I had a scare yesterday that literally put me in the hospital. I had for a couple of weeks felt pressure in my chest along with heart flutters that would build up pressure and make me cough. Thursday was the worst day of it and so Friday morning I went to go get it checked out. I went to urgent care, they then sent me to the ER, then I got admitted for observation. After a few EKGs, blood tests, and being on a telemoniter for the night, they saw nothing and I asked if this could all be stress related. They said it very well could be. GREAT!! But after last night sitting in the cardiac wing of the hospital, I did a lot of thinking. That happens when you hear dings, all hours of the night. Then you have people coming in to check this and that. Needless to say, sleep wasn’t happening much last night.
I had been thinking about all that has gone on in the last couple of years. Mom diagnosed with dementia, my husband had to quit working a job that he loved (for the most part), starting our own business, having to halt the business twice (once for health, once because the truck was wrecked), not having a normal income, and the diagnosis of cancer for my mom, being her caregiver for 2 years, 1 1/2 of it on my own. Watching my mom die was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. She was my best friend. And sitting in the ER yesterday, I nearly broke down because she was always by my side keeping me company and calm. But, I didn’t cry because I didn’t want to have to explain why I was crying. Being a caregiver for 2 years is/was hard enough. But, to watch the person that brought you into this world, the one that was by your side in the hospital day in and day out as a baby.. it does something to you. Then to add in the fact of our financial crash and working on getting it back to normal, that I know is to much for anyone to deal with.
I am one to bottle up my emotions. I will talk about things, but I hold things back. Well, I guess I bottled them up to much, to the point I was physically feeling it. I said that after mom passed away, I was going to turn off my phone and just hide for a while. I never did. Now, here it is 2 months after mom has passed, I may finally do it. Between the school shootings, the threats of school shootings, including my son’s school, the politics, I need a break. I have to make myself a priority. This is something I didn’t do taking care of mom, taking care of the my family, and taking care of all the funeral stuff. I don’t know how I did it all. I just know I did it because I had to.
Now, I am paying the price. My grandmother, my mom, and I have always been the caregiver type. My grandmother adopted my uncle and cousins because the need was there. She was everyone’s Nanny. No matter who you were, you called her Nanny. My mom was an LVN and sadly had to quit nursing due to an injury. But, she would give the shirt off her back, you her last dollar, and would help in anyway needed. I learned nothing but compassion from them. I learned to give without asking for anything. But, I never learned that I needed to take care of me. I lost weight because I almost quit eating. Even now, I don’t eat like I should. The weight loss is nice, but still. Now, here I am saying this to every caregiver out there. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!!!
As a caregiver, we forget to take care of ourselves. I wrote a post a little while back called Pouring From Empty. It talks about taking care of ourselves before we take care of others. You can’t just keep giving and giving. You will run out of steam. Its not about if, its when. I didn’t think that I was doing a bad job on taking care of me. I have been more on top of what I do, what I eat, drink, and take. But, I was neglecting the mental part. That is why I ended up staying the night at the hospital on the cardiac floor. Long term stress will damage your heart and liver. And we need both of those to live. So we HAVE to take care of them. Caregiving changes us. It changes how we react to things. I now more than likely have PTSD from taking care of mom like I did, along with watching her die. Watching her scream in pain when they turned her to clean her. When she passed, I helped the hospice nurse roll mom to clean her up. When we turned her, I still heard her screams. I will never forget that. Now, I can see why mom was adamant about staying for me. She knew I leaned on her so much. I told her I would be ok and I feel like I have failed her on that. I am not ok. I have a huge piece of me missing. Losing a parent is like losing a limb. I am telling you all, please do not feel guilty for asking for more help. If you feel like you need it, then you do. There are agencies out there for respite care. Your loved one may not want it, but you do it anyways. Don’t end up in the hospital with a major scare like I did.