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Fri., April 4, 2008, 8:34 p.m.

Caregiving the Caregiver; or Not

This is a double-edged post. First question: Are you a caregiver? If so, what do you do to take care for yourself?

Second question: Did you or are you putting your aged parent(s) into a nursing home or will you care for your loved one yourself?

I help my Significant Other care for his mother. He doesn't work. I'll call him Lovie to protect the innocence or guilt of any party to my story. He moved from my house to his mother's, once she was released from a nursing home. Here's the history: Lovie's Mum had a very serious stroke May 16, 2005, one week after Mother's Day. Life has not been the same since. She was in a hospital for three weeks and only because she had an emergency surgery for peritonitis. They wanted her out in two weeks – so I frantically traveled around Spokane checking out one nursing home after another and nearly all of them dismal and grim at best. I found one in the general area of where her house is so friends would find it easy to visit her. Medicare will be for 100 days nursing home care after a hospital stay of overnight (maybe two nights – I can't remember). However, 100 days to the second, Lovie's Mum was out of there and we took her home to her house. It was a surreal nightmare for me. I knew we were stepping into it big time. We were met by a nurse who showed us how to thread the feeding tube pump. She showed us how to change the colostomy bag, how to cut just the right hole to place the colostomy seal over the stoma just right, like a donut. She showed us how to handle any breathing treatments. We had already learned how to change diapers and handle the breathing tube; how to exercise her atrophying left arm and left leg. While we were in this educational mode, I had a steady white noise blaring in my head caused by the unending, overwhelming, detail of it all.

We chose home for Lovie's Mum because that is what she wanted. However, I have talked to lots of adult children who replied, “of course that's what she wanted! That's what they ALL say!” It is around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week care. There is no such thing as a “good night's sleep.”

I happen to be solo care giving this weekend so Lovie can “get out of Dodge” and go to a swap meet/car show in Portland. So far, no problems and it's kind of nice not to have to go to work AND come home and work.

So – back to my two questions:

First question: Are you a caregiver? If so, what do you do to take care for yourself?

Second question: Did you or are you putting your aged parent(s) into a nursing home or will you care for your loved one yourself?




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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.