Caregiver to Grieving in Four Days

Each day was a roller coaster by how he felt and how exhausted I was. I learned so much being a caregiver to my grandmother and grandfather. As the population ages many of you will take on the responsibility. One of the most difficult changes was going from granddaughter to caregiver. Even at 92 my grandfather had a strong mind and felt he didn’t need help. I prayer for strength everyday.

My grandfather died in 2010 at the young age of 92 years old. I spent more time with him 2010 year than I spent at home. I cherish the time we had together, no matter how painful. They are my memories and my life changed forever with his death. His health declined so fast that for two days I did not realize that he was dying now, not in a couple of weeks. He was at home under hospice care and would not get in the hospital bed until two days before he passed. He fell out of bed that morning, he was so weak it was difficult for me to get him back in bed. I don’t think we would have been able to talk him into moving to the hospital bed if he had not fallen. For him the bed meant death and he was still fighting. My grandfather had End Stage Kidney Disease. An emergency trip to the hospital for his AFIB is how we learned he had about two months to live. We knew his kidneys were losing function but I was not ready for a timeline. His doctor had not given me that impression on a recent visit so I asked her to review the hospital records. I was not surprised but very saddened that she agreed with the prognosis. It took a couple weeks for my grandfather to believe the doctors were right. Kidney failure is a silent killer and luckily not a painful one. You start sleeping more until you sleep yourself into a coma.

I arrived on Sunday afternoon after two days of relief and he didn’t look any different. Monday morning I knew he was out of it by the things he was saying but thought it was a bad day. Tuesday I knew he was weak when he fell out of bed and felt like dead weight. It took everything in me to get him back in bed. My grandfather died on Thursday. What the doctors did not tell me is people his age die faster, the end came weeks sooner than we thought. I’m so thankful that my grandfather and I had time together to say what we wanted to say, cry for the loss and enjoy the memories. I have no regrets.

Cleaning out the house was so hard, 46 years of memories everywhere. My grandmother left notes on everything, it was like mourning her death as I found each note. Notes on back of photos, on little pieces of paper and even masking tape. I knew all the notes were there, we had looked at them many times but it was different this time. Everything being packed up this time and the house cleared out. My grandparents raised me so I’ve lost parents, they were the best you could ever pray for.  The house is empty but I see my life in every room, the great memories with my grandparents are everywhere you look. I am starting a new chapter in my life. It’s a long  journey ahead.

Xx   M

Lost in Caregiver Twilight Zone

Written on 12/21/2009

I’m caring for my 92-year-old grandfather following three surgeries in seven days. I’m so tired it’s numbing, it’s impossible to think about doing it again tomorrow.  My grandfather is a man of habits driven by the time of day, maybe from his military background. One morning he was upset when the hospital had not brought his coffee and could not see he was the problem. We’re in a hospital not the Hilton. At home it was far worse. It does not matter that I have changed the sheets again this morning, changed his soiled underpants more than once and got him dressed for the day. If the coffee is not ready when he expects or I don’t have the newspaper yet, I hear about it. My grandparents raised me and I love my grandfather dearly but it’s hard to bite my tongue. I want to ask doesn’t he realize or care that I’ve been moving since 5:00 a.m. to take care of him.

At 92 he lives at home alone, still drives (very limited), buys groceries and goes to the local Senior Center several times a week to play dominos. He amazes me with each year. He is the healthiest dying person I know and in his mind he is much younger and more capable. This makes it impossible for him to understand recovery will take several more weeks at least. I catch him doing things he shouldn’t and I get the standard “I can do it”.  He also acts like a child when he doesn’t want to do something, most of the time it’s taking his medicine or getting up to move around.

I push him gently but firmly to get up and move around. Laying in bed or sleeping in the chair all day will not improve his strength. Like all of us, he does not like being told what to do. You learn what you’re made of in stressful times. Our mind and bodies can withstand so much to help someone we love. All I know is tomorrow is a new day.

I grew up in this house and it feels strange to stay in my old bedroom at 46. The house built in 1950, is in the hood, has no dishwasher, Internet or privacy. I am going crazy without my Internet escape. I’m in the twilight zone, washing dishes by hand three times a day and the room is the same since leaving home in 1981. Tomorrow is a new day.

I’m Mourning and She’s Still Alive

My grandmother passed away with Dementia from two strokes in 2005. I’m reposting for the caregivers dealing with a loved one with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. For those who have not been a caregiver, these post may help you down the road. For the caregivers who give every ounce of energy, just one piece of advice if I may. Take time to clear your head, 10 or 30 minutes whatever you can for yourself each week. I did not have any one to offer suggestions and had brain drain after both of their deaths. My body was physically broken down. Due to the nature of the illness, it’s hard to take an eye off them, 24/7. I was fortunate we had hospice care for both of my grandparents. My grandfather was healthy enough to help with my grandmother. I don’t know how to turn my brain off.

I’m Morning and She’s Still Alive

As the caregiver for my grandparents, my hands are full yet my mind runs at a high level by switching to what I call “caregiver mode”. I can manage tons of information about what drugs they take, schedule appointments, discuss test results or anything else needed to take care of two people who are dying and “switch back” when at home.

Before the fall and broken hip, my grandmother knew me. Our conversations limited yet sharing memories with her made my day. She really enjoyed a photo book I put together with many photos of her beloved dog, Blackie. Thinking about Blackie always made her smile, even though he died twenty years ago she remembers him like it was today.

On the way to their house, last week tears started rolling down my face, I could not stop crying. It took a few minutes to figure out what was causing so much pain. My mind had switched from caregiver to granddaughter and realized my grandmother no longer knew me. We would not share our memories again. I knew the day would come and say prayers for the memories we shared. The realization was much harder to accept. I am in mourning and miss my grandmother so much.

Xx  M

Dementia Induced Thought’s of Suicide

Being a caregiver to a dying loved one can leave you drained of emotion, exhausted and frustrated. All perfectly normal feelings. I felt quilt mixed in my bowl of emotions. I grew up knowing my grandparents wanted to die at home. I would grant the wish if possible. They inspired me, saved me from parental abuse and blessed me with unconditional love.

Helping my gramps when making difficult life decisions, while working hard to remember she’s my grandmother. There were uncomfortable conversations, articulate to doctors how she is progressing and butt heads with family members. I ran a tight ship, no problems telling people it’s time to leave, not allowing people over everyday. God blessed me with the ability to turn my depression down and step up to next level. Love for my grandmother drove my decisions down to the last morphine stick.

As our population ages the number of caregivers increase. It can seem overwhelming at times. If you don’t have a blog I would suggest checking out, it gave me an outlet. Caregivers choose to open their hearts to the emotional and physical challenges. 

Dementia Induced Thoughts Of Suicide

Today I used one of four “in case of emergency” pills to keep my Grandmother from hurting herself during a dementia related meltdown brought on by my Grandfather going to the grocery store. She’s had many of these episodes since her stroke almost two years ago. Today I saw the beginning of the end in her face. As I look at the three pills in the bottle, I try to accept that we will need to “ease” the trauma more times before her memory is gone.

Her stroke caused dementia, and at 84 she continues to slide down hill. The meds do a good job of controlling the anger and aggression but on days like today nothing short of a miracle works. Yet we have never reached for “the emergency” stash and this sinks in as I watch her doze off from the effects.

Today she did not recognize her own home and thought my grandfather abandoned her in some body else’s house while going to the grocery store. She became enraged and very self-destructive by hitting herself in the head while saying that she would rather be dead than left “here” by herself. I tried to calm her as I always do but today nothing worked. I tried to get her to focus on what I was saying but it was too late, she was lost in her painfully reality. It was a very hard choice but a drug induced calm over self-inflicted harm is the right thing to do.

While waiting for the drug to work I showed her photos of her and my grandfather from 24 years ago, a photo of my father on a pony when he was a child and many others I took off the walls to see if she could connect to anything. She recognized my dad but several other family members where a blur. It was so painful to watch her lose touch, it ripped my heart out.

Those four pills where the “holy grail” and they took me back to the night of her stroke when Grandpa went home to try to nap and she got upset that he was not there. It took six of us to hold down a 82-year-old who barely weights 100 lbs . Her aggression reached a point she needed restraining. Her arms tied to the bed yet she managed to fight. I used all of my weight to hold her down to the bed, yelling at the nurse where the hell is a shot to knock her out. The nurse did not articulate to the doctor the urgency of the situation so he did not approve a sedative. I told her if she could not articulate the need, pass the phone to me. I would get the message across.  The doctor ordered a sedative.

Watching her lose touch with reality is like seeing your child get hit by a car in slow motion and not being able to get a word out. I’m thankful for time we spent together no matter how painful. I focus on the good moments and not hold on to difficult days likes this.

M

A Vivid Memory #1 By Guest Margie Lakefield

5/22/2017

“A Vivid Memory”

This may take me all of today and well into the night. I had written in an earlier post that I would revisit something. I made a special promise to my oldest daughter. And today is the day I fulfill that promise. It began the day that she was born.

She arrived three weeks early. And, just like any new child’s arrival she came without a warranty clause, a type-written instruction manual and no return address label.

I’d practiced the natural birthing process, The Bradley method. The 8.25 months of pregnancy went without a hitch, except for mom catching the flu at five months of pregnancy.

Birthing went almost according to plan. No pain meds, no spinal block, but after several hours from having my water break, the doctor(s) where concerned that infection or stress of labor may cause concerns to the unborn baby. They prescribed Pitocin, and with knowledge I’d gained in birthing class, I clung to my hope of having a natural child-birth, but was also warned that the induction could produce rather strong contractions, and it did not offer a buffering from any pain that I would incur by its introduction. I kept with Plan A. Let me bear this baby, naturally. (The following link provides further details on Pitocin via Yahoo)

*http://pregnancy.about.com/od/induction/a/pitocindiffers.htm

Now, I have to give my doctors and St. Francis hospital in Tulsa, kudos for the way they helped my delivery. My labor had begun at work, around 8:30 in the morning, and by 10:00 a.m., I was strapped to a gurney, and plugged into all the machinery a labor and delivery room can offer for the monitoring of baby and mama. Noon came, but no lunch, who cares though, laboring the birthing of a baby you really have hunger on the last of your lists of wants.

Hubby and I logged miles around the nurses desk and lobby. Too many to count, and at one point a nurse beckoned me back to my appointed room for a vitals check and centimeter observation. I tried resting, but I was too anxious. I was on top of the world and could not wait to see my, Megan Kathleen. I had dreamt of this moment for so long. The afternoon rolled on, more walking, more monitoring, and finally at six p.m., my doctor arrives and tells me that he thinks it’s time we get this baby something to speed up her arrival. It’s that drug, Pitocin. I agree, but only after he can confirm that I can still birth her naturally, no pain meds, spinal taps, nada, zip and zero. He assures me he will follow my directive, but warns me that the drug used to induce labor can also cause severe labor pains, and if the time came that he felt it was too much for baby and me he would medically do what he needed. I couldn’t fight with him there. He’s the educated soul. He graduated medical school, a certificate that required 12 years of laborious studies. Let’s rock and roll! You carry the knowledge and I’ll try marathon walking until this unborn baby charges to the finish line. Deal?

Shortly after six my husband’s family arrived from Texas. Someone mentioned they were hungry. The folks had spent four hours en route, and I know that Cliff hasn’t eaten since breakfast. I knew that I couldn’t, but more importantly, as the Pitocin’s effects began to work on my body, and labor earnestly began, eating was the furthest thing from my mind. I asked them to go, give me a breather, grab some food, enjoy themselves. Linger if they wished. Why hell, I’ve been here all day and it looks as if I’ll be here all night trying to birth this baby.

8:30 p.m., and where in the heck were those fools? Did they not have any clue about what I was going through? I’m not a screamer, but I do enjoy a hair-pulling now and then. The R.N. assisting me was becoming less than jovial as I started practicing my Bradley method of breathing. Every now and then she would ask, “Are you sure you don’t want something for your pain?”

“Sister, where were you when I gave my directive? Is my clipboard of info missing from the foot of this bed? Has the doctor given YOU the board certification to overtake his assigned SEAT at my party?”

I tried to deliver it humorously. I tried to cajole her into seeing my side of it. She tried to get me to see her side. We both failed, Communication Skills 101.

To be continued

 

Story of my Life: Guest Margie Lakefield

Guest Margie Lakefield shares the trauma of Postpartum Psychosis in a multi series post.

I read Margie’s post in tears, feeling empathy, above all I knew she was a strong woman. A woman who made tough decisions for the better of her children’s future.  Her story touched me deeply, I had to meet her. We worked together on the series. Unfortunately Margie had a family emergency and can’t be with us.

She is dedicated to sharing her story at the cost of lingering pain. Margie takes us thru the arrival at hospital until the moment she reached out for help.

The Series will post starting next Monday and consecutive Mondays. Margie’s participation in the app is dear to her heart. She encourages everyone to download the app, get familiar with the resources available and the DNA initiative.

 Hope for the Helpless suffering from Post Postpartum Depression.

The pactforthecure app is a new initiative. Available at App Store. Giving Hope for the Helpless Suffering PPD •

March 28, 2016 •

Thank you to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill , for this initiative. I will forever be indebted to your servitude.

This past week I noticed a story on CNN of an upcoming app that was to be released. I am submitting this after receiving an email today giving me permission to submit my article to the organization responsible for this International Study of Women Suffering/or have suffered from Postpartum  Depression, and/or, Psychosis. It is my sincere hope that you will spread this information in an effort to draw attention to this program. They are looking to collect thousands of participants for this study. You can find the app, for free. Look for PPD ACT app. I found it through the Apple Store.

I literally had tears running down my face when I read that this initiative was taking place. In 1984, at the time of my episode, there was not much information readily available to women suffering from PPD. This study will no doubt change that, and with it, the lives of thousands upon thousands of women. It is my understanding that one in five women will experience some sort of the so-called, ‘baby blues’ and some will not be as fortunate as those of us who have survived the mayhem of insanity that swallowed our souls. Thankfully, we have returned to tell a story, using genetic markers they may one day find the answer to helping others from being driven into the abyss.

Bring hope to those who have lost theirs by sharing this initiative. Again,

I thank you.

Happy 96th Birthday Granny, This Day Celebrates Your Life

Granny today is a special day.

Today is your 96th Birthday, time for a well deserved Big Party. Gramps cooking of the grill, everyone lining up for the brisket. I attend to your needs and help you around to socialize and know when the conversation ran dry. Let’s go all out, it’s just money, money you never spent on yourself. It’s your Special day. I hold you’re hand so you can dance with Gramps. He’s happy if your happy, he just can’t say it in words.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since you left us. I have so many questions. I talk to you or about you everyday. Our bond was not broken in death.

Hold my hand as I battle this disease. I need your strength, more than ever. I watched you suffer daily as you slipped away and no longer knew me. I think of your last minutes, my hand under your head, giving you a Morphine stick. Saying granny you’ll be in Heaven, the pain is gone. You can let go, let go of the pain, Take Gods hand. I felt her pass and knew she was in the right place.

As I lose my memory, I pray for your strength and dignity. I love you, cry for you and miss the great times we had. My childhood memories as clear today.

Nothing like being Speed Racer in your wheelchair and taking over the mall. You got a kick out of the revving of the engine and making tire noises. A Very special memory.

Melinda