Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Summer of Our Discontent

It's hard to know sometimes how personal to get on a blog.

But when it comes to what's going on with my Mom, in some ways it's a little easier. If I don't feel like posting about it, I don't. And when I need to post about it, I do.

Driving back from the hospital today, I realized that I am drained. Exhausted. Both physically and mentally. When the Blue Jay was little and repeatedly spent large chunks of time in the hospital each year, I found that I could get through that. Stay with her at the hospital most nights. Advocate with the doctors and the nurses. Work. Take care of the Kit Kat. I could do all that. Until.

Until she came home and was okay again. Then it was my turn to crash. And crash I would. People would look at me and say "But the Blue Jay is fine. What's wrong with you?". They didn't get it, probably never would. I got through those awful times in hospital on pure adrenaline. But the adrenaline surge would always come to a crashing halt just as soon as she came home. Eventually I came to realize that. To know, understand and accept that about myself. It was just how I operated.

Today, in the midst of mentally wondering what the hell was wrong with me, I realized that it was happening again. I suppose that having taken care of Mom in some form or another ever since she was first released from hospital at the end of April to having her move in with us five weeks ago has taken its toll. And now that she is back in hospital, it's time to crash. How predictable. How me.

I thought I had learned to stop beating myself up for these times when I felt so exhausted and so useless. And perhaps I had in the context of dealing with the Blue Jay's world. But it looks like I need to learn how to do that again, to let go and be okay with it, knowing that this, too, shall pass.

Not that it's exactly easy now. It's just that some of the more in-my-face direct stress of caring for Mom physically is relieved. But it's so hard to see her like this. When she's awake and alert, she is so unhappy, so miserable to be in hospital even though she understands why she has to be.

But more and more now, that's not the complaint. She is just tired. So tired that she hardly eats. Today, she barely spoke. So I sit there and hold her hand. Talk to her. And work really hard for a smile. Which occasionally I am rewarded with. It's amazing how something we take so for granted on a daily basis, like a smile, can come to mean so much when it's rarely seen. I work hard for those smiles and when I am rewarded with one, everything is very nearly all right with the world. At least for a few minutes...

I found myself wondering today if somehow you come to touch the edge of your own mortality as you watch your parent slowly die. I do know that today the thought struck me that someday my children will have to deal with these very same feelings that I have now. And that there's not a damn thing I can do about that. Not for them, then. Not for me, now.


Kris, in New England said...

I can only offer and electronic hug - but it's a very big one and a very sincere one.

Balancing Act said...

Michelle - I can't even imagine or begin to know exactly how you feel. Caring for another as you have is emotionally and physically exhausting. Watching your parents grow old and the caretaker roles become reversed is always difficult to face. Here's a ((((Hug)))) for you.

MMC said...

Thank you, ladies. Both of you.
Who ever said that cyber-friends can't be real friends?

Punkys Dilemma said...

{{{{{{{{{ Michelle }}}}}}}}}}
I'm so sorry. I know exactly what you're going through. I only wish to God I could do more to help ease your pain. It's so hard to watch our parent suffer.
I have you in my thoughts and in my prayers.