Caregiver of the Month Spotlight
Karen Evans AKA KEvans7416
As many of you kow, I am the primary caregiver for my mother who will be 84 in June and is failing rapidly. Although I am disabled myself, I would not choose to be anywhere else. I feel that my mother took care of me for the first 18 years of my life and it's now my turn to take care of her.
This is not my first time being a caregiver. In December 1969 my father was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and at that time I was married with a 4 month old baby. I bundled up the baby (my daughter Debbie who was born in August, 1969) and stayed with Dad and my grandmother so my mother could go to work for a few hours. While at Mom's house I would get the washing done, take care of my dad and my grandmother. Then back home to fix dinner for my husband and finish my own housekeeping. Dad really enjoyed being around and playing with Debbie, and I was happy that I could help my mother and grandmother.
We lost my dad on April 30, 1970 after being in a coma for two weeks. His funeral was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced. I just couldn't believe I didn't have Dad to talk to anymore, but I learned that in talking to God, I know He gives my messages to Dad. I truly believe this, as I've had some answers to questions that I know had to come from my father.
Since then it has been just Mom and I taking care of each other. When I was having so much surgery she would stay with a friend of hers in Louisiana near the hospital so she could be with me most of the day.
In January 1999, she fell off of the end of the bed, breaking her wrist, and it was the beginning of the downhill of her health. One week after she had the cast removed she was admitted to the hospital with staff pneumonia, staff infection of the blood, COPD and CHF. Then we found out she also had A-Fib, osteoporosis, TIA's and several regular strokes as shown on the CT scan. She has been in and out of the hospital and in rehab twice. I have been to and from the hospital every day and to the rehab center every day for day-long stays.
The second time she went to rehab, I was in the hospital in Louisiana with more blood clots. I have been in the hospital 4 times since 1999. The first time, Mom's cousin was able to help and the second time I had to leave my brother in charge. Without going into details, my brother is an alcoholic. His wife is supposed to be on Prozac (but doesn't take it) and is totally undependable. That puts me the one and only caregiver. I would not have it any other way. They don't know how and aren't capable of taking care of her on a 24/7 basis.
I do have an adjustable bed and have the computer set up by the bed so I can have my legs elevated while on the computer. We tried to get more help than home health. Mom does have an aide 5 days a week now, with Hospice and a nurse twice a week. The Social Worker put my disability check in with Mom's income, which I questioned as I was paying rent and not living at Mom's house rent-free, but evidently Mom falls between the cracks for financial help. She has too much to qualify for any other help and not enough to live on. Thank goodness my step-father was retired military, as she can get some of her medications free at the Air Force Base, and he also retired from Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. so she has her medicare supplement paid for and doesn't have to pay for that. She also has a presciption card, so her medicines that aren't free at the AFB are discounted at a local pharmacy.
I miss being able to visit with my daugher and grandchildren, who live back in Louisiana, but she comes to visit as often as she can. She's a teacher in high school and is taking college classes for her Masters' Degree, and is expecting her third child.
Although I feel at times that I am letting her down, and I do miss seeing my grandchildren terribly, her mother-in-law is a tremendous help to her for which I am very thankful.
I still belong to that church even though it's in Louisiana and I'm now in Mississippi. But Mom and I do sit together on Sundays and watch church on TV, and at times the Deacons of the First Baptist in Long Beach bring us the "Lord's Supper" when they serve it in church. If not for my faith in God I don't believe I could do what I've been able to do and still survive. In my opinion, you have to have a belief in some type of higher being to lean on, to pray to and to ask help from. That is my Lord. I think I've become much closer to the Lord because of Mom's illness and that it's Him who is helping me through these dark days and showing me the light.
I've learned to set boundaries that I will not let my brother cross and what to do if he tries. Thanks to Gail, Joan and Patti, I realize I don't have to take his abuse just to keep Mom happy. I can stand up for myself without upsetting her. I am sure some of you remember there was a time when I didn't know HOW to stand up to him when he was running all over mom and me; but thanks to Gail, who one Thursday night, kept on me to get "EMPOWERED," I finally realized I could do it and the next day I let my brother and sister-in-law know that "from now on if they upset Mom, they would be told to leave." Now that I am feeling empowered, if he comes over and he's been drinking or is ugly, I tell him to leave. So far, it's been working and according to what I have heard, he is scared of me to some extent because I will no longer listen to him and "kow-tow" to him. I am standing up for Mom and myself now. I am also able to take charge in other areas of my life as well. This makes me feel strong and wonderful.
Thanks to all of you who I email and IM with me. I'll never know how to thank you for being there for me. I especially want to thank those of you who sent me get-well wishes this month when I was hospitalized for a week. I hope I have been there for you as well. This group has made such a difference in my life, and I thank all of you for your opinions, your help ,your concern, your prayers and most of all your love.
Karen Evans AKA KEvans7416
EMPOWERING CAREGIVERS features the "CAREGIVER OF THE MONTH SPOTLIGHT". If you know of a unique caregiver who you would like to honor or perhaps submit yourself, please send a jpg photograph (if one is available) along with your story. All submissions must be received by the third week of each month to be considered. In the subject line, please type CAREGIVER SPOTLIGHT SUBMISSION. Submit your entries here:firstname.lastname@example.org
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