Friday, December 21, 2007

My Heart Goes Out to Caretakers

For the last few days, I have pretty much been the caretaker for my nine-year-old son. For those of you who have never had to do this, trust me on this, it is exhausting.

My son had surgery a few days ago and could barely walk for a few days. This meant that he spent a lot of time on the couch and anytime he needed food or anything, I would get it for him.

The first day wasn't too bad, except I was extremely tired as I didn't sleep more than about two hours the night before. He would ask for pancakes, or toast, and/or juice and I would happily, but groggily get it for him. Heck, I might as well have been whistling a happy tune as I lovingly made him the pancakes, toast and/or juice. I was his mommy and I was taking care of him. Awwwwww.

The second day, still not much sleep as I would check on him, oh say, every couple of hours throughout the night. I was very sleepy, and a bit grumpy, but still trying to keep his spirits up all the while getting his pancakes, toast, and/or juice. It seemed that every time I would finally get a chance to put my feet up and rest, it would happen. I would just get my eyes closed and get all relaxed when I would hear, "Mom. Would you please...." and it was either food, drink, or restroom. Ummmph. "Ok son, I will be there in a sec..." and I would about crawl to help him.

The third day I was so tired but he still needed help so I did what I could to make him comfortable. It was weird to me that I was getting irritated that he needed help and I just didn't want to make the food, drink, or restroom trips as I wanted a break too. But, he is my son and I love him so much so of course, I helped him. But, I was surprised to feel almost bothered that I had to help. I felt like a jerk. Cripes. This is my son, my little man, my cutie boy, and here I was getting irritated that I had to be bothered to help. Again, I will say it out loud, I felt like a jerk.

I can't imagine being elderly and having to help a sick spouse, yet I know there are people all over the world who are in that predicament. I am betting they want a break, a day off, or some rest and relaxation; but that day will never come. I never knew how exhausting it could be taking care of someone. I am lucky that I am in pretty good health and I knew that there would be an end to my being his caretaker for his every need. What about the people who are sick themselves? Who aren't strong enough to lift a person? Who know that they won't get a break? I wonder if they start to feel resentful towards the person they are caring for.

I didn't resent my son, but I can see how that could happen if it went on for a very long time with no end in sight. I wish that anyone who is caring for someone, I hope that a friend, relative, or anyone who cares, I hope that someone offers to sit with the sick person and give the caretaker a break, even if for only an hour or so. How sweet would it be to even let them go in another room and take a nap? I think it would give them a much needed break and lift their spirits so they can give the care that is needed with a happy heart, not a bitter one.

My son is much better now, but I really learned a lot this week. Caring for someone is very demanding and exhausting. It does feel good to know I took care of him when he needed me, but it was a lot of work. My heart goes out to caretakers.
(c) 2007 Cindy Breninger All Rights Reserved.


Kitty said...

I'm sure being a carer (as we call them here) is one of the hardest things to be.

Don't feel bad about how you felt - I'm sure all your son saw was a kind and caring mum! x

Zoe said...

i know exactly how you feel! by day 3 of amontes hospital stay i found myself being a little short with him and i felt horribly guilty. i used to work in hospice and care giver role strain is a huge issue.

ragdoll said...

Well, Cindy. You know you described Jim and me. ;-) And he doesn't understand why I worry about him (the caretaker). He does it all.... washing, changing my hospital bed after an uncooperating bladder *s*,keeping the pads, linen, and my jammies and gowns done up, keeps up with all the insurance (BIG job!), cooks - that is to take care of three different medical diets, and still too many more unnamed things each and every day, not leaving me unattended for very long at all without making sure we each have our cell phones. What few steps I can walk must be assisted. When pain free, I tend to get a little risky and take off on my own to do some little things.

You are SO right. Caretakers are worth gold if gold if the maximum. Mine just gave me some very special Christmas presents, not so much for "Christmas" but because of how rough I've been having it lately after the hospitalization and treatment (that serves as his R&R - I go to the hospital alone), and he felt *I* deserved a boost, something nice. Each was..... one utilized my mother's necklace (she died in '80), and another a special charm given to me in 1959. The ring was of him, of his choosing. He has been so wonderful to me this past week and then to top it off with these. BTW, don't know if you remember or not, but he is 68, I am 65. He had to have a biopsy the same day I was discharged from the hospital last Tuesday. Cindy, never fear. Even when it gets down to just the two of you (us), and you both are sick (us), some how, some way, together as one (us), you always make it (we're doing it!). Hence the title of my blog. Life does go on!

Thank you for all your help. When you are on your own time, I may be hollering for some more.... LOL!

Ragdoll who loves her caretaker ;-)