Caregiver Burn Out

CRPS Shazz blogged a great WikiHow piece the other day called “How To Understand Someone With Chronic Pain.” I shared it with friends on Facebook, because even the most considerate and loving people in my life don’t get it – how can they?

The last item on the list, screenshot below, just became extremely relevant in my life as my husband yesterday asked me hesitantly if there were any way I would consider taking the girls across town to my parents’ house to stay for a few days. I was taken aback, then felt horribly guilty (more guilt!). He hasn’t slept well in weeks. He has issues of his own, and has even been getting migraines, while caring for me, our two daughters, and a dog. This includes getting food on the table, dishes, grocery shopping, bill paying, homework wrangling, laundry, and his own work stuff which he’s been doing (and neglecting) from home. The poor dog hasn’t been exercised properly in weeks and is chewing things up, the house is a mess, the kids are fragile and fighting while being incredible troupers. We’re all doing the best we can, even the dog. I said, of course, john, I’ll talk to my parents right away.

So here I am in my parents’ upstairs, their room, the girls in my and my brother’s old rooms, my parents in the basement family room pull-out couch. We ate a wonderful meal, and my partner at home trained Asia to “lie down,” re-attached the basement sink and cleaned the sump pump, all this evening. He has many catching-up kind of plans, but all I want is for him to relax and sleep and take care of HIMSELF for a change.

And tomorrow… crossing my fingers for extra spoons. I will be chaperoning Zo’s preschool field trip to the Pumpkin Patch and taking the girls (black cat & fox, thank you for picking easy things sweethearts!) to Downtown Trick or Treat.

Good night from across Main Street, my love.

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5 thoughts on “Caregiver Burn Out

  1. last year my grandma died. the year before that, her son (uncle to me) committed suicide. he was her caregiver because they lived in the same building and he never had a family of his own, and he would have it no other way. before i continue i should make sure to point out that the suicide had NOTHING to do with being a caretaker. nothing at all, so it wasn’t burnout or anything. he probably stayed alive longer BECAUSE he was a caregiver actually. anyway, my grandma’s only other child was my Mom. so in addition to her migraines & fibro, and having me with my daily migraine AND a condition which requires me to have a shunt (4 brain surgeries in 2 years), and a daughter in college with frequent migraines plus a husband who has problems from his service & near-fatal injury in vietnam, she now had her mother. grandma had cancer (her fourth kind), a colostomy (from colon cancer previously), and alzheimer’s. i did my best to help, but you know better than most that my trying to take care of someone when i couldn’t function was not working well no matter how hard i tried. we moved grandma in with us, and honestly, if she had been “all there” mentally we could’ve carried on for the rest of her life. unfortunately her alzheimer’s meant we got no sleep (literally we slept in shifts of two hours, which were ALWAYS punctuated with being woken up & convincing grandma she wasn’t due for her medication yet, which she obsessed over because the cancer gave her excruciating pain). we finally had to pay for caregivers. we used an agency, and she had two people who took shifts. the ONLY reason we were able is because my grandparents were extremely well-off, running in high DC circles and personally knew presidents as well as people like the Doles, who my grandpa had as patients at his dentistry practice. she saved her money wisely, set aside for just such a situation, and THAT is how she remained in her own home. still, my grandma’s mental health meant she was always calling at all hours, swearing the nurses were plotting to kill her, or stealing her medication (we counted pills so we know they didn’t), and one time she locked the nurse out after sending her downstairs for lunch from the deli and called the police because she was sure the nurse was going to kill her. my grandma was, as i said, moving in EXTREMELY high circles all her adult life, and was known as a classy lady. for her to be in this state was horrific to watch. when she died, it was a release for all of us, mostly her. still, it’s been 10 months and i cry all the time, wishing i could call her up or stop by, even if she would drive me nuts in her poor condition. all of that to say… i get it. i’ve been on both sides of the caretaking/care-receiving spectrum. for the sake of your marriage & your family, you MUST do ANYTHING IT TAKES to be sure everyone has their needs met. i know you know that, but sometimes i think we get too comfortable and don’t realize that adjustments are needed. they WILL surface, one day, some way, and by then it will be too late. most people can’t afford professional help – we couldn’t have without my grandpa’s estate – but you can do other things. like taking the kids to the grandparents for a few days, or having a babysitter watch the kids so your husband can relax for the evening. when you have enough spoons, try to either do something with him or send him out for a guys’ night. little things can go a long way. i know you’re aware of that, i’d just encourage you to ALWAYS do a mental check; ask yourself what everyone’s status is, and address problems NOW. you’ll regret it later if you don’t. my Mom nearly lost a job she’s had for 3 decades because she was always caring for others, and by the end of it, her health had suffered too. if she hadn’t tried to be a hero (out of love, of course!) maybe we would’ve thrived rather than simply survived.

  2. I’m so proud of you and your husband for being able to communicate about these needs and allow yourselves space to take care of yourselves. And that you have family nearby is *awesome*. Hugs on this journey.

    • Mara, thank you so very much for your kind words ~ they mean a lot. John has made some breakthroughs with his PTSD and I think they were able to occur because he had that little break from caring for us.

      I can’t wait to peruse more of your fascinating, beautiful blog! ❤

  3. Pingback: I am a Tri-Fecta of Caregiving and How it Effects Others | PickYourPain.org

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