life stories

the center of the universe is the brain

The Angry Caregiver

Preface: I live in Alaska and came to my mother’s house in upstate New York to help her transition home following a hip fracture, replacement and rehabilitation. My sister lives ten miles from here in Richmond, MA. She has a daughter with severe disabilities including no mobility and no speach. Prior to the hip fracture, my mother was completely independent and very active, always on the go.

Following Mom’s doctor appointment yesterday, I told my sister I needed a break. She said, “I don’t know what to do.” Clearly she was not going to offer respite.

She said, “I’ve been out of the house all day and I feel like I need to be here right now.”

Mom is not ready to be left alone so I am quite trapped. I am displaced. I am away from my home, my family, my friends and my work. If it weren’t for the Internet and videochat my own depression would not be manageable right now.

I accepted my sister’s response to my need but this morning I was angry when I woke up. I’ve given too much. “You’re doing a great job,” my sister keeps saying. Of course I am. But I could do better if I had my own support system. If I had my loves and comforts and inspirations I could rest and rejuvenate.

This house holds no nourishment for me. Mom’s friends are kind and remind me to take care of myself. I can’t say I’m doing a very good job at that. I’m turning to my unhealthy comforts of ice cream and junk food.

When I started on this journey I told myself it wasn’t about me. I was putting my life on hold to take care of Mom. I was wrong. A person cannot put their life on hold. This is just as much a part of my life as it would be if I had chosen without any sense of obligation.

Wherever I go, whatever I’m doing, whomever I’m caring for, it’s somehow about me.


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