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Caregiver of the Month Spotlight
September 2000
Cheryl Brant AKA CKBrant
Caregiver Through Generations

Anyone who isn't acquainted with my family could assume that I am the caregiver for my husband, as he is wheelchair bound having had his legs blown off in Vietnam. However, this wonderful man is totally independent in most areas of his life. It is my mother for whom I am now a caregiver, and as she was diagnosed in February as being terminal with approximately six months to live, I realize her life is nearing an end. It is in "His" time though, not ours.

Mom suffers from breast/lung/liver cancer along with other ailments which include diabetes and congestive heart failure. She and my dad lived in Las Vegas with me in Washington State. After my dad passed away in 1992 I stayed with my mom to teach her how to drive again, pump gas and numerous other little things that would enable her to remain independent. I refused to leave her until I felt sure she'd be okay alone. I returned to stay with her on several occasions. My longest stay was 3 months in 1998 when she had half of a lung removed. Her most recent hospital stay convinced me that our situation needed to change, as I couldn't continue leaving my husband to care for my mother.

Mom came home with me in March after putting her house up for sale. Arranging a move such as this has proven to be a test of patience for me (which I'm not very good at!) I tried so hard not to make mom "give up" her belongings just after being diagnosed as terminal. However, moving into our home with furniture of her own was the test of all time. I cleverly packed everything into boxes and left that situation to fate. While we were still in Las Vegas, I made several suggestions to Mom, including expanding the living area she was used to at our house or renting a storage unit - all to no avail. We left Las Vegas with boxes packed for my brother to move at a later date.

When we arrived home, Mom realized that her belongings weren't going to fit and agreed to remodel her living area. "Remodel" in this case consisted of tearing out the bathroom, living room and two bedrooms to make two rooms into one. Drywall dust was definitely not good for someone with lung problems, but the changes are now in place. Although some things remain in storage, most of her things now fit.

Having mentioned my brother earlier, I should add that I have two brothers. The eldest, 10 years older than me, lives in California and has a drug addition that has caused him to have mental problems. My other brother is 8 years older than me and molested me as a child, although things like that were never spoken of in my family. My family has been dysfunctional for years. After my grandmother died when I was 14, I moved in with my grandfather so he wouldn't be alone. I realize that my "caregiving" began when I was young, and now that Mom is here it has brought back many of the old "feelings" of dysfunction. The issues of the past are creeping back into my life, as I now have to deal with both brothers more often due to Mom's living with me.

I have learned to set boundaries with respect to my mom. In the past she played a very destructive game of using one sibling against another. With the help of the Hospice chaplain and my learning how to set boundaries, I feel my relationship with my mom is on an uphill swing. Hospice has been a wonderful tool. I have learned it is okay to discuss burial plans. It is okay to have feelings of self doubt. It is okay to have all of these feelings one has when going through this kind of trial.

Jesus Christ is my "higher power" and I'm a firm believer that without Him I wouldn't get through this. This may sound strange to many people, but I personally can't wait to go home to Him, and with the help of the Hospice chaplain we are trying to get Mom to adapt to this way of thinking.

I found Empowering Caregivers while still at Mom's house in Las Vegas. I needed a place to "vent" my fears and anxiety, and to get answers to some of my many questions about the caregiving process in general. I found just what I needed at Empowering Caregivers. The first time I visited the chat, I met Karen (KEvans7416) and because we seemed to have so many things in common, we instantly became friends. Listening to Karen has prepared me for my journey through this dying process, as she has been through so much of this with her mom. Joan (NotelyJoan) was there the first time also, and again we found we had much in common which has helped me in many ways.

Gail has so much knowledge in this whole dying process and has counseled me on several occasions with words of wisdom. Without the Empowering Caregivers support I would be walking this trail alone.

Watching someone you love go through the dying process is not at easy thing. With God's help I believe I will get through it and I feel secure with the knowledge that I've done what I could to help her.


EMPOWER, NG 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 

© Copyright Gail R. Mitchell.

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