder why we are so grumpy :P
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Right, I know. Have appointment with Orthopedics on Monday. Had to send kids back with father and girlfriend--not good. Father works, girlfriend does nothing with kids. Will not take them to beach--two miles away. Grrrrrrrr...
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I have no backup plan yet. Keep thinking about it but have a hard enough time to get someone to stay with MIL.(She's no problem usually, at least to other people--just the perfect person to them). I have had a sitter twice in the past 7 1/2 months. It's not the money paying for it just that no one wants to be tied up occasionally they want a more pemanent job. Husband usually watches her so I can go to the store. I've just about had it. No sleep, always watching and listening to monitor. We get up at 4:00a.m. so husband can go to work. MIL gets up at different times to pee. Usually 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 or 3:00. Who knows when she will get up. She is not to get up by self. Must call for us so we can come down stairs and help her. According to her he can get up by herself. Well she set the alarm off this morning. Had her walker (surprising) and was going around in circles trying to see where the noise was coming from. I had put packing tape across the turn off button so she doesn't disarm it. Felt blip in heart, probably just pacemaker slowing me down as I was highly aggitated. Got to find someplace for her to live--not here anymore. Health is taking its toll. Will start asap to find her a NH.
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Ouch, Salisbury... oh yes, if everything depends on you, it will continue to depend on you after you are all healed.... because everything you do is YOUR JOB.

If I stop doing something around the house, it will sit there forever and I will need to start dusting it :P
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And, YES, I need a back up plan and am grateful for the wake up call!
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Remember I said it ain't over yet?

Well, the day before yesterday we spent the day in the hospital for my husband. Then yesterday I was carrying a box of wooden locks down to the den for my grandkids and --wham--something behind my knee popped . I screamed and screamed and could not put any weight on my leg. Was on couch for rest of day with company coming. Will go to hospital today. Getting through yesterday (with company, lunch for eight) was a nightmare. I actually saw, and so did my husband, what I actually do around here.

Please keep me in your prayers. I have 2 children here who want to have fun with Nanny.
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P.S. My Mom is understanding about my injury but she keeps hinting about trying yet another new hearing aid place, and those doctor appointments I had to cancel last and this month. Couple weeks ago my Dad called me and asked if I could go over to Home Depot to pick up a 20 lb bag of fertilizer... HELLO?

My sig other is busy taking me to x-rays and to the orthopedic doctor, and running my errands, he doesn't have free time to help my parents.

Wait a minute, how come my parents don't have a back up plan???
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Salisbury, hope you will be on the mend real so... I understand what you are going through, believe me, I do.

Back up plan? No siblings, no children, no back up plan. Early last month I broke my shoulder, which means 8 to 10 weeks of healing because of my age, then rehab... hopefully I can get back to driving by then.... of course it was my right shoulder so my doctor grounded me from driving, shifting gears would send a lightening bolt through me.

It's been an eye opener for me as to what the future might bring. If my sig other becomes ill to a point where he can't get around, nothing will change for me as I already do 80% of the housework, and 100% responsibility for the yard work. Ok, he gets the cars inspected, but what's that, twice year? The garage changes the oil and does the repair work, he waits in the waiting room. And we are both employed.

I am eying that really nice retirement village down the road, but he wants no part of that. Doesn't matter, I have started downsizing my "stuff", and plan to move in a couple of years either with or without him. I do not want to be like my parents roaming around a large home when I am in my 90's, or 80's, or even 75, and worrying about shoveling snow, raking leaves, climbing ladders, and not having transportation.
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Thanks, guys. I just spent the day in the ER with my husband and am too tired to write more but will tomorrow. For now, thanks so much.
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Yours is the dilemma of every caregiver. And every caregiver should have a backup plan. Those plans need to be made well in advance of burnout.

My advice to you is to have a wonderful trip with your grandkids! And, as soon as you get home, to investigate options for the future with your local Council on Aging. Their social workers will answer your questions and help you wade thru the complex decisions you are almost guaranteed to have to make in the future.
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I moved to a house 1 block away from our doctor's office and the local hospital in part because I figured if I was ever incapacitated or I reached a point where I couldn't handle it anymore my mom would have to go to the hospital until we could make other arrangements. I didn't take into consideration what I would do if I was sick, but not sick enough to have to carry out my back up plan. A few weeks ago I was hit with a nasty stomach bug, I could barely crawl out of bed yet my mom was depending on me to feed her, toilet her, reassure her. We survived, but it was certainly extra stress I didn't need right then! I still haven't found a solution to that, although I guess if I really needed her to my sis would step up and figure it out. (I hope so, anyway)
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Salisbury, you ask a good question. We do need to have a standby plan, so if we get sick we can call someone and get things taken care of. For some people it would be family. Others would have to call an agency or consider respite care for their loved ones. I don't have a plan in place for myself, either. It is something that we need to get in place, so we'll know what to do when the need arises.
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It may be time for you to consider some changes. House with no stairs, maybe some respite care for husband so you can have a break. Is mom stil in AL?
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