In the March issue of Woman's Day Magazine there is a section about Caregiver's. It's aimed at the generation of (mostly) Women who are taking care of an older family member. I read through it because, I figure that someday I'll be in this spot. Although the articles are talking about caring for an older adult I saw a lot of similarities to what I do now as a Caregiver/Pancreas for Kortnie.
Yes, she's my kid not an older adult, yes when I choose to be a mom I knew I'd be a "caregiver" to my kids, yes, I care for my other 2 kids too, but when I signed up to be a mommy, I DID NOT sign up to be a Pancreas too, I love all my kids and would do anything for any of them, it's not my fault or Kortnie's fault that her stinkin' pancreas doesn't work, it's just the hand we were delt. Being a wife and mother is hard enough on a good day, but when you add in a kid with a Chronic Illness and you have to literally be thinking about EVERYTHING SHE EATS OR DOES OR WILL BE DOING all the time just to keep her alive, that's a whole new ballgame. Mothering and Caregiving for this kid is taken to a whole new level!
The article that really stood out to me is "Stop Caregiver Burnout" on page 115
Here is a quote from the beginning of the article:
"You know the saying 'If the plane is losing oxygen, put on your own msk firs, then your child's.' If you're caring for a loved one, this applies to you, too. But with over half of caregivers reporting that they're eating poorly and not excercising and three quarters not going to their doctors regularly, it seems that most of them have abandoned their own oxygen masks. And understandably so: Though taking care of a loved one can certainly be fulfilling, there's no denying that it's emotionally taxing."
The article has these 3 main topics:
1 You Resent the Responsibility- It's inevitable that you'll feel frustrated-even angry-about how much of your life you're giving up and how hard the task is Yes! Sometimes this is me
2 You're Grappling with your own Mortality- Taking care of someone who's sick inevitably brings up questions like "Will someone take care of me someday" I wasn't thinking this, but now I am, but really I think this part of the article applies more towards the woman in her 50's and 60's who's taking care of an older adult
3 You Feel GUILTY- As a caregiver, you're making so many important, life changing decisions that it's all too easy to second-guess yourself. Are we teaching her the right way to take care of herself? Did we choose the right pump, doctor, insulin? Are we letting her make enough choices for herself? Will she be able to do this on her own someday, what if I'm not here to take care of her? Does she have independance? Am I forcing her to use a pump or CGM?
Anyways, this article hit home for me. Mostly I struggle with topics 1 and 3. Kortnie was diagnosed in November of 2009, I had only been back to work after having my son for a little over a year. I enjoyed going to work and talking with adults, I was working on losing baby weight, I was plugging along just fine and trying to make myself feel good about me. Then BAM! Diabetes hit like a freight train. I ended up quitting my job, I eventually gained back all the weight I'd lost and then some, everything I did was centered around Diabetes, learning all I could about it, figuring out the best ways to take care of Kortnie, learning how to do shots, choosing pumps, advocating, fundraising, a little whining too. So much, so much, everything was about Diabetes, I lost myself in my grief, I'm pretty sure I neglected my other kids, my husband, myself and maybe even Kortnie a little-not her D-but her Korkyness.
I'm happy to say that somewhere along the way I realized what was going on, I began to resent that D has done this to me, and I'm working at fixing it. I am learning to take more time for myself, I'm working on excercising and getting back in shape, I've been losing weight slowly, I have been getting dressed more often, spending time with friends and my husband, and more non-D time with my kids. I am finding the old me and I am getting my Happy back. No more diving back into bed or burrying my head in the sand. I'm gonna work really hard about not Bitching about what Diabetes is taking away from, but you can bet your ass that I'll still be bitching about what it takes away from Kortnie. well maybe I won't stop bitching, a little ranting and venting can work wonders here and there, I'm gonna own my resentment!
The guilt, that's a tough nut to crack, that's going to be a little harder, it probably won't ever go away, the article says guilt is natural and that it's okay as long as you aknowledge it and don't let it eat at you. I'll work on that, I just hope that even if I make the wrong choices for her now, she'll know someday that I did the best I could and every choice I make or made I will do thoughtfully, carefully and out of love.
Do you feel resentful, guilty or wonder about your own mortality?