I was my Mom’s caregiver for six years before she died. It was one of the most rewarding and the most difficult jobs I have ever done. She was a very stubborn woman and trying to get her to do what she should was almost impossible. She was angry that her body was wearing out and she didn't have the strength to do everything she could do when she was younger. Her heart was in terrible shape and she lived longer than anyone thought she would. She had Congestive Heart Failure. Eventually she died in her own bed in her own home. Her cat Pixie stayed with the body for twelve hours until my brother came home from work and found her.
I tried to care for my older brother but this time I was not successful. The horror of Vietnam finally destroyed him. I came down to North Carolina to help his only child and three grandchildren. He was supposed to follow me down but turned to drink instead. You can’t be a caregiver to someone in denial and from a long distance away. I cleaned up his messes and sold the parent’s house. The money enabled one of my younger brothers to move to North Carolina.
It is déjà vu time as I take up the mantle of caregiver one more time. Reid is 5’6” and 108 pounds. He suffers from severe diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis. He is in constant pain. He didn’t take care of himself and now we cannot get him well. I can only care for him the best I can.
This caregiving job is going to be physically much tougher than taking care of Mom. Mom remained mobile until the end of her life. Reid cannot get around without a walker and we are looking into a portable wheelchair for him. He is at my apartment for the time being until I can get his set up. He will literally be 80 steps away from me. He needs some independence but he will also need a great deal of care.
Because my place is crowded with furniture he has trouble getting to the bathroom. After having to clean up after him and do loads of washing we got him a urinal. I keep it emptied. He has trouble getting up and down from the toilet seat and I have had to clean him up after bowel movements. The hard part is trying to convince him he doesn't need to be embarrassed. As I remind him I was the big sister and helped to change his diapers. I'm not seeing anything I haven't seen before.
I am trying to get him to stop eating junk food and eat healthy. Fortunately he loves my cooking and getting healthy meals down isn't a problem. The problem is making sure he drinks enough fluids to keep from being dehydrated. The problem is getting him to remember to check his blood sugar level and take his insulin. The problem is trying to keep a cheerful look on my face when he is suffering so much pain.
This is going to be a difficult caregiving assignment. I moved him out here so I can look after him. He will deteriorate with the M.S. I am battling a crooked moving company and still need to see what all was destroyed in the move. I have to set up a disabled apartment for him. The bathroom needs to have a shower chair and I need to install a wand showerhead for him. I need to make sure the furniture is set up in a way that he can get around in a wheel chair.
The problem is going to be trying to do this with my own health not being that good. I have severe arthritis and C.O.P.D. I still have to stay strong enough to get him up off the ground when he falls. It isn't easy.
Reid is seven years younger than me and looks 20 years older. With Mom I knew she was getting up there in years and I wouldn't have her for a long time. Reid is a younger brother. This wasn't supposed to happen to him. Somehow I will have to find the strength both literally and emotionally to help him. I’m all he has to take care of him. Pixie has already gone back into care giving kitty mode. She will check on Reid to make sure he is all right. So it is once more into the breach or care giving redux. I will do this one more time because I’m the big sister and I owe it to him.