I’m talking about when you think your loved one is going to pass away, and you call all the family, cry, say good-bye…and then they rally back to health.
You think you’d be relieved, but you’re exhausted, and if you’re like me, I felt a duped. Punked, like the new TV show calls it.
Caregivers who have made it to the end stage are fitful, worn out creatures who shouldn’t be messed with.
It’s not that I think my mother meant to, but we had already called hospice, and that was extremely upsetting because it means you face that the end is near.
I could barely say the word, “hospice” at first.
Calling all my mother’s family was grueling–to say this again, and again–“I don’t think mother’s going to be here much longer.”
I cleaned her room, bought new curtains, made things simpler, gathered photos for her memorial service, prepared my kids.
Then, things got worse: she wasn’t eating and I sat by her bed and drizzled melted ice cream bars into her barely parted lips. My back ached. I grappled with the idea of a feeding tube and decided not to. She had stated on her living will not to, but it was excruciating to wonder if I had done the right thing. I wiped her face, stroking her tissue paper skin.
I stopped everything–going anywhere. Cooking–my daughters took over for me. Church–we all felt weighted and no one knew exactly what to do with ourselves. Everyone just sat on the couch…waiting. I lived off of strong coffee.
That lasted for about three days–and nights.
Then, the next morning, I wake and she’s standing next to her little kitchen area. She looks alert, asks, “What’s for breakfast?”
Now, see the whole picture before you judge my reaction:
My hair is matted to the back of my head from sleeping in the recliner next to her bed, I’m in rumpled clothes, and my mouth feels like I squeezed white glue in it. I haven’t seen the sun in days and I have no idea if my family is still in tact.
I was a bit miffed. Confused. I think I might have let a few curse words fly.
What day was it? Where was I? I scrambled eggs, made her a tray and took a shower.
Yes, I was angry, but it was good to be angry.
What do I mean by that?
Anger, ironically is a positive emotion.
You can only get angry at something you believe you can change.
Apathy is when you’ve given up.
I didn’t want my mother to die, but I felt like someone had tied a rope onto my ankle and kept pushing me off a ledge. Caregiving had taken its toll. My emotions were strung so thin I had nothing left.
I hope letting you know that a “dry run” might be in your future will give you the heads up you need not to wear yourself slap out.
You never know what’s going to happen, but many people experience a “premonition,” an event that precedes the actual time of departure.
I believe it happens for a reason. It helps us get our thoughts and hearts aligned. It helps cushion the blow.
I actually walked around for a few days a bit ticked at her.
My life felt like I was walking into a room and knowing I went there to get something/do something but couldn’t think for the love of kittens what it was I wanted.
She toodled in her apartment (built onto our house), dozed, and we chatted. It’s hard to stay mad at someone who’s living on borrowed time and doesn’t know who the heck you are.
By then, she was referring to me as “little girl,” when she could find words at all.
What did I learn?
The will has more to do with life and death than a diagnosis.
A “dry run” was like trying on your parent’s shoes, coat and hat when you were a kid. It gave all us a bit of practice before the real deal comes along.
It felt good (in a way) to have her around to be mad at.