When the carer has to be the cared for!

When a carer can’t care?

written by Carer JJ

………. A clean duvet!

day 1 of my mum not being here

As you know I have had an operation and have put my care in the hands of the gods! Or in this case my husband Fred.

It is 2 weeks and 1 day since my operation and my mum left yesterday. With the parting words of ‘I will be back if you can’t manage’. Words that sent a chill through the heart of Fred! He has just about survived extended time with his mother in law! And I mean just!

I have run this operation and recuperation time like a military operation. There have been colour coded schedules and lists on the fridge for weeks. Everyone who is involved is helping (they did volunteer bless them) has been a located a colour. With the warning don’t mess with the schedule under threat of a court marshall! My mum was a located red obviously and was the only one who can fiddle with it. Mainly as even though I am 46 I am scared by her!

There are menus on the fridge to prevent dithering and indesisiveness! The shopping is done from my bed on the tablet, and the house or has been split into manageable chunks -sounds easy doesn’t it?

Now it is important to add that I care for Fred and not the other way round. I have been in turmoil since I found out I needed this hysterectomy as the recovery is a long time and the ability to lift or do anything is prohibited. When my mum was here I felt safe and secure. I’m sure most of you like me find that an alien concept. We are the ones who provide that in our households and not a feeling we have ourselves with the mountain of our responsibilities.

Flying solo so to speak and the schedule is going well. I have been fed, watered and had my shower, now while I have my shower my mum used to change my bedding. So Fred, bless him (remember the fear he has of my mother returning!) Is now doing battle with a task he has’ t done in over a decade ( not necessarily because he hasn’t always been able but due to the fact he is a man!) I come back to the wreck of a husband looking defeated over the right way round for a sheet. The pain he is in and the tears, he is now in set me off. I feel useless, a burden and totally out of control. I join him at the end of the bed sobbing over a clean duvet cover.

He has retired in a sweaty mess to his recliner chair and I thought (as I sniff and snot) that maybe this could turn into a positive experience if I share it with you. Fred has announced next week he will get his mum to do the bedding! We are back on track, tears dried, sense of humour peering round the corner and on its way to returning.

I have had a small peek into the life of my loved one I care for. It is humbling and restores my strength of mind to remember this when I care for him again. Being the cared one is mentally tough and I can see how debilitating it can be on your self esteem – so half way through day one and many a lesson learnt. We are working together more now and I can see the months of planning and scheduling will pay off. There may be more tears along the way but at least I have a clean bed! So day one flying.

Day 2

Well we all had a lie in today. Fred woke me at 9am as per last night’s instructions. So far so good.

My daughter Susan made us breakfast and we had a snuggle. Then the stress started. What shall I do today? I referred him to the in depth schedule that is on the fridge. When you are the carer you take care of all responsibilities I think it becomes very easy to stop thinking about or seeing the things that need doing as you take for granted that they will be done. Obviously not all carees are able to do a huge amount of things but Fred can do more he just chooses not to. So I am hoping this will retrain him and get him into a train of thought that he can do more and it became a habit for the rest of our lives and improve our family life.

Today I had a small walk and a visit from my friend. Time for lunch and then a nap.

We will see what tomorrow brings.

Day 3

Well all fears of not being able to do what i usually do has come to fruition.

On Saturday Fred accidentally ran over the back of Susans foot with his mobility scooter. After a trip to the walk in center that evening Fred took her via taxi. Again I wasn’t able to be there for her which is eating me up. She has sprained her foot and is bandaged up and in crutches. So Susan is out of action and in pain. She is insisting going to school today as she has a maths test. So I can’t even drive her to school. It is so frustrating. The school have been very supportive and allowing her time to get to classes and a key to use the lift for upstairs classes.
Fred is struggling doing chores and taking care of Susan. This operation and it’s recuperation time is really stretching my anxieties and stress levels. I know it is doing Fred good to be the main person responsible but it is hard lying here while things need doing. Fred doing well so far so maybe this will help him in the long run. We will see how this plays out.

Maybe me having my foot of the excelerator ‎for a while is just what we needed and the beginning of a new part of his recovery and at the same time, mine.