Welcome to Tuesdays with Mom. My goal is to share with you the tears, the laughter, the joys and the frustrations of being a part-time caregiver and a full-time advocate for my mother, Barbara. It's the hardest job I've ever had and yet the most rewarding. My hope is that we can start a conversation, learn from and support each other through this shared experience.
Being a caregiver for a family member is a individual journey, but we are not alone. According to a 2015 AARP study, there are approximately 15.7 million family caregivers in the US providing care for a person with Alzheimer's. Overall, there are nearly 40 million family caregivers who provide care to an adult family member.
If I have 40 million caregiving peers, why does it feel so lonely? It's time for me to reach out and share my stories with the intention of providing and receiving support.
My journey begins 5 years ago when my mother's health started to decline. In the Fall of 2012, she had a major diverticulitis attack which involved perforated intestines and a wicked infection. She spent a week in the hospital then came home with a PICC line for daily antibiotics and a drain for, you know, the infection. (Yuck). While we had the support of wonderful Visiting Nurses, Mom was under the care of Dad and me. We used to kid around that we were B and D Nursing (Bruce and Debbie) and we had no idea that we were predicting the future. That Fall, we made it through 2 months of daily antibiotics and care for Mom.
The night before Mom's surgery was difficult. Prepping for intestinal surgery is worse than preparing for a colonoscopy. Lots of laxatives and antibiotics. Mom has a very strong will and she refused to take some of the medicine. I spent hours with her, cajoling her to take the meds with little success. I made frantic calls to the nurses who assured me everything would be ok. At one point, in sheer frustration, I walked out of the house in tears and went to the mall to clear my head. My Dad was the hero that night, he sat with her, got her to take some of the meds and she eventually settled down and was able to sleep.
She had a lengthy intestinal surgery that was successful except for the part that she was under anesthesia for more than 6 hours. We've learned that anesthesia is not a good thing when potential neuro issues are present. Stay tuned for more on that part of the story.
My Dad is a Funeral Director and the nicest guy I know. He retired in 2008 and was asked to come back to work part-time in 2010. This part-time work was good for my Dad because in retirement, he and my Mom didn't have much to do. They worked hard all of their lives and didn't develop many hobbies.
Dad now works Tuesdays and Fridays, and is Mom's full-time caregiver. Over the past 5 years, when Mom was sick and Dad needed to work, I would spend the day with Mom. As her health has declined, we enrolled Mom is a local Adult Day Center (ADC) which was a great experience for her. At this time, she is unable to return to the ADC program and I spend Tuesdays and Fridays with Mom.
Recently, my boyfriend asked where I was going and I replied, "remember it's Tuesday with Mom". He said "that should be the name of your book" and I replied, "No, it should be the name of my new blog!" and this blog was born.
I hope you will join me here and share your experiences, advice, questions, concerns, tears and laughter. My intention is to create a space where we can support each other as caregivers.
Please leave a comment below. Share a thought, a story. Ask a question. Ask for support. You are not alone.
Wishing you peace, love and inspiration, Deb
Debbie is a wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend to many. She served as a part-time caregiver and full-time advocate for her mother, Barbara, who passed away from Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Dementia in July 2018. Her mission is to help caregivers not only survive but thrive during their caregiving journey!