Thursday, August 30, 2012

Caregiver Stress

A quick Mom update:  we admitted her to Life Care yesterday afternoon.  This is a good thing!

Life Care is located on the 8th floor of WK Pierremont, so she didn't have to move very far.  Life Care is an acute care hospital and is often where patients go when they have been released from an intensive care situation in a hospital but still need more acute, long term care.  I was told that patients stay there on average about three weeks (depending on the situation) before they can transition either home or to a nursing home or rehab facility.  Our plan is to get mom back up to her fighting stance and into The Glen for rehab.  It's a long road.

She's not seeing rabbits anymore; we had our first conversation today since probably Saturday.  Today I can say for sure that she knew who I was and where she was.  She was tracking previous conversations, too.  I told her that she will feel a little better every day, now, and she said, "That's what you told me yesterday."  Progress.

She's still got a Picc line and is getting fed through tubes in her arm, but she did eat a little soft food today.  I want to get those lines out of her ASAP.  They've backed off the pain med cocktail she was on and I think we're just back to Lortab today.  She's coming out of that drugged haze, I think, so, like I said, no more rabbits.

They will begin aggressive treatment and therapy, as much as she can tolerate, and she should show improvement each day, I think.

I was thumbing through this booklet they gave me while I was sitting there today and found this section on caregiver stress.  I've been mom's caregiver for the past seven years.  As I read through the list it occurred to me, to no great surprise, that I have every symptom.

That stressed me out more than anything.

But, it does make one more aware; you have to take care of yourself and too often we caregivers forget to do that.

There is support online for those who find themselves in the same boat.  Here's a Mayo Clinic site dedicated to caregivers.  One of the first things on their list to do to combat this situation is to "Accept Help" which has always been difficult for me to do.  I'm so lucky that Steve forces me to do that.  He insists I accept his help and he works hard to take as much of the burden off me as he can.

When this happened with mom last week, I had a long conversation with my daughter on the phone.  She has a newborn and lives in Dallas; I wanted to keep her apprised of developments but assure her that she needed to take care of her baby and not try to come over here unless the situation changed badly for the worse.  Knowing my tendency to carry the burden, she insisted that I ask for help from others.  I did; it wasn't wholly successful, but at least I asked.

Here's one more site from WebMD about caregiver stress.  I'm going to make an effort to follow some of the recommendations to combat this situation.  I've already begun by contacting a professional estate planner to help me with the overwhelming financial details and complicated estate decisions that should be made now to make things easier later.  I forced myself to leave the hospital earlier today by about two hours and to turn mom's care over to the professionals.  They know what they're doing and I don't need to sit there and watch her sleep.  I'm going back to work Tuesday which will be good for both me and mom.

And Steve is helping too; he's going to take me out to dinner at our favorite Mexican place tonight because a local band is playing that I love to listen to.

We've got a long way to go, but I saw some of Mom's fighting spirit coming back today and to me, that's progress!

Thanks for all your notes, emails, and continued prayers.


Red said...

You have a good husband. Take care of yourself Pat ;-) ::HUGs::

yukio ngaby said...

I'm very happy to hear that your mother is improving Pat.

Don't worry too much about the rabbits, people say weird things on drugs. My father was often seeing parrots on my mother's shoulders while he was in the hospital (we have never owned birds).

Do be careful as a caregiver. It's a very hard thing to be, and can be exhausting in ways few people outside of caregivers themselves understand.

Prayers and best wishes to you, your mother and your family.

Jazz One said...

Pat, you and your mother are in my prayers. I know it sounds simple but make sure you eat and sleep. That's from experience.

Bill said...

I had a friend who spent time in Life Care. I think you will be pleased with the care she receives. God bless your family.

Jayhawk said...

"I don't need to sit there and watch her sleep."

It can be comforting to do that for a bit, if she's sleeping comfortably, but it can indeed be overdone. Please do accept all the help that is offered to you and more importantly, much more importantly, be willing to ask for help when the water is deep.

Andy said...

Thanks for the update, Pat.

I don't have experience with Life Care at Pierremont, but I do with the one out on Linwood...fabulous care IMHO.