AUGUST 17, 2010 7:17PM

My Time Isn't Ever Going to Come

Rate: 10 Flag

Caption: I'd rather be living at the beach

I WENT OVER to mom's house this morning to see how she was feeling. She lives in my backyard, so it's just a short walk.

She has had a bladder infection that just won't go away, despite being put on a low dose of antibiotics for months, and despite being prescribed another type of antibiotic in a stronger dose last week. She was allergic to the second antibiotic, which caused spasms in her bladder. The pain made her panic, which very nearly meant an ER visit, but we managed to get her into see her doctor on short notice. So, now she's on a third antibiotic that I hope is ridding her body of this latest nasty UTI, and some sort of pain medication that seems to be easing the symptoms a bit. Of all of the physical problems she has, these urinary tract infections are the worst.

Yadayadayada. I know. Now you're bored. I'm bored in the telling.


I arrived at her house when she was in mid-conversation with her caregiving company. I could tell that it was them because her conversation was peppered with "4 hours" and "she didn't tell me she couldn't come on Wednesdays" and "how much do you pay her?" When I arrive in the middle of these things I feel like I maybe shouldn't listen, even though I am the "responsible party" (how I'm hating that). They were trying to explain something to her, and she was trying to come to some decision, but she wound herself into such a whirl of frustration that she became visibly upset, and physically aphasic, and finally spit out, "never mind then!" and hung up the phone.

I think I physically cringed when she finally looked at me because I was scared and because I knew how the visit was going to go, which was not well. And it didn't. Go well. After an uncomfortable conversation, with me trying to brace myself against her anger, my visit with my mother ended with her parting shots: "You should have thought of that when you took my car away," and, "You are making my life miserable."

I turned around and walked home and called her caregiving company to complain about things that were making her upset, even though I know nothing is going to make her happy, at least not anything I've had a hand in creating. And boy was I was involved in getting her a caregiver-- pretty much to the exclusion of everyone else because I thought (and think) she needs it. I also thought she'd get used to it. Now, however, I don't think she will ever get used to it. It's been nearly 3 months and she seems just as mad as she was in the beginning, maybe madder.

After awhile, she called to apologize, sort of, and then launched into a begging chant, "Can't I just drive the car to the store, please, please?

I said something weak back to her, like, "you know I can't let you do that," or something equally lame.

After that, I simply placed the phone in the cradle.

Explaining or restating my explanations just makes her mad. I'm pretty sure that I should be mad back and that maybe we should have a good old fight like we used to have when I was a teenager (there is so much about *this* that feels like *that*). However, as far as my feelings go, I'm sad but not angry. She's a 89 year old woman with dementia, and the dementia is making her upset. A lot.

This maybe the more interesting part:

And all I can think of is-- When will the time come that my life is "my own?"

After mulling this over for the last five hours, I have come to the conclusion that that day will never come. I know this for sure for a bazillion reasons related to my sad overburdened with dependents life situation. Even so, I can't help but ponder "my other life," as in, "the life I'm supposed to be having but can't."

I'll let you in on a little secret: My main pathetic source of entertainment lately is planning the life I could have if I was only responsible for myself. I'm not only a daydreamer. Sometimes, I put these plans into action, like a month ago when I tried to have a contractor draw up plans for a spa-pool for our backyard. I could just envision myself lazing around in a Grecian shaped pool, with a fountain or two, while my family fixed me a mouthwatering dinner. Ah, denial. 

That didn't go over well, despite my big push to try to make it a reality. I thought that if I showed my family how much I really needed something fun in my life at home, that they would understand. They were unimpressed, and, well, it will never happen, as we recently put an offer on a house for our son.

I did buy myself a treadmill for our bedroom, against the advice of my cohabitants. *That* was liberating. And I gave away our huge Thomasville Entertainment Center (located in our bedroom at the site the treadmill now occupies) to one of the treadmill moving guys. (A treadmill is such a symbol of a 9-5, button-down, boring life. Don't you think?) Anyway, giving that thing away made me feel euphoric.

So, I guess I've had one little triumph. "Yay!" for creating my own space, and having fun, and bucking convention.

Now I think I'll go and pick up food to make dinner.

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It's interesting how easy it is to resent the circumstances life has given us. Kudos to you for admitting your resentment and dealing with it in a healthy way. Good luck, and I hope your mom gets the care she needs.
Denese, you describe so well the difficult and overwhelming task of caretaking for an elderly parent. So many feel that their own lives are being robbed because of the responsibility of their elderly parents. I feel for you, and I can't help but say that I don't think you should give up your deserve that spa-pool dammit! One small victory with the treadmill, but I think your family should go get the dinner. You have some dreaming to do!
i guess we children are and will become our parents' caretakers. makes one want to run away... but a treadmill helps.
Yeah, I hear you. Add a sprinkle of criticism from some others about your efforts and you have the complete messed up full meal. Get some headphones and play lots of music. Get some for your Mom, too. Do something fun each day. Peace to you.
Caroline -- "easy"-- no. This is year 7 of me being my mom's caretaker.

Mary, thanks for the support. It's not easy. But, I know there are others out there that are doing exactly the same thing I am. Somehow that doesn't make it any easier.

Chuck, yes, running away is a real option. I think about that daily.

Hey Dr. Spudman, Yes, there are lots of people out there that would criticize a daughter for resenting my care for my mother. Thanks for recognizing how messed up that is.
I recently heard from my brother in law that he feels taking care of his mother (writing a check each month) is a burden. It galled me to no end.

However having been a caretaker myself I know the endless demands and feelings of never having your own life. Oddly enough, it still is feeling that way in many dream on and live the ones you can.
Buffy, I know that the ghost of the person that you took care of must live with you long after they're gone. My mother is probably the most significant person in my life. I have loved her so. But in so many ways she is disappearing to me now. It's just hard. But I don't want to hasten her death... ..
You're entitled to your resentment, and what's more, you're brave for writing about it. The whole idea of the noble caregiver, the suffering in silence, is another perfidious myth that makes women feel inadequate for not living up
ugh, crazy comment stuff. For not living up to the mythical ideal. I hope you do get your fantasy life--you deserve it. Your patience with your mother is admirable. Hang in there. Thinking about you.
What fingerlakeswanderer said. There's a lot of wisdom in these comments. I've been a full time caregiver for six years, not of an elderly parent, of a husband, and know well the feelings you describe so articulately here. I wish you spa pools.
I too wish you spa pools and more. Brave, honest and well written. _r
Denese, I've not had the experience that people like you and BuffyW have, and I'm profoundly grateful for that.

I hope you find what you're seeking.

Rated for compassion.
I feel for you, Denese.You are a true giver, to many of us in many ways. I hope you get some fun time, and soon.
I really didn't want this to be a pity party, but I guess I came off that way.

Thanks Lorraine, Lea, Kathy, and Boanerges for your compassion and support. Lorraine and Lea you are both such good friends.

Thanks Joan H. for the compliment on my writing! That made my day.