tug-of-war

by Bella Rum

tug-of-warWe’re at Dad’s. His main caregiver called Friday. She needed some time off. This is becoming a routine. We drove down in torrential rain. The traffic was some of the worst I’ve ever seen. Bumper-to-bumper-stand-still horrible. We took an exit in an attempt to “do better” on another route. Ha! How silly we were. It took three and a half hours to make a one-hour twenty-minute trip. H slept through about half of the trip. Grrrr. Then he slept soundly the rest of the night. Exhausted, I still could not sleep. What is the matter with me?

Dad has several caregivers. One of them left for a full-time position and another needs time to resolve some personal things. That leaves us with a very shallow bench to relieve his primary caregiver. I don’t know, but I believe she is a shooting star, burning out as she goes down. I will not be surprised if she leaves soon.

On another front, Dad has all but run out of money. My brother has paid an enormous sum to keep him in his home. Dad’s needs are great and complicated now. He can no longer do most of the things that would make it easier for caregivers. He’s regressed to the same condition as when I first brought him home from long-term care almost seven years ago. There are demanding bathroom issues, choking, breathing difficulties, etc.

I recently commented on someone’s blog that, for the most part, Dad still has his mental faculties, and that’s true, but he and I had a confusing conversation yesterday. He told me that his caregivers – “the girls” – pay rent to my brother on “this building.” Meaning his house. This kind of thing happens periodically and then he’s fine again. The day that he will have to go to a nursing home is bearing down on us.

I told my husband that I admit, all of my health problems considered, that I can’t imagine caring full-time for Dad again. We’ve had this conversation several times. He doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but neither can I imagine putting Dad in a long-term care facility. I hate this torn feeling of indecision that lies between two equally undesirable solutions.

All ideas are on the table. When I picture myself telling him he has to go into long-term care, I… there are no words to describe how I feel about that. Maybe it would be easier for me if he didn’t know what was happening, but he does. He will not fair well in a facility. I know some people respond better than others, but he’s one of the “others.” After all is said and done, I am considering moving back here, or I would gladly continue what seems to have become our recent arrangement – sharing a few days of the week. That kind of compromise would ameliorate some of the financial burden, give the caregiver relief, and it would be much easier on me, but I really think his caregiver is ready to bolt. I hope I’m wrong.

I have a lot of thinking to do while I still have time. Again, more change, but this is different. This is not change by choice. And all this while trying to sell our house. Look for a post entitled “Pressure Cooker” soon.

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